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Capitol Records is releasing its first box set of Beatles' albums.

The Beatles' first four U.S. albums — "Meet the Beatles," "The Beatles Second Album," "Something New" and "Beatles '65" — will be bundled together in the boxed set "The Capitol Albums Volume 1," due November 16. All were originally released in 1964 as Beatlemania swept the United States.

The Beatles' first four U.S. albums — "Meet the Beatles," "The Beatles Second Album," "Something New" and "Beatles '65" — will be bundled together in the boxed set "The Capitol Albums Volume 1," due November 16. All were originally released in 1964 as Beatlemania swept the United States.

The release marks the first time the Fab Four's evergreen early American catalog is being made available on compact disc. Priced at $69.98 (and undoubtedly a prime target for price-slashing by mass merchants), it will be a slam-dunk sales bonanza for Capitol in the busy preholiday shopping season.

"In the '60s, American record labels often chose to reformat British records to suit the needs of the U.S. market," says Capitol president Andy Slater. "In America, singles were generally included on current albums, where in the U.K. albums and singles were most often separate releases. Higher music publishing costs in the U.S. also made it impractical to include as many songs on American albums. In addition, in the case of the Beatles, some of the recordings on the American albums were given more echo than the British versions, to 'Americanize' their sound."

The albums, which have been remastered from the original tapes, include stereo and mono versions of each song. Each album is housed in a miniature replica of its original album cover, while the box will feature a 48-page booklet chronicling the Beatles' unprecedented 1964.

Capitol Records president Andy Slater says, "It's been a personal quest for me over the last three years to get these records released because this is the way I remember them, the way I first heard them."

The band's initial quartet of American albums — "Meet the Beatles," "The Beatles' Second Album," "Something New" and "Beatles '65," all originally released in 1964 — contain many of the No. 1 singles that launched the band's career, including "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," "I Feel Fine" and "She's a Woman."

The box, which Slater says will be available for a limited time only, will be the first new product from the band since "Let It Be...Naked" was released in November 2003. Apple/Capitol issued the hits compilation "1" in November 2000. That collection entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 and has sold 9.7 million units to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan; it remains a fixture near the top of Billboard's top pop catalog chart.

So far, the Beatles have not licensed their catalog to any digital music service.

The upcoming box is the first significant upgrade of the Beatles' earliest music since the commercial dawn of the CD format.

When Capitol debuted the Beatles catalog on CD in 1987, the albums were issued worldwide in their original British configurations from EMI's Parlophone imprint, in mono.

Some American Beatlemaniacs howled in protest when the CDs appeared. While the English versions contained more songs than their American counterparts (which had appeared on LP in retitled formblockquoteations, whittled down to address higher music publishing costs, created by EMI's U.S. label Capitol), Stateside fans bemoaned the absence of the albums they grew up with and clamored for stereo versions.

Now, at the end of the year marking the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' "British invasion" (they played their first U.S. dates in February 1964), Capitol is finally releasing the American editions.

"The Capitol Albums Vol. 1" will comprise four discs, with the stereo and mono versions of the individual U.S. titles, mastered from the original tapes, available on each disc.

The stereo versions will be either true stereo or "duophonic." The duophonic sound was created by Capitol in the '60s using two mono channels that were equalized, compressed and reverbed. "It's fairly primitive stereo — instruments in one channel, vocals in the other channel," Slater says. But, he added, "It creates a sound that your memory tells you is correct."

He said, "When you actually listen to these records and hear them compared to what's (been) available, it's intoxicating."

The CDs in "The Capitol Albums" will be housed in miniature replicas of the original albums, and the set will include a 48-page booklet.

Slater said there are no plans to release the four individual titles separately and that a "Vol. 2" of American albums has not yet been schedblockquoteed.

The track list for "The Capitol Albums Vol. 1" follows. Please note that both stereo and original mono versions of each track are included on the discs. So the number of tracks is double what is listed.

Meet the Beatles:

Original Cover Art
I Want to Hold Your Hand
I Saw Her Standing There
This Boy
It Won't Be Long
All I've Got to Do
All My Loving
Don't Bother Me
Little Child
Till There Was You
Hold Me Tight
I Wanna Be Your Man
Not a Second Time

The Beatles Second Album:
Original Cover Art
Roll Over Beethoven
Thank You Girl
You Really Got a Hold on Me
Devil in Her Heart
You Can't Do That
Long Tall Sally
I Call Your Name
Please Mr. Postman
I'll Get You
She Loves You

Something New:
Original Cover Art
I'll Cry Instead
Things We Said Today
Any Time At All
When I Get Home
Slow Down
Tell Me Why
And I Love Her
I'm Happy Just to Dance With You
If I Fell
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand

Beatles '65:
Original Cover Art
No Reply
I'm a Loser
Baby's in Black
"Rock and Roll Music
I'll Follow the Sun
Mr. Moonlight
Honey Don't
I'll Be Back
She's a Woman
I Feel Fine
Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby

It is unknown if Capitol plans to re-release additional titles such as "Beatles VI" or "Yesterday ... and Today."

The limited edition box set is available online from Amazon.

Article posted in September, 2004.


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