Written by 5:56 am Audiophile Music

Getting Your Beatles Surround Fix

Want to hear the Beatles in surround? Mark Smotroff has some discs for you…


By Mark Smotroff 

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Hooray!  Magical Mystery Tour is out on Blu-ray. 
However, the 5.1 surround track left some of us who were hoping for something
more intense and exciting, flat.   So for now we’ll have to get our
Beatles surround fix from other magical trips.  Fortunately, there ARE
some good options:  

LOVE,
the official soundtrack to the Cirque Du Soleil / Beatles show in Las Vegas, is
an incredible mash up of fab four music re-purposed and re-invented for
surround by none other than Giles Martin, son of Beatle producer George
Martin.   Every seat in the $100 million theater delivers a dedicated
mix to each patron, with the headrest in front bearing a center channel and L-R
surrounds from behind.  The Wiki says there are 6,341 speakers in the theater! 
The result is riveting (this writer has seen the show twice so far!).  Get
the Deluxe CD+DVD edition of LOVE and you’ll find that the DVD is in fact a DVD
Audio Disc containing the 5.1 surround mix heard in the theater! 
This is presently the ONLY way to hear uncompressed high resolution Beatles
(MLP surround, PCM stereo)!Its an incredible immersive experience, one of the
best out there, an instant demo disc.  Essential.   

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YELLOW SUBMARINE was recently
reissued on Blu-ray with visuals incredibly restored frame by frame from
original animation elements!  Fortunately, or unfortunately, they reused
the pretty groovy 5.1 surround track from the 1999 DVD, albeit in a new
uncompressed DTS HD Master Audio mix.   It sounds wonderful. While a
brand new mix would have been fab, this one is still great, letting Yellow
Submarine’s underwater effects surround you as do the strings sections of
Eleanor Rigby (for example).  The Blu-ray can be found for less than $25.

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE   This
isn’t really a Beatle soundtrack but, it DOES feature music written by
The Beatles as reinterpreted by some great talent wfor this stunning film by
acclaimed theatrical director Julie Taymor.    The beautiful
1080p Hi Def images are complemented by an uncompressed Dolby TrueHD 5.1
soundtrack that is demo worthy — especially as the story reaches the same mid-
/ late- 60s period as you hear on Magical Mystery Tour and parts of Love.  
The fabulously tripped out sequence of U2’s Bono — in the guise of a Ken
Kesey-esque character — singing “I Am The Walrus” is spectacular,
with swirling enveloping surround sound that (for once!) actually keeps up with
the visuals.   Main character Jude (played by Jim Sturgess)
transforms “Strawberry Fields Forever” into an intense anti-war
freakout that a jaw dropper in context (check out the YouTube video clip below)
with a surround mix as aggressive as the song.  The Abbey Road side one
closing opus “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” takes on an entirely new
level of meaning as the film takes its other lead character Max (Joe Anderson)
into the thick of the Vietnam War — the scene of the new recruits carrying the
Statue of Liberty on their shoulders stomping across the war torn Vietnamese
landscape while singing “She’s so heavyyyyyyyy” sends a shudder down
the spine.

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Across the Universe is unique —
and I rarely, if ever use this word — in that it is the rarest of instances of
covers and drastic reinterpretation of Beatle tunes that pretty much all
work.   It is no accident that they include one of the original
Beatle interpreters, Joe Cocker — who arguably claimed ownership of “With
A Little Help From My Friends” after his stunning appearance at Woodstock
in 1969 — in key cameos including a tremendous version of “Come
Together” !   The musicians playing this stuff kick ass,
performing Beatles music with honor and conviction that neither detracts from
or embarrasses the originals.    You can find this movie on
Blu-ray Disc commonly for under $10 at Best Buy and online at Amazon (there are
copies going for an absurdly low price less than $6!).  If you love the
Beatles, I promise you will enjoy this film.  It may even make you
cry. 



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