Music Lovers Gift Guide

Apple Records continues to re-issue the music of the Beatles as a group and as solo artists, but the latest project may be one of the best ever. Eleven albums have just been reissued on vinyl in mono: Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album and Mono Masters, a three-LP set. When the group originally released their albums, they were mixed and mastered in mono. Stereo mixes were done, but the group had very little to do with mixing their music in stereo until the White Album. The original American Capitol vinyl albums that cover this same period have always been criticized for their processed stereo mixes, making this the first time that American vinyl releases of the mono recordings are available. The albums all include the original packaging and, unlike the originals, were pressed on 180- gram heavyweight vinyl. Yellow Submarine, Let It Be and Abbey Road are not part of this reissue series, as they were only mixed in stereo.

Also from Apple is the first George Harrison boxed set, George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-75. It contains all of Harrison’s Apple studio albums of the period, including his solo debut, the soundtrack to the film Wonderwall, entitled Wonderwall Music, which was the first solo album from any Beatle. Electronic Sound is also present. It was released in 1969 at the same time that John Lennon and Yoko Ono released Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions (the only two releases issued on the experimental Apple subsidiary Zapple). The four conventional studio albums included here are All Things Must Pass (arguably the best Beatles solo album), Living in the Material World, Dark Horse and Extra Texture (Read All About It). The Concert for Bangladesh is the only Harrison release from his Apple period not included. The set does come with a hardcover book and a DVD—a treasure trove of video material that will make Harrison fans dizzy with delight and which includes short features, live performances, videos and demos.

The Beatles’ first film has been issued several times in various video formats. Nonetheless, this new Criterion Collection reissue of A Hard Day’s Night is extremely well done and overflows with extras. The package is a dual-format edition offering all the content on either a Blu-ray disc or two DVDs. The director, Richard Lester, approved all the content. Along with a beautifully restored edition of the film, some of the highlights of the bonus content are interviews with the Beatles, behind-the-scenes footage, documentaries, deleted scenes, trailers, a booklet and Richard Lester’s short film The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film featuring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan.