Today in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide we bring you the first of two Beatle-themed days (the second of these will happen next week). Today, due to the high-end nature of most of our picks, we are breaking the fifty-dollar barrier with four of the five entries. However, the boxed set remastered releases we recommend are all available in a variety of formats, with a wide range of lower prices. However, the book, which was just released yesterday, is pricey, but worth every penny. Obviously, all of today’s picks are recommended for Beatles fans, young and old, and anybody who loves the best music in the world.
This is the long-awaited remixed and remastered version of what, to many Beatle fans, is their most disappointing album. Essentially the soundtrack to the film of the same name, Let It Be was recorded under unusual and stressful conditions, and coincided with a time when the band had just exhausted their stash of unrecorded songs the previous year with the White Album.
While the album contains major tunes like “Let It Be,” “Get Back” and “The Long and Winding Road,” it also has more than its fair share of filler, and a muddled production that shifted from unproduced to overproduced during the gestation of the album/movie project.
Yet, the new box set is a must-have for Beatles fans. Newly mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell in stereo, 5.1 surround DTS, and Dolby Atmos, the new stereo mix of the album was guided by the original “reproduced for disc” version by Phil Spector. The Super Deluxe Edition includes 27 unreleased session recordings, a 4-track Let It Be EP, the 1969 unreleased 14-track “Get Back” stereo mix by Glyn Johns, and a 100-page hardback book with an intro by Paul McCartney, track-by-track recording information, and many unseen photos, notes, and more.
The Let It Be Super Deluxe Box Set offers a fascinating peek inside the sausage factory for Beatles fans. The bonus tracks show several songs from Abbey Road and the band’s solo endeavors in their “work in progress” stage, and we get plenty of fun studio chatter, jam sessions and alternate versions of the songs that made the original album.
You have to remember that every Beatles album is somebody’s favorite, and if you know somebody who loves Let It Be, then they need to have this in their life. Of course, this was released to tie-in with the Peter Jackson Get Back film, which debuts on Disney+ later this month.
Perfect for any fan of Sir Paul McCartney, this book is a treasure. I just got my copy yesterday (the day of release) and it’ll be weeks before I have a chance to read it all.
The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present celebrates the creative life and the musical genius of Paul McCartney through 154 of his most meaningful songs.
From his early Liverpool days, through the historic decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his long solo career, The Lyrics pairs the definitive texts of 154 Paul McCartney songs with first-person commentaries on his life and music. Spanning two alphabetically arranged volumes, these commentaries reveal how the songs came to be and the people who inspired them: his devoted parents, Mary and Jim; his songwriting partner, John Lennon; his “Golden Earth Girl,” Linda Eastman; his wife, Nancy McCartney; and even Queen Elizabeth, among many others. Here are the origins of “Let It Be,” “Lovely Rita,” “Yesterday,” and “Mull of Kintyre,” as well as McCartney’s literary influences, including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and Alan Durband, his high-school English teacher.
With images from McCartney’s personal archives―handwritten texts, paintings, and photographs, hundreds previously unseen―The Lyrics, spanning sixty-four years, becomes the definitive literary and visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
This is 960 pages, spread across two slipcovered volumes, of pure McCartney gold. How can you go wrong? Available from any bookseller, but heavily discounted online.
Recommended for any Beatles fan, but particularly for fans of George, this is Harrison’s first “real” solo album, released after the breakup of The Beatles. Filled largely with a backlog of songs that The Beatles never got around to recording, the original release of All Things Must Pass was a two-LP bumper crop of great songwriting, with a bonus LP of Harrison having fun jamming in the studio.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary (plus one year due to the pandemic), George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass has been commemorated with a suite of new releases. The Super Deluxe Edition collects 70 tracks across 5 CDs including 47 tracks (42 previously unreleased) of demos, outtakes, and studio jams.
Also in this set is a Blu-ray presenting the main album in hi-res stereo, 5.1 surround sound, and Dolby Atmos. Housed in a beautiful slipcase with a 56-page scrapbook by Olivia Harrison and a replica of the original album poster.
As with the Let It Be box set, All Things Must Pass benefits from a new mix that brings new clarity to the somewhat muddy original mix by the album’s producer. The fresh mix and the demos and outtakes are a real treat, even for fans who own the 40th Anniversary remastered edtition from eleven years ago.
All Things Must Pass was revelatory on its initial release for showing that George had song since come into his own as a songwriter, and was now a peer of Lennon and McCartney. The new mix makes that even more clear.
Plastic Ono Band was John Lennon’s first post-Beatles solo album, and it remains one of the most stark, stunning confessional works in rock and roll.
This version has been completely remixed from original multitracks, overseen by producer Yoko Ono Lennon, featuring Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston & Phil Spector.
Extras on this multi-disc set include: Ultimate Mixes, Outtakes, Elements, Raw Studio, Evolution, Demos, Jams & Yoko Live Sessions. These are found on 2 Blu-Ray Audio Discs and 6 CDs. Included in this set are 159 new mixes; 11+ hrs of audio; 132-page hardback book with rare photos, memorabilia & extensive notes; Poster & 2 postcards.
Since the original album took a minimalist approach, the new mixes don’t add a whole lot, but they do offer up some fresh clarity. The real meat is in the Ultimate and Evolution mixes, some of which allow you to hear John’s voice, un-processed, in all it’s glory.
As with the other box sets on today’s list, Plastic Ono Band is also available in less elaborate versions on CD and vinyl.
A must-have set for any fan of John.
This is our stocking-stuffer-priced pick for today, Ringo Starr, who at the age of 81 appears to have been aging in reverse for many years, has a new EP with some great new music for fans of The Beatles’ drummer.
Change The World is his second EP after his announcement that he was done recording full albums, and it’s an absolute treat.
Change The World, recorded at Ringo’s Roccabella West, includes: “Let’s Change The World” (written by Joseph Williams/Steve Lukather) a song that delivers a welcome dose of hope and optimism; the reggae-infused “Just That Way” (Ringo Starr/Bruce Sugar); the Country-esque “Coming Undone,” Starr’s first collaboration with Linda Perry who wrote and plays on the track (also with Trombone Shorty); and Ringo rocks his version of “Rock Around The Clock” revved up by the unmistakable Joe Walsh on guitar.
I’ve already played a couple of these tracks on Beatles Blast (which can be heard on The AIR every Wednesday at 2 PM) and the response has been terrific. Change The World sends a great message, and should put a smile on the face of any fan of the Fab Four.
Available almost anywhere that CDs are sold.