Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Beatles: No explanation as to why

Hey, here's a funny coincidence - Paul McCartney and Ringo Aviva sharing a stage together just a couple of days before the announcement of another round of Beatles remasters. A crazy, crazy coincidence.

EMI and Apple Corps are very excited indeed:

London, England - April 7, 2009 - Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

How does one embed a CD, however briefly? Do they mean that the first run of the CDs will also have a movie file on them?
The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.

Surely if they started this in 2005, the state of the art equipment they were using is now going to be as out of date as John Lennon's driving licence? Is that why it's taken so long, then - every time they just got finished, they discovered that technology had improved and had to start all over again?

Let's not even start to unpick how you can digitally remaster something as if it was the original analogue version. Frankly, the only people who are interested in rebuying the Beatles records are going to be at a stage in life where their hearing would probably not notice if the tracks on the new CDs were recorded off a poorly-tuned-in FM radio onto an elderly and slightly stretched C90 tape.
This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc.

No, really. EMI & Apple simply haven't bothered before.
Within each CD's new packaging, booklets include detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. With the exception of the 'Past Masters' set, newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on each album. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere.

I suppose the choice of Apple's video format might have been a wry joke on the part of the project team.

It's hard to believe that there's any useful Beatles studio chat that hasn't already been exposed to the public ear, so god alone knows what they'll be dredging up for these.
A second boxed set has been created with the collector in mind.

Because, of course, 'buying all the Beatles albums on CD - again' isn't a collector impulse in its own right. There is a large market of people, I'm sure, who don't already own all the tracks in sixteen manifestations who have just been waiting forty years for a digitally remastered edition to make the commitment.

Still, digital remastering; computer games. It might have taken decades to get to this point, but at least Apple Corps is catching up with the times, right?
Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time.

Oh. Sometime mid-2015 for the Limited Edition Zune, then?


duckie said...

Gah! As any fule kno, the mono mixes of all the albums up to and including Revolver are far superior since they were regarded as the main release whilst the stereo ones were knocked up in five minutes afterwards. And yet for this "enhanced quality" offering you have to buy a bloody great box set of the lot to get the mono versions. That's ok though, it's obviously only "collectors" who would want to hear the best versions.

Anonymous said...

I've actually deliberately held off buying The Beatles albums on cds for years waiting for the inevitable rip-off bonus cds and DVD with crap takes release so I'm utterly gutted that in fact the re-releases on CD again are just re-releases on CD again only this time in cardboard. That's right - I actually quite wanted to get ripped-off on this one because I actually love the music of The Beatles. I don't quite understand who's running the marketing at Apple but obviously nobody who actually remotely understands the either music fans or their own greedy industry. Historical/informative notes? Presumably because it's so hard to find background literature about The Beatles down at Waterstones. It's not like there's a new book about them out every five minutes detailing every single thing that is going on inside Mark Lewisohn's head. Quicktime videos? Bloody hell. I mean that was a novelty for about five minutes ten years ago but surely they've heard of the bonus DVD with nothing particularly interesting on it except for the price sticker. Do they actually want to make money or not? It would be lovely if they weren't interested in all that but we all know that they are and yet this series of re-releases doesn't seem to know how to. I really can't see these things selling as well as they could have if they'd actually put some effort into it.

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