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Reselling the Beatles
Will the new stereo and mono remasters of every Beatles album show there’s still some hope for the CD?
 

The newly remastered Beatles catalog is “a revelation” for the audiophile fan, said Mario Tarradell in The Dallas Morning News. But for the “promotional machine” behind the separate stereo and mono CD box sets, it’s “all about synergy.” The CDs are being released Wednesday alongside The Beatles: Rock Band video game and Beatles-themed books and board games. Despite the steep price tag, it should be “a welcome elixir for the ailing recording industry.”

Except that we don’t really listen to single albums much anymore, said Shane Richmond in Britain’s Daily Telegraph. We “carry our music collection with us,” on iPods and mp3 players, and “listen to it on shuffle.” And despite Apple’s best efforts, the Beatles famously aren’t sold through iTunes or other online stores.

Barring the catalog from being sold as digital downloads has had some benefits for the Beatles, said Ed Christman in Billboard, via Reuters, such as making them America’s second-best-selling artists this decade, with their 28.2 million CD sales not too far behind Eminem’s 32 million albums sold. With the box sets, “a band that broke up in 1970” could end up being this decade’s top seller.

It’s true that the Beatles’ songs have been “burnished to glow with a sonic sheen,” said Colin Fleming in Slate. But you’d have to be a real fan to “plunk down $200 or more” for a box set or two with “no extras—no outtakes, no live tracks, no vault gems,” and just a few “measly QuickTime making-of ‘mini-docs.’” There are Beatles outtakes and concert recordings out there, so “why the stinginess?”

 

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