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Baker's Dozen

Harmonic Worlds: Colin Newman's 13 Favourite Albums
Ben Graham , July 17th, 2018 10:09

The Immersion, Wire and Githead founder member chooses a list that goes from minimalism to maximalism, via Steve Reich, LFO and Todd Rundgren, and tells Ben Graham how Britpop was rubbish but The Beatles have never sounded better

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The Beatles - Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017 remaster)
I originally chose the White Album, but then I thought, no, the White Album probably is my favourite Beatles record, but Sergeant Pepper is one of those records that everybody had and you heard it so many times that I didn't imagine I could ever possibly come back to it. But I have a librarian in me; some of the Wire things I've done I've made out of sources, to recreate something, and because EMI were so diligent about keeping all of the original material they were able to go back to the original 4-track tapes, put them all into Pro Tools sessions, get them all lined up and then start playing it back in a way that it was never played back. Because of the methodology of bouncing tracks- you'd record to a 4-track machine, then bounce it to another 4-track machine and whatever- by the time you'd gone seven or eight generations you're losing all of the top end on the original recordings. There isn't that kind of clarity there. There's clarity to Revolver that isn't in Sergeant Pepper because of all the layers of recording. And one of the remarkable things about the remaster of Sergeant Pepper is that clarity comes back with a vengeance. So the first thing that you can say about it is it actually sounds a lot more like Revolver than you ever imagined it did. And the second thing is they're right there in the room with you. It's completely present. The original recording was obviously really good. They were recording in Abbey Road with high end engineers. So what had sounded a bit mushy and indistinct is very clear. There are some things that I don't agree with. I don't like any of the tracks so much where they put the drums on one side because I hate that stereo picture, but they had their reasons for doing it. They tried to be as true as possible to the original mixes; that's the other thing, so you don't have a sense that this is a redo. You just have a sense that here's an ancient artefact that had been covered in grime and somebody's just cleaned all the grime off, and there you see the shiny thing in front of you.


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