Dream come true for fans and audiophiles

Beatles fans are divided into two camps about Rubber Soul: some prefer the original 14 song UK release, others the American 12 track issue. They are different both because in the UK it was customary to leave the single and "B" sides off the album, and because Capitol preferred giving American youngsters less, thus ending up with odds and scraps that would add up to an "extra" album or two. One became Yesterday and Today, which The Beatles supposedly protested with the original "butcher" cover-as in "you've dismembered our babies." Perhaps Beatles scholars will email to tell me I'm wrong about that, but I like it anyway.

Even though the Parlophone is what The Beatles intended and the stingier Capitol was "assembled" by the American subsidiary, there's a musical logic and cohesiveness about the latter that's difficult to deny-even if it was an accident. The rock-driven "Drive My Car" opens the UK original, the Capitol begins with the folk-acoustic "I've Just Seen a Face," which proponents claim is a far more effective lead-in for "Norwegian Wood," "You Won't See Me,", "Think For Yourself," "The Word," and "Michelle," closing out the first side. The Parlophone breaks the flow by inserting "Nowhere Man," (later found on Yesterday and Today) between "You Won't See Me" and "Think For Yourself." That's the rap, you'll have to decide for yourself, but there is a certain charm to the U.S. first side lacking in the U.K. edition. Ditto the second side.

ABCKO offers both the UK and US editions of Aftermaths part of its meticulously produced hybrid SACD reissues, and while there's not quite as much controversy here, both editions of the first Stones album written entirely by Jagger/Richards have their strong points.

The shorter U.S. edition (43, versus 54 minutes) opens with the dramatic "Paint It Black"-missing from the U.K. edition-but loses "Mother's Little Helper," "Out of Time," (a shortened version of which appeared on Flowers) "Take It or Leave It," and "What to Do." The track order is different as well with the U.K. edition sort of petering out at the end with "Take It or Leave It," "Think" and "What to Do" while the U.S. ends with "It's Not Easy," "I am Waiting," and appropriately "Going Home," which was the final song on side one of the original UK vinyl.

No great loss losing "What to Do," or "Take It or Leave It," but "Out of Time" and "Mother's Little Helper" are missed. Overall though, while the Glimmer Twins and Andrew Loog wanted it the other way, the streamlined U.S. edition has a stronger, tighter track line-up. Even the cover delivers more drama. It's great being given the choice, though.

Musically, these tunes hold up extremely well, demonstrating the enormous musical growth of Jagger/Richards and a high level of musicianship. Yes, "Flight 505" is out of the Chuck Berry songbook and Mick goes overboard with his phony orgasms on "Going Home," but consider smart rockers like "It's Not Easy" and dramatic, dynamic masterpieces like "I Am Waiting," and you have, if not one of the Stones' best albums, one of the cornerstones of the group's catalog.

Sonically, Aftermath can't be beat. Recorded at RCA Hollywood by Dave Hassinger, the sound is spacious, and uncharacteristically pristine and dynamic compared to previous Stones albums. The harpsichord and other keyboards are rendered with crystalline clarity while Brian's fuzz guitar is as dirty as you'd want.

While the original U.S. London vinyl was a pale counterpart of the U.K. Decca "FFSS," the sound on these two SACD hybrids is identical and comparing the Decca vinyl with the SACD layer demonstrates just how carefully the remastering was done. They're so close, that for all intents and purposes they're identical, though the original vinyl holds a slight edge. I can only imagine the excitement felt by a Stones fan unfamiliar with the great sound of the UK original vinyl, and all too familiar with the London vinyl and ABCKO original CD.

On a scale of 1-100, these SACD hybrids-the entire Stones catalog-get 100 in my book for both sonics and packaging, but I'd sure like to have the series on vinyl with the original LP lineups mastered from the analog archival tapes made simultaneous with the DSD transfers!

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Beatles is a legendary bans and among the most admire and followed band all over the world. - YORHealth