The Beatles Mixes: Review

The Beatles Mixes: The ultimate guide through all variations of the Beatles recordings
by Holger Schoeler & Thorsten Schmidt
Publisher: Kultur Buch Bremen, Germany (April 2000)
ISBN#: 3-933851-00-9

“The Beatles Mixes” is a 128-page softbound reference book compiled by two German Beatles collectors, Holger Schoeler and Thorsten Schmidt. Those of you interested in Beatles recording variations will appreciate the countless hours Holger and Thorsten spent attached to their headphones while analyzing Portugese pressings of Let it Be, US stereo remixes, and World Record Club releases from New Zealand. And if you’ve never given these variations much thought you might be in for a big surprise. For instance, some fans will be aware that the mono mix of Back in the USSR included several noticable differences. But did you know that this same mix was officially released as an Apple single in Sweden? No, neither did I.

Before continuing I should clarify that this is not a book about unreleased songs or mixes (ie. bootlegs) but rather an extensive list of variations that appear on legitmate and authorized releases from around the world. Also omitted from the book are recordings from live concerts, radio shows and television appearances. However tracks which were released during the Anthology project are included as they are now part of the official catalogue.

“The Beatles Mixes” contains very few photos however this makes perfect sense as it is the ear and not the eye for which the book was intended. It begins with an eight page introduction (printed in both German and English) and is followed by what constitutes the bulk of the book, a 90+ page English-only section devoted to the Beatles EMI Recordings. The book concludes with sections covering the Beatles’ Polydor and Decca recordings, and a chapter containing footnotes referred to throughout the text.

The authors have kindly allowed me to reproduce one of the pages so that you can see how the information is organized. Songs are listed alphabetically and each contains a list of known mono and stereo variations. Many of you will be glad to hear that these variations are not restricted to vinyl pressings (LPs, EPs and 45s) but also includes compact discs, DVDs, and even film/video variations. The only obvious exclusions are those items released on tape. What constitutes a variation? In addition to the obvious inclusions are those created by Capitol in the US (the now famous reverb and echo mixes) as well as alternate stereo balances found on pressings throughout the world (even if, as the authors confess, they were created during the mastering process). Left out of the mix are any subtle variations created by engineers utilizing equalizers and filters.

The first edition of the book was based primarily on UK, US and German releases, however this second edition was expanded to include variations from other countries including Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, Australia, Japan, Portugal, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Columbia, France, Nicaragua, Italy, Denmark, New Zealand, and many more! The authors are quick to point out that their book is not the definitive list and encourage readers to submit new information or corrections which could be included in a future edition.

What I enjoy most about this book is that it can serve several functions. Of course it’s a handy reference tool but more importantly it will likely prompt some of us to dig out our headphones and revisit many of the items that have been sitting on shelves and in protective plastic for far too long. I’d go so far as to say that it may prompt some collectors to spice up their hobby with a new twist: just when you thought you had it all, now you need to find all nine variations of Only a Northern Song!

And in the end “The Beatles Mixes” will appeal to both serious collectors of the Beatles recording variations and to fans who simply enjoy an unexpected turn on a familiar but long and winding road.

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