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New Beatles 'Star Club' CD is best sounding ever, label says

The cover of Oxtango's new Star Club CD.
Oxtango Records

The new CD release of the Beatles' “Star Club” tapes by OxTango Music is isn't just another reissue of the same old material, Jonathan Meine of OxTango Music says.

“For the majority of tracks, I used the Purple Chick (bootleg) release as the starting point – as these were the least futzed-with iterations I could gain access to,” he says. “Many fans mistakenly think the Purple Chick release was just a straightforward issue of the master tapes. However – as documented on their release notes – they actually performed a good deal of editing and equalization themselves. I stuck with their editing changes (which reversed prior poor editing decisions others had made).

“The vast majority of my work on the project then was devoted to correcting Purple Chick’s equalization efforts, which when compared to the master tape versions I’ve had privy to hear, actually worked more to the detriment of the material. What I hope I’ve achieved is to open up the sound and make the vocals stand out a bit more – without sacrificing the overall power of the band.”

The new release, he says, doesn't use any compression.

“All the work on the project was achieved strictly through the use of sophisticated parametric equalization tools in a digital audio workstation environment. There has been no compression/limiting, noise reduction or artificial ambience applied at any time. The primary overall goal here was to present the tracks in the most natural, lifelike sound possible – without all the junk processing that’s been perpetrated on them in the past (particularly the original Lingasong release and those predicated on it).”

From a statement on the disc's website: “With these remasterings, we hope to finally present these performances in their best possible light given the limitations imposed by the original tapes. Our goal was to not to modernize them or make the Beatles sound like they were playing in Wembley Stadium, but rather to re-create how the band must have sounded like to a club patron positioned at an optimal place in the room.”

Happy Nat, who also interviewed Meine, says the new disc makes some changes.

“All of the edits and loops that were on the old Lingasong double album in the seventies have been removed and the bootleg Purple Chick collection of these recordings which he says were EQ'd to remove a lot of the tape hiss on the surviving source tape also took out much of the higher frequency detail in the sound. He has redone the EQing in a way that brings back more clarity and higher detail to the high frequencies so it sounds more open while still having the fullness of the band.”

Meine says the disc features features the first complete release of “(My Gal Is) Red Hot.” Previous versions were about 1:00. The new version is 1:27.

“I was able to acquire the original master tape version of 'Red Hot' through private channels. This is finally the complete untruncated performance which many thought not to exist.”

A version on YouTube of a longer “Red Hot,” put up a year ago, may be similar, but it's definitely not the same, Meine says.

“That version is obviously a fake, with obvious edits first at the 1:10 mark where a portion from earlier in the song is looped around, and then at the 1:24 mark where a different ending is grafted on from 'Besame Mucho.' Listen to the version on my disc and you will hear the full, naturally recorded track with none of those edits.”

But Doug Sulpy, editor of the 910 disputes this. “I just synched them up and they're 100% the same. They just tweaked the high-end and loudified 'Starry Night' (a previous Beatles Star Club bootleg),” he says.

Since Meine says he had access to the raw tape for “Red Hot,” is there anything else we haven't heard on it?

“'Red Hot' is the only cut for which I was able to obtain the version direct from the unprocessed source tape,” Meine said. “So there's nothing new other than that.”

The Star Club tapes have been stopped legally before, most recently in 2008. (Our Abbeyrd's Beatles Page had an exclusive interview with the president of the company who released it and a special report on the legal settlement.) How does Meine expect it won't be stopped again?

“I guess we'll have to see. Perhaps there will be a test of the doctrine of public domain at some point. In any case, my primary purpose isn't to make a million dollars off of this (God knows that's not going to happen), but just to do these recordings justice. I consider this my livelihood, and if nothing else hope to get enough people's attention so that it will lead to other work.”

The company says on its website it plans to release other recordings. “OxTango Music is a professional audio engineering company specializing in the remastering and rejuvenation of classic live and live-in-the-studio (i.e. "no overdubs") recordings. We strive to respect the integrity of the original works by utilizing as little processing as possible to make them sound great!”

The disc is available from the label's website. And you can see a promo clip here.

The full track list:

"Twist and Shout"
"Mr Moonlight"
"Falling In Love Again"
"I'm Talking About You" (v.1)
"The Hippy Hippy Shake"
"Ask My Why"
"Long Tall Sally"
"Besame Mucho"
"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)"
"Be Bop-a-Lula"
"I Saw Her Standing There" (v.1)
"Hallelujah I Love Her So"
"Red Hot"
"Sheila"
"Kansas City/Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!"
"Shimmy Like Kate"
"Reminiscing"
"Red Sails in the Sunset"
"Sweet Little Sixteen"
"Roll Over Beethoven"
"A Taste of Honey" (v.1)
"Nothing Shakin' (But the Leaves On the Trees)"
"I Saw Her Standing There" (v.2)
"To Know Her Is To Love Her"
"Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby"
"Till There Was You"
"Where Have You Been All My Life"
"Lend Me Your Comb"
"Your Feet's Too Big"
"I'm Talking About You" (v.2)
"A Taste of Honey" (v.2)
"Matchbox"
"Little Queenie"
"I Remember You"

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