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The Beatles


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4 stars Career perfection

As bands go it doesn't get much better than The Beatles for great music and incredible songwriting. The question is, do you need their box set? For most fans of rock music the answer is Yes. If you already have copies of their best albums that sound fine to you I suppose you could skip this. But for fans stuck with old CDs or vinyl in poor shape, this is the perfect opportunity to get the whole show for a reasonable price.

I'm no audiophile but I know what I like, and to me these new remasters sound pretty damn good. The mix is quite nice and new things pop out here and there that I'd not heard before. The packaging is a joke of course, but 99% of box set packaging is a joke. Just something we have to deal with. Instead of proper jewel cases they come in these lame paper sleeves guaranteed to cause disc wear eventually and wear out pretty fast. The selling points are many however. First, you get everything. All of the proper studio albums are here, along with both parts of the fantastic "Past Masters" collection of rarities. All are lovingly presented in the best possible sound. Next, the booklets are well done. Each album's booklet features great photography, with dates and places for each photo, and come with lengthy historical and recording notes. George Martin's comments one each album are particularly interesting to read. Last, they throw in a bonus DVD with a mini-featurette of each album. The whole thing totals less than one hour, so it is pretty thin really, but nevertheless enjoyable. If you can't afford to purchase the whole set and wish to get a good sampling of the band's career by buying individual CDs, I'd recommend Please Please Me, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour, and Let It Be-Naked. These are their four best albums and cover each of their stylistic phases well.

If you are a parent or uncle/aunt of teenagers, do them a favor and give them this box set for a birthday or Christmas present. Every kid should have the chance for a Beatles obsession phase and experience the days when music was special.

Report this review (#247885)
Posted Monday, November 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can one say about The Beatles that hasn't already been said? Everyone knows and has at least one era of their life listened to them...

Almost every band post-1967 was influenced by them. They helped start the Psychedelic Rock movement with albums like Rubber Soul, Revolver and Stg. Pepper and thus heavily influenced the newly emerging progressive rock scene.

Here we have a full set of their 12 UK Studio albums, the US released Magical Mystery Tour and Past Masters, a collection of non-album tracks. All tracks have been remastered in stereo and the sound quality is excellent.

Highly recommended if you don't already own the Beatles Discography or want newly remastered versions of them.

Report this review (#270055)
Posted Sunday, March 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is it. This is the boxset with it all. Every song released by The Beatles is here, remastered in beautiful stereo. As far as music goes, you'd be hardpressed to find a boxset with more influential music and masterpiece songs than right here. The Beatles are one of the greatest bands of all time, and their music is as wonderful today as it was all those years ago. With this boxset, you can discover a wealth of music that has entertained, puzzled and moved millions of people for nearly half a century.

However, the packaging of this boxset is quite bizarre. While most boxsets allow you to select an item without disturbing the others, this set makes you do a bit more work. Let me describe the experience of opening the box for the first time. Upon removing the dust sleeve, and opening the magnetic 'door' of the box, two albums beam up at you: 'Please Please Me' and 'Magical Mystery Tour'. These appear to be stacked on top of the other albums, and these two stacks are held in place by the packaging of the box itself. You're wondering exactly how to remove the stacks, when you notice a small black ribbon to the right of each stack. You investigate by pulling this ribbon, and sure enough, the albums appear to rise out of the box. You keep pulling to see how this string works and immediately the albums begin toppling out. You quickly realise that to get just one album, you have to remember the chronological order of The Beatles' albums then move the entire stack just to get that particular album. Putting the album away after you finish is even more of a nightmare.If you have taken the entire of the stack out, great care must be taken so that the ribbon is at the top when you finish replacing the albums, as it is easy for it to get stuck underneath them, therefore making it difficult to pick up the albums again. The design for the box itself is very poor. Compare with the far more straightforward Mono Box Set.

The packaging for the albums themselves, whilst not perfect, is a vast improvement on the grotty 80s CD reissues. Each album comes in a glossy card sleeve, each with it's own set of liner notes in a wonderful glossy book. The notes themselves are brilliant, extremely factual and containing interesting details of each album. These notes are decorated with lots of lovely pictures of The Beatles themselves. Everything from the original albums are there, all the artwork (including the inner gatefold pictures), all the original sleeve notes, even the original poster from The White Album, which is replicated in a miniature form. One aspect I particularly like is the White Album is donned with a sleeve that has 'The BEATLES' embossed on it, to replicate the original sleeve. If you're extremely serious about the CD packaging though, I suggest you check out the Mono Set, in which each album is lovingly replicated in the exact style of the original vinyl record, a mini-LP if you wish. The CDs themselves are a little hard to get to, but in this modern day when we mainly use a CD once or twice to upload it to a computer, this isn't much to complain about.

Now then, the sound. You should read other reviews on the issue of the sound quality, as I am definitely not the expert. Obviously, with 20 years comes much better remastering technology, and these albums certainly sound better than the 80s CDs, but you won't be thinking 'Wow, The Beatles sound so much better now!' Interestingly, the first 4 albums have only now been remastered in stereo, as the 80s versions of these were all in mono. On some of the songs, there is a big difference, the example that I'm thinking of is Tell Me Why from 'A Hard Days Night' in which the music sounds more subdued than it's mono partner. Indeed, there is the argument that the mono Beatles are the better Beatles: more time was spent preparing these tracks in mono than in stereo because people mainly bought mono albums, and stereo was an expensive luxury. Also, with the early albums, the stereo songs sound very unbalanced, as the vocals come from only one channel, and the rest of the music doesn't have much power. However, the later albums sound much better in stereo, and in fact, Abbey Road doesn't have a mono mix at all.

The comparison I've been mainly making is with the Mono Box Set, which is apparently a limited offer, but it seems to have been selling for a while. The mono set is more expensive and, of course, doesn't contain Abbey Road. Also the content of the albums differs between the two sets, eg Helter Skelter is shorter on the mono set, and Blue Jay Way appears without the intermittent backwards music. There are quite a few pros and cons for both the Stereo and the Mono set, it must be said, but since I do not own the Mono set, I cannot judge which is better.

This boxset is an expensive addition to your music collection, but an addition your ears will thank you for. If you already have the good albums, or are otherwise happy with your current collection, then there's no need to go rushing out to buy this. If on the other hand, you really like the Beatles, but only have a couple of the old CDs, this is a great way to restart, and indeed finish your collection. The music in this boxset is timeless, and no band is more worthy of a complete-collection boxset than The Beatles.

Report this review (#440513)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink

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