Huge news in Beatleland. After years of taunting, impatiently waiting, hoping, weeping, sobbing, and every other -ing out there, it seems as if hell has officially been frozen over for millions of Beatles fans. It was announced officially today that Apple/EMI will be reissuing remastered versions of all of The Beatles’ proper album catalog and a few other key albums with a few tracks that may have been released as single-only tracks (i.e. Past Masters.)
For those who don’t know, fans in the mid to late 80’s were waiting for The Beatles to be released on CD, as the only thing available at the time was a very expensive Japanese edition of Abbey Road (which currently commands high prices today). Unfortunately fans were not happy with it because their early albums were released on CD in mono-only, not stereo. Each of those CD’s could have have both the mono and stereo mixes for each album but back then that wasn’t a consideration (record labels were still uncertain that the general public wanted older music on compact disc). Also, some felt that the sound quality was not as good as it could have been, even though in the late 80’s mastering techniques were not as developed or complex as it is today, which means most likely fans were hearing quality discs. In fact, the CD for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was almost universally praised as a 5 star disc. Knowledge of the remastering business has made people become more aware of sound quality issues and what is possible from an old master tape.
Word of Beatles remasters has been rumored for years, as fans have wanted to have something better than what exists. It would eventually develop into such underground figures as Dr. Ebbett and Purple Chick, both of whom have hunted down vinyl editions of key pressings of Beatles records and released them in bootleg and digital form. Avid/rabid record collectors know that certain pressings of records are considered to be sonically superior, making the initial Beatles CD pressings obsolete. As they have grown in popularity, the people at Apple and EMI have been put into the dark ages.
The Beatles remasters will be released on the 9th of September, 2009: 09/09/09. It’s the perfect number, especially for anyone who appreciated John Lennon‘s love of the number nine, and these discs will hopefully be the recording industry’s last hurrah as it hopes to make these CD’s sell massively.
This is what it says at the official Beatles website:
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.
Bad economic times? Don’t say that to the millions of Beatles fans who will be buying each remastered album on 09/09/09, freaking out the lady at Best Buy with the piercings on her lip and eyebrow. BTW – this is also the same day that The Beatles: Rock Band video game will be released