THE BEATLES > Stereo Box Set

The Beatles - Stereo Box

THE BEATLES

Stereo Box Set

(EMI/CAPITOL)

Rating: ★★★★★

The band was done a grave injustice in 1987, when their music was used to help usher in the CD era in the guise of crappy, tinny-sounding albums. What once benefited from ‘60s production techniques and George Martin magic on warm, immediate vinyl was now pressed into shoddy carbon copies on discs of disposable plastic.

Flash forward more than 20 years and we’ve finally got our sonic upgrade. All you need is love, and a whole lot of patience, it turns out. Plus a sizeable bank account, if you want to re-purchase all these Beatles CDs. So are they worth your “Money”?

The answer is absolutely. The Beatles’ music has always been comfort food for rock fans. This is that same iconic canon you love, but in hi-def. Like 2003’s Phil Spector-less reissue of Let It Be, every sound here feels a little more “naked.” Stripped of a layer of sonic shmutz, here the individual instruments and vocals sound bolder, fresher and more organic. Paul’s hyperactive bass and Ringo’s underrated drum fills are front and center. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” sounds like it’s being played there in your living room. Even a song you’ve heard a million times like “Hey Jude” sounds better, better, better, better, better, better, yeah.

There are virtually no weak songs in The Beatles catalog. Even “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” has its upside. They got their start playing basic rock and rollers, then improved on them with their incredible songwriting skills, giving us minor masterpieces like “Here, There and Everywhere” and “Help!” Then, they began to expand their minds—the sitar on Revolver announces that we’re not in Liverpool anymore. Then the Beatles go down the rabbit hole and spit out four albums of pure psychedelia. The twin swan songs Abbey Road and Let It Be represent the sum total of their parts—ambitious craftsmen still pushing the boundaries of the form, and faithful lovers of the twelve-bar blues. Past Masters is the album they never made—a collection of singles that sing together.

It’s fitting that these reissues didn’t come out on iTunes, as had long been expected, because they are the antithesis to the overly compressed iTunes earbud sound. Turn up your stereo and bask in The Beatles’ symphonic glory.