It may seem like the remixing of Beatles music started recently, but it actually began decades 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 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 are links to my reviews of all the new remixed albums at the end of this article.
November of 2018 we got the new remix of The White Album. 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.
There’s a matching 5-disc vinyl set (4 LP’s & an EP). There’s also a 2-CD set that is the new remix, plus a disc of selected highlights from the box set. It’s also available as a single CD or record. The remix of the album is impressive. It keeps the feel of the original album, but has greater clarity.
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. 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 was expected to be next for the remix box set treatment. Unfortunately, it’s delayed, because the remixed Red & Blue collections were released instead on November 10th, 2023. The Red Album remix is especially good. (A link to the review is below.)
When they finally release the Rubber Soul remix, maybe the lid of the box will use the original cover photo (before it was altered).
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/
Here’s the link to the Red & Blue albums remix article: https://ontherecords.net/2023/11/the-beatles-red-blue-remixes-review-perspective/