Long rumored, it appears that the Beatles back catalogue is finally being released in a remastered form. The next issue of MOJO says sometime in 2009.
I’ve long been a proponent of a remastered Beatles catalog. The original albums — from Please Please Me to Let It Be — on CD were done in 1987, and sonic technology has vastly improved since then. The tracks on the original Beatles CDs sound okay, but they could sound so much better. The Yellow Submarine Songtrack, released in 1999, featured remastered tracks, and the music sounds vastly richer than the original 1987 CD masters.
Something I, personally, would find intriguing would be a release of the themed compilations that were released by EMI in the 1970s using the remastered tracks. Release them at a budget price point — say, ten dollars or less — and introduce a new generation to the magic of the Beatles, much as 2000’s 1 did.
What themed compilations are these?
The first was Rock ‘n’ Roll Music in 1976, a collection of the Beatles’ rock’n’roll numbers. One addition I’d make? Add “Paperback Writer.” Or “Day Tripper.”
Then, in 1977, was Love Songs.
The came 1980’s The Beatles’ Ballads. An interesting collection — and interesting cover artwork.
Finally, in 1982 EMI released Reel Music, a collection of songs taken from the Beatles’ films.
Reel Music was supposed to be followed by another compilation album in 1985, Sessions, but for a variety of reasons it was never issued, and in the wake of the Anthology releases it was no longer necessary.
None of these compilations were released on CD when the Beatles catalogue was released in that format in 1987. The Beatles hadn’t authorized these albums, and at the time they were released on LP they didn’t have the veto to block them. The CD releases standardized the releases of the Beatles’ music worldwide; the different American track listings disappeared until the recent release of The Capitol Albums boxsets.
I have all of these, including Sessions, set up as playlists on my computer. Doubtless other Beatles fans do as well. And there’s no reason why, when the remastered Beatles catalogue is released, that an industrious fan couldn’t create their own playlists.
Yet, simply for an introduction to the styles and themes the Beatles returned to, time and again, in the course of their career, releasing the compliations as budget-priced introductions seem a good idea. So often I’ve heard, “I don’t know where to start,” and while I might push Revolver or Abbey Road on someone, another person might suggest a different introduction. Themes work well, especially when the cover the breadth of their career.
Is this dream of mine likely to happen? In all likelihood, probably not. The Beatles themselves didn’t pick the track line-ups, and especially in the case of Rock ‘n’ Roll Music some of the songs choices are suspect. Yet, besides the introduction these albums could provide to a new generation, for an older generation these albums would have a nostalgic lure. (I should note, for the record, that until I put the playlists together, I had never heard the songs in this format, so there’s no actual nostalgic lure for myself.)
Still, I’d like to see it happen. 🙂