I’m not usually into remastered albums. As a teenager, I bought a remastered Who album, and was appalled by the fact that Keith Moon’s drums were actually turned down on the remaster. Who thought that was a good idea? Since then, I’ve been kind of hesistant to buy any remasters. That and I’m also opposed to the “loudness” wars.
That being said, I am quite excited about the Beatles remasters. All of the articles I’ve read on the remastering have praised the care and commitment that has taken place. One of the things that has impressed me, is any “mistake” that was considered part of the performance is kept in. This is the kind of reverence that Beatles fans appreciate and deserve after all these years.
Most of all though, it’s another chance for a new generation to check out the Beatles. Their #1 collection is the number one selling CD of the decade so far, and for those who might only know the Beatles by their biggest songs (genius as they might be) it’s about time for them to check out all of the albums.
So which album am I going to buy first? That’s a tough choice. While, I love the scope of “The White Album”, I’m not sure if I’m ready to splurge twenty plus dollars yet, on another version of “Revolution # 9”. (Which by the way, I’m appalled by Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 5 Worst Beatles Songs, and it was not included.) No matter what though, I always tend to go back to “A Hard’s Day Night” and “Abbey Road”.
For me, “A Hard Day’s Night” is their first masterpiece. There are always arguments that “Rubber Soul” was the beginning of their experimentation, proving that the Beatles could be more than a “pop” group. But could you ask for a more perfect “pop” album than “A Hard Day’s Night”? Didn’t think so. There’s a certain joy in their performances that would be lacking later. You can tell their enjoying their moment, and that in turn leads to your own enjoyment of the album. I also think it’s Lennon and McCartney working together at their best.
“Abbey Road” on the other hand is the exact opposite. On this album, you have a fractured band who know they are bigger than their personal differences. While they Lennon and McCartney do bring their forces together on the “suite” at the end of side two, it’s clear who wrote what song. It’s also the culmination of everything great about the Beatles on one album: you have the loud rocking songs of the “White Album”, the scope and ambition of “Sergeant Pepper”, and the melodies of their early albums.
They may have better songs on other albums, or more influential albums, but “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Abbey Road” sum up everything great about the Beatles for me.