The Beatles American Albums Boxed Set

A huge 13 CD box set of the Beatles Capitol records American releases just came out.

I already have all of the remasters that came out a few years ago. Is this set worth it? Will I be getting any music that I don’t already have?

I dunno. You’d get the same songs for certain. I don’t think there are any secret Beatles songs anymore. But the mixes might be different. A lot of their early stuff was recorded in monaural. Capitol would remix a mono song to make a fake stereo version. And George Martin would sometimes use different takes for the single version of a song than the album version. Remember, Sgt. Pepper was recorded by ping-ponging on two 4-track recorders. That was the State of the Art then. I think Hey Jude was the first single to be released in stereo.

So I guess it might matter how critical of a listener you are. How likely are you to notice or care that Harrison played some little fill in the 3rd measure of the 2nd verse a little differently in the single version than he did on the album version?

In my younger days, I put in some time in the booth in a local recording studio. We could mix it to sound great on the JBL 4310 studio monitors or great on the 6 inch speakers you’d be likely to find in a car stereo system of the time. We’d let the band decide before we sent the master out to be pressed.

If the lead review on Amazon is to be believed, these are not, strictly speaking, the American versions of the albums at all. They are the original UK recordings, as already available on CD, resequenced and repackaged to match the US releases. That means that the mixing and editing discrepancies that distinguished the actual US versions will be gone: the added reverb, the fake stereo, odd little differences like the false start on “I’m Looking Through You.”

The only material you wouldn’t already have if you own the 2009 box set is the spoken word oddity The Beatles Story (which is the only disc not being released individually) and the non-Beatles filler tracks on A Hard Day’s Night and Help.

Looks like I’m saving my money then. Thanks!

Digging farther into the Amazon reviews reveals a lot of conflicting information–most of it from people who haven’t actually heard the set in its entirety–but it appears that this is closer to the authentic US versions than I had been led to believe. (But it’s still not as close as the versions on the old *Capitol Albums *box sets.) Still, this is hardly essential.