By Amy Longsdorf
I should have known better. I thought I could make it through a review of Capitol’s box set of Beatles’ CDs without punning on song titles like “Yesterday” or resorting to phrases like “fab.” But listening to one newly remastered album after another, all I could think was: here comes the sun.
In case you need a reminder of just how astonishingly well the Beatles’ music has aged, stand in the glow of this glorious stereo box set, which includes all 14 of the band’s CDs as well as a DVD of mini-documentaries devoted to each of the releases.
Granted, the sonic changes are minor miracles rather than jaw-dropping revolutions. Paul McCartney’s bass is suddenly an instrument to be reckoned with, especially on the later tracks. “A Hard Day’s Night” is richer, less tinny. And all of “The Beatles” (aka “The White Album”) has been given such a gorgeous spit and polish that it sounds as if the boys are in the room playing their music just for you.
Listening to the box set is also an occasion to discover hidden gems in the Beatles’ songbook. “Let It Be” stunner “Two of Us” is one of the sweetest, goofiest, most endearing love songs Paul has ever written. “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” from “Help” is John Lennon at his most Dylanesque. And “Across the Universe” – also from “Let It Be” – is so lush and smooth, it’s like taking a bath in a tub of butter.
While the music is the main draw of the massive set, the 51-minute DVD boasts some nifty interviews, live footage, and studio chatter. Did you know that the Beatles’ first album “Please Please Me” was recorded in 12 hours? Or that “Helter Skelter” really did give Ringo Starr blisters? Or that “I Am The Walrus” tickled Lennon more than any other song he wrote?
It’s definitely time to re-meet the Beatles.
Release Date: 9/9/09
Official Site: : www.thebeatles.com
[Amy Longsdorf’s entertainment coverage has appeared in “Blender,” “People,” the “Chicago Tribune,” the “Toronto Star,” and “Newsday.” She doesn’t want to imagine a world without Preston Sturges movies, Stax singles, and the music of Bob Marley.]