The Beatles Ballads (Dr. Ebbett DBM-034)
1. Yesterday (Lennon/McCartney) 2:08, 2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (Lennon/McCartney) 2:07, 3. Do You Want To Know A Secret (Lennon/McCartney) 2:00, 4. For No One (Lennon/McCartney) 2:02, 5. Michelle (Lennon/McCartney) 2:45, 6. Nowhere Man (Lennon/McCartney) 2:47, 7. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, (Lennon/McCartney) 2:11, 8. Across The Universe (Lennon/McCartney) 3:45, 9. All My Loving (Lennon/McCartney) 2:08, 10. Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney) 7:07, 11. Something (Harrison) 3:02, 12. The Fool On The Hill (Lennon/McCartney) 3:00, 13. Till There Was You (Willson) 2:16, 14. The Long And Winding Road (Lennon/McCartney) 3:44, 15. Here Comes The Sun (Harrison) 3:05, 16. Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney) 2:18, 17. And I Love Her (Lennon/McCartney) 2:32, 18. She’s Leaving Home (Lennon/McCartney) 3:43, 19. Here, There And Everywhere (Lennon/McCartney) 2:28, 20. Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) 3:51
“The Beatles Ballads” [BB0596] was previously released on the Odeon label with 5 additional tracks following “Let It Be” up above: “Girl”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love”. Dr. Ebbetts released the same 20 tracks on “The Beatles Ballads” (UK Stereo LP – Parlophone) in 2002.
The bass on “Norwegian Wood” sounds boomy and grossly exaggerated. “Do You Want To Know A Secret” offers stunning audio clarity. McCartney’s voice is as smooth as silk compared to Lennon’s raspy-like acerbic guttural delivery. My first inclination as I was listening to this release was to yearn for more spacing between the tracks. “Michelle” has the unnecessary boomy bass once again making it difficult to distinguish McCartney”s fine bass notes. I found this especially annoying as it overshadowed the rest of the music passages intermittently. The fidelity on “Nowhere Man” is breathtaking except for the accentuated bass. I would have brought up the drums in the mix more here and toned down the bass.
“Across The Universe” here is the accelerated “psychedlic” sitar-driven version with the brief “Free As A Bird” intro. The transition is smooth right into “All My Loving” and I would have turned up the percussion here. Surface noise is virtually non-existent. Is “Hey Jude” really a ballad? I have to concede, however, that it offers the best slow elongated slow fade. “Something” injects more boomy sounding bass even though we’ve all grown accustomed to the “big bass” sound associated with this track. I would have brought up the cymbals in the mix to soften the sound. There is a beautiful transition into “Fool On The Hill” with wonderful separation between the instruments and a different sounding version here.
“The Long And Winding Road” resorts to the uncomfortable boomy bass with Phil Spector’s falsely orchestrated wall of sound mix masking McCartney’s gentle and touching original piano lead. There is another nice transition into “Here Comes The Sun” ( a ballad?) but with very pronounced and annoying bass that carries over the distinct bass notes. The clapping should have been boosted. Another fine transition between “And I Love Her’ and “She’s Leaving Home”. Ironically, I would have boosted the bass signal here a bit as it sounds soft and would have lent a sense of more urgency especially with all the orchestration. We jump much too quickly into “Here, There And Everywhere”. The set closes out with the gorgeous single mixed version of “Let It Be”.
All in all, the mastering on DBM-034 is exquisite but the overdrawn boomy bass listed on 6 of these tracks is unnecessary and degrades from the overall intent of listening to a collection of ballads.