According to the New York Times:
Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music announced Tuesday morning that the Fab Four’s entire album catalog has been digitally remastered, and would be re-released on CD on Sept. 9. In a news release, Apple Corps and EMI said that the remastering effort, conducted at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London, took four years to complete, using a combination of modern-day recording technology and vintage studio equipment. The new CD releases, which include the 12 Beatles studio albums (the British versions) in stereo, as well as “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Past Masters Vol. I and II” (which have been combined into a single title) will feature the original UK album art, as well as original and newly written liner notes.
On Sept. 9 (the same day that the video game The Beatles: Rock Band arrives in stores), Apple Corps and EMI said that two new Beatles boxed CD collections of the material would also be released, one comprising all 14 CDs plus a DVD documentary collection, the other consisting of 10 albums’ original mono mixes plus two additional CDs of mono masters. In a statement, the two companies added: “Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time.”
I bought all The Beatles’ albums when I was a kid – on vinyl. I bought some of them again when I became a pseudo-collector and tried to find original Apple labels etc. Then I bought them again on CD in 1987 when they were first moved to that format. I have bought a few of them again for my kids so they could have their own copies. Will I buy these new remasters? I am not sure yet. I may get a couple and if I think the quality is noticeably better, then probably.
I did notice a HUGE difference in the sound quality when I bought the Love and Yellow Submarine discs over the last few years. Those CDs sound miles away in sound quality from the 1987 CDs, so you never know.
I am actually most interested in the mono mixes, as Geoff Emerick wrote in his book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles that the mono mixes had the most care behind them, and the stereo mixes were actually throw-away quickie jobs to appease fans of the ‘new’ stereo format.
One funny aside – the Stones are doing the same thing. They are rolling out their post-1971 catalog in stages, starting with Sticky Fingers, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock’n’Roll and Black And Blue in May. In the 60s, the Beatles and Stones used to communicate well, and the bands never issues new albums or singles at the same time, to avoid diluting the market and sales. Guess they didn’t get each others’ memos this time…