The Beatles Blue Box Collection – A Homemade CD Box Set (Or the Winner of the You May Have Too Much Time on Your Hands Award)

Sometimes you just have to take fate into your own hands – or at least collecting.

Years ago, actually about 15 years ago to be exact, I thought it might be fun to make some CD-Rs (recordable CDs) of my favorite Beatles UK vinyl pressings.

I had acquired quite a few original as well as reissue Beatles vinyl and I figured if I made some nice CD-Rs I could lessen the wear on my vinyl as well as be able to listen to said vinyl pretty much anywhere.

Fifteen years ago there was really wasn’t that many great options for Beatles album on CD. This was before the 2009 CD remasters and just before the era of the elaborate Beatles remix box sets and the resurgence of vinyl. At the time, while I thought the existing Beatles CDs were okay, I could never find digital sources as decent sounding as my Beatles vinyl sources.

The best sources I found were not surprisingly the original UK album pressings as well as a 1986 pressing of the famed Blue Box Collection set which I happened to find for a cheap price on eBay.

(Note: The Beatles Blue Box Collection was a collection of the Beatles British stereo UK albums. These Blue Box sets were released from 1978 to approximately 1986 and contained whatever current UK pressings of Beatles UK vinyl EMI was producing at the time. Most Beatles fans find that these Blue Box sets contain the most affordable as well as some of the best sounding sources for Beatles recorded output.

Btw there were also box sets made of their mono albums as well but those sets were much more limited and this post deals with the stereo version)

So since I had no digital sources that wowed me I set off on making homemade CD-Rs that would fill the gap until by some miracle The Beatles catalog was treated to an upgrade.

I was going to start from the beginning with the gold label mono pressing of the “Please Please Me” album but I thought it might be better to start with stereo pressings since at that time the early Beatles was MIA on CD in stereo.

Also at that time I didn’t own an original stereo “Please Please Me” or the superior wide German stereo pressing so I thought I’d begin by recording my 1986 Blue Box collection to CD-R first.

(Note 2: since I made this CD-R set I have acquired all the best UK stereo pressing so my next project may be a transfer of all those copies to CD-R or at least digital on my computer)

Now by 1986 the Blue Box albums were still analog but by this time all the Beatles UK pressings did not  use any of the original tube mastered pressings from the 1960s. All the pressings in my 1986 box were mastered using solid state which gave the albums much more detail but not nearly the warm glow of the original tube mastered vinyl.

The later 1986 pressings do sound great but different from the original UK pressings. I’d say the original tube pressings have a denser sound with more mid-range punch to the vocals. Some people say the tube cuts are muddier but I still love to hear that original sound.

As far as the 1986 pressings I’d say that with the clearer and still analog sound of these LPs you may actually have the best sounding Beatles on vinyl.

So off I went to record. I manged to ten of the albums from my Blue Box set (see photo above for which ones) plus I added my German stereo pressing of “Magical Mystery Tour” (the best stereo pressing there is IMHO) as well as an original UK 1966 stereo pressing of “A Collection of Beatles Oldies” just to make sure I had all the hits.

For some strange reason I didn’t record “The White Album” – not sure why – but overall I love how this homemade CD collection sounds and to this day I still play the CDs from this set often. Though truth be told I play them more from digital copies on an Ipod than the discs but I still enjoy these transfers.

A few years later I added a CD in which I dubbed my first pressing of the UK red label “Love Me Do” single with a second black label UK pressing of the “Please Please Me” single as these two singles are much dryer sounding than their LP counterparts and have never been issued digitally in any form in their original 45 state.

I remember stumbling on the CD insert artwork online at the time for each album so it was easy enough to download and print out great looking artwork.

As you can tell by the photos above and below I also went the extra mile by making lovely looking CD inserts as well as LightScribe CD labels with the accurate original UK labels. Some say that a tad bit anal but I love how this set  looks and the attention to detail makes it feel like a genuine Apple/EMI set.

I never did record my original Beatles UK vinyl pressings to CD-R – yet. I may indeed do that someday soon while I can still find blank CD-Rs and as long as my stand alone Pioneer CD recorder still works.

Unfortunately my LightScribe computer bit the dust years ago so any future CD-Rs will just be to be able to have digital files of all my best Beatles vinyl pressings.

Anyway I thought it might be fun to share this lovely homemade set that I made all those years ago and still enjoy to this day.

I do like the 2009 remasters and the current box sets but for the sound that I grew up with listening to vinyl it’s nice to be able to hear digital sources for some of the best sounding Beatles vinyl out there.

That’s all for now.

I hope you are safe and well.

I’ll be back soon and until then ciao and see you soon!

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