The Beatles Go Mono Once More – on Vinyl

Beatles in Mono box front

It sure has been quite a year for Beatlemaniacs looking to fill their shelves with catalogue wares from The Fab Four. Last winter saw the CD release of a second volume of BBC recordings (coinciding with a remaster of the first from 1994) and a digital-only, copyright-saving official bootleg; this year, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the band’s first appearance on American shores, Apple/UMe recreated (sort of) the band’s U.S. discography on CD, and will in July do the same for the group’s first five Japanese albums. Which begs the question: what’s next? That answer has finally taken shape with the announcement that the Beatles’ highly sought-after monaural discography will be reissued on vinyl.

As fans well know, a few months before The Second Disc launched, the gem of The Beatles’ extensive remastering campaign in 2009 was the premiere of the band’s complete mono discography on CD. (Only the band’s first four albums, when first released on compact disc in 1987, were presented in mono.) The band’s first ten U.K. albums (counting the U.S. LP program of Magical Mystery Tour, now part of the “official” discography) were compiled in one box, along with a Mono Masters compilation collating all of the group’s mono singles (including unreleased true mono mixes of the songs featured in Yellow Submarine for an EP that never came to light).

Now, exactly five years after that fabled, platinum-certified box was released (remember when we all thought it was a limited edition affair?) Apple/UMe is putting the same contents out on vinyl, both separately and boxed together (the box, of course, will feature a hardback book with essays by Kevin Howlett and rare photos and memorabilia).

Well…maybe not exactly the same contents. The press release offers this tantalizing tidbit that will surely set audiophiles ears to maximum discretion (emphasis ours):

n an audiophile-minded undertaking, The Beatles’ acclaimed mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Sean Magee and GRAMMY®-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz. While The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, for this new vinyl project, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records without using any digital technology. Instead, they employed the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and by detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers.

Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of The Beatles’ albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.

So, five years after fans debated the quality of The Beatles in mono and stereo, mastered in the ’60s or in 2009, it looks like the debate shall continue!

The Beatles in Mono vinyl box, and its individual contents, can be pre-ordered below.

The Beatles in Mono (Apple/UMe, 2014) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)

  • Please Please Me (Parlophone, 1963) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • With The Beatles (Parlophone, 1963) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (Parlophone, 1964) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Beatles for Sale (Parlophone, 1964) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Help! (Parlophone, 1965) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Rubber Soul (Parlophone, 1965) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Revolver (Parlophone, 1966)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Parlophone, 1967) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol (U.S.), 1967)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • The Beatles (2-LP) (Apple, 1968) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Mono Masters (3-LP) (Apple/EMI, 2009)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)

Comments

      • says

        I hope the pressings are better than the ones in the stereo set. A friend of mine had some small chips out of the edges of some of the albums and some of the pressings were noisy.

  1. Rocky says

    I’ve been a fan for over 51 years and I have purchased every release possible. And I would love to have this one. But Capitol/Apple has finally found my limit. As of this writing, Amazon has this set at over $400. Not going to happen. I know they should be able to make a good profit for half that. Tired of being ripped off by this bunch.

  2. Magnus Hägermyr says

    The box certainly makes some serious digging in the wallet but $409 is actualy a better price than £288 and still not barbarian. But if it’s really a limited edition this time around the price is only to increase in the future. I think I grabb it NOW!

    • Rocky says

      Two problems for me: 1.) There is no guarantee that this won’t have subsequent printings. Remember the Mono cd box was initially promoted as a limited edition. It’s now marked down at most outlets. I bought my copy for $99! and 2.) I generally don’t purchase music as an investment – I buy it to listen. It still seems to me as though the record company is really gouging Beatles fans.

      • Magnus Hägermyr says

        I will listen be sure but I agree that there’s no guarantee. Still 14 LP:s for $409 is ca £30 per each. Not much overprice really. And then the nice book.

    • Rocky says

      Ok. But if you buy from Amazon @ $409 & add sales tax (for most of us) It comes to almost $40 per disc (plus the book). It may be worth it to some, but I as much as I would like to have this set, it is too much for me and most others. It’s a “limited edition” for a “limited market. Further, it looks like Amazon is selling the individual mono titles for under $25 (including tax)! Let’s see… that comes to about $275 – $300 for the music only. That means folks will be paying at least $140 for the book & packaging! Am I missing something?

      • Magnus Hägermyr says

        For me who’s ordering from Sweden I pay about $20 extra for the book and box. Maybe that has to do with the delivery charge which is the same for the hole box as for every each LP if ordered separately. $140 would be silly I agree.

      • Magnus Hägermyr says

        Debate with you Rocky called for a further investigation that revealed if a Swede ordering one item outside the Europen Market costing above $200 there will be taxes and customs duty waiting around the corner. My pricetag became silly too. I’ve now canceled my order for the box at Amazon US and I’ll await to see if the prises at Amazon in Europe will be more attractive. Cheers!

    • Magnus Hägermyr says

      I wrote not MUCH overpriced. The price for an individual LP on Amazon.com that day was $26.6 a differ with $3.4. Wow.

  3. says

    It would be great to hear what someone whose listened to them thinks, especially in comparison with original pressings (asking a lot, I know). I’m pretty sure all the vinyl I have (mostly purchased in the 70’s and early 80’s is stereo stuff, even the British imports.

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