I am resisted acquiring the set since its release in 2009, arguing the stereo set is good enough and it is not that inexpensive. After all, it was just another ploy by the marketing guys to extract more hard earned money from the average consumer. But, last week, in a moment of fiduciary irresponsibility (the kids are still studying), I relented and bought it. Printed in Japan.
The mono sound jumps out. The mono sound is clear and tight, with a punch which creates excitement in the music that engages every sense of one's being. The boys are having fun, and I am having fun. That's entertainment.
The old CDs for the first four albums are also mono but unremastered. There is a loss of clarity. The new remastered stereo albums are a significant improvement over the unremastered in terms of definition, but the remastered mono stands out on clarity, tightness and punch. Ringo has never sung so well before, with his drumming a significant contributor to the songs and not a mere last minute addendum.
The brilliancy of the mono over the stereo is therefore the definition as well as the tightness of sound which ensues as one. Stereo, the new technology of the late sixties and early seventies, is an attempt at polarisation with a view to creating a greater "soundstage" at home (as if in a concert hall) - and this could be the manufacturers' way of doubling their sales by selling two speakers at one go rather than one by one. This could be related to increasing affluence where houses and homes get bigger and there is more space in the living room for the income earner to relax and enjoy after a hard day's work in the office.
The stereo tries to create an artificiality of sound through their separation to create an illusion of space. Some instrumental sounds are placed on the left and some on the right, with yet the key ones such as main vocal and drums would be placed in the centre to provide a centrality to the sound right in front of the listener - on the assumption that the listener sits comfortably in the centre in a large armchair. To enhance the illusion - and the ideal - some hifi freaks even suggest drawing the curtains and listening in the dark in order to create space.
The attempt to separate sound goes even further into the quadraphonic (4.0) and the 5.1 for the home theatre (with centre and subwoofer) all now is the rage as people imagine that sound could be given more space through separation and alienation.
Cohesion in sound and the creating of sound can take a more destructive path when the idolised Beatles each could not stand each other anymore (probably because increasing wealth has created increasing intolerance for others' idiosyncrasy) that they are quite happy to each go their own separate ways - and pursue their "solo" careers which, in my mind, though fairly successful were not as brilliant as the Beatles as a group. Each had their own peculiarity which were accentuated to the extent of being a bore, whereas the Beatles as a group was a much more considered attempt at creating good and enjoyable songs for the enjoyment of the public, by paring down on the outrageous and keeping things to the centre of an infinite variations.
The Beatles in mono, therefore, is a brilliant act and piece of work which combines the best of the group and of what is good in sound technology. Listening to The Beatles in mono is an enlightening experience, which shows how the simple and sharing and working together can be good and beautiful. Much better than the dominant of a member over the group or the pursuit of their solo careers.
The Beatles in mono could be a lesson for Malaysia, on how keeping the nation together is such a critically important thing.