The Beatles * Revolver [180g vinyl]
For years the most anticipated vinyl reissues have been from the one, the only Beatles catalog. Finally, after a delay due to the meticulousness of the remastering process and assorted other hurdles, that day has come.
When the dust settles amid critical debates, fewer than 10 albums compete for the title of the Best Album Ever Recorded. Revolver is one of the chosen few — and for good reason. Seemingly reflecting the music of the Beatles' biggest peers of the time but surpassing it all by leaps and bounds, Revolver overturned conceptions of what music was and could be. Without any doubt, Revolver altered how every band from then on made records. And as this pressing proves, it still does.
For its Beatles' Stereo Albums series on LP, Capitol/Apple turned to a crack team of engineers to remaster Revolver from the original sources. The team, including Guy Massey, Steve Rooke and Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee undertook a four-year restoration process for the LP versions, combining state-of-the-art equipment, vintage studio gear and rigorous testing to meet the highest fidelity standards and produce authentic unsurpassed sound rivaling the original LPs. There is no longer any need to pay hundreds of dollars for Japanese pressings!
Recorded before the Beatles' personalities began to clash and in advance of the fog brought on by drug use, Revolver encompasses practically every imaginable style and then some. Gentle harmonic pop ("I Want to Tell You"), stained-glass acid rock ("She Said She Said"), upbeat soul ("Got to Get You Into My Life"), Indian ("Love You To"), and what, at the time, and in some ways still is, the most cutting-edge pop composition ever devised ("Tomorrow Never Knows"), a song that single-handedly reimagined and rewrote the rules of production.
Best yet, the Beatles sound cohesive, enthusiastic, and confident. There are no fractures in the chemistry, and the band amicably competes with itself in aiming for and achieving rock immortality. With George Emerick in the fold as the new engineer, the Beatles approached the studio as a chemistry lab. The biggest revelation? The potential of tape loops, as evidenced by "Tomorrow Never Knows," where phasing, reversing, slowing, and sampling turned the composition into a piece of masterpiece theater. Ringo's bass drum is also noticeably tighter, thanks to the addition of a sweater placed inside. All of the aspects are fully audible and amazingly preserved on this mind-blowing LP pressing.
Extensive testing was done before engineers copied the analog master tapes into digital files using 24-bit/192 kHz resolution and a Prism A-D converter. Dust build-ups were removed from tape machine heads after the completion of each title. Artifacts such as electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance and poor edits were improved upon as long as they were judged not to damage the integrity of the songs. The 24/192 transfers were done to produce an archival copy of the tapes and then those files were reduced to 24/44.1 kHz files for final mastering. De-noising technology was applied in only a few necessary spots and on a sum total of less than five of the entire 525 minutes of Beatles music.
The digital files were cut to lacquers at Abbey Road Studios. Engineer Sean Magee cut the LPs in chronological release order. He used the original 24-bit re-masters rather than the 16-bit versions that were required for CD production. It was decided to use the re-masters that had not undergone "limiting," a procedure to increase the sound level.
Steps to eliminate vocal distortions and inner-groove distortions were addressed. The latter can affect high-middle frequencies, producing a "mushy" sound noticeable on vocals. Using what Magee has described as "surgical EQ," problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.
Lastly, the first batches of test pressings made from the master lacquers that had been sent to two pressing plants were judged. Records with any noise or click appearing on more than one test pressing in the same place were rejected, on the grounds that undesired sound had been introduced either during the cutting or pressing stage. The re-masters have the absolute best sound quality, producing the quietest vinyl lacquers.For producer Rick Rubin, The Beatles' recorded achievements are akin to a miracle. The most popular bands in the world today typically produce an album every four years, Rubin told a 2009 radio audience. That's two albums as an eight-year cycle. "And think of the growth or change between those two albums. The idea that The Beatles made thirteen albums in seven years and went through that arc of change ... it can't be done. Truthfully, I think of it as proof of God, because it's beyond man's ability."