FIRST LOOK – The Beatles “Abbey Road” Anniversary CD/Blu-Ray Box Set (A Review)

 

 

Well here we are, another beautiful Fall day filled with sunshine, warmth … and box sets. Box sets? Yes, Beatles box sets to be precise. The Beatles “Abbey Road” Anniversary CD/Bu-Ray box set to be exactly exact.

Today I got a hold of this sumptuous looking (and sounding) new Beatles anniversary box set and I thought I’d share some of my initial thoughts as I explore its contents. The actual release date is tomorrow, September 27th, but since this gem has found its way into my sweaty little hands today, here we go.

Like the other Beatles Deluxe box sets (“Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The BEATLES (White Album)”) this new 3 CD/1 Blu-Ray box set was put together by Giles Martin (son of original Beatles producer George Martin) and is full of some really wonderful behind the scenes snapshots of The Beatles working circa 1969.

This Deluxe CD set not only features a complete new 2019 remix of The Beatles 1969 swan song album “Abbey Road” it also features two CDs filled with prime out-takes and demos from the albums recording sessions as well as a Blu-Ray disc which contains surround sound mixes in Dolby Atmos and 5.1 surround and Hi-Res stereo as well.

Got that?

As I’m settling into some listening, here’s what I’ve found so far:

The 2019 Remix

I’ve just skimmed it but so far what I’ve heard I’ve enjoyed. As with the other new remixes that have come out in the past few years I’ll have to see how much I actually play it in the future but it is enjoyable.

Given my aging ears I’d say that my main criticism of this new mix is like Giles Martin’s remix of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” it’s a tad bit too loud for my tastes but played at a low volume it’s interesting. Not drastically different from the original mix but nice.

I’d say of the three new remixes of Beatles albums this one is my least favorite but enjoyable nonetheless.

The bass is pumped up a bit too much but as I’m sure this is aimed at a newer listening audience it does its job well. Too bad there isn’t a new remaster of the original mix as well but as long as there are some cool out-takes I’m happy.

The Out-Takes (Disc 2 and 3)

As with all these Beatles Deluxe box sets this is the true pay dirt for me! I love to hear how songs progressed in the studio so any glimpse into the recording process is what makes these sets a must buy – for me.

After listening to the pumped up 2019 remix of the main album it’s a joy to hear these out-takes and demos in all their sonic glory. There seems to be no messing about with compression so the out-takes discs are much easier on the ears and a pleasure to explore.

There’s a lot of studio chatter on these discs (which I absolutely LOVE!) and what struck me most was the light hearted banter especially from Lennon which reminded me of listening to Beatles studio out-takes from the 1963/64 era.

Highlights for me so far are the early mix of the long medley on Side 2 (not pristine sound but sounding MUCH better than bootleg versions I own), McCartney demos of two songs he gave away – “Come and Get It” (an original 1969 mix that sounds superb!) and “Goodbye” – plus a great early version of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and a truly beautiful strings only version of George Harrison’s “Something” that is one of the highlights of all the Deluxe box sets – really wonderful.

Blu-Ray Audio Disc

I haven’t really explored the Blu-Ray disc that much but I will say that if I feel like hearing the new remix I would probably reach for this disc as listening to it on my small surround sound set-up was a bit easier on the ears.

I did however experience some issues while trying to play the disc on my older Sony Blu-Ray player. When I got to the later songs they tended to skip here and there which was a bit annoying as one would imagine.

I also have a newer Oppo Blu-Ray player which played it fine but beware in case you have an older player that may have the same issues.

I’m an old school two speaker stereo geek anyway so as far as the surround sound I probably won’t play it much but what I heard did sound pretty good. I’ll have to explore this Blu-Ray disc more later after I’ve played the out-takes discs a few more times.

There is also a terrific hardback book included with the CD set that’s filled with great photos and information and it’s formatted so much better than last years While Album set – you can actually hold this without feeling the blood rush from your hands from the weight and size of it.

Conclusion

What can I say, this new set is truly a Beatles fans dream come true. While it didn’t include as many out-takes as the previous sets what is here is choice and on first listen may actually be one of my favorite sets of out-takes to listen to and enjoy.

I’ve really had fun listening so far but time will tell how much I go back to this set in the future. I have a feeling at least Discs 2 and 3 will get plenty of airtime at my house that’s for sure.

Well there you have it. Just a quick over view of a really, really fine new Beatles box set that fits in quite nicely to my Beatles collection.

If you’re a fan of the group I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed. If you have any of the other sets I’m sure you know how nice these sets are and how much fun they are to go back to over and over again.

As usual above I’ve posted quite a few photos of the set so folks can get a sense of what’s inside. I also got a nice lithograph free with the set I purchased today which you can also see above.

Until next time be well and … here it is, come and get it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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