Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Discussion has broken out on the interwebs about how early Beatles recordings may have been deliberately speeded up to increase impact and teen appeal. Again it would seem to be a case – at the very least – of “what took you so long?” These tracks have been around for almost half a century and I’ve never heard the idea mooted before. I’m not about to dig out a whole bunch of ancient discs and check for myself and I leave it to your own judgment. I would note, however, that, years ago, Chuck Berry made a similar claim that his early hits were speeded up on the orders of Leonard Chess to make them more teen-friendly, although I wouldn’t totally trust anything ol’ Chuck has had to say.

Click here for the slow down


Little Klunk said...

Yes the story has been around a while and has been told by George Martin (and the original engineers) when discussing recording techniques.
More often there's been many a young (and not so young) guitarist who's tried to play along with a Beatles record or track and finds themselves somewhat at odds with the tuning on certain tracks.
The old varispeed tape decks used for the mastering were often set slightly faster to give the tracks what could be described as more attack or clip on the final cut, Hence slightly above the pitch of normal tuning to a greater or lesser extent
Whether it was ever considered to provide 'teen appeal' is possibly a little bit of hindsight speculation.

Mike said...

The excellent Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry compilation gives both versions of Sweet Little Sixteen: Original master at 3:19 duration and sped-up release at 3:03.