michael gallucci

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Beatles’ fab catalog gets a much-needed facelift

In Uncategorized on 08/31/2009 at 2:34 am



The Beatles’ catalog was first released on CD in 1987, right around the time most folks began replacing their record collections with the tiny silver discs. The sound was pretty remarkable … for 1987. But over the past 22 years, technological evolution made those albums sound, well, like they were released in 1987. Apple/EMI just remastered and reissued the Beatles’ 13 albums plus the Past Masters collections. Each includes new liner notes and mini-documentaries you can watch on your computer. And they sound great. But how great? Are they worth buying again? Read on.



Please Please Me

What Is It? The Beatles’ debut, loaded with covers from their club days plus a few sterling originals (the title tune, “I Saw Her Standing There”).

Worth Buying Again? Yes. This is the first time the album is available in stereo (With the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and Beatles for Sale also make their stereo debuts). The group’s youthful exuberance bounces from the speakers.



With the Beatles

What Is It? Beatlemania kicks in, and the band rides its fabness with another mix of covers and originals.

Worth Buying Again? No. “All My Loving” jumps, but there are too many meh moments to justify the upgrade.



A Hard Day’s Night

What Is It? The first Beatles album to include nothing but Lennon-McCartney songs. It’s also the soundtrack to their first movie.

Worth Buying Again? Yes. The acoustic brushes of “If I Fell” nuzzle your ears.



Beatles for Sale

What Is It? Their fourth album in less than two years. Beatlemania begins to take its toll, as the band falls back on some blah covers.

Worth Buying Again? No. There’s some all-grown-up lyrics here, but only “Eight Days a Week” truly pounces.



Help!

What Is It? Ostensibly the soundtrack to their second film and their first creative leap forward.

Worth Buying Again? Yes. The Dylan-influenced “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” has never sounded more intimate.



Rubber Soul

What Is It? The Beatles’ first undisputed classic and the first time they actually structure an album as an album, rather than a collection of songs.

Worth Buying Again? Yes. From the opening “Drive My Car,” the folk-soul blend rings throughout.



Revolver

What Is It? The Beatles’ first major freak-out and the first time they actually used the studio as their playground.

Worth Buying Again? Yes. Both ballads (“Here, There and Everywhere”) and jangly rockers (“And Your Bird Can Sing”) reveal new depths.



Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

What Is It? One of the greatest albums of all time, soaked equally in ambition and pretension.

Worth Buying Again? Yes. The album’s kaleidoscopic production (especially on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”) sounds stunning.



Magical Mystery Tour

What Is It? The Beatles at their most self-indulgent, but in a bad way. It’s a TV soundtrack that sounds mostly like Sgt. Pepper leftovers.

Worth Buying Again? No. But all the noises tucked into “I Am the Walrus”’ nooks and crannies sure do pop.



The Beatles

What Is It? The Beatles at their most self-indulgent, but in a good way. The White Album is the sound of the Fab Four breaking apart.

Worth Buying Again? Yes. It’s their most personal set of songs (“Mother Nature’s Son,” “Long, Long, Long”), which now sound even more personal.



Yellow Submarine

What Is It? Another soundtrack, this time filled with awful movie instrumentals by producer George Martin.

Worth Buying Again? No. Unless you really love “Hey Bulldog” and “All Together Now,” there’s nothing here worth buying again.



Abbey Road

What Is It? The last album the Beatles recorded together, highlighted by a side-long suite written primarily by Paul McCartney.

Worth Buying Again? Yes. “Something” is one of George Harrison’s best songs, and it sounds great here. So does John Lennon’s “Come Together.”



Let It Be

What Is It? A failed attempt at resparking the band’s collective live spirit. Hours of messy tapes were remixed by goop-lovin’ producer Phil Spector.

Worth Buying Again? No. The punchier sound merely underlines the schmaltz (but the raw “Two of Us” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” rock harder).



Past Masters

What Is It? Previously two separate CDs of leftover singles and stuff, now combined in a single two-disc package.

Worth Buying Again? Maybe. We can’t hear much difference, but “Day Tripper” sounds zippier, and “Rain”’s psych-out oozes newfound warmth. –Michael Gallucci

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