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WORLD EXCLUSIVE: First Pictures / The Beatles U.S. Albums box set

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 We thought we’d start the new year with something very special. Just before Christmas, Apple Corps/Universal Music invited SuperDeluxeEdition in to take an exclusive look at the forthcoming Beatles box set, The U.S. Albums.

As previously announced on this blog, this special collection is released on 20 January 2014 and contains 13 CDs; titles released by Capitol Records in the 1960s that, for the most part, were quite different from their UK counterparts (new titles, alternate track listing, occasional mix differences).

The U.S. Albums box (the individual titles are also being released separately) celebrates 50 years since The Beatles’ started the so-called ‘British Invasion’, when I Want To Hold Your Hand hit number one in AmericaHalf a century hasn’t diminished the scale of that achievement. I Want To Hold Your Hand spent seven weeks and the top of the US charts and went on to sell an incredible five million copies. It only relinquished the top-spot to She Loves You (which had by that point already spent five weeks waiting patiently at number two!) and during this time The Beatles made their historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Beatlemania was in full swing and in April 1964 the band held the top five positions in Billboard’s Hot 100.

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13 CDs replicate the original Capitol releases

The U.S. Albums box set is very similar in style to The Beatles in Mono box that was issued in 2009. It eschews the stark black and white of previous box designs and boasts a glossy and colourful presentation set largely in blue, with a great photo of John, Paul, George and Ringo positioned in front of the Stars & Stripes (the image is used on both sides of the set). Like the Mono Box an inner ‘drawer’ (complete with Apple Corps logo) slides out containing the 13 CDs in Japanese-style clear resealable plastic sleeves. The box is a high quality affair and is very sturdy.

The individual albums are reproduced in vinyl replica mini-LP CD style, on VERY thick card. These include two gatefolds (The Beatles’ Story and Help!) and Yesterday And Today is reproduced with the infamous ‘butcher’ cover. This comes with a separate sticker which features the replacement ‘trunk’ cover. Replica inner sleeves with period adverts are accurate (“Join the teen set on Capitol“, “Capitol ’66; Sounds Great!“) and the CDs within these paper inner sleeves have a further protection from thin Japanese-style plastic inner wallets.

Starting tomorrow with Meet The Beatles!, we will bring you further photos of the individual albums over the next two weeks.

In the meantime, we’d like to wish you all a very happy twenty fab four-teen and hope you enjoy the many photos of this box set, below. We will answer any questions we can on this set – just leave a comment.

DEAL ALERT:  At the time of writing this box can be picked up from Amazon France for £115; that’s over £40 cheaper than the UK price.



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58 responses to WORLD EXCLUSIVE: First Pictures / The Beatles U.S. Albums box set

  1. Simon Franklin says:

    seems odd that there’s an apple symbol on the box when most of the albums were released by capitol

  2. Paul Rymer says:

    Did you have an opportunity to listen to the CDs? Can you tell us more about the booklet?

  3. angel says:

    I would like to know what songs included in this new set have the original unique mixes from the Beatles Capitol albums

    • c.c. rider says:

      All “original unique mixes from the Beatles Capitol albums” are included. It says so in the press release.

  4. Jim Shelley says:

    Capitol has stated that while all unique U.S. mixes and edits will be included, duplicate tracks will be mastered not from the original Capitol masters but the Parlophone/Apple masters created and approved in 2009.
    Very disappointing. Other than the packaging, I see no reason to buy this box set.

  5. peter stergakos says:

    This is very confusing; on the one hand we were told that some U.K. mixes WILL be used from the ’09 remasters in place of some of the Capitol duophonic mixes and in other cases not. Although I already have the box on pre-order and will find out soon enough, just out of curiosity, can you clarify?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Basically my understanding it that anything Duophonic or fake stereo, or with added reverb will not be used. They will be replaced with ‘standard’ 2009 remasters. BUT unique american mixes/edits that that aren’t fake stereo or suject to reverb WILL be maintained and are being remastered from the US analogue tapes. There is no detail yet on which tracks use which mastering.

  6. Joey d'Entremont says:

    Am I the only one who finds it strange that they left out the later albums that were not exclusive “US only” releases? Any Beatles box set seems incomplete to me without the White Album or Abbey Road. After all, these were released in the US too. I’ll stick to my 2009 box and pass on this one.

  7. Josh Summers says:

    Where is the box set made?
    Is it made in Japan (Like the Mono box set?)

  8. Jim Shelley says:

    I will never understand Apple’s thinking. In 2009 why didn’t they take the same approach towards each album as did the bootleggers such as Purple Chick? For example, the Purple Chick Pepper album included not just the original vinyl stereo mix but also Strawberry Fields & Penny Lane as well as various alternate (significantly different) mono and stereo mixes hailing from the ’60s through the early 2000s. I rarely listen to the 2009 Apple releases and instead find the PC albums much more interesting and entertaining.

  9. Whitcomb says:

    I think this box set lacks at least one album — the 1980 Capitol version of “Rarities,” which was a different set of mixes and songs from the U.K. album of the same name.

    And to be historically accurate, they also could have included “Introducing the Beatles,” the first Beatles LP issued in the United States, on Vee-Jay. That record was an exceptional seller for the group. But it has too much overlap with “The Early Beatles.”

    There’s also a case for “The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl,” which, like five albums in this set, has never been issued on CD. It wasn’t a Capitol-only album, but it was certainly conceived of by the company’s executives, who pushed EMI to issue a live album. But I suspect “Hollywood Bowl” will be coming out soon enough.

    As to the Capitol v. EMI mixes, I understand why the Beatles want the best possible sound out there. Still, they could have included some bonus tracks on the albums, giving us examples of the reverb that was used and the better-sounding “duophonic” mixes of some songs, like “She Loves You.”

    But if you want that Capitol sound from the ’60s, better hold on to your originals or the “Capitol Albums” from a decade ago. In any case, this new box set looks fantastic.

    • BRIAN says:

      I AGREE, I BOUGHT RARITIES WHEN IT WAS RELEASED AND I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED THE ALBUM AND CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHY IT HASN’T BEEN RELEASED, THAT SAID, I WOULD LIKE THESE AMERICAN VERSIONS TO COME OUT ON VINYL, HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE TO HAVE THE ORIGINAL BRITISH RELEASES AND THE AMERICAN VERSIONS ALONGSIDE IT, THESE AMERICAN VERSIONS ARE THE ONES MOST PEOPLE KNEW AND GREW UP WITH!

  10. AlexKx says:

    I 100 % HATE digi-packaging. Total bullshit. It’s too bad no one cares enough to even say anything.

    • DanRB says:

      Agreed, but who would we voice this to? I see that Pink Floyd are getting reissues later this month and in February under Warner/Parlophone. I’d like to voice my opinion on these flimsy-paks to the correct departments, but one voice won’t do it. You know, if they were given clear plastic trays like a real digipak, I wouldn’t mind, as no artwork would have to be thrown out.

  11. Phil Cohen says:

    I should note, that with the exception of Capitol-created re-edited versions of “Penny Lane” & “I Am The Walrus”, that all of the other tracks from the U.S.A. “Rarities” album have appeared officially on various 2009 EMI CD’s.

    And by the way, the sleeves for the new U.S. album box are mini-album cover replicas, NOT Digipaks. Digipaks feature a built-in plastic tray.

  12. John says:

    “I 100 % HATE digi-packaging. Total bullshit. It’s too bad no one cares enough to even say anything.”

    I agree. Cardboard sleeves / mini replica sleeves are not a good way to pack and store discs. Too easily damaged and impossible to replace individual sleeves, although the actual digipacks with the plastic tray I don’t mind so much as the plain cardboard sleeve design.

    Take the Pink Floyd Discovery set for example, the sleeves are so tight that it is a real pain to get the discs in and out and contrast that with the recent Yes studio box where the sleeves are so loose the discs literally roll in and out. Even the Bob Dylan Complete Album box suffers from poor design on the double album sleeves where the discs again are a pain to remove.

    Discs should be stored in proper cases with a spindle and the replica sleeves could be added as an appendage to the box set purely for their aesthetic value, similar to how the different sleeve designs for ‘In Through The Out Door’ were included in the Led Zeppelin box from a few years back.

    I would pay more for box sets that had better packaging for the discs and the replica sleeves included as non-storage ephemera.

    • Wim says:

      The Pink Floyd series were NOT minis. The real Japanese minis are a joy. No squeeze-ins there. They are faithful reproductions with inner sleeves and all.
      Wim

      • John says:

        I didn’t say they were.

        I specifically typed cardboard sleeve / mini replica sleeve to cover both the bothersome iterations of cardboard sleeve design that the various box set compilers are using to house the discs at present.

        The Discovery set was just newly designed cardboard sleeves, which are awful, whereas the actual Floyd replica mini set is Oh By The Way, which is what I guess you are alluding to with the replica inners etc.

        • Wim says:

          Yes John. Even the Oh by the way were not “Japanese quality”. And I agree totally with you about the overall quality of the “fake” minis.

  13. Scott says:

    I’m looking forward to this release. I think its an essential from Apple particularly for the US collectors who would relate to these particular albums well, but also for the general Beatle fanatics who just have to have the lot. The packaging looks great and high quality. Personally I have pre-ordered mine from Japan so I get the higher quality packaging, sleeves, additional booklets etc. I did the same for the Mono and Stereo box sets which are great.
    I agree with some comments above that it would be nice to get some of the other US releases like Rarities, and also Live At the Hollywood Bowl (which was not US specific..but anyway is long overdue for a CD release….I do have a fake Russian copy shhhh!!). Also the double compilations from the mid 70’s, Rock n Roll Music and Love Songs would be nice to have particularly with the nice replica covers. A silver foil/embossing (for R & R) and a leather/gold embossing (for LS). These two albums although having garnered criticism over the years for Capitol’s “milking” of Beatles product having lost 3/4 of the Beatles by 1976, are just as essential to the Beatles catalogue and are complimentary to the Red (62/66) and Blue (67/70) albums. They deserve a high quality re-release.
    Maybe in time they will come, in the meantime I’m looking forward to this release.

    • angel says:

      Scott, is there any advantage in purchasing the Japanese edition of the 2 BBC sets ? Look for this number B00GBS7238 on Amazon Japan.

      • Scott says:

        Hi Angel, the Japanese editions of the 2 BBC sets include full Obi’s that wrap right across the back, the packaging is much more sturdy with a thicker profile as it needs to be to store the additional booklet which has all the words to the songs both in English/Japanese. The CD’s are also housed in replica LP “plastic” sleeves. Not necessary for the general collector, but personally I’m a Japanese freak having collected all the Beatles and solo works in its various permutations from the 60’s right up to now so I approach my CD collection in the same manner.
        Having the Obi’s is a nice touch, but not for everyone !

    • BRIAN says:

      I AGREE THAT LOVE SONGS, ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC AND LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL SHOULD BE RELEASED, THESE ALBUMS WERE WONDERFUL AND I BOUGHT THEM WHEN THEY WERE FIRST RELEASED!

  14. angel says:

    is there any official list of the unique mixes included in the set ?

  15. James Kelly says:

    Happy to see A Hard Days Night, and Help on CD. I have also heard that both Stereo and Mono mixes are on the same discs. I have always thought this was a bad idea. If I slip the CD into my player, (Yes, some of us still do that!) I don’t want to hear the album twice! Stereo vs Mono has always been a debate. It really does’nt matter to me. I think they should have issued them as mono only, as stereo wasn’t that good 50 years ago. But that’s just my opinion.

  16. joe says:

    Note to Scott who pre-ordered from Japan:

    You may want to cancel that order, since according to CD Japan, “The packaging of this release will be identical to the worldwide release.” It even notes that the set is made is the US!

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  18. Brian from Canada says:

    What bothers me most about this set is that Sgt. Pepper is not included. George Harrison specifically noted upon returning from America that their Sgt. Pepper, while having the same tracks listed, did not sound the same at all. That is why their next album — The Beatles (aka The White Album) — was standard in both countries, as were all subsequent UK albums.

    Using the UK mixes for US albums is sad and disappointing as well, since it distracts from the overall experience. 100% of the buyers for this box set already have those mixes from 2009, and it’s the comparison which makes this set interesting — it always has.

    • Nick in TX says:

      “What bothers me most about this set is that Sgt. Pepper is not included. George Harrison specifically noted upon returning from America that their Sgt. Pepper, while having the same tracks listed, did not sound the same at all. That is why their next album — The Beatles (aka The White Album) — was standard in both countries, as were all subsequent UK albums.”

      Not sure where you’re getting this information. The reason Sgt. Pepper isn’t included is because the US release was the same as the UK. It definitely makes sense that the US version wouldn’t sound as good as the UK because the Capitol tape source was inferior (as well as the mastering and LP pressing quality, according to most). Of course, none of these factors changed for Capitol’s release of The White Album, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

      “Using the UK mixes for US albums is sad and disappointing as well, since it distracts from the overall experience. 100% of the buyers for this box set already have those mixes from 2009, and it’s the comparison which makes this set interesting — it always has.”

      They have not said anything about using different mixes than what the US albums had, other than what was fake stereo, Duophonic, or fold-down (“Type B”) mono mixes. Their stated intent is to replicate the US albums (including the handful of unique mixes) — using the best tapes available for each of those mixes. Since the vast majority of the mixes used on the US albums were already mastered from the original tapes in 2009, it makes sense that these would be used. For the 20something actual unique US mixes, they will be mastering these from the best available tapes.

      The only thing really not being replicated here is the MASTERING that Capitol did for their LPs. This is pretty standard practice these days, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t miss early CDs that were made from LP masters, with their sonic compromises necessary for the vinyl cutting process. Yes, the Capitol albums in many cases had some extreme mastering (“Dexterizing”) applied to George Martin’s masters ostensibly to make them more palatable for young American record buyers, playing back these LPs on their kiddie record players and tiny speakers. The extreme EQ (and echo in some cases) was probably thought to give the records a bigger sound over these crappy systems and crappy AM radios. As nostalgic as some may be about the sound they heard 50 years ago, it has nothing to do with MIXES. The Beatles are clearly trying to get the best sound out of the master tapes, irrespective of how any of the disc-cutters back in the ’60s manipulated the sound during mastering. They aren’t paying any less attention to the sonic preferences of Dave Dexter, Jr. than they did to Harry T. Moss when making the 2009 CDs.

      All that being said, a person may still prefer to listen to Dexter’s LP masters which preserve all of his mastering “improvements.” In that case, you’re in luck — the original Capitol Albums box sets include all of his LP masters. I’m quite sure that anyone who cares to listen to them has likely already purchased them, but they’re still pretty easy to find.

      Nick

  19. Rokin Robin of Locksley says:

    the flag on the box is the 48 star version from 1959, it is NOT the 50 star flag in use in 1964…

    • Mazzy says:

      Well that was the Flag they were photographed on back in the day. Not a composited image.

      • Scott says:

        Hi Robin of Locksley and Mazzy I have a theory.
        It’s possible the two less stars on the flag are trying to alert the innocent record collector about something. Look closely at the picture and you will see Paul is the only Beatle sitting down. I think this was because he lost two legs in a car accident and hence two stars are missing from the US flag to hint at something amiss. Also you will note that John has a different/darker coloured suit to the other three, a sign of mourning, perhaps mourning for Paul and the loss of his two legs. Also Paul has a lighter coloured suit which looks similar to the suit he wore on the Abbey Road album cover which also ties in nicely with the bare feet display by Paul on the cover. Paul showing us his “new” feet. I think this theory is worth further investigation.

        • Dr. Plum says:

          Memo for Nurse Jones,

          It appears Scott has been on the internet again posting nonsensical drivel on public forums. Please remember he is not allowed to leave his cell without my express permission and he is certainly not allowed to access the computers in the PC suite unattended.

          Please administer double the usual dose of sedatives to Scott during your next round of the patients housed in the ‘permanently foolish wing.’

          Yours
          Dr. Plum

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  21. AlexKx says:

    Wft?! Lol.

  22. AlexKx says:

    The point being is that it does not matter “how nice they are” if they are unusable because they will be destroyed after being used just a few times. What a joke. Talk about “planned obsolence” (sp.,eh?) .

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  24. Scott says:

    Dr Plum, love it ! LOL.

    Cheers

  25. Michael1984 says:

    Did they bother to add the real Mono mixes they left off the last batch? And why didn;’t they do a package of the LP’s from after Rubber Soul where the last USA box left off??? Typical Beatles/Apple BS….

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  27. Michael K says:

    I really don’t get it with ‘fans’ sometimes. The boxed set is offering new unique mixes and will be interesting because of that and why they’re being made.
    The set could just be a cynical reboxing of the previously reissued remastered US albums (Capitol box sets) but it is not.
    The already available Capitol boxed sets aimed to present the Dexterized versions which have been remastered and reissued in their entirety. And I’m not sure that a Volume 3 was ever anything but the subject of a rumour (and not a very intelligent one since there were no unavailable Capitol TRACKS after that).

    This set seems to be a collector’s set for the nostalgic of Beatles50 but, as ever, rather than just give a box and a couple of new CD’s, Apple have decided to give something you haven’t got, something upgraded and better.

    I’ll listen to judgement of whether they’ve achieved this upon release, but until then, any chance of SHUTTING THE F*CK UP?

    • Michael K says:

      Just to qualify the ‘no unavailable Capitol TRACKS after that’, I mean that the unique duophonic/stereo/mono variations created by Dave Dexter Jr, Capitol executive, for the U.S. market have all been issued in Capitol box-sets. The remaining unissued Capitol albums would not have formed part of the Capitol box sets CONCEPT which was essentially to make these different TRACKS available. None of the TRACKS on subsequent Capitol albums have been noted as differing from the UK originals.
      THIS boxed set concept is aims to provide REPLICAS albeit with the superior quality on the remasters which are being used to ‘re-perform’ the Dexter PROCESS of the 60’s. Since it doesn’t sound like there was much to what he did, all talk of this not being authentic is hopelessly HISTORICAL!!!

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  29. Debbie says:

    Current price at Amazon.fr is 131,79€

  30. Scott says:

    Agree with Michael K. I’m looking forward to getting this in my collection.

  31. Domppa says:

    Amazon.uk has now the lowest price and its currently just £106.73.
    Go grab it while you can, as its not probably too long with that price-tag.

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  34. Paul Rymer says:

    Has anyone seen what the high street pricing is like for this? Amazon has it a bit cheaper than the regular price right now (£136) and Sainsburys has beaten that (£129) – but what about HMV?

  35. Peter Neski says:

    Theres no confusing these sleeves with Sleeves made in Japan
    they are thin and cheap looking ,get the Japanese ones

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Have to take issue with you here Peter. These sleeves are THICKER than the ones used on the Japanese Mono box. So if you are equating thickness of card with quality (not saying that is a correct measure) then these are better than the Japanese issues.

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