Sharoma Today is Beatles Day!

Today is Beatles Day!

To the Kids of 3000AD! Let me tell you what it meant to Beatles Fanatics on 909 Day!

I am a Beatles fan. There's actually not that many of us. You think Morrissey you think fans. You think Frank Zappa you think fans. You think T-Rex you think fans. You think The Beatles you think not of fans, but music for the masses. Everyone would call themselves a Beatles fan, right? I once even argued with a man who didn't like New Order. I told him I thought this was simply impossible, even ignoring the fact that we were at a Gang of Four gig surrounded by Manchester's Middle-Aged Fandom's First XI; This was mostly those like me: young men with 'Komackino' spelt the correct way on their t-shirts, and older men: some there the first time The Smiths played the Hacienda (and still regale the tale at every post-punk band revival gig). For this reason, Beatles fans are not seen as being an elite body of knowledge on the sound of the Beatles' music, whereas every Cocteau Twins fan will agree with you that the remasters, despite being supervised by Robin Guthrie himself, are atrocious. Beatles Fanatics, however, do exist and I am a junior member. One of the lower ranks, certainly if promotion were accorded to those most senior. However, I am relatively young. A Generation-Y crusader of a bygone age: superlative separates and speakers that were designed to complement and reflect your furniture, the idea being that even your wife cannot possibly kick out the HiFi. But the day man gave up the music centre was eons ago now. Like the day you saw your first sub par Sony product. That thin, black plastic and an uneven 'Made in Malaysia' stamp heralded the arrival of cheap, mass produced and mass marketed audio electronics.

In 1983, back when "Made in Japan" really meant something, Toshiba EMI's CD imprint released, in Japan only, Abbey Road - known to fans as the Black Triangle, a holy grail of Beatles CDs. This was four years before the official versions appeared and a year before I ever heard The Beatles. That is, a full 26 years ago, or to make it even more in the past, only 14 years since Abbey Road had originally been recorded! And this version on eBay, on the eve of the release of the remasters, is going for $400 Canadian. I don't own a copy. I possess a lossless digital rip I downloaded from the late Oink! site (perhaps the best music download site of all time?). The fact that this version is sought after clearly demonstrates how seriously Beatles fans take the mastering of their beloved music.

I'm one of those fans. I can hear John Lennon coughing during the mono (and original) mix of Norwegian Wood [1]. Since that version of Rubber Soul was last sold when Britain wasn't even using a decimalized currency (imagine this: 240 pence in a pound!) I am probably one of few people in the world aware of it; certainly of the ones who still get asked for ID whilst buying liquor. I already know the remasters will sound great. Macca's bass will be louder than the limits of the microgroove long player that once constrained it. To let someone of Emily Lazar's dubious calibre loose on The Beatles would, definitely, lead to rioting in several major cities.

This is not about me, though. It's about Beatles fans, because today is 09/09/09, alluding to the song. A specious reason for selecting a release date, but a quirk of date obsessive fans sometimes fondly recall (remember Sonic Twosday in 1992?). Today, or in the ensuing days as early Amazon buyers like myself receive our copies, Beatles Fanatics the world over will be sliding pristine, reflective discs of polycarbonate plastic into high-end CD decks. A pure signal will be transferred, powered from a transformer more than equal to the task, toward an amplifier that can literally heat the room in the winter months; Audiophiles of my variety sometimes power down a system during hot summer afternoons; you have the sound of your teamspeak brethren to comfort you anyway. Speakers that dominate the room are angled toward the seating and listening position. This is the most comfortable chair or couch the audiophile, having spent all his money on stereo equipment, can afford and is often no more than a lovingly crafted futon or Sally-Ann sourced recliner. Here, the man sits, perhaps in the dark to limit visual distractions; AudioKarma forums have advice threads on how to maximize the sound of your HiFi after the sound has left the kingdom of Ohm's Law. Whether he was originally there in the studio to see it or not, he can still hear Ringo talking to Paul during I'm Only Sleeping [1]. I remember first detecting that at age eight on my father's elderly Panasonic, but that particular memory, unlike The Beatles, is submerged beneath a sea of time.

It's Beatles Day. Life's still good.

[1] Identities of the voices/coughs in question are my best guess!

Check out 'Compleat Beatles', a MiniDisc collection I once made.