The beach boys have been apart of American culture since the early 60’s. It was their close knit harmonies and fun attitude that brought them instant popularity among the youth culture in America.
An interesting thing about the 50’s and 60’s is that music was undergoing a transition in how it was mixed. Most artist from the beginning of recorded sound until the 50’s and 60’s were recorded and mixed in monophonic traditions. When the stereo mix came out, engineers didn’t know what to do with it. In fact, a lot of time the Mono mixes had the bands approval and the stereo mixes were something that the studio produced so they could sell it.
Below are two Youtube clips featuring the song “Little Deuce Coupe” from the 1963 capital records Lp. There are two versions of this song in which I will be comparing, a monophonic version versus a stereophonic version and the difference between them. Take a minute to listen to both versions.
Mono: The mono mix of this song seems to be overall well balanced and simple. The vocals are clear and the harmonies add a nice addition (which was their signature sound). The drums are apparent but not overwhelming and the guitar is crisp and add color to the fun culture of the song.
Stereo: From the opening of the song it’s apparent that the voices are now in stereo. The vocals stand out in an extreme way from the rest of the music. It’s almost as if Capital decided to just put the voices in a stereo mix and leave the rest in Mono. The music seems to be at the same level as the monophonic mix and doesn’t seem enhanced in any way. In the vocals specifically you can hear the inconsistencies in the recordings. The pops and slobber from the singers is also present which I found to be very distracting. One last comment, the lead vocal seems to be time delayed in each side to give a greater stereo effect.
After examine each track, it’s easy to see why a lot of people enjoy the original mono mixes over the remastered stereo releases. A lot of this music was actually meant to be heard in mono, so let’s keep it that way. However, as a Beach Boys fan I think I would love to listen to both side by side and do a comparison of the entirely of the record. Luckily, I’m fortunate enough to own the mono vinyl pressing and can’t wait to go and listen to it once again.