Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - Review: "Eleanor Rigby" from Revolver (Deluxe), by the Beatles, 2022 release

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Review: "Eleanor Rigby" from Revolver (Deluxe), by the Beatles, 2022 release

  (I just zoomed through Taxman before I thought this might make a decent blog entry....)

Eleanor Rigby

(I made this in conjunction with an a.i.; don't blame me, I can
actually draw better than this but not as quickly...)

Vocals sound "carefully" de-essed.  Fricatives are all tamped down.  

Uhg.   Ok, I just listened to the 2009 remastered version, 2000 "1" version.  I definitely prefer the *overall* eq choices I've heard so far on the 2022 version.  For instance, 

2000 Version 

- a bit puffy/squashed at about 192 hz.  There is a wide-band forward sound at 2k I associate (correctly or not) with the REDD 51 recording console sound; and a forward 3.6k (R127 "Presence box" no doubt) and ~7k bump, which I associate with what I know to their predilection at the time for cranking the treble; the boost was a 10k IIRC, but there are a number of factors that create harmonics below that in the 3-8k region.

 The attack time of the compression is "not perfect".   Nor is the release.  Notice you can hear Paul take a breath after "waits at the window... (inhale) wearing the *F*ace.."; on "F"ace the 2000 version has more low mids IMO than the 2022 version, which seems to favor having more of the fricative present at the expense of a thinner fundamental.  This keeps intelligibility, and sounds more "hi-fi" in that it gives the ear more "ticklish" harmonics to hear, but... it's a post-66 decision.  

2009 Version

 Wide band harmonic boost around 384hz, "controlled" below that.  This I would associate with the Kool Factor at the time, adding Kool "toob" harmonics to a recording *that didn't exist before*, while at the same time limiting activity in the bass register, which allows the level to seem "louder".  At the same time, there is a slight high frequency roll off.  Which could either be exaggerated "tape roll off", or the addition of adding Tape Effect to make it More Better.  Regardless, if you swap back and forth between this version and the 2022 the effect is "very dull".  Maybe the tape sounded this way and they left it alone.

Note that on the same "face that she keeps" line, the "ssss" sound of the end of the word "face" is allowed through, but the "fffff" of "*F*ace" is not.  A curious difference in mix limiting/compression.  This kind of thing is super subtle, but *how the sibilance/fricatives of enunciation hit you IS A RHYTHM*.  This is the kind of almost-subliminal thing that I believe falls into the "what makes a recording "magical"" to most people, and is ultra tricky to do.  

 While the vocal is panned, the ascending counter melody on the violin is centered, and back.

 It's also something I think that the original gear, from beginning to end, both suited the Beatles perfectly in the era, but also that *there was an unconscious awareness of responding to it, and acting accordingly*.  In other words, they were hearing the playback(s); and consider the notion that Paul could hear how much enunciation was happening on certain words, and perhaps subconsciously altering the performance.  Tinkering with the basic ballistics of the ADSR might sound "better", but be an artistic dichotomy to what was intended.

 Which gets back to "I'd really like to just buy the original uncompressed multitracks", but that's a tangent...

 2022 Version: 

  Equalized much better.  In that there are no euphonic frequencies, nothing sticks out.  The previously mentioned 3.5k is not there.

 On the other hand, there are no euphonic frequencies and nothing sticks out.  

 Which is kind of part of the charm of the early half of the Beatles catalog.  Maybe?  Vocals are not panned to the side.  There is wayyyy more clarity to the cello/strings decay, among other things: this is not how it would have sounded as Paul heard playbacks.  

 So it's philosophy: I don't have any anger towards this mix, but it's perhaps not what I would want as an alternate mix.  It has much more "clarity" thanks to technology, but the vocal has a thinner sound as de-essing is maybe pushing the fundamental down.  It's also a bit louder.  It sounds more in your face, but also IMO "processed" eq wise/dynamics ADSR wise.  It distracts me, but probably not the Average Listener.  

 But I'm not sure having a more... sonically fluorescent vocal suits the nature of the song.  It not longer sounds documentarian, in that his lyric is commenting on a situation.  On the 2022 version it's IN YOUR FACE and LISTEN TO THIS STORY I'M TELLING YOU.  

 Which is very 21st century.  A subjective choice that is neither right or wrong.  There is also some doubling on the vocal during the verses.  This does not suit the "standing back and commenting" nature of the song IMO.   It also doesn't allow the chorus "ahhhs" to come in with the doubling-richness impact as much.

Violin is hard panned.  I like that the counter melody is more upfront, and actually has some dynamics.  The strings sound fantastic on this version.   

(.... my dog Wylee is barking at the delivery person outside, a good cue to end I suppose....)



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