It may seem like the remixing of Beatles music started recently, but it actually began over 25 years ago.
Although George Martin did a little bit of remixing on Rubber Soul for the 1987 CD release, it was really during the time of The Anthologies in 1995 & 1996 when the modern remixing of Beatles music started.
(I had collected the three promotional posters as each anthology was released from 1995 to 1996. If you put the posters side by side, they formed one large art piece by Klaus Voormann. I had the posters mounted together and framed, and eventually gave it to a record shop in Lincoln, NE when we moved to Eugene, OR in 2008.)
As Apple went through all the original recordings by The Beatles to find alternate versions and unreleased songs for The Anthology series, they also started manipulating those recordings. Most of these “takes” of the songs had never really been mixed before, so it had to be done for this release. I remember some fans being upset that the producers had “flown in” a guitar solo from another take to complete the anthology version of “One After 909”. “How dare they mess with what The Beatles had done!” In reality, The Anthologies were a welcome gift to Beatles fans. We were able to hear the alternate versions writer Mark Lewisohn had praised in his excellent 1988 book The Beatles Recording Sessions.
An early take of “Here There And Everywhere” was not included on The Anthologies, but was an extra cut on the “Real Love” CD single in 1996. The track is mostly a solo McCartney vocal, but for the final chorus of the song the beautiful background vocals were added in an impressive effect. The text said the ending was an example of how Beatles songs could be remixed (instead of just remastered) in order to improve the sound quality and stereo mix. Here it is:
Extra: One other track from the Anthology series was “Good Morning Good Morning” without those words included. It gave the song a more serious feel. Here it is with the horns and lead guitar added back in. It probably would have been called “Nothing To Say”:
The first big remixing project of familiar Beatles recordings was the release of the Yellow Submarine Songtrack in 1999. This was a clever choice, because instead of remixing a well-loved album, this was a new collection of songs that had been in the movie, rather than the old soundtrack, which only had a limited number of these songs. So how did it come out? The results were, well…mixed. Some of the songs, particularly “Eleanor Rigby”, “Yellow Submarine” and “Nowhere Man” were the best-sounding versions ever. The songs from Sgt. Pepper were less successful, probably because they are more complex recordings. Overall, engineer Peter Cobbin and his staff did an admirable job on a risky project. It was well received enough to allow for future remixing.
In 2003, there was a remixing of the songs from the Let It Be sessions. Let It Be…Naked was spearheaded by Paul McCartney, and approved by George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The remix engineer was Allan Rouse, who helped McCartney shape the album into the original concept…The Beatles with less production and orchestration. It was mostly successful, but didn’t replace the original release.
Although it wasn’t really a remixing of a Beatles album, George Martin and his son Giles used Beatles songs in unusual mashup mixes to create a soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil’s Love show in 2006.
(The 2015 CD of The Beatles 1 remix, with accompanying video DVD.)
The next major project was also another collection of songs, The Beatles 1. The original release of the album was in 2000, and it’s one of the best selling albums ever. In 2015, Producer Giles Martin and Engineer Sam Okell released their remixed version. Luckily for Apple, the reviews for these new mixes were widely positive. That was encouragement to green-light more projects.
Then came the riskiest project of all…the remixing of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 2017. The beloved album was painstakingly remixed by Giles Martin (with Sam Okell who works on all the remixes). It was almost unanimously praised. There’s a link to my review of it at the end of this article.
November of 2018 we got the new remix of The White Album. There’s a link at the end of this article to the full review of it, but the short review is that it sounds amazing. It seems the simpler arrangements on The White Album (in comparison to Sgt. Pepper) allowed Giles Martin to do an even more impressive remix.
The remix release of Abbey Road was September 27th, 2019 (link to review at the end of this article). The remix sounds great, especially the side two medley!
A 5-CD box set (plus Blu-ray) of Let It Be was released on October 15th, 2021. You can click to enlarge the track listings from the back of the box. The CD’s & Vinyl have the same song lists.
The list price is $139.98. There’s a matching 5-disc vinyl set (4 LP’s & an EP) with a list price of $199.98. There’s also a 2-CD set that is the new remix, plus a disc of selected highlights from the box set. It’s priced at $24.98. The remixed album is also available as a single CD or record. The remix of the original album is impressive.
There are individual links below to articles on all the remixed albums.
The albums that could benefit most from remixing are the older albums, especially Rubber Soul and Revolver, and there’s good news!
Update: The new remix of Revolver was released on October 28th, 2022. There’s a complete description of the CD & Vinyl box sets and other versions on this site. Here’s the link: https://ontherecords.net/2022/09/the-beatles-revolver-remix/
There’s also a link to the review of Revolver at the end of this article. The quick review is that the new stereo mix is a major improvement in audio quality.
Based on a comment in September 2022 from remix producer Giles Martin, Rubber Soul should be next for the remix box set treatment. It will probably be sometime in 2023, because he has other projects for the next six months.
Perspective: It’s understandable that some people only want to hear the recordings exactly as they’ve known them, and hopefully those people have purchased those original mixes. The truth is, the remixes are not necessarily for those of us who have lived with the songs for decades. They’re for future Beatles fans who will want the audio quality to sound as good as their other music. Giles Martin has done a great job of recreating the songs extremely close to the way we know them…only with better sound quality. When we listen on good audio equipment, it’s more like what The Beatles themselves heard in the studio.
Here’s the link to the Sgt. Pepper remix article: https://ontherecords.net/2017/07/sgt-peppers-new-mix-worth-it/
Here’s the link to the White Album remix article: https://ontherecords.net/2018/11/the-beatles-white-album-remix/
Here’s the link to the Abbey Road remix article: https://ontherecords.net/2019/09/abbey-road-remix-review-perspective/
Here’s the link to the Let It Be remix article: https://ontherecords.net/2021/10/let-it-be-2021-box-set-review/
Here’s the link to the Revolver remix article: https://ontherecords.net/2022/10/beatlesrevolver-remix-box-set-review/
9 Replies to “The Beatles…Remix History (Updated)”
First article I’ve read on your site, and all I can say is thank you! I went searching for reviews of Beatles’ remixes, and it looks like I found the place. My day is now going to be shot, as I’ve already opened like ten other posts. 😉
The 2009 remasters were brought to vinyl in 2012, with, for the most part, the original mixes, including Let It Be. So please, can anyone tell me what the problem was with that version of Let It Be, that Giles Martin was instructed to “fix”? Or was he let simply loose to fiddle and diddle with a work of art, just because he could?
Editor: You’re right, Let It Be doesn’t need fixing. It’s just part of Apple’s series of remixing all The Beatles albums. They believe they are getting better mixes than could be done with the old 4-track machines, and that the sound will better match today’s recordings so they won’t sound old-fashioned by comparison. The remixing is not really for us lifetime Beatles fans, but so future music listeners will be more likely to play The Beatles.
Mixing to match today’s recordings? You mean, they’re changing WORKS OF ART to accommodate those who listen through ear buds, telephones and Spotify? Is that good idea? And if you think these new mixes aren’t replacing the originals, well, I think you’re mistaken. There was a problem with Pepper that at least plausibly warranted remixing, but not on Abbey Road and certainly not here. This screams fixing what ain’t broke for an apparent money grab.
You failed to include the remixes of the Help! & Rubber Soul albums done by George Martin in 1986 for their release on CD in 1987.
Editor: You’ll find that remix of Rubber Soul mentioned in the second line of the article. Didn’t know he worked on Help too though. Thanks
I believe Giles Martin has done a lousy job of remixing The Beatles back catalog!
First if all, why was he given this important task? Just because he’s George Martin’s son does not qualify him! Giles botched both Paperback Writer and Rain and others!
Editor: Those of us who have lived with the recordings for decades may be bothered by nuanced differences in the remixes. Paperback Writer was remixed on Beatles 1, but I don’t know that Rain has been remixed, at least not on any of the releases I have.
In reply to Raul Marcias: Totally agree. I thought the ‘Love’ Album ’06 was a shambles too & that was Giles Martin.
It is high time that all the Beatles Albums commencing with A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul and Revolver each receive a new digital remix. The first Two-Track Albums Please Please Me and With The Beatles could also conceivably be newly mixed with 21st Century technology ( Love Me Do/Ask Me Why are available in true stereo! ). All the tracks for Past Masters have presumably been mixed during The Sessions for The Beatles 1 CD. As for Magical Mystery Tour, those were done way back in 2012, while the ‘Singles Side’ were completed in 2015 for the aforementioned Beatles 1. Furthermore, what of YSS and LIB…N?
Giles Martin did remix “Rain*.
He centered John’s Lead Vocal and placed Ringo’s Drums to the left of the stereo picture.
What Martin did next was an abomination!
He remixed the three part harmonies by reducing John’s Dramatic Tenor Harmony which gives the Harmonies a sickening sweet sound!
Compare Giles Martin’s remix to the 2009 Past Masters version and you’ll notice the difference.
Editor: I’d like to hear the Rain remix. What album or collection is it on?
Update: “Rain” has been remixed with the October, 2022 Revolver box set.
It now looks as if the “Star Club” album might well be next remix release. This December will mark the 60th Anniversary of the “Star Club” tapings.
Editor: Funny. The Beatles were not happy that the low quality recordings were released, and eventually obtained the rights to them. With new technology, it might be possible to somewhat separate the instruments of the monophonic recording, but not really worth it. Revolver & Rubber Soul are the next two remixes.