9/9/09: The Beatles Remastered CDs Are Finally Released
t was more than 20 years ago (in 1987) that the Beatles albums first came out in the CD format. As vinyl and tape sales slowed significantly, CD became the standard way of listening to music and these versions of The Beatles albums have become those that people listen to. Unfortunately these versions of The Beatles albums aren't actually the best they could be. The mastering job on that original CD release was less than perfect. And the packaging was pretty lame too!
On 9/9/09 all of that changed! Why? Because that's the day that the newly remastered Beatles CDs became the new standard for The Beatles albums and these newly remastered Beatles albums sound amazing. There is new clarity and detail in the songs and nobody has reported any issues with over compression or a lack of warmth. On top of that, the packaging is a lot better too! Now the CDs will available in "vinyl replica" packaging which is a lot cooler than the old plastic cases that the CDs have been in.
The best way to buy all of these newly remastered Beatles CDs is with the new Beatles CD box sets. There's a stereo box set which includes all 13 of The Beatles UK albums (yes, that includes Magical Mystery Tour even though it's not really a real Beatles album) and the Past Masters set of non-album tracks so that it includes a newly remastered stereo version of every song The Beatles originally released from 1962 through 1970.
There's also a mono box set which has the original mono mixes of The Beatles first 10 albums (along with the Mono Masters set which has mono mixes of all of their non-album songs). Also now available are the original stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul. This is the first time that these mixes have been available on CD.
Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be are not included in this mono box set because they were never mixed in mono. By 1969 mono was dead and stereo was the standard.
But prior to the switchover to stereo, mono was the standard. Most people listened to mono versions of the Beatles albums through most of the '60s. And because of that the band and their producers spent almost all of their time and energy on mixing the mono mixes. In comparison the stereo mixes were not given significant thought. Stereo was thought by some at the time to be a "fad" or just an "experimental" thing. I know that seems crazy to us now, but that's what people thought back then.
What this means is that these original mono mixes were really how the band intended their music to be heard and that's why it's so significant from a historical standpoint that these mixes are finally easily available on CD. Prior to this new CD release the only way to legally listen to these mono mixes would be to track down an original Beatles mono vinyl LP. As you can imagine that could be difficult and expensive to do. Plus you'd need a record player and most people don't have one of those anymore.
You may think that these mono mixes are something only "Beatles historians" should be interested in but there are many people who claim that the mono albums are more than just "the way the albums were meant to be hard" but also flat out better sounding. John Lennon was known to say that he thought the mono Sgt. Pepper was vastly superior to the stereo Sgt. Pepper.
In many cases the mono versions of The Beatles song are significantly different sounding. It is very interesting to hear those differences for Beatles fans.
While the new stereo Beatles CDs are available as a part of the stereo box set and individually (they will be the new standard Beatles albums available everywhere) the new mono CDs are only available as a part of the mono box set.