Friday, February 4, 2011

1963, February 25: Sources: BOYS

“BOYS”

Versions. There is only one version.

Foundational Variations. A “Foundational Variation” is any preceding base for a released recording which (with some exceptions) has no extra material. For this song, the original twin-track Take 1 is not available for inspection. On the released Stereo recording, the original material is divided between the channels. Thus, we can go no further back than the released mixes.

Variations. There are two Mono mixes, three total Variations.

The first Mono mix, designated Variation 1.0, is on every release except The Beatles Rock Band video game.

The second Mono mix, on The Beatles Rock Band video game, is designated 3.0, since it arrived after (well after) the Stereo mix.

There is only one Stereo mix, but there are three Variations.

The first Variation, 2.0, is designated to all Stereo releases of “Boys” except two (see below).

The second Variation, 2.0.1, is a derivative of 2.0. On The Early Beatles Stereo LP, “Boys” has somewhat more reverberation than on the Please Please Me album. It’s not quite “cavernous” (as are some other tracks on this US LP), but it nevertheless earns a Variation.

The third Variation, 2.1, is on the 1976 US edition of, and the 1980 US and UK reissues for, the 2-LP Rock & Roll Music. It has reversed channels and also a different Stereo image (the consequence of increased bleed), earning a Variation.

Not Variations.

(1) In testing* “Boys” on the German Stereo Die Beatles LP, considered to have less processing than all other Stereo Please Please Me pressings (details: here), I heard a tiny (if any!) discrepancy in the reverberation quality on the vocal (Right) channel, but not enough to earn any new Variation.

* I tested using both vinyl (German Please Please Me) and needle-drop FLAC (Die Beatles), performing A-B tests against several other sources, including UK Please Please Me (vinyl and FLAC), Blue Box Please Please Me (vinyl and FLAC), MFSL Please Please Me (vinyl and FLAC), and the 2009 Please Please Me remaster.

(2) Discrepancies in channel loudness generally do not earn any new Variation.

(3) Concerning the “Mono Fold-Down” (Mono-from-Stereo) track on The Early Beatles Mono LP, it’s interesting from the standpoint that it proves this album to be filled with such fold-downs, but it can be replicated by simply summing to Mono while playing the Stereo track, and therefore earns no new Variation.

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AUDIO SOURCES

Sonic Ratings. All recommended sources will receive a subjective sonic rating, either Excellent, Very Good, or Good. This subjective rating is based on various factors, including (1) clarity vs. murkiness, (2) smoothness vs. distortion (including harshness) or peaking, (3) balance vs. over-loud elements (for example, too much emphasis on bass), and (4) comparison to other sources under a particular category (for example, Mono). Any source not given a rating of at least Good will at least be provided explanatory notes (including whether or not I’ve heard that source).

Price Tags. Vinyl sources will include an estimated 2010 price tag in US dollars, taken mainly from completed eBay auctions.

Terminology. "Analog" refers only to vinyl. No tapes were tested.

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MONO

Imbalance. “Boys” in Mono has mastering imbalances of several varieties, differing from source to source. In cases where I was able to test for such imbalance, I provide details.

Terminology. "FLAC signature" and "Channel Duplication Solution" are terms under the subject of imbalance, discussed: here.

End of Song. In the fadeout for “Boys” 1.0, the last sounds are the response “yeah, yeah, boys!” after Ringo sings “well, I’m talkin’ ‘bout boys, now.” This is fullest, I think, on Millennium Remasters Red Wax and on the 2009 Remaster, others fading or cutting off a hair too quickly.

VARIATION 1.0: ANALOG

UK LP Please Please Me (1963) - Mono

$20-1000.

General. Details for various incarnations of this album are: here.

My Sources:

Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. Ebbetts FLAC hiss: link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Nice mix of the elements. Bad: Vocal a bit peaky.

Pbthal needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. EXCELLENT. Good: It’s a wee bit darker, which I like a little better. Bad: Not much.

Millennium Remasters Red Wax Japan LP needle-drop 320 kbps mp3.

Imbalance. Millennium Remasters mp3 signature: link.

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: Warm bass. Bad: A bit muffled, and spectrum analysis shows some loss of mid-range.

Pbthal Red Wax Japan LP (Toshiba EAS-70130) needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. GOOD. Good: An eyelash brighter than Millennium Remasters. Bad: Still somewhat muffled.

US LP Introducing the Beatles, et. al. (1963) - Mono

$100+ (Introducing the Beatles, if genuine)

General. I did not test “Boys” on any other Vee-Jay album, but I assume they use the same master as Introducing the Beatles. Capitol Starline 6066 probably used this master as well.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl. (2) Dr. Ebbetts’ needle-drop FLAC.

Imbalance. Vinyl, untested. Dr. Ebbetts, none.

Sonic Rating. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: All the elements present. Complete ending. Bad: Perhaps a tad bright, and a touch of sibilance.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good: Close to the vinyl. Bad: Highs tweaked a bit more, so the stinging guitar, for example, seems irritating.

Mono, Analog, Notes

(1) The Mexican EP (EPEM 10040) is bright and imbalanced, with a cut ending (“yeah, yeah...).

VARIATION 1.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me (1987)

My Source. CD.

Imbalance. link.

Sonic Rating. VERY GOOD. Good: Almost exactly like Ebbetts UK LP FLAC. Vocal delightful, and drums pop. Bad: Not as tangy.

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) - Mono

My Source. FLAC.

Imbalance. FLAC signature. Spectrum analysis of WAV file from CD showed same characteristics as FLAC signature.

Sonic Rating. EXCELLENT. Good: Very similar to many others, except a smidge less bright, so (ding!) great bass. Modified mid-range is super. Warmth and dimension. Full ending. Bad: Some tradeoff in high frequencies makes the guitar a whisker weak.

VARIATION 3.0

Section updated February 10, 2011

General. (1) Rather than two choruses culminating in a fadeout end, as Variation 1.0, “Boys” 3.0 employs an ending with one chorus and a tacked-on full stop (new edit). (2) The guitar is mixed lower in this Variation.

VIDEO GAME The Beatles Rock Band (2009)

General. More details on the video game mix, .MOGG file multi-tracks, and outfakes: here.

My Sources. Internet (all).

Imbalance. Yes.

Sonic Rating. Video Game Mix, VERY GOOD. Good: Energy and dynamics of the 2009 Remaster. Slightly-boosted low end and slightly-quieted high end allows bass and drums to shine without vocals acquiring sibilance. Bad: Some sandiness in the guitar.

MOGG File Multi-Tracks. This section regards the extracted .MOGG file, consisting of 10, that is five pairs of Stereo, tracks. Full Playback has a problem in the drum sound. Isolated Tracks 1 & 2: Miscellaneous High and Low Frequencies. Digital noise. Isolated Tracks 3 & 4: Bass. Mud. Isolated Tracks 5 & 6: Guitar/Snare. Too much echoed bleed to have any value. Lead guitar is not well here. Isolated Tracks 7 & 8: Vocals. Digital drums noise comes with it. Isolated Tracks 9 & 10. Count-in. VERDICT: Not worth much.

Outfakes. As we know, an "outfake" is a fan-created mix or recording. The video game mix and the .MOGG file multi-tracks have both been subjected to various fan-created treatments, including extraction and remix. The bootleg, Beatles Rock Bandology Vol. 2, is devoted entirely to 28 treatments of "Boys." Other outfakes exist (I discovered 10), some with, and some without, crowd noise and/or count-in.

I have decided to avoid review of these outfakes, since they have purely subjective value.

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STEREO

Mix Information. The takes were recorded as twin-tracks, two tracks recorded simultaneously, instruments to one side, vocals to the other. For Stereo mixing, the instrumental (minus drums) side of the twin track was sent hard (wide) to the Left channel, vocals and drums hard to the Right channel, with nothing (except bleed and occasional echo) Center, approximately thus (“I” = instrumental track, “V” = vocals/drums track):

Left _I_________________V_ Right

Deviations from this standard, if any, will be noted below.

Relative Channel Loudness. This is the relation of the Left channel to the Right channel. Each source has its own recipe, affecting the listening experience, especially under headphones.

Relative channel loudness differs from overall loudness. Whereas the former may cause a desire to rebalance the channels (by whatever method), the latter (which I will call “gain”) motivates to adjust the volume knob.

Sonic Rating and Mono Summing. The deviations to Wide Stereo are limited, those deviations being (1) channel placement (see “Mix Information” above), (2) relative channel loudness (already covered), and (3) equalization. Due to this minimalism, I decided to listen in Mono to determine the sonic rating (this also satisfied any curiosity concerning “how it would sound”). When I double-checked my findings in Stereo, I was pleased that they matched.

Unhealthy Competition. The Left (instrumental) channel for “Boys” in Stereo has a tendency to overpower the Right channel, the guitar being the great offender.

End of Song. Stereo has the same ending as Mono, the fullest fadeout coming, I think, on the first lacquer of the UK LP.

VARIATION 2.0

UK LP Please Please Me (1963) - Stereo

$50-24,000

General. Details for various incarnations of this album are: here.

My Sources:

UK LP, Two-box label, "-1" lacquer.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl, “2” mother, deep stamper (9th label, ca. 1970). (2) Pbthal “Tube Cut” needle-drop FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, this source is a little louder than most. FLAC, attempts to rectify by lowering the overall gain.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good: A good mix of the elements. Bad: Guitar is perhaps too loud. Bit skinny on bass.

Pbthal, VERY GOOD. Good: Vocals are strong. Drums and guitar slick. Bad: The bass is weak here, weakest among sources. Tiny bit of sibilance.

UK LP from The Beatles Collection ("Blue Box"), "-2" lacquer.

My Sources:
(1) Vinyl. (2) Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, the Right (vocal) channel is a little quieter than the first lacquer UK LP. FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, has the Left (instrumental) channel somewhat louder.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, EXCELLENT. Good: Although the vocal is somewhat overshadowed here, it seems like an upgrade from the first lacquer, bass more prominent without being obnoxious. Bad: Guitar a little loud.

Ebbetts, VERY GOOD. Good: Though channel loudness is configured reverse to the vinyl, the dynamics come out similarly. Bad: Guitar peaks, especially at solo. Vocals a bit ragged.

US LP Introducing the Beatles (1963) – Stereo

$ expensive !

General: Vee-Jay album, catalog SR-1062.

My Source: Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, the Left channel is much louder and the Right channel is a little louder.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. A bit darker than the Blue Box, but the Left channel is just too loud.

German LP Die Beatles, or Please Please Me (1966-1977) - Stereo

$ 20-100

General. There is no perceivable difference in reverberation for “Boys” 2.0 here compared to other sources. Details on the German sources for "Boys” 2.0 are: here.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl, German Please Please Me (Apple Electrola 1C 062-04219), lacquer “SHZE-117-A2/-B2.” (2) Pbthal Die Beatles needle-drop FLAC. (3) Dr. Ebbetts was used to verify testing.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, compared to first lacquer vinyl, gained lower. Pbthal FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, gained slightly higher.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, not very impressive, probably due to lower gain. Seemed murky.

Pbthal, VERY GOOD. Good: A little more bass than on the UK LP first lacquer. Bad: Vocals a bit ragged, guitars a bit loud.

Japan (MFSL) LP Please Please Me (1986)

$50 up

General. This release (MFSL 1-101) was also part of a box set (the “Black Box”).

My Sources: (1) Vinyl, from The Black Box. (2) Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC.

Note that Dr. Ebbetts’ 2008 Upgrade was a remaster, not a needle-drop. I deal with this appropriately.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, compared to Blue Box vinyl, gained somewhat lower. FLAC, compared to Tube-Cut FLAC, has a much louder instrumental channel, and a somewhat louder vocal channel.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. EXCELLENT. Good: Great bass. Guitar not as harsh as other sources. Bad: Not much.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good: Tubby bottom isn’t too bad. Bad: Vocals and guitar distant.

Dr. Ebbetts 2008 Upgrade. Much different than Ebbetts’ original MFSL offering. Pretty close to the sound of the Blue Box FLAC, but gained much lower. Skip it.

Variation 2.0 Analog, Notes

(1) The Millennium Remasters red wax runs fast, which is enough to reject it.

VARIATION 2.0: DIGITAL

CD Please Please Me - Remaster (2009) – Stereo

My Source. FLAC.

Relative Channel Loudness. Compared to the Tube-Cut FLAC, gained somewhat louder.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. EXCELLENT. Good. A lot going for it, with a little more bass than the Blue Box, and a nice texture to the highs. Bad. Not much.

VARIATION 2.0: BOOTLEG

Fabulous Sound Labs HDCD Please Please Me

My Source: 320 kbps mp3.

Relative Channel Loudness. Emulative of the 2009 Remaster (or the other way around).

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Unfortunately, the channel loudness does not translate to correct dynamics. This is merely a too-loud version of the Blue Box.

VARIATION 2.0.1

General. This Variation adds some reverberation.

US LP The Early Beatles (1965) – Stereo

$5-10

General: Capitol album, catalog ST-2309. It’s the familiar “American” sound, if you will.

My Sources: (1) Vinyl (orange label; also, Apple label). (2) Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC. (3) The Capitol Versions Vol. 2 FLAC (since this is actually digital, I cheated here).

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl, compared to the first lacquer UK LP, Right channel is a bit quieter. Ebbetts, compared to the Tube-Cut FLAC, the Left channel is much louder, and the Right is somewhat louder. The Capitol Versions, even louder than Ebbetts (disqualified from further testing). I am not convinced that Ebbetts did not use the Capitol Versions CD as his foundation.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl, VERY GOOD. Good. Nice range of dynamics. Reverb feels good. Bad. Right (vocal) channel a little obfuscated due to extra bass.

Ebbetts, GOOD. Good. Close in texture to the vinyl. Bad. It’s way too loud!

VARIATION 2.1

General. This Variation was mixed and mastered by George Martin in 1975 and/or 1976, and has three changes: (1) channels reversed, Left becoming Right and vice versa, (2) a slight amount of reverberation added, and (3) the Right (instrumental) channel is almost Center, and the Left channel is moved much closer to Center, approximately thus:

Left _____V________I_______ Right

US 2-LP Rock & Roll Music (1976, 1980)

$5-20

General: This Variation was released in the US in 1976 on a double LP (Capitol SKBO-11537), and in 1980 on the first of two separate reissue single albums, in the US (Capitol SN-16020 & SN-16021) and in the UK (EMI/Music for Pleasure MFP-50506 & MFP-50507).

My Sources: (1) Vinyl (both US issues). (2) Dr. Ebbetts needle-drop FLAC. (3) All Together Now bootleg FLAC. (4) Every Little Thing 4, Disc 1 bootleg mp3. (5) Rarities 3: The Final Mixes bootleg mp3.

Relative Channel Loudness. Vinyl (US 1976), considered in reverse fashion to the first lacquer UK LP, has a much louder Right (instrumental) channel and a bit quieter Left (vocal) channel. Vinyl (US 1980) is modified a bit, bringing down the Right channel a little, and bringing up the Left channel a little. I think the 1980 vinyl has the better relative loudness.

Bootlegs, I can’t really tell from which LP any derive, although my guess is that only All Together Now was taken from the 1980 reissue.

Sonic Rating by Mono Summing. Vinyl (US 1980), VERY GOOD. Good. Nice mix of the elements, especially bass and vocals. Bad. Bit of a mish-mash.

Vinyl (US 1976), I didn’t like the Relative Channel Loudness, and that really threw it off for me. The equalization, however, did not seem to be different than 1980 vinyl.

Ebbetts, should not even be considered, as it has been remastered, and not well. Harsh, without much bass, and possibly an adjusted Stereo image.

All Together Now, GOOD. Seems to have added a little too much bass to be authentic, but it’s not bad at all.

Every Little Thing 4, and Rarities 3: The Final Mixes, GOOD. These are, I think, from the same master, and seem much closer in sonic quality to the vinyl, though the channel balance is more like 1976.

OUTFAKE

General. An "outfake" is a fan-created mix or recording.

Bootleg, Dr. Ebbetts' Please Please Me "Stereo Remix"

Dr. Ebbetts worked a “Stereo Remix” (details: here), with the Right (vocal) channel very close to Center, approximately thus:

Left _I__________V_______ Right

This was accomplished by mixing the vocal channel into the instrumental channel, and bass frequencies into the vocal channel (giving the impression that Paul’s bass is somewhat Center). Drums show up in the Right channel when Ringo is not singing. It’s pretty good, though the drum movement is distracting.

Naturally, being unauthorized, this is not a Variation.

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MONO FOLD-DOWN: ANALOG & DIGITAL

The 1965 Mono LP The Early Beatles (Capitol T 2309) used a Mono-from-Stereo fold-down, as did the 2006 CD set, The Capitol Albums, Volume 2. This “mix” is not collectible nor a Variation, as you can “make” it yourself by pushing the “Mono” button on your amplifier. For a few more details on the original album, go: here.

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VIDEO SOURCES

Section updated February 16, 2011

CARTOON

(1) The Beatles cartoon series, Episode 19, includes an animated animated segment in which the boys play to an enthusiastic audience at a muscle beach. A capture appears below. Sound effects are overdubbed.

ROCK BAND

The Beatles Rock Band video game offers this song as a performance at the Cavern Club. Various angles are presented in several combinations, so there are many enjoyments. Obscuring game elements, both visual (meters and counters) and aural (crowd noise), are virtually impossible to eliminate.

Some enterprising individuals have collected the video game performances to bootleg DVD.

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Tom Wise
gengar843@msn.com

Although I use quotes from sources, or cited fact, much of the material on this and other pages of my blog is original, from my own pen. This is not cut-and-paste, it is a work of art. Copyright © 2010-11 Tom Wise.

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