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Countdown to Beatles Launch 09.09.09


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The Beatles clean up nicely, mono or stereo


The folks at Apple Corps and EMI – the empire the Beatles built – certainly know their stuff.


With the CD format in its final throes, they're making one last effort to convince music fans that their new boxed set of the entire Beatles back catalogue, available today for the first time in painstakingly remastered, digitized stereo, will make all your old Beatles recordings obsolete; and that the $300 asking price for the 13 studio albums, plus double CD of non-album, extended-play and alternative cuts, as well as a DVD of mini-documentaries with rare footage, voice-overs and photographs, is a small sacrifice for such a noble and exhaustingly complete post-modern masterpiece.


They're right on the money, of course. The new Beatles boxed set is a wonderful thing, containing some 217 songs repolished to crystalline perfection and reformatted deferentially into two audio channels without, for the most part, diminishing the enduring charm and excitement of the original versions of the songs, most of which were mixed and released in the single channel format, the standard format 40 years ago.

For subsequent generations who've grown up in a stereo world this set may be something of a revelation.


The songs do have additional dimension and clarity, with each sound ascribed a distinct position in the stereo spectrum. Musicians and hi-fi perfectionists may actually be able to hear the click of a plectrum on George Harrison's steel guitar strings, the spittle frothing at the end of Paul McCartney's tongue, the sardonic sneer that shapes John Lennon's vowels and even the occasional squeak of Ringo's bass drum pedal.


They will also hear succinct evidence of each player's individual technique: little errors in timing and quirks of musical judgment that were buried in the mono mixes for the greater good of the song.


And with the stylish extras – each album comes with a booklet featuring the original art work, liner notes, extra photographs and historical data about the recording – it's no surprise that Amazon.com has already sold out its original pre-release allotment and is taking back orders for future delivery.






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