The Beatles Mono Box Set - The Beatles Original Mono Mixes on CD
hen The Beatles were recording their legendary albums in the 1960s almost everyone listened back to their music using a mono playback system. Since nearly everyone was listening back to their music in mono it only made sense that The Beatles spent most of their time perfecting their mono mixes while basically just "throwing together" the stereo mixes. In fact, according to Geoff Emerick (who worked on many of The Beatles recordings) the band itself spent almost no time on the stereo mixes.
The first 10 Beatles albums were all mixed in mono as well as in stereo (the first two albums were only mixed in mono.) And now as a part of The Beatles Mono Box Set all 10 of those albums are included in their original mono mix. This is a huge deal to Beatles purists who want to hear their songs as they were originally meant to be heard.
But it's not just "purists" that should be interested in hearing these mono mixes. Many have claimed that the mono mixes are not only how these albums were meant to be heard but that they actually sound far better in mono than they do in stereo. For example John Lennon himself has said that the 1967 classic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sounds much better in mono than it does in stereo.
And even if it doesn't sound "better" (that's a subjective statement anyway.) It certainly sounds different! There are many differences in what you can hear in the mono versions of Sgt. Pepper and the other Beatles albums from what you can hear in the stereo versions. Certain instruments are mixed more loudly. There are certain effects (such as an echo on the vocals on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds") which were lost in the stereo versions. If you're a big Beatles fan like I am then you are curious to hear this alternative version. Particularly when you think about how this is the way most people heard it for the first time back in 1967!
Along with those first 10 Beatles albums (all of the UK studio albums including Magical Mystery Tour even though it was initially released only as an EP in the UK) there's also a non-album songs set called Mono Masters which is included. Mono Masters has all of The Beatles songs which were never included on an album which were mixed in mono. If you're thinking that non album means that they aren't very good songs then you are definitely mistaken! Many of The Beatles greatest songs were never included on an album including huge hits like "Day Tripper" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
The Beatles' final three albums (including Let It Be and Abbey Road) are not included in the mono box set. Why not? Because they were never mixed in mono in the first place. By 1969 mono had been so completely phased out that The Beatles didn't bother mixing their albums in mono at all. How quickly things changed in the 1960s!