The Beatles

Record review

Reissues & Box Sets

The Beatles

The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 (Apple/Capitol)

The "Back to Mono" movement be damned: the last thing rock & roll needs is jazz's alternate takes. The second 4-CD flimsy of the Beatles' U.S. catalog, a sorry series of slices and dices in the early years, follows up 1964 with two regurgitated collections, a soundtrack (Help!), and Rubber Soul – all from 1965. The Wal-Mart nature of The Early Beatles and Beatles VI makes mono and stereo mixes for both, sequenced back to back, for posterity only (and the Japenese market). That goes double for Help!, sequenced with instrumental film cues that call into question whether you're listening to The Nutcracker or Star Wars. The Hard Day's Night sitar medley is perfect for Syd Barrett's visit to Dr. Robert. Rubber Soul, on the other hand, the Beatles all grown up, flickers with a revelation or two in its opposing mixes, mono the X-ray through which the stereo version's hormonal warmth flattens out into black-&-white standards. McCartney's "I've Just Seen a Face" and "I'm Looking Through You" razzle, while John Lennon's "Norwegian Wood" and "In My Life" dazzle. Even Sir Paul's "Michelle" wears its prom charm sincerely. Early, it's all Johnny Bop-a-Lula; Lennon's formal rockist approach to "Twist and Shout" is nearly a caricature of itself on the way to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The stereo version of the Isley Brothers cover kicks mono butt, though Lennon's two-channel "Anna" only spotlights his pure tenor. Ringo holds his own on "Boys." Correction: Two versions of Buddy Holly's "Words of Love" aren't enough.

**

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