On September 9, 2009, after a nearly 22-year wait, digitally remastered versions of all of the Beatles studio albums will be released, a press release has confirmed. Each album will feature the track listings and artwork as it was originally released in the U.K. and come with expanded booklets including original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited time, each of the Fab Four’s 12 proper albums will be “embedded” with a brief documentary about its making. The rereleases will include the Beatles’ 12 studio albums and Magical Mystery Tour as well as Past Masters Vol. I and II, which will be packaged as one collection. All 14 discs will be available with DVDs of the documentaries in a stereo box set, and a set titled The Beatles in Mono featuring 10 discs will also be released.
A crew of engineers at London’s Abbey Road Studios have spent four years working on the remasters using new technology and vintage equipment, the press release says, in an effort to preserve “the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings” and ensure “the highest fidelity the catalog has seen since its original release.”
9/9/09 promises to be a huge day in Beatles lore, as it’s the same day The Beatles: Rock Band will hit stores. This weekend brought a bit of Beatles news, too, as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunited onstage at a New York benefit for David Lynch’s Transcendental Meditation foundation (see photos here). Preorders for the remasters are already popping up on Amazon.co.uk. Demand for Beatles remasters has steadily increased since 1987, when Capitol/EMI first released the Beatles’ discography on CD with what many audiophile fans deemed substandard sound quality compared to the original vinyl.
While it seems like other artists remaster their entire catalog every several years, Capitol/EMI have barely touched the Beatles’ discography since 1987, with the exception of 2004’s The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1 box set, which compiled and remastered the band’s first four American releases in stereo and mono formats. The soundtrack for the Beatles’ Love show also gave listeners a brief tease of how fantastic the band’s songs would sound if properly remastered.
The Beatles in Mono will include the 10 albums originally mixed for mono release, as well as two additional discs the press release says features similar songs to those on the Past Masters compilations. The mono versions of Help! and Rubber Soul will boast bonuses: the albums’ original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been previously released on CD, per the press release. The mono collection, like the stereo one, will include all original inserts and label designs, and the CDs are designed as tiny vinyl replicas.
The press release didn’t include news regarding a possible deal with iTunes or another digital-music vendor to distribute the catalog digitally: “Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalog will continue. There is no further information available at this time,” the press release reads. Both Apple Corps. and Paul McCartney have expressed reluctance to release the Beatles’ music digitally until all the albums had been remastered. The solo work of each of the four Beatles is available on iTunes.
The Beatles Remasters:
Please Please Me
With the Beatles
A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles for Sale
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (The White Album)
Let It Be