- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the 1962-1966 (2023 Edition - 3LP Red Vinyl) LP.
- EMI Studios, Abbey Road
More from year 2022
Some songs from this session appear on:
Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.
Beginning in 2017, Giles Martin embarked on a mission to bring a contemporary sound to the Beatles album, aligning these remixes with the 50th anniversaries of their original releases. This journey of sonic rejuvenation started with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 2017, followed by the White Album in 2018, Abbey Road in 2019, and Let It Be in 2020, though the latter’s release shifted to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remixing the albums recorded before “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” presented a unique set of challenges. Up until “Revolver,” the Beatles primarily utilized 4-track recording machines. This method often resulted in multiple instruments being recorded on a single track, complicating efforts to individually adjust or enhance specific instruments. This situation persisted to some degree in later albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s,” though the band’s shift to 8-track machines offered more flexibility.
A groundbreaking solution emerged from MAL, a state-of-the-art de-mixing technology, crafted by Emile de la Rey’s award-winning sound team at Peter Jackson’s WingNut Films Productions Ltd. Originally developed for Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” docu-series, MAL (Machine Assisted Learning) ingeniously isolates instruments recorded on a single track. The name MAL cleverly nods to both the HAL computer from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Mal Evans, whose presence is felt throughout the “Get Back” documentary.
In 2022, Giles Martin harnessed this innovative technology to create stereo and Dolby Atmos remixes of “Revolver” songs.
Thirty of 38 tracks on the 50th Anniversary expanded reissue of 1962-1966, and seven of 37 tracks on the anniversary expanded 1967-1970, were newly mixed in stereo and/or Dolby Atmos by Giles Martin and Okell, aided by WingNut Films’ audio de-mixing technology.
From GRAMMY.com, October 26, 2023:
What was the thinking behind the expansion of the Red and Blue albums?
That kind of stemmed from “Now and Then,” really. You know, we finished “Now and Then,” and then there was the thought about, OK, it can’t go on an album. What are we going to put it on?
There was a thought about trying to respect people’s listening tastes. And the fact that they’ve changed — and the No. 1s, for example, don’t really reflect the most popular Beatles songs that people are listening to.
Then, we realized it was the 50th anniversary of Red and Blue. For a whole generation — much older than you, my generation — the Red and Blue albums have this sort of gravitas behind them. I know all the tracklistings; even though I think I was 3, when they came out, we had them at home.
So, we decided to do the Red and Blue albums — which took quite a long time, because there was quite a lot of stuff to do on them.
Since you’ve remixed all the Beatles albums from Sgt. Pepper’s onward, I’ve been glued to the pre-1967 material — this is the first time I’ve heard your touch on their early work. Remixing songs as early as 1962 must have been a whole different ballgame.
In all honesty, that was the fun bit.
You know, we couldn’t have worked on these songs six months ago; the technology had to be developed in place so we could do this — separate drums, bass and guitar, and have the different elements. And they sound good; it doesn’t sound strange or artifact-y in any way.
I think people will talk about “Now and Then” for “Now and Then.” But I [also] think the true innovations come back from the early Beatles stuff. The way that it pops out; the way that the records still sound like the same records. Hopefully, the character doesn’t change, but the energy is different.
Ringo always said, “We’re just a bunch of punks in the studios,” and they sound like a bunch of punks in the studios. Now, they sound the age they were when they played it.
And that’s so key to me, to making these records — that they sound like that. You know, they were way younger than Harry Styles is now, when they were making these records. People think they’re old guys, and they’re not.
That, to me, is important, in a way. We get old — I hate to break that to you, but we do get old. And recordings, by their nature, stay the same age. And the Beatles will always be that age on those records.
I think, now, they sound like a bunch of young guys in the studios bashing their instruments, and I think that’s really exciting, and the technology we’ve applied has enabled us to, bizarrely, strip back the inadequacies of the technologies they had.
And I don’t mean that in a pompous way. What I mean is that my dad never wanted the Beatles to be coming out of one speaker, and then coming out of another speaker. They didn’t want the two tracks to be like that. He hated it. He hated it.
But now, we can have the drums coming out of the middle, like a record is now. He can luxuriate in that, and I think it’s fun and exciting.
I’m noticing so many heretofore-obscured details in their early work. The vocal flub on “Please Please Me.” The maniacal bongos that power “A Hard Day’s Night.”
I think you’re right, but I think from experience — which, actually, I have a lot of now — there is a beauty in the reality.
What I mean by that is: so much music is perfect, and it’s fabricated. There are checks and balances that go on, to make sure that everything is in tune, in time. And all this stuff goes on, which is fine and it suits a place. But it’s a bit like the dangers of plastic surgery — everyone ends up looking the same.
And in records, everyone’s sounding the same. We dial in so it’s exciting, and it becomes boring, essentially, is what I mean.
The excitement you get from hearing a mistake in a song you’ve heard for years doesn’t necessarily demean the song itself. It doesn’t make you think, Oh my god, the band is s—. You think, Oh my god, what’s exciting is these are humans. These are human beings in a room, making noise.
People go, “Well, who’s responsible for the sound of the Beatles? Is it your dad? Is it Geoff Emerick? Is It Norman Smith…” blah, blah, blah. I go, “No, it’s the Beatles. It’s the fact they’re four friends in a room. They make that noise.”
And that’s the thing about great bands; great bands make a great noise together, and they don’t even know how they do it themselves. That’s the beauty of it.
It’s like, why do you love someone? “Well, because they’re nice to me,” or because they’re whatever. You can’t explain things; they just happen. And there’s something about “Please Please Me,” all that early stuff — you can hear it. It’s something just happening, and that’s so exciting. God, I sound like such an old hippie.
Your first Beatles remix project, for Sgt. Pepper’s, came out five years ago. On the other side of the coin, The Blue Album features songs from that dense, psychedelic era, like “I Am the Walrus,” which is such a beast. That must have been a different kind of fun.
Yeah, well, “Walrus” is a beast. I’ve actually gone back and re-changed the stereo [mix] recently, because I got asked questions like, “Why did I change the end section so it didn’t sound like the original?” I was thinking, Did I? I didn’t do it deliberately. It’s just the balance of speech versus vocals and stuff like that.
I was very lucky, because “Walrus” was on the Love album and show. I tackled a version of that before, and know how tricky it is.
Because by its nature, “Walrus” sounds technically bad, but it’s beautiful. It’s beautifully ugly as a record, and they’re the hardest ones, because you don’t want to take away the character. You don’t want to remove the grime, because the grime is the record. I spent a lot of time looking at this and doing this — hopefully, we’re in a good place with “Walrus.”
You know, music’s about, How does this make you feel? You don’t want to feel secure around “Walrus” at any stage; you want to be unnerved by it. People sort of ask about plugins and technology, and it’s like, it’s not about that — something you can get on a shelf. How it makes you feel is the most important thing.
You once said that a White Album remix couldn’t be too smooth — it’s “slightly trashy. It’s visceral. It slaps you in the face.” I thought of that while listening to the remixed “Old Brown Shoe”; George’s vocal is way grimy on that one.
This is going to sound really ridiculous — and I’ve been through this with a number of different people — but my job is to make a record sound like how you remember it sounding. Because records never sound like how we remember them sounding. And you go back and go, Was that really there?
Some people accuse me of doing stuff that I haven’t done, or maybe forgot to do, or whatever. But the fact of the matter is that we kid ourselves all the time, and we fill in the blanks constantly.
It’s like, “What about the vocal of ‘Old Brown Shoe’? Why does it sound like this?” And I go, “Well, it sounds like that on the record.” It’s part of the character of the record. If it was too clean, it wouldn’t sound [right].
George was very particular at that stage. He didn’t get many goes, is the way I would say it, because he wasn’t given enough songs.
There’s a story [Beatles engineer] Ken Scott told about The White Album, of him doing “Savoy Truffle” — which is incredibly bright as a song, by the way. And my dad apparently went, “You know, it sounds quite bright, George.” And he goes, “I know, and I like it.” Like, “I know, and f— off,” basically.
You have to respect the artists’ wishes when you’re doing these things, even though they’re not there. Yeah, on “Old Brown Shoe,” the vocal’s quite strange. But that’s what George wanted it to sound like, and [far be it from] me to say it shouldn’t sound like that. […]
Looking at the post-“Now and Then” Beatles landscape, I’m enticed by which Beatles albums you’ll remix next. The select tracks on Red and Blue open a door to what Rubber Soul or Beatles For Sale redux might sound like.
Technology doesn’t — and never has — made great records, but it creates a pathway. You can do certain things that you couldn’t do in the past. And the most exciting thing for me is — as you say — it does open that door to that early material, which we couldn’t have done before.
I suppose fortuitously, we kind of worked backwards, in a way — and it made sense to do that. I couldn’t have done what I’ve done on The Red Album even six months ago, probably; it’s that quick. I love the fact that the Beatles are still breaking new ground with technology that will pave the way for other artists.Giles Martin – From GRAMMY.com, October 26, 2023
I asked Giles Martin about de-mixing and remixing the early, pre-Revolver songs: What is the end goal of that method with those relatively simple recordings? What was gained in service of the song and performance?
[Let’s] talk about the intent. It’s like saying, ‘Black and white films were intended to be in black and white.’ That was only because color didn’t exist. To answer the question ‘Can you do this?’: Of course, and this is what we’re [doing], in a groundbreaking way … We are taking tracks that in some cases—for example, ‘She Loves You’—are purely mono, and managing to separate the source instruments from those tracks, and then creating a new [stereo] mix. You have to be careful that you’re being musical about this, as natural as possible, but if you were in the room with The Beatles at the studios, you wouldn’t be listening in mono, you’d be listening to a band in a room. And that’s essentially what we’re trying to create. That was the intent, honestly, in those days when my father and Norman Smith were recording The Beatles. They were trying to capture the live sound of a band. So I think that’s what we’re celebrating with these early mixes, [using] the [de-mixing] technology.
Given that perspective, I wondered why he had chosen to keep drums mostly or entirely in one speaker, guitars in the other, on many of the Rubber Soul-era songs.
If we were to mix with a set of written rules, the mixes probably wouldn’t be very musical. It’s really based on taste. In ‘Drive My Car,’ the drums are still left, but they’re not as hard left as they were on the original, I don’t think, and that’s to give room for the guitar and piano. In ‘Norwegian Wood,’ the voices are in the middle, the drums are coming I think on the right-hand side, which makes sense because you’ve got guitars going on.
The interesting thing is, The Beatles were so economical with what they played, compared to modern day recordings. You quite often have a guitar, bass, and drums, and a vocal, and so if you’re thinking about the sound field of the three instruments, if you put the drums in the middle, and the guitar on the right-hand side, and then the bass on the left-hand side, it’ll sound right-heavy because bass doesn’t have much direction. So therefore, you have to put the drums slightly off to one side in order to create a stereo field. And the voices, we always try to put the voice in the middle.Giles Martin – From Stereophile.com, October 26, 2023
I liken it to baking a cake and then realizing that you want the ingredients back. And so you have to separate the flour, the milk, the eggs, the sugar, and you end up with the source materials. If you imagine recording yourself on a [telephone answering machine], and having a dog bark in the background, and then you’re thinking, ‘How do I get rid of that dog?,’ a computer [can] work out there’s a dog sound, and that dog will be removed. So it’s removing audio [from a single complex track and placing each instrument and voice on separate tracks], and that means that when I come to mixing, which is where you’re choosing the levels of different [instruments and voices], I have control over those in a sound field.Giles Martin – From The Last Beatles Song (and Other News) | Stereophile.com, October 26, 2023
I’m not really one for hyperbole, as you know. Technically, on the early tracks, it’s completely mind-blowing to me how we made them sound. I didn’t think it was possible for us to do that to the early tracks. As I’ve told you, I didn’t think that we could do the work we’ve done on things like ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ or ‘All My Loving’ or ‘Twist and Shout.’ The power of Ringo’s drumming, for example, on those early tracks, it’s been unearthed. But the playing is just really good. That’s joy.Giles Martin – From rollingstone.com, October 26, 2023
A goal of this project was to give the early recordings the same clarity and punch.
I think with the early Red Album now, we’re getting close to that, and it changes the dynamic of how they’re perceived. It’s like, as Ringo says, ‘We’re just a bunch of punks.’ And now they really sound like a bunch of punks! This is four guys in a room making a racket, which is what those early records were.Giles Martin – From rollingstone.com, October 26, 2023
Speaking of that technology, let’s talk about how you put it to use on the “1962-66” and “1967-70” remixes, of which there are dozens of new versions you worked on. When we were last talking when the deluxe “Revolver” was coming out, you spoke about you said the technology was finally ready to go back and address the problems of remixing the band’s earliest material, with its strange stereo separations and everything being melded together onto a couple of tracks. Obviously, it was ready, we now see from how far you delved into their very earliest recordings for these two sets. Was that a joy for you, to be able to have the technology you needed to create real stereo mixes — and Atmos mixes? It almost sounds comical in a way, that there is an Atmos mix of something as basic as “Love Me Do,” if we’re just thinking about the stereotypical use of Atmos. But you obviously embraced doing it all.
You know what? I did. And I have to say that I think the Atmos mixes of these songs, or just the new stereos, are probably the most groundbreaking things that I’ve been involved with of the Beatles. I mean, I really do. I was surprised. And as you know, I do embrace this technological side. What’s great about the opportunities that I get is that I can apply new technology that we’re inventing to an old catalog that deserves it, and that has a tradition of breaking new ground and breaking new boundaries.
And when we like looked at “Twist and Shout” or “Please Please Me” or “Love Me Do” and these (earliest recordings), I didn’t think it was possible to get the results we’d get. What’s exciting to me is, the results we’ve got are the sound of the band in the studios, you know? It’s almost taking away the technology that was limiting them at the time, in order to create a mix where the band are in the room. We can now separate the drums, bass and guitar without any transients or anything being added. There’s no sort of AI creation of instruments. And then we can put (the Beatles) back into the studios, which we do, and then we can amp them and then we can make the records.Giles Martin – From variety.com, November 2, 2023
Giles Martin, son of George, has remixed the Red and Blue albums of the Beatles’ greatest hits. He tells us which tracks have most benefited from the improved sound.
Please Please Me, 1963
“l was asked to remix Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [in 2017, for the 50th anniversary] and I was reluctant because remixing is like saying, ‘l can make this sound better.’ How arrogant! But, from much earlier on in their career, Please Please Me is a good example of what we can do. It is now more vibrant. Music doesn’t really get old, we just get old with music and if I can put someone back in the room with them, that’s really exciting.”
A Hard Day’s Night, 1964
“This sounds far more aggressive now, the way it’s meant to. It’s bonkers, but all this tech is simply to get rid of the tech that inhibited them in the beginning. They made mono discs, squeezed and squashed, so you could not have bass, and drums were basically just a cymbal. Now you have the sound of a band in a room. Four men in their early twenties hitting the shit out of stuff. You hear the crack of the snare. Ringo suddenly has a kick drum.”
“The Beatles are a band who become more beautiful when you open out the music. With some bands it’s a bit like opening up a body. “Oh God, stick it back together — you’ve only got three months to live!” With the Beatles, though, it’s healthy. Yesterday is a good example of the tech. It was a three-track — Paul playing guitar, him singing, then the strings. Now we have strings both left and right, in stereo. It’s like an orchestra.”
Nowhere Man, 1965
“The whole thing sounds more like the Byrds now — which is what inspired it. The best way of thinking about the technology is that it is like a sponge cake, and now there is just more air in the recordings. It’s a better baked cake. I’ve finally been given all the separated ingredients. The thing about great bands is that the sum of their parts is better than four individuals, and that was the case with the Beatles — they just were a great band.”From thetimes.co.uk, November 4, 2023
Last updated on November 12, 2023
The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.
We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!