The Beatles - The Beatles in Stereo (Parlophone, 2009)
To my way of thinking, one can’t say enough about the most influential band of my life, and for anyone who doesn’t think that The Beatles have influenced their small corner of the musical universe, all I can say is, “You are deeply mistaken.”
I purchased a Japanese collection on vinyl similar to this back in the late 70’s, where it was nice to have the vinyl pressed well, all of the album jackets brand spanking new and delivered in a solid box to keep them that way. So of course I was dancing from one foot to the other waiting on this collection, delivered with care in the same manner, yet on compact disc, where special attention has been given to the presentation of the album artwork that leave next to nothing to be desired. All of the twelve UK released albums are included, along with Magical Mystery Tour (my personal favorite), plus a double disc entitled Past Masters that chronologically gathers together all of the singles that were not part of formal album releases. Also included in the Past Masters collection are the (so called) Paul McCartney approved takes on the songs “Let It Be” and “Get Back,” with these versions being ever so important if you haven’t tied all of your musical loose ends together as of yet.
The album Let It Be still has me scratching my head with a bit of contention, as one of the fundamental aspects of this package was a back to basics feel, especially with this outing … while Let It Be was originally devoid of the the string arrangements used so lusciously and perhaps with effect on some earlier pieces, producer Phil Spector just inflated the album with so much useless weight that Let It Be lacked any sense of rawness or power that would have put it on par with The White Album. Yes, you get that original bombastic album, not the 2003 issue of Let It Be Naked, and with my arms raised to the sky facing the the UK I ask, “How hard would it have been to have included both of the versions in order to make this collection downright bulletproof?”
Yes, there are some who are not going to appreciate the remastering, insisting that if the songs were laid down in mono, then that’s how we should hear them, and there’s little with that attitude for me to argue with, and the addition of those albums being laced into this collection would certainly have made it the be-all and end-all when it comes to a definitive Beatles boxed set.
So until the time comes when a set like this is released yet again, one that includes both versions of Let It Be, along with both the mono and stereophonic takes of those early mono recorded albums, this is the best collection of Beatles’ material that you’re ever gonna find.
Of course this brings me to the record collector who rambles around inside of me fussing over all of the details … that person who loves this new package but doesn’t like the slipcases, preferring jewel cases for compact disc storage for a couple of reasons. First, compact discs should be handled with the same care as records, meaning I use small audiophile bags for them, just as I would use for records, and I don’t keep my discs in the slipcases, as just like records, so doing will produce ring-wear, not me mention surface scratches … so I’m left with a box that will not house these discs outside of the slipcases or with the added sleeves. Secondly, I’m wondering if I should divest myself of the original CD’s that were produced, where many of those early outings where of far better quality than the later ones when it comes to compact disc degradation. Of course the same things concerned me when it came to that Japanese vinyl box set I purchased back in the late 70’s, where I’ve stored all of those records outside of the album jackets, and housed the vinyl in audiophile bags, placing the jackets and the records in their own poly-sleeve leaving me with countless boxes that I don’t know what to do with and certainly take up a serious amount of dedicated storage space.
Finally, and I suspect that the answer comes down to cost alone … when it comes to a once in a lifetime collection of this nature (which is not going to be offhandedly purchase by the general public), I’m forced to ask the question, ”Why was this collection not burned using gold discs which would have produced far superior sound and avoided the dreaded compact disc rot?” Which means, until the world is delivered a collection that includes both the mono and stereo versions of albums originally recorded in mono, the two versions of Let It Be, and it’s all been delivered using gold discs, then I’m still waiting on that definitive collection.
Of course (and laughing) … I just know that to those requests I’ve made, someone is going to wish for all of the same, yet with the addition of both UK and US releases, which would be simply staggering.
Photo courtesy Apple Corps Ltd., 2009
- Jenell Kesler
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