The Biggest Release That Wasn’t Released…Yet
Many Beatles and iTunes fans spent the past few weeks speculating that The Beatles catalog would debut on iTunes at the same time as the remastering of their catalog on CD and the debut of Beatles Rock Band, making a perfect hat trick. Many in the PR community also anticipated this cross-promotion no-brainer.
However, the lack of an iTunes announcement on 09.09.09 made the Apple gathering a non-event for some. But just wait…the delay will create yet another publicity-friendly event in the future. And, even more important to Apple Inc and Apple Records, a future Beatles / iTunes event will ultimately drive more sales via more product downloads. Steve Jobs even said, “we’ll see you soon.”
This masterful delay didn’t waste a great event and allow the iTunes availability to get buried in the PR and ad frenzy of Beatles CDs and Rock Band by Apple Records or the new iPod launches, iTunes 9 update, and the return of Mr. Jobs by Apple Corp.
After all, September is the time for releasing holiday gift choices (CDs, video games, and new iPods) not downloadable songs which won’t really drive holiday sales. It’s very smart of the two Apples to delay a deal and announcement until 2010 or later.
A Brief History of Beatles Repackaging
The 2009 remastering project is not the first time the band’s records have been repackaged and sold amid a flurry of positive PR and fan response. If you were born post-Beatlemania, chances are your first Beatles record was not Meet The Beatles or Sgt Pepper’s, but was one of these previous top-selling collections:
Love is a remixing, editing and splicing of a hundred or so Beatles tunes mashed together as a soundtrack for Circe du Soleil. It sounds like blasphemy to purists, but being produced by Sir George Martin makes it not only legitimate but fun to hear. I think the platinum-selling Love was also was a test for the 2009 remastering project.
2006 Capitol Years
This remixing of the first 8 US Capitol Beatles albums was the first time some of the US versions of Beatles records made it to CD.
2000 The Beatles 1
This is virtually the same set of tracks as 1982’s “20 Greatest” released on CD and promoted to the next generation of fans. The result: over 10 million copies sold in the US alone!
1995-96 Anthology 1, 2, & 3
Not truly a greatest hits compilation; the Anthology series featured alternate versions, demos, outtakes, and historical live performances. It also served as a companion piece to the much-hyped ABC documentary series of the same name. The Apple and Capitol promotional machine did phenomenal job making sure every person on in America knew about this release
1988 Past Masters Volume 1 & 2
1988 Beatles Box Set
This release was significant as the first complete box set of all albums on CDs plus the two Past Masters CDs of singles and B-sides not available on any album. This set is virtually identical to the 2009 release but not remastered.
1982 20 Greatest Hits
Absolutely nothing special about this release – just repackaging the same ol’ songs and selling millions of copies to a new generation of fans, that’s all.
1982 Reel Music
In the 70’s and 80’s, Capitol seemed to like to have a twist or theme to tracks repackaged and compiled. I guess this gave consumers a reason to care. This one featured only music from the Beatles movies (???). This also featured a “new” track: a medley of the Beatles movie songs taking advantage of the Stars on 45 fad happening at the time.
1977 Love Songs
The repackaging theme for this compilation was obviously the band’s love songs and ballads.
1976 Rock ‘n’ Roll Music
The repackaging theme for this inferior compilation was old-time rock n rolls cover tunes written by Chuck Berry and others. I assume the thought behind this choice was the fact that these cover tunes were not included in the 1973 Red and Blue albums below, even though “Twist & Shout” and others were some the band’s most popular early records. These tracks were poorly selected and remixed and the packaging looked substandard. It’s interesting that this compilation itself was repackaged four years later and split into two budget-priced albums.
1973 The Beatles 1962-1966 (aka “The Red Album”)
These are the granddaddy of all compilations, great hits, and repackaging! These mega-selling albums were #1 worldwide instantly and sold well for the next two decades.
1973 The Beatles 1967-1970 (aka “The Blue Album”)
1970 Hey Jude
At the time, Apple and Capitol tried to spin this release as a new Beatles album (in the US only). But the only thing new was the packaging. All tracks were previously released as singles or b-sides, but never included on previous Beatles albums. The plan worked, with the record reaching #2 on the US album charts.