It will never cease to be truly amazing how, more than 50 years after the band broke up, The Beatles are still as relevant as ever. Finding new generations of fans, garnering global headlines, dominating pop culture, and so much more. Surviving bassist Paul McCartney, for example, turns 80 this year and is about to hit the road for a summer tour. Peter Jackson’s fantastic Get Back documentary is streaming on Disney Plus. And then there’s Giles Martin’s new remix of the band’s compilation album 1.
First released back in 2000, this 27-track greatest hits package collects a sizable chunk of the band’s singles catalog — from the sweet charm of Love Me Do to the much more sophisticated Come Together, Let It Be, and The Long and Winding Road. For the last several years, Giles Martin (the son of Beatles producer George Martin) has been remixing the later Beatles albums, that have gone on to get lavish re-release treatments as a result. And he’s done the same for the 1 album.
Well, sort of.
Dolby Atmos spatial audio
First, a little bit of context. Last year’s re-release of the Let It Be album is a good example of Martin’s work of late. It coincided with the long-awaited arrival of Jackson’s Get Back Beatles documentary on Disney Plus. A film that, among other things, partly chronicled the making of that album. Meanwhile, the Let It Be re-release package itself included new mixes, studio outtakes, and all kinds of other goodies for Beatles obsessives.
Martin’s work is the audio equivalent of dusting off the cobwebs and other detritus from the individual Beatles tracks. Making them sound not only pristine and crystal clear. But, also, as if they were recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London just yesterday (no pun intended). And he’s just done the same thing for the 1 album, remastering it for Spatial Audio on Apple Music.
The sound quality of this touched-up version of the 1 album is, overall, pretty stunning. Wearing a pair of AirPods (I used my AirPods Max), the Dolby Atmos spatial audio versions of these Beatles tracks make it sound like you’re right there in the room with them. And here’s how you can make sure you’re enjoying this updated treatment.
While wearing your AirPods, bring up the control center menu on your iPhone. Then long-press on the Bluetooth bar. That should bring up a Spatial Audio icon you can tap at the bottom. You can also then adjust the sound to either a fixed head position. Or you can make the sound sort of move with you, as you turn your head. As if you were right there in the room for the recording.
I confess: I found myself smiling, over and over again, while listening to the updated 1 album. How often in life do we get to rediscover things that we love? It’s certainly easy to take a lot of the Beatles songs on this album that we’ve heard a million times for granted. A recording like this, however, makes it seem like no time has passed at all, and that alone is reason enough for me to appreciate it.
As we noted earlier, meanwhile, this is all yet another indication — not that one was really needed at this point — of the timeless nature of the Beatles and the band’s music. Timeless is, yes, a word that gets thrown around a lot, but how else to describe a band that stopped being a functional unit half a century ago? And one with only half of its members still alive?
Speaking of the Get Back documentary on Disney Plus, one of the best things about it was the inclusion of the full “rooftop concert” at the end. That performance was a moment in Beatles history that many fans of the group had never seen before. And it refers to the group’s final live performance, in 1969, on the roof of 3 Saville Row in London.
That rooftop concert footage got essentially lifted out of the documentary and broadcast, in its entirety, at participating IMAX theaters around the US in recent weeks. Making for a truly one-of-a-kind fan experience.
And, perhaps because fans are still swooning over that Get Back experience, McCartney decided to title his 13-city summer tour that kicks off in April his “Got Back” tour. Never a dull moment, in other words, for Beatles fans.