"With the Beatles" Mono Reissue Beats the Original?

Though the two originals have plenty of "mileage", they don't sound "chewed" and a great deal of high frequency energy remains in the grooves. Nonetheless, this new AAA reissue sounds tonally identical to the original.

It's just far superior in every other way. It's more transparent, more detailed and far cleaner overall—not that this ever was a great recording. In fact, I'd argue that Please Please Me, though primitively recorded, sounds more immediate and "in the studio".

But that's not the point. The point is, the meticulous note taking and listening that's the hallmark of producer Steve Berkowitz's output is evident here. His aim was to give you the original experience and that's what you get here. A 100% success, better in mono than in stereo and a perfectly pressed record too.

Here's what I wrote about the stereo box. I have to admit I've softened somewhat on my contention that this is a weak follow up to Please Please Me.

When you consider that the first album was essentially the group's well-honed stage act and that's pretty much what they had, for a sophomore effort where many groups fall, this is a better than average effort though it follows the first album's formula (the annotation admits it) combining originals with American covers—six of them here—though it's easier to argue that the first album's originals were more eclectic, especially for older fans who were familiar with most if not all of the Motown covers and definitely "Roll Over Beethoven". It's also easy to argue that the covers were done with far greater sophistication and interpretive effectiveness, particularly Lennon's "You Really Got a Hold On Me". Covering Smokey took balls.

The highlights are the melodically superior, teen-aimed "All My Loving" and the darker, more sophisticated "Not a Second Time", though the rhythmically dynamic "All I've Got to Do" marks another songwriting step forward.

Also, in "retro-retrospect" and considering the history in Mark Lewisohn's book, it's easy to understand why, the album concludes with "Money" (co-written by Berry Gordy, Jr. and performed originally by Barrett Strong), another superb Lennon screamer cover designed to conclude the set with "Twist and Shout"-like rousing energy. It succeeds. You believe John. This reissue's sound on the side closer is far better than I've ever heard it. The piano overdubbed by George Martin has never sounded this clean.

The Beatles needed to break out of this album formula next time and of course they did. Also in the midst of recording this album, Parlophone released on August 23rd, 1963 the single "She Loves You"/"I'll Get You" recorded on July 1st. On October 21st they recorded "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and it was put in the can while they finished this album, finally issued on November 22nd 1963 the day Kennedy was assassinated and eight months after the release of Please Please Me. The single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was released in the U.K. a week later and within a week it had replaced the previous #1 tune "She Loves You".

bill lettang's picture

well now Mr. Fremer, very nice to hear indeed..my question..Did you put this album through various system combos like you did for PPM?

Michael Fremer's picture
Played with ZERO mono and Proteus stereo cartridges through Ypsilon preamp and Rogers PA-1A pure tube phono preamp. Once all of the reviews are up I'll play yet again through the Ortofon "Tribute" cartridge just as a check.
MicallefK's picture

After the stereo box calamity, it's great to see you raving over these mono reissues.
I am unloading some of my multiple copies of various Beatles import LPs to sink the cash into these monos. Thanks!

Jake's picture

Hi Mr Fermer, thank you for your review. I'm a little confused at times with your reviews as far as the meter rating. This is probably my ignorance so I apologize if I come across as finger pointing ( pointyish? Or whatever) Here is my question:

Your ratings on sound quality never have made a lot of sense to me. Sometimes I think youre saying "this isn't that great of a sounding album anyway." Other times I get the understanding that you mean " in comparison to the original". Can't tell which you mean most the time.

Do you mean it's an 8 because it's a two track recording and will never sound that great or this isn't a 10 like the best originals?

Enjoyed your youtube vids on the I boxing btw! And my apologies again for such a pointed first post. I simply want to understand what you mean. Thanks!

AnalogJ's picture

I think another way to put the question is whether the rating is in absolute terms, or related to previous versions. That IS a helpful distinction to indicate. Perhaps a third rating is warranted that would distinguish the two.

AZ's picture

Michael, as you know, there are many original UK cuts of "With The Beatles" (1N, 3N, 4N, 5N, 6N and 7N). Most of them are not that different from each other, but still... Which one did you use? Thanks!

azmoon's picture

This is only an 8 in music? With some of the titles that have gotten 9 and 10? Not sure where that bar is set......

Robophile's picture

This has always been one of my favorite early Beatles albums, and I would have to rate the music at 9 myself. I may have a soft spot because I cut my rock and roll teeth on this record at 5 while my 16 year old sister played it frequently and loudly for all to hear. .

Mike's giving us reason to feel like Christmas is coming early to Beatles fans! Thanks for the excellent coverage of these timeless LP re-issues, Mr. Fremer.

Looking forward to spinning these high quality mono's soon!

thomoz's picture

My mono 5N/6N copy is really bass shy. One of the few mono Beatles lp's I always have to listen to with eq. The US Magical Mystery Tour is very clearly cut but it's bass-shy too. I'm looking forward to the rest of the reviews. I was already sold on buying this box next week but you have helped considerably in assuring me that I made the right decision.

Jake's picture

A week later and I just noticed the misspelling of your name in my question. Sorry about that! That would be Fremer not Fermer.

AnalogJ's picture

I have a fairly clean, albeit VG+, original. The reissue sounds oh, so close. There is a bit more transparency here with the reissue. You can hear Ringo's bass drum kick into the chorus, for instance. I didn't notice that before.