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 a CD single. The track is mostly a solo McCartney vocal, but for the final chorus of the song the beautiful background vocals were added in a stunning 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.
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.
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 next major project was also a 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 an article dedicated to it on this site.
November of 2018 we got the new remix of The White Album. There’s a full review of it on this site, 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 (review on this site). The remix sounds great!
The new Let It Be movie is now The Beatles: Get Back. There’s a 5-CD box set (plus Blu-ray) that was released on October 15th. You can click to enlarge the track listings on 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.
Here’s the link to my review of the new box set: https://ontherecords.net/2021/10/let-it-be-2021-box-set-review/
The new six-hour documentary will be released over Thanksgiving weekend on Disney+ streaming service (November 25, 26 & 27, 2021).
It’s obvious the albums that could benefit most from remixing are the older albums, especially Rubber Soul and Revolver. In July of 2021, Giles Martin said the software needed to properly separate the vocals and instruments on those two albums is not quite advanced enough. I’m not really buying that excuse. “Nowhere Man”, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yellow Submarine” have already been remixed for a couple of collections, and they sound great. My guess is Giles Martin wants to do the new Apple Spatial Audio at the same time as the new stereo mixes…and so we wait.
No one could have predicted 50 years ago that we’d be looking forward to new mixes of Beatles albums.
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 match 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.
Extra: The projects that have benefited the most from remixing are the 2020 John Lennon Gimme Some Truth “Ultimate Remixes” collection, and the 2021 George Harrison All Things Must Pass album. The biggest improvement is how good the two artist’s voices sound. You don’t have to put out the big bucks for box sets either, both albums come in very reasonably priced 2-disc versions, and of course can be streamed.