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Long-awaited Beatles remasters coming in September

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Apple/EMI announced on Tuesday that the much-anticipated digital remasters of the ever-lucrative Beatles catalog will finally be released on Sept. 9, along with two new box sets (selling us the same material for the 99th time) and the Fab Four's edition of the "Rock Band" video game -- though there is still no word about when the music will be available for digital distribution.

The press release follows the jump.

London, England - April 7, 2009 - Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.

The collection comprises all 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track listings and artwork as originally released in the UK, and 'Magical Mystery Tour,' which became part of The Beatles' core catalogue when the CDs were first released in 1987. In addition, the collections 'Past Masters Vol. I and II' are now combined as one title, for a total of 14 titles over 16 discs. This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc. These 14 albums, along with a DVD collection of the documentaries, will also be available for purchase together in a stereo boxed set.

Within each CD's new packaging, booklets include detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. With the exception of the 'Past Masters' set, newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on each album. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere.

A second boxed set has been created with the collector in mind. 'The Beatles in Mono' gathers together, in one place, all of the Beatles recordings that were mixed for a mono release. It will contain 10 of the albums with their original mono mixes, plus two further discs of mono masters (covering similar ground to the stereo tracks on 'Past Masters'). As an added bonus, the mono "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" discs also include the original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been previously released on CD. These albums will be packaged in mini-vinyl CD replicas of the original sleeves with all original inserts and label designs retained.

Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time.

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Y'know, despite the fact that this is the hundred and eighty-seventh time they've repackaged the Beatles' material... I'm actually excited about this one, for the first time ever. When I heard the quality of some of the tracks on Love (particularly the pristine guitar sound on "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and the otherwise-awful "Drive My Car/What You're Doing/The Word" mashup; the way I could hear each individual cello ringing on "I Am the Walrus" and "A Day in the Life;" and the glorious-in-every-way remix of "Here Comes the Sun"), I salivated at the thought of a thorough digital remastering. I'm looking very forward particularly to hearing With the Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, and Magical Mystery Tour, as I think those are the most sonically interesting records. In fact, I'm even excited to hear the (admittedly overrated) Sgt. Pepper's.

But no digital remaster will ever -- ever! -- make me care any more about the White Album than I already to (which is to say, give me "Happiness is a Warm Gun," "Helter Skelter," and "Julia," and the hell with the rest).

You said:
But no digital remaster will ever -- ever! -- make me care any more about the White Album than I already to (which is to say, give me "Happiness is a Warm Gun," "Helter Skelter," and "Julia," and the hell with the rest).


The Beatles and their music don't need me to defend them. However, I'm amazed that in such a diverse offering of great music on the White Album (The Beatles), you can only find three tracks that you like.

Paul said:
However, I'm amazed that in such a diverse offering of great music on the White Album (The Beatles), you can only find three tracks that you like.

Actually, I also quite like "Dear Prudence," but it doesn't have to be remastered for me to gain a greater appreciation for it. The similarly acoustic "Julia" has been mired for decades in a terrible, muffled mix that only the Velvet Underground gets away with.

To your further point, though, I think that the White Album is the Beatles' weakest record precisely because there's so much on it. It's a bloated, overloaded album that, quite frankly, doesn't work for me as a full record. I don't think there is "a diverse offering of great music" on it. The first disc has major failings: there are two, maybe three good songs on Disc 1, Side 2, and the middle portion of Side 1 is just awful (particularly "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"). And aside from "Helter Skelter" (one of the best things Paul McCartney has ever written), the entire second disc is dreadful, containing nothing that would ever even come close to standing with anything on A Hard Day's Night or Beatles for Sale.

But beyond that, the sequencing of the record is terrible. One of the things I love about the early- and mid-period Beatles albums (basically, the ones through Revolver) is their flow. Even Rubber Soul, with which I have some major problems, flows from one song to the next in an absolutely stellar way. But they gave that up after the first two tracks on Sgt. Pepper's (the now-available MMT being just a compilation of an EP and several singles), and they never put out a record again that had a distinctive flow.

This is long overdue. Other artists upgraded their catalog in the 90s. But again Apple messes up again. Instead of putting both Mono and Stereo mixes together they are releasing them in seperate boxes. The mono mixes are way differnt than the stereo and in many ways better (Sgt Peppers is a better album in Mono). The Beatles themselves approved all the mono mixes leaving the stereo to George Martin until after Pepper. But that is a crock having 2 seperate box sets, one for stereo and one for mono. But yet I will buy them both.

One thing Jim, it hasn't been for the 99th time. The CDs that are out are the same ones that were issued in the fall of 86 and the spring of 87. This has been beyond overdue. There was suppose to be a 30th anniversary edition of Pepper in 97. Geoff Emrick remastered the album with Craig Calibi, artwork was done. Ads were taken out. In store displays were created and at the 11th hour the late Neil Aspinal shelved it. The time wasn't right he said. The instore displays were stocked with the original 87 CD. Apple makes so many mistakes, like the release of Let It Be, which has been out of print since 81, and putting the Yellow Submarine movie back on moritorium. There is more overdue stuff. After the Anthology what was in the works for release and than shelved was Shea Stadium,Hollywood Bowl, The Budokan, and the promo films (videos) were all going to be released and than shelved.

C'mon Jim, 99th time? How did you editors let that slide?

It's the SECOND time their catalog will be released on CD, and as Brian said, long overdue (22 years).

Brendan has some "serious problems" with certain Beatles cuts, as well as with an inflated ego...and poor counting ability (this is the second appearance of the Beatles on CD).
It is hard to choose which release is best when you grew up with each, hard to choose which to get now. A part depends on whether the band and voices are no longer on opposite sides of the sound spectrum. I heard "With the Beatles" at age 10 along with watching them on Sullivan. By high school graduation, the White Album seemed so different and if they each put their own songs on one double album (which they did), and very different songs than we were used to. But this is what we'd come to expect...something new and different each album. Given all the double albums coming out at the same time, and given The Who's style of rock, the White Album made if they were stepping up to the plate and showing their own muscle and variety. I will surely buy the reissue, and for "Sgt Pepper" being overrated and not having a flow...that was the point: each song does flow into the other and tell a story of childhood lost. And the first two songs recorded for it (Penny Lane/Straberry Fields) were demanded by Brian Epstein for the next single...which precluded it from being on the S.P. album (but not from the American soundtrack for "M.M.T.").-Dan

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on April 7, 2009 9:18 AM.

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