Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Best Christmas gifts for Beatles fans 2014

Items from the past year that make great gifts for Fabs fans. Click the links to order discounted items from Amazon.

Music:


The U.S. Albums
A repackaging of repackagings: This CD collects all the Beatles American LPs as they appeared up through Sgt. Pepper, when all the group's album releases became uniform. Before that, Capitol in the U.S. released LPs under different names, with different track listings than in England. Many tracks were somewhat different, too, subjected to echo and different mixes.

Capitol has recreated the U.S. albums by emulating the 1960s releases, not copying them directly from the U.S. masters. In cases where mixes are the same in the British versions, they simply used the 2009 CD remasters of the Beatles' works. Some fans have been critical of this approach, saying the resulting albums are not "the real thing."

That said, for American fans of a certain age -- or the curious -- the remasters, available separately and in this box -- are a relatively inexpensive way to get these recordings into your collection.


The Beatles in Mono Vinyl Box Set (Limited Edition)
For this set, the Beatles camp took the polar opposite approach from the U.S. albums box above.

These vinyl editions, available separately and as a box set, are cut directly from the original mono mixes. The albums are all faithfully packaged as they were in the 1960s and appear on high quality vinyl.

The Beatles had much more input into the mono mixes of their LPs than the stereo versions, so it can be argued that this is the way they intended their music to sound.

I enjoy both the mono and stereo mixes for different reasons, but I enjoy the sound of these all-analog reissues.

Venus and Mars

Wings at the Speed of Sound

The above are the latest additions to Paul McCartney's remastering campaign, featuring the original albums augmented by a few bonus tracks each. They also are available in deluxe editions featuring books and DVD content.



George Harrison: The Apple Years (6 Albums + DVD)

George Harrison's estate also got into the remastering act this year, with a complete collection of his Apple label recordings, including oddities such as Electronic Sound and the Wonderwall soundtrack. Most of the albums include some bonus content, but it's limited.

  The Art of McCartney (Amazon Deluxe Exclusive) (2 CD + 1 DVD)

Artists from all over the map -- Kiss, Brian Wilson, the Cure -- cover tunes from Paul's solo and Beatles years.

Books:


The Beatles Lyrics: The Unseen Story Behind Their Music

Hunter Davies, author of the only authorized Beatles biography, provides commentary that includes images of the original lyrics manuscripts for many of the Beatles' songs.


The Beatles and Me On Tour

Ivor Davis provides an insider account of his days as a journalist accompanying the Beatles on their U.S. tours.


Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966

A lavish package celebrating the Beatles American tours. Haven't seen it, heard it's very good, but spendy.


The Beatles Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: Everything Fab Four

By Kenneth Womack, a solid Beatles historian, I haven't seen this, either, and it's very spendy. Looks to be well done, though. 


Beatleness: How the Beatles and Their Fans Remade the World

Nice look at the Beatles from their fans' perspective in the 1960s. My review here.

Octopus's Garden

Ringo Starr participated in a children's book inspired by his Beatles' tune.

Solo in the 70s: John, Paul, George, Ringo: 1970-1980

Haven't looked at this one, but looks like a solid look at the solo years.


The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Volume one

The first installment of Lewisohn's epic biography of the Beatles in its full form. I figure, if you're going to read it, while not read the whole works? I got this last year around this time and am glad I did. The two-book expanded edition went out of print briefly and was initially only available as an import in the U.S., but it is now apparently easy to get, though somewhat spendy. If you have a serious interest in the Beatles' history, it's a must-read.


Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s

My review here. A nice, short read about Paul's struggles immediately following the breakup of the Beatles. It includes input from Paul and Wings members.

Miscellaneous


Official the Beatles Collectors Edition 2015 Calendar

Everyone needs a fresh calendar for the New Year, right?

A Hard Day's Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)


The Beatles' first, best film looking and sounding fresher than ever. I caught it in the theater during its limited engagement over the summer and am glad I did.

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