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Past Masters Vol. 1

Categories: Beatles albums Compilations

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Beatles Past Masters Vol. 1 album cover art
Past Masters Volume 1 was a logical extension of the project which had transferred The Beatles' LPs onto Compact Disc. Originally issued in early '88, it was first time the non-album singles and B-sides from 1962 to mid-65 had been packaged together in any format, let alone CD. Its companion disc — imaginatively titled Volume 2 — served to complete the task. Originally released as separate entities, they were soon after combined as a double. Vinyl editions were also available.

'Non-album singles' means, of course, the British albums; as many of the early 45s (and their flipsides) had appeared on LP in America. These form the backbone of the disc, chronologically arranged and interspersed with EP tracks and a few other odds and ends.

Thus, we commence with the long awaited Ringo cut of "Love Me Do" and the crucial first chart-topper, "From Me To You". Thereafter, it's a full-on resumé of Beatlemania — right down to the two German versions they'd reluctantly recorded at its height. The entire Long Tall Sally extended player is included, along with "Bad Boy", which had only previously been available on the US Beatles VI album and the Golden Oldies compilation.

Of course, with this new(ish) format of grooveless, silvery-coloured 12cm discs and the technological changes which had spawned them, various bits of digital trickery were employed in the process. Some of the mono originals were stereofied (truly or falsely or somehow or other). The sound quality of the transfers was also widely criticised, as with the album releases. This all got further confounded with the 2009 Remastered releases: additional stereo on the stereo version, and its re-removal for the mono edition.

All that is probably of more interest to hardened audiophiles than to the fan in the street, however: what really counts — of course — is the music. At the time, this was the only way to get your ears round these songs (unless you were fortunate enough to possess an original pile of 45s, that is). The Red double contained the singles, but much of the other material which put them in their historical context here had only appeared on the Rarities LP in Britain.

A more thorough recuperation job it's difficult to imagine:

You know you should be glad!

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