Sunday, March 4, 2007

Back To Mono...

Woo hoo!

After a dozen tries I just managed to win an auction for an original UK 1st pressing of The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed on Decca, in mono.

This is the last of the major Stones albums to be done in stereo and mono editions. Beggars Banquet, the year earlier, like Let It Bleed, was only issued in the UK in mono, there is no US mono pressing.

This brings me ever closer to finishing a complete set of UK and US Rolling Stones LPs in mono. There are three things that potentially attract me to the mono versions of 60s records.

First, as in the case of The Beatles, the final mixing sessions where the album was mixed to mono was done separately from the stereo mixes and often there are significant differences between the two. The Beatles, John, Paul & George anyway, would always closely oversee the mono mixes of their albums, but leave the stereo mixes to the engineers. George Harrison, Geoff Emerick (their recording engineer) and others have long said that you've never heard the Sgt. Pepper LP unless you've heard the mono version. In the era of CD remastered editions, there are precious few examples of labels returning to the original mono versions.

Second, as in the case of the early Stones LPs, Donovan's Sunshine Superman, Procol Harum's first album and many others, there simply are no true stereo pressings, only mono. All the stereo pressings of these records are actually "electronically reprocessed stereo" a crude scam in which some echo and panning is added to the mono version. And vastly inferior.

Third, on a good turntable with good outboard equipment, early mono pressings of rock & roll records just sound better. They're punchier, louder, more energetic and "in your face" than the stereo pressings. If you ever have the chance, compare the first two Jimi Hendrix Experience LPs in mono and stereo; you'll be amazed.

For reasons I'll never understand I got into this Stones listening jag sometime before Christmas and didn't lift my head up out of it for well over a month. I came out of it a much bigger fan of the early records. In the past my early Stones collection was the greatest hits collection, High Tide and Green Grass, the best of five early Greatest Hits records I spent a lot of time with between 1965 and 1966. The other four great ones from this eara were The Best of The Animals on MGM, The Kinks Greatest Hits on Reprise, The Beach Boys Greatest Hits on Capitol, and The Best of The Lovin Spoonful on Kama Sutra. Three great British Invasion bands and two great American bands all similar in that their early LPs were comprised on one or two hit singles surrounded by filler. These LPs were concentrated bursts of what made each of these bands so great.

Imagine a set list of "Satisfaction" "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" "You Really Got Me" "Surfer Girl" and "Do You Believe In Magic?"


The great tribute to The Beatles is that there was never any effort to assemble a "Greatest Hits" album for them as it would have to have been a box set housing all their existing LPs and singles in a neat new cover.

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