The Beatles Remastered

BY Arts Desk  September 8, 2009 at 11:45 AM EST

More than 20 years after their release on CD, the Beatles are getting a 21st century makeover. On Wednesday, EMI Music and the iconic rock ‘n’ roll band will release the entire Beatles catalog — every album and single — digitally remastered in mono and stereo versions, with superior digital quality to the current CD recordings out since 1987.

The Beatles Remastered Box Set; photo copyright Apple Corps Ltd., 2009Fourteen CDs in stereo will be accompanied by original UK album art and booklets containing revamped liner notes, lyrics, rare photos and essays that explain what was happening with the band while the records were being made. For a limited period, 13 of the stereo CDs are embedded with a unique mini-documentary about the album.

All the stereo discs will be sold individually or as part of a compilation box set, which will include a DVD collection of documentaries. For the ardent Beatle fan and collector, “The Beatles in Mono” will only be sold in a separate box set containing all 10 albums in their original mono mixes, plus an additional disc that will include mono versions of songs found on the “Past Masters” collection.

It took EMI’s team of engineers at Abbey Road Studios in London four years to remaster the albums.

“What hit me the most is the stunning clarity of everything,” said Bruce Spizer, a Beatles historian. “With ‘Twist and Shout’ on the mono you can really hear the strain in John’s voice. It is one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll vocal performances ever and it cuts right through in the new medium.”

Here’s a clip of the video about the making of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” available on the remastered CD:

Of the stereo versions, Peter Kaufman wrote in the Washington Post: “On ‘She’s a Woman,’ almost the entire band is way off to the right, distant, vague, while to the left, clear as can be, we hear…maracas! The 1964 engineers’ spatial arrangement of the vocals and instruments has thrown the song, as we remember it, out of whack.”

But Spizer counters, “On a ballad like ‘Yesterday,’ you feel Paul McCartney in your living room playing the song.” And starting Wednesday, you can play the song with the the Fab Four on ‘The Beatles: Rock Band’ video game.

“The Beatles: Rock Band” propels the group into a younger demographic, letting gamers play songs that have become generational classics. In a glowing review for the New York Times, Seth Schiesel wrote, “It may be the most important video game yet to be made.”

Here’s a trailer of “The Beatles: Rock Band”: