THE BEATLES Remastered Stereo Box Set (EMI) Rating: NNN
Some of you will think I'm nuts for giving this three Ns. Only three Ns for the Beatles? The lukewarm rating isn't because of the actual music, of course, as we all know and love these songs. With this kind of reissue package, it's about the package itself, which is, frankly, a bit underwhelming.
Yes, the remastering job is quite good, greatly improving on both the original vinyl releases and the remastered CD versions from 1987. Digital audio technology has progressed hugely in 20 years, so greater detail and clarity can be heard, even through a low-end stereo.
That said, pushing a CD box set when the medium is on the verge of extinction is odd. We have to wonder why EMI didn't follow Neil Young's lead and put it out on Blu-ray, which would've afforded dramatic audio improvements plus space for innovative bonus features.
And while we're on the topic of bonus features, why is this package so bare-bones? Sure, there are mini-documentaries and extra liner notes, but considering the hype, we expected more. Even a book or a full-length doc would've made it better.
Also puzzling is the decision to include the original mono mixes of the early albums in only the higher-priced box set. Considering the brevity of those albums, they could easily have fit with the stereo mixes on one disc, keeping the price the same.
Disappointments aside, the catalogue's sonic improvements help you appreciate just how good the Beatles were. For that reason alone, fans should at least pick up remastered individual CDs of their favourites. Audiophiles, however, will want to wait for whichever high-fidelity format replaces the CD in the next few years.