The Beatles – Help – Germans Versus Brits

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Help. 

We’ve heard some excellent German pressings before, but this time [circa 2011] nothing could match up to our best Brit copies. What the best British copies have is more of the TUBEY MAGIC that can typically be heard on early pressings, due no doubt to the fact that they are mastered with tube equipment.

One reason we were so crazy about the German pressings is how amazingly clean and clear they can be. I can’t tell you how many distorted Brit copies we’ve played of this album over the years.

Some of the old cutting equipment clearly adds its own layer of distortion to the distortion that already exists on the tape for many of these Imports. A clean, clear, super low distortion Brit copy like this one is certainly the exception and NOT the rule.

Much like we said about the Please Please Me Hot Stampers, on the top copies the presence of the vocals and guitars is so real it’s positively startling at times. Drop the needle on You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away and turn up the volume — on the best copies it will be as if John and Paul were right there in your living room!

You’ve Got To Play Them To Know How They Sound

The best import copies of this album sound AMAZING, but the typical one is pretty mediocre. Most tend to be dull, with not enough extension up top. It just goes to show that the only way to find out if a record sounds any good is by playing it. We don’t imagine many people have the extra hours to spend finding, cleaning, and playing multiple import copies of this record — so why not let us do the hard work and spend your free time ENJOYING this amazing album?


Further Reading

…along these lines can be found below.

Transparency is key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.

The most important advice on the site can be found under the heading The Four Pillars of Success.

Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.

Here are more entries in our ongoing Shootout Advice series.

AMG Review

… Since Lennon wrote a third more songs than McCartney, it’s easy to forgive a pair of minor numbers (“It’s Only Love,” “Tell Me What You See”), especially since they’re overshadowed by four great songs. His Dylan infatuation holds strong, particularly on the plaintive “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and the title track, where the brash arrangement disguises Lennon’s desperation. Driven by an indelible 12-string guitar, “Ticket to Ride” is another masterpiece and “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” is the kind of song McCartney effortlessly tosses off — which he does with the jaunty “The Night Before” and “Another Girl,” two very fine tunes that simply update his melodic signature. He did much better with “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” an irresistible folk-rock gem, and “Yesterday,” a simple, beautiful ballad whose arrangement — an acoustic guitar supported by a string quartet — and composition suggested much more sophisticated and adventurous musical territory, which the group immediately began exploring with Rubber Soul.