More than a quarter century after the U.S. versions of the Beatles' albums went out of print, all will be reissued individually and in a 13-CD boxed set on Jan. 21 (a day earlier in the rest of the world) in conjunction with various commemorations of the group’s arrival in the States 50 years ago.
The group’s albums were issued in the U.S. in drastically different form than the original U.K. versions, in many cases with different album artwork and song lineups as well as added audio effects that were roundly criticized by the Beatles and their longtime producer, George Martin.
But they are the versions that introduced millions of American listeners to the Fab Four’s music. The set spans “Meet the Beatles” through “Hey Jude,” a U.S.-only compilation that gathered various singles that had not previously been included on albums.
The box set includes a 64-page booklet with photos and a new essay by writer and television producer Bill Flanagan. Each album will appear in mono and stereo mixes, except for “The Beatles’ Story,” an audio documentary album, and “Hey Jude,” which were originally issued only in stereo. “The Beatles Story” album is the only title that will not be available individually.
Original artwork included will extend to the infamous “butcher cover” of the “Yesterday…and Today” album from 1966, in which John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were photographed in white lab coats holding body parts of dismembered dolls and pieces of raw meat.
The set doesn’t include studio albums after “Revolver” in 1966 because EMI in England and Capitol Records in the U.S. agreed to release the same versions from that point on. The sole exception was “Magical Mystery Tour,” which came out as a six-song EP (extended-play) in the U.K. and was supplemented with four additional songs for the U.S. release. The expanded version became the official version when the Beatles’ albums first appeared on CD in 1987, and it has remained the one in circulation.
A short promotional video about the set is playing on the Beatles' YouTube channel.
In 2004, the Beatles’ Apple Records label and Capitol Records in the U.S. issued two boxed sets of the group’s 1964 and 1965 U.S. albums. Those boxes didn’t include the soundtrack from “A Hard Day’s Night,” which originally was issued by United Artists Records, “The Beatles Story” or “Revolver,” which came out in 1966.
Among other activities marking the 50th anniversary of the eruption of Beatlemania in the U.S., the Recording Academy and CBS-TV recently announced that they would air a two-hour special, “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles,” on Feb. 9, 50 years exactly after the group’s premiere performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
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