"Yellow Submarine": Does It Matter?

With but four new tunes, this is arguably the least important Beatles album but it's part of the box so here we go.

Do you realize the original American version's cover omits the words "Nothing is Real"? Someone at Capitol felt the truth was too bizarre for the "kiddies" to handle?

It's back on this cover. Of course I bought an original U.K. pressing when it first came out. Back then you'd buy anything new by The Beatles. There wasn't that much of it for one thing, for another you just bought anything new by The Beatles. We were Beatles-starved. But truthfully I think I have played side one five times since buying the album and I only played side two once all those years ago.

The back jacket of the original UK edition and this reissue include a review of The Beatles while the American edition featured some gibberish.

The title tune of course was on Revolver, "Only a Northern Song" is a worthy Harrison psychedelic addition, originally presented in "fake" stereo and on this reissue wisely in genuine mono, "All Together Now" is a charming children's song, "Hey Bulldog" has some bite (sorry), "It's All Too Much" was an even more worthy Harrison psychedelic addition and "All You Need is Love" while on another American album, made its stereo debut here. And that's it other than Martin's orchestrations.

Those are actually more entertaining now to me then they were then, which was not at all. But listening to the reissue's version versus the original helped make clear the entire EQ and re-mastering enterprise versus the original UK pressing.

I was in the middle of reviewing the all-tube Zesto phono preamp first time I played the reissue side two and I made a note: "The Zesto is warm and tubey sounding." But It wasn't the Zesto. It was the EQ because when I played the original the sound got downright chilly in the upper mids and somewhat hard.

But on the original you can "see" the various sections of the orchestra and the individual instruments. And you can discern them in a defined studio space spread across the stage. You can watch an event. You can't do that on the reissue. It's more diffuse but it sounds more pleasing to the ear.

There must be a way to have both don't you think? ( I hear you: AAA).

As for side one, the reissue has waymore bass guitar, which may sound great or "all too much" depending upon your system's bass capabilities. Otherwise its smooth and inviting but not as transparent and image specific as the original.

I went to see the movie when it was first released in 1969. I remember parking my Pontiac Firebird 400 at The Meadows Theater in Fresh Meadows, L.I. I remember coming back to the car after the movie to find my Audiovox 8-track tape deck had been stolen. BASTARDS. That system rocked. I had four Altec-Lansing 405A speakers in the doors and side rear panels of the coupe. These were 4" monsters that you could soak with power and they just didn't quit. And they went low! Oh, back to album...

The cartoon was stylish and hip even if The Beatles had very little to do with it. It was disappointing that it wasn't their real voices but at a time of rising political anxiety, the cartoon acted as a safety valve of sorts and brought a generation coming of age back to a fading childhood. It was cool.

Speaking of cool, the 1999 yellow vinyl "Songtrack" contains well done remixes of some of these songs and other familiar tunes, nine on side one, six on side two. The sound is canned but the mixes are really good!

JC1957's picture

Thanks for the review Mikey and my better late than never condolences about the loss of your 8-track player all those years ago.

There's only a few things worse than having your audio equipment and music stolen.

Hope they catch those bastids responsible someday.

Paul Boudreau's picture

"The sound is canned by the mixes are really good"  Um, what?

otaku2's picture

When "they" stole the box of 8-track tapes out of my Mom's Firebird 400 I happened to be walking back toward the car and saw the thieves.  I, as a not so innocent bystander, offered them $10 for the box of tapes and they agreed.

Moodeez1's picture

I think he meant to say "but" instead of "by". As far as "canned", I'm not sure.

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes, I meant "but". What I meant by "canned" is that the mixes on that album are really well done. For instance, Ringo sings "Yellow Submarine" from the middle not from the right channel. But the overall sound is not natural and warm. It sounds kinda flat and "canned." 

Javier Rippes's picture

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bwright's picture

Which particular pressing of Yellow Submarine is considered the one to have - UK, US, MFSL, 2009/2014 reissue, etc.?

Perhaps I'm a bit alone in this opinion, but this is my all-time favorite Beatles record.