Album Details

September 09, 2009
Pop/Rock, British Psychedelia, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Merseybeat, Rock & Roll, British Invasion, AM Pop, Psychedelic, Folk-Rock

Album Review

The Beatles always stood apart from their peers, a self-evident statement that sadly extended to the treatment of their catalog in the digital age. Where all their peers from the Byrds to the Who have had their catalogs remastered and reissued in deluxe editions, sometimes several times, the Beatles remained stuck in the early days of digital, their 14 albums plus Past Masters singles collection remaining untouched since 1987. Anniversaries came and went, but no remasters arrived until the release of the video game The Beatles Rockband pushed a long-overdue revamping of the band's entire catalog into the stores on 9-9-09. This reissue campaign corrects almost all the problems of the original 1987 CDs: the sound and artwork are improved, and all the original mono and stereo mixes finally see the light of day. Naturally, it's possible to quibble about some details of the presentation, particularly the decision to split the reissue into two separate box sets, one covering the stereo mixes and one the mono mixes, with only the stereo mixes available as individual discs (it's still possible to complain that the albums do not add era-specific singles or outtakes, but such expansions were never really in the cards), but both boxes still constitute the best Beatles by far. Crucially, it's also inarguably the best-sounding Beatles music ever released, robust and rich even on the earliest rock & roll. None of the albums have been remixed -- although Help! and Rubber Soul retain Martin's 1987 mixes, the original stereo mixes are bonuses on the mono set -- so this doesn't shock the way the Yellow Submarine soundtrack did with its reimagined stereo mixes. Nevertheless, these remasters surely do surprise with their clarity and depth, with each album feeling bigger and fuller than the previous CD incarnation, but not artificially so. It's not that these are pumped up on digital steroids; it's that the veil has been lifted, so everything seems full and fresh. Appropriately, there's more to savor from Help! onward, as the Beatles' productions grew ambitious, but Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and A Hard Day's Night all have a strong punch, while Beatles for Sale is warmer than the previous disc.
As a package, the stereo box is slightly unwieldy -- it's a large, vertical set with two stacks of discs in slick cardboard sleeves piled on top of each other. No extra book is included with the set, but each disc has its own booklet with dry, straightforward liner notes detailing the recording process instead of analyzing the music. If anything about the set could be called disappointing, it's the mini-documentaries attached to each disc as Quicktime files and collected on a DVD bonus for the box. "Mini-documentary" may even be stretching what these are: they're three to five infomercials about the albums, not much more informative than the notes themselves. Nevertheless, these do offer annotation, something sorely lacking from the first CDs, and they do replicate the original notes -- in the case of Magical Mystery Tour, including the entire storybook; in the case of Pepper, all the 20th anniversary annotation is added -- finally bringing the Beatles to the same standard for reissues that every other major (and most minor) bands have had for years now. And the story, at least for the stereo box, is not the packaging -- it's the glorious sound that makes this such a treat. There's also no question that those who waited 22 years to hear a better version of the Beatles will not be disappointed (although they may still wonder why it took so long for the Fabs to be treated as they deserve).
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. I Saw Her Standing There
  2. Misery
  3. Anna (Go to Him)
  4. Chains
  5. Boys
  6. Ask Me Why
  7. Please Please Me
  8. Love Me Do
  9. P.S. I Love You
  10. Baby It's You
  11. Do You Want to Know a Secret
  12. A Tast of Honey
  13. There's a Place
  14. Twist and Shout
  15. Please Please Me Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  16. It Won't Be Long
  17. All I've Got to Do
  18. All My Loving
  19. Don't Bother Me
  20. Little Child
  21. Till There Was You
  22. Please Mister Postman
  23. Roll Over Beethoven
  24. Hold Me Tight
  25. You Really Got a Hold on Me
  26. I Wanna Be Your Man
  27. Devil in Her Heart
  28. Not a Second Time
  29. Money (That's What I Want)
  30. With the Beatles Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  31. A Hard Day's Night [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]
  32. I Should Have Known Better [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]
  33. If I Fell [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]
  34. I'm Happy Just to Dance with You [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]
  35. And I Love Her [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]
  36. Tell Me Why [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]
  37. Can't Buy Me Love [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]
  38. Any Time at All
  39. I'll Cry Instead
  40. Things We Said Today
  41. When I Get Home
  42. You Can't Do That
  43. I'll Be Back
  44. A Hard Day's Night Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  45. No Reply
  46. I'm a Loser
  47. Baby's in Black
  48. Rock & Roll Music
  49. I'll Follow the Sun
  50. Mr. Moonlight
  51. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!
  52. Eight Days a Week
  53. Words of Love
  54. Honey Don't
  55. Ever Little Thing
  56. I Don't Want to Spoil the Party
  57. What You're Doing
  58. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby
  59. Beatles for Sale Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  60. Help! [from the Film "Help! "]
  61. The Night Before [from the Film "Help! "]
  62. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away [from the Film "Help! "]
  63. I Need You [from the Film "Help! "]
  64. Another Girl [from the Film "Help! "]
  65. You're Going to Lose That Girl [from the Film "Help! "]
  66. Ticket to Ride [from the Film "Help! "]
  67. Act Naturally
  68. It's Only Love
  69. You Like Me Too Much
  70. Tell Me What You See
  71. I've Just Seen a Face
  72. Yesterday
  73. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
  74. Help Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  75. Drive My Car
  76. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  77. You Won't See Me
  78. Nowhere Man
  79. Think for Yourself
  80. The Word
  81. Michelle
  82. What Goes On
  83. Girl
  84. I'm Looking Through You
  85. In My Life
  86. Wait
  87. If I Needed Someone
  88. Run for Your Life
  89. Rubber Soul Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  90. Taxman
  91. Eleanor Rigby
  92. I'm Only Sleeping
  93. Love You To
  94. Here, There and Everywhere
  95. Yellow Submarine
  96. She Said She Said
  97. Good Day Sunshine
  98. And Your Bird Can Sing
  99. For No One
  100. Doctor Robert
  101. I Want to Tell You
  102. Got to Get You into My Life
  103. Tomorrow Never Knows
  104. Revolver Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  105. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  106. With a Little Help from My Friends
  107. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
  108. Getting Better
  109. Fixing a Hole
  110. She's Leaving Home
  111. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
  112. Within You Without You
  113. When I'm Sixty-Four
  114. Lovely Rita
  115. Good Morning Good Morning
  116. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
  117. A Day in the Life
  118. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Mini-Documentary
  119. Magical Mystery Tour [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]
  120. The Fool on the Hill [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]
  121. Flying [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]
  122. Blue Jay Way [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]
  123. Your Mother Should Know [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]
  124. I Am the Walrus [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]
  125. Hello Goodbye
  126. Strawberry Fields Forever
  127. Penny Lane
  128. Baby You're a Rich Man
  129. All You Need Is Love
  130. Magical Mystery Tour Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  131. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  132. Dear Prudence
  133. Glass Onion
  134. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  135. Wild Honey Pie
  136. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  137. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  138. Happiness Is a Warm Gun
  139. Martha My Dear
  140. I'm So Tired
  141. Blackbird
  142. Piggies
  143. Rocky Raccoon
  144. Don't Pass Me By
  145. Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
  146. I Will
  147. Julia
  148. Birthday
  149. Yer Blues
  150. Mother Nature's Son
  151. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  152. Sexy Sadie
  153. Helter Skelter
  154. Long, Long, Long
  155. Revolution 1
  156. Honey Pie
  157. Savoy Truffle
  158. Cry Baby Cry
  159. Revolution 9
  160. Good Night
  161. The Beatles Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  162. Yellow Submarine
  163. Only a Northern Song
  164. All Together Now
  165. Hey Bulldog
  166. It's All Too Much
  167. All You Need Is Love
  168. Pepperland [Original Film Score]
  169. Sea of Time [Original Film Score]
  170. Sea of Holes [Original Film Score]
  171. Sea of Monsters [Original Film Score]
  172. March of the Meanies [Original Film Score]
  173. Peppeland Laid Waste [Original Film Score]
  174. Yellow Submarine in Pepperland [Original Film Score]
  175. Yellow Submarine Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  176. Come Together
  177. Something
  178. Maxwell's Silver Hammer
  179. Oh! Darling
  180. Octopus's Garden
  181. I Want You (She's So Heavy)
  182. Here Comes the Sun
  183. Because
  184. You Never Give Me Your Money
  185. Sun King
  186. Mean Mr. Mustard
  187. Polythene Pam
  188. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
  189. Golden Slumbers
  190. Carry That Weight
  191. The End
  192. Her Majesty
  193. Abbey Road Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  194. Two of Us
  195. Dig a Pony
  196. Across the Universe
  197. I Me Mine
  198. Dig It
  199. Let It Be
  200. Maggie Mae
  201. I've Got a Feeling
  202. One After 909
  203. The Long and Winding Road
  204. For You Blue
  205. Get Back
  206. Let It Be Mini-Documentary [Multimedia]
  207. Love Me Do [Original Single Version]
  208. From Me to You
  209. Thank You Girl
  210. She Loves You [Mono Version]
  211. I'll Get You [Mono Version]
  212. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  213. This Boy
  214. Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
  215. Sie Liebt Dich
  216. Long Tall Sally
  217. I Call Your Name
  218. Slow Down
  219. Matchbox
  220. I Feel Fine
  221. She's a Woman
  222. Bad Boy
  223. Yes It Is
  224. I'm Down
  225. Day Tripper
  226. We Can Work It Out
  227. Paperback Writer
  228. Rain
  229. Lady Madonna
  230. The Inner Light
  231. Hey Jude
  232. Revolution
  233. Get Back
  234. Don't Let Me Down
  235. The Ballad of John and Yoko
  236. Old Brown Shoe
  237. Across the Universe
  238. Let It Be
  239. You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) [Mono Version]
  240. Please Please Me [DVD]
  241. With the Beatles [DVD]
  242. A Hard Day's Night [DVD]
  243. Beatles for Sale [DVD]
  244. Help! [DVD]
  245. Rubber Soul [DVD]
  246. Revolver [DVD]
  247. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [DVD]
  248. Magical Myster Tour [DVD]
  249. The Beatles (The White Album) [DVD]
  250. Yellow Submarine [DVD]
  251. Let It Be [DVD]
  252. Abbey Road [DVD]
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