Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Beatles' Remastered Albums Released Today

It's been nearly 40 years since the Beatles broke up in 1970. In the decades since, Paul McCartney has made a career out of trying to convince the public that he used to be relevant.

Yoko Ono has turned her more talented late husband John's work into a multi-billion dollar dynasty, while attempting to groom their son Sean for stardom. (Seriously, if the kid is ever able to cut the Dragon Lady's apron strings, he may have a shot at a decent career of his own.)

Ringo Star, whose contribution to the band could have been phoned in, as usual, just goes along to make everyone else happy while collecting a fat check. He has spent his life milking Beatlemania for all it's worth, despite that fact that any other drummer on the planet could have done a better job. His contribution the the Beatles can be best summed up with the words, "I was there too."

It's really sad that the two most talented band members, John Lennon and George Harrison were taken too soon.

In spite of all this, I'm really excited about the release of the remastered Beatles catalog. The music of the Fab Four was the sound track of my early childhood. I took guitar lessons in my early teens with a Beatles song book.

(From USA Today)
"Number nine, number nine, number nine," an engineer's voice intones over Revolution 9, the loopy loops-laden experimental track on The Beatles' self-titled 1968 album.

Little did John Lennon realize that the tune he dubbed "music of the future" would foreshadow Revolution 09/09/09, the day that would usher The Beatles' entire catalog into the future with a substantial engineering overhaul, rendering the most familiar music of the modern age suddenly astonishing and revelatory.

The remastered Beatles catalog, on sale Wednesday, is the remasterpiece fans have been craving since 1987, when the band's albums lost dimension and purity in their only wholesale transfer to CD.

A handful of scrubbed Beatles discs have bubbled up since then, most strikingly 2000's 1 hits compilation and 2006's brazen Love remix, but this is the first thorough catalog upgrade, a long-overdue digital reparation that restores the original vinyl's wider midrange, pin-drop clarity and rhythmic heft. Drum beats crackle with renewed insistence, burnishing Ringo Starr's star. Paul McCartney's bass has more visceral punch.

Abbey Road engineers tweaked the 20th century's most cherished songbook with surgical care, limiting reliance on "limiting," which makes music seem louder while quashing dynamic range.

Results vary from subtle to dramatic, and the mono-stereo debate will find eternal life in the blogosphere (especially regarding Sgt. Pepper), yet the enhancements overall are undeniable.

Even new and casual fans will be tempted to splurge on the $260 16-disc stereo box set (plus DVD) and the pricier $299 13-disc mono box set, which won't return to shelves once the initial pressing sells out.

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