So I bought myself this little beauty – the complete remastered stereo Beatles box set – which, you may recall, I coveted here. A not inconsiderable financial outlay but what the hell, life is short, and so far it has been more than justified as the quality is a vast improvement on the old CDs in terms of depth and immediacy of sound.
I’m working my way through the albums in chronological order and having now completed Revolver which, closing as it does with the milestone freakery of Tomorrow Never Knows, I will designate as the halfway point, I thought I’d better report on my findings. It’s been interesting. The pop of the first four albums sounds less tinny and more bluesy and raw in the remastered format. There have been a few revelations (No Reply and I’m a Loser particularly. I’m Looking Through You was unexpectedly moving.). Some of the over-familiars are made strange again (I Want to Tell You with that weird atonal piano line. Eleanor Rigby is given a kick - I remembered again the profoundly disconcerting effect that the line about “Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door” had on my imagination as a child).
But for me the first big moment comes with Ticket to Ride (halfway through Help!). I don’t know quite why it is – there are plenty of great songs preceding it – but there’s some indefinable quality in the way that Lennon’s underdone vocal, the slightly slurred guitar and the tom-toms mesh together that makes the sound first and foremost 'Beatleness', as opposed to a pop song which happens to be by the Beatles and in their style. You might say that Ticket to Ride is the Platonic Beatle number. A very English sound, timeless; for some reason it reminds me not of Liverpool but of trains rattling through Baker Street tube station and grey-brown autumn dusks. Also the hot chestnut sellers who used to peddle their goods around Trafalgar Square, and may still. I can’t really articulate it; it just is what it is and the world is a tangibly better place for its existence. My friends, we must treasure these glimpses, snatched between the eternities of darkness and so forth. How's that for a music review, heh.