A fab day for music stores

When Ben Treas was a college student in the 1960s, he didn’t have to look far to find the Beatles’ influence. One semester, he enrolled in an Indian philosophy class — and found it overflowing with young people who had signed up after the Beatles’ recent trip to India to study with the Maharishi.

“One of my greatest regrets in college was that I had the opportunity to review ‘Sgt. Pepper’ for the campus paper in Claremont, and I passed on it,” said Treas, an Irvine resident. “The Beatles were enormously influential in my life.”

So when the band’s entire recorded output came out on remastered CDs Wednesday — marking the first upgrade in Beatles sound quality since the first CDs were issued in 1987 — Treas headed promptly to Borders in Costa Mesa to purchase the box set. Even though the store wasn’t in his neighborhood, it was the only one he could find where the sets weren’t already sold out.

Music stores around Newport-Mesa — including Borders, SecondSpin.com and Best Buy — had eagerly anticipated the Wednesday reissues, which feature the band’s 13 studio albums and two singles compilations cleaned up with pristine digital sound.

Also coming out Wednesday was “The Beatles: Rock Band,” a video game from Electronic Arts that allows users to sing and play guitar or drums along with prerecorded tracks.

With all that merchandise lining the shelves, it felt to some as if Beatlemania had hit town again. Denise Esparza, a sales operator at Best Buy in Costa Mesa, said the intensity of the sales Wednesday surprised her.

“We’re pretty much all sold out of everything,” she said. “We didn’t expect it to be such a big deal, but it really was. We knew people were going to come in and buy it, but we have people not just buying the CDs, but also the ‘Rock Band’ [game]. Pretty much everything Beatles is sold out or will be sold out by the end of today.”

Jason Corcoran, a training supervisor at Borders, said nearly all the box sets at his store had sold out by midday Wednesday, and many customers had ordered them in advance.

The store set up a display containing all the CDs as well as T-shirts, posters, DVDs and even a Beatles Monopoly game. Fittingly, Corcoran said, the customers calling to reserve the merchandise spanned generations.

“It’s a mix, especially with the Beatles,” he said.

The Beatles Remastered

The Beatles Stereo Box Set, which contains remastered versions of the group’s 13 studio albums as well as two discs of non-LP singles, goes for a list price of $200 or more. What do you get for your dollar (or pound)?

 Remastered recordings created by engineers who returned to the original 1960s master tapes and eliminated glitches, muddiness and other technical flaws to create the cleanest-sounding Beatles songs ever.

 Expanded liner notes from the 1987 CDs

 Packaging based on the original LP covers

 More than a dozen CDs for your kids to borrow after they’ve gotten hooked on the “Beatles: Rock Band” video game

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