Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beatles Remastered - Past Masters Volumes One and Two

By John R Powell

The Beatles Past Masters series is a compilation album and comprises all of their singles that were not released on their studio albums. The Beatles only released singles that were also on studio albums a few times; they were not in the habit of doing so. That is why the Past Masters series is a double album with a lot of great material on it. Past Masters 1 comprises all of their material from 1963 (Please Please Me) until 1965 (Help). Past Masters 2 comprises all of their material from 1965 (Rubber Soul) until they disbanded in 1970 (Let It Be).

Past Masters 1 is really dated material, and it is basically the Beatles mop top period. It has everything from Love Me Do and From Me To You all the way to I Feel Fine and I'm Down. All of the songs sound so much better remastered. The song From Me To You sounds completely different now that it is remastered. For me it was She Loves you and I Wanna Hold your Hand that were two of the first songs I heard from the Beatles way back when. This was Beatlemania at its height. On the original, the guitar parts were not nearly as separated and easy to distinguish as they are on the remastered version. All the sounds were there on the original versions, but not as clear.

The only song that I can remember that was sung by another group and sounded better was I call your name. It was done by the Mama's and Papas with Mama Cass Elliot singing lead just a few years after the Beatles originally recorded it.

Past Masters 2 is much better of an album compared to volume 1. It has everything from their Rubber Soul period to Let It Be. It starts off with the double-A sided single Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out. These songs are the earliest songs that the Beatles have done that I consider some of my favorites. Day Tripper has a really great guitar structure and sound, and We Can Work It Out has one of my favorite chorus lines. The harmony that Lennon and McCartney have during the chorus is beautiful.

The next double-A sided single is Paperback Writer/Rain. Paperback Writer is a really great song and it sounds a lot like their music on their adjacent album, Revolver. Rain is a song that is completely revolutionary in my opinion. It doesn't sound like their other music up until that point. The end of the song has the chorus played backwards, and it sounds really psychedelic.

I've heard Ringo say that he thought this was his best work (Rain). Ringo really was a classy musician. McCartney and Lennon are of course the song writing monsters that have no equal from their era.

Volume 2 also has the anthem Hey Jude; one of the greatest songs of all time. This song was written for John Lennon's son Julian by Paul McCartney while John Lennon and Julian's mother were getting divorced.

McCartney was trying to cheer Julian up with this song, even though Lennon thought it was directed towards him at times. Hey Jude is one of my all time favorite songs and a song that is on the top of best songs lists all over the world. Across the Universe and The Ballad of John and Yoko are also great songs on this album. This album also sounds so much clearer remastered. All of the songs sound as if they've just been recorded this year, not forty years ago.

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