Tuesday, September 8, 2009


So, you may have heard that The Beatles are reissuing their catalog tomorrow. I'm going to be playing some of the songs from their incredible career. And right here, I'm going to try to provide a quick rundown of what they've just released, and what else is out there, if you actually don't have any Beatles music and want to check some of it out. Their catalog is actually pretty confusing. I'm not going to talk about The Beatles Rock Band game, although I want to get it myself.

First off, is The Beatles stereo box set. It contains all of The Beatles albums, remastered in stereo. It also has both Past Masters collections. The Past Masters have all the songs that were released as singles, but were never on albums. So, if you get the stereo box set, you pretty much have everything, and by all accounts, the stereo box sets sound amazing. By the way, all the stereo albums will be available seperately.

Some people ask why anyone would want the mono box set, which has fewer albums and is actually more expensive. Back in their early days of the band, they recorded and released everything in mono, as most music was listened to on record players with one speaker or radios with one speaker. So, most of their music was recorded for mono. At first, the band didn't care much about stereo, and didn't pay much attention to stereo mixes. Then when home stereos became a bigger thing, everything was recorded for stereo (in the Beatles' case, I think they started recording for stereo with Sgt. Pepper. The last few Beatles albums were actually recorded for stereo, and so no mono versions exist, which is why the mono box is shorter. It's more expensive because they're making it into a collector's set, and apparently it has sold out just from pre-orders (also, the albums won't be available individually in mono). In some cases, different takes on certain songs are featured in the mono and stereo mixes.

The Beatles box sets Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 came out in 2004 and 2006, respectively. What are they? Well, in the first few years of The Beatles' career, their U.S. label released different versions of albums than the U.K. albums. It's complicated. When CDs were first released in the '80s, the label decided to only release the British versions of the albums, to make things less confusing. But then to make things more confusing (and profitable), they released these box sets with the U.S. versions of the albums - oddly enough, they all contained the stereo and mono mixes! These are kind of just for the real collectors.

If you just want to dive into The Beatles for the first time, I'd recommend "The Red Album" (basically a 2 CD best of covering the first half of their career) and "The Blue Album" (same deal, for the second half). Or, if you're on a tighter budget, 1 is a single CD with all songs that hit #1 in either the U.S. or U.K.

I try not to be a sucker for unnecessary reissues - and some artists have been repackaged so many times. But The Beatles catalog really needed it - these albums haven't been remastered since they first came out on CD in the '80s, and technology to make CDs sound better has improved so much since then. I can't wait to get the stereo box set, and if they ever release the mono albums individually, I'll pick up "The White Album" and Sgt. Pepper.

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