Friday, 18 April 2014

The Japan box - press release

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Here's the official press release in English for the upcoming 5 CD boxed set of Japanese Beatles albums we announced yesterday:

A treasure box which enables us to have a virtual experience of Beatlemania in Japan

In January 2014, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles conquering America, “THE U.S. ALBUMS”, a 13 CD box-set of the US Capitol albums, was released. Within six months after that, this time “THE JAPAN BOX” is released, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ debut in Japan. “THE JAPAN BOX” will be a precious present for Japanese fans, especially the ones who have been fascinated by the group since the early 1960s.

The Japan Box
The release of the Beatles’ archive materials has been increasing recently. The starting point was the fall 2009, when 16 CD box-set “THE BEATLES BOX” was released and completed the digital remastering of all the 213 officially recording songs.

The current of such archive releases was as follows: As for audio material, a reproduction of 7-inch vinyl “Love Me Do” (2012), the vinyl LP edition of “THE BEATLES BOX” (2012), a compilation from the BBC radio sessions “ON AIR - LIVE AT THE BBC VOL.2” (2013) were released. New reissues by using the 2009 remaster also have been continued, such as “THE BEATLES 1962-1966” (2010), “THE BEATLES 1967-1970” (2010), “THE BEATLES 1” (2011), “YELLOW SUBMARINE SONGTRACK” (2011). It looks as if the 2009 remaster became the new standard of the Beatles’ sound.

These remastered CDs were often linked together with the digital download edition of them. In 2010, iTunes version of “THE BEATLES 1962-1966”, “THE BEATLES 1967-1970”, and iTunes only “SPECIAL DIGITAL THE BEATLES BOX”, featuring the concert film “LIVE AT THE WASHINGTON COLISEUM 1964”, were released. In 2011, “LOVE” (mash-up album), “THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY” (trilogy album) and “THE BEATLES 1” (best hit album) all became available on iTunes. Also “THE BEATLES USB BOX”, 24 bit apple-shaped USB drive, was released in the same year.

Materials only by digital download are increasing these days. Such examples are “ANTHOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS” (2011), the digest of “THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY” trilogy, “TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS” (2012), a compilation of heavy and psychedelic rock numbers, and “THE BEATLES BOOTLEG RECORDINGS 1963” (2013), a collection of unreleased studio recordings. The remastered album “LOVE” (2011) featured iTunes only bonus tracks, the “LOVE” versions of “Girl” and “The Fool On The Hill”. Thus, the release of the Beatles’ archive materials is progressing steadily and in multiform way.

As for the visual material, the newly remastered “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR” (2012), Blu-ray version of “HELP!” (2013) were released and became the definitive edition of these movies.
Looking back upon the releases after 2009, I can say that “THE JAPAN BOX” is equally meaningful as “THE U.S. BOX”, and is the best “bonus track” for Japanese fans.

Since the Beatles’ albums were released on CD for the first time in 1987, only the UK albums and the US “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR” have become standard and been considered as “canon”. But before 1987, a lot of original compilation LPs were produced worldwide, including Japan. Not only LPs, but also singles and EPs with original content had been produced in countries like Japan and the US. From February 1964 (when the Japanese debut album “BEATLES!” was released) to September 1965 (when the Japanese sixth album “HELP!” was released), 27 singles and 8 EPs had been originally compiled in Japan. Therefore many Japan-only hits were produced. These records released by the Japanese Odeon labels are still in very high profile among record collectors all over the world.

“THE JAPAN BOX” contains the first five titles of the Japanese original LPs reproduced as CDs. The titles have been out of print since the Beatles’ CDs first came out in 1987, so it is significant that they are now released on CD for the first time. Especially, reproducing the album “BEATLES!”, which has very strong contents and is one of the most well-known compilation LPs in the world, and “A HARD DAY’S NIGHT”, which has the Japanese original cover, is quite meaningful.

A Hard Day's Night
“THE JAPAN BOX” uses 2009 remaster sound. In particular, the titles “BEATLES!”, “BEATLES No.2” and “BEATLES No.5” are using 2009 mono remaster. As for packaging, all five titles are made of paper sleeve, reproduce even “obi” strips (especially legendary “half-obi”) and supplement posters. It’s a real “treasure box” that satisfies the curiosity of enthusiastic fans.

Kunihiko Fujimoto, April 2014

Help!
Interestingly, the one release which strays from using the 2009 Remastered versions is the final CD in the boxed set, "Help!" in stereo. In the release notes, this album uses both the 2009 remastered version as sound source, but also the original stereo mix.
As we know, the remastered "Help!" from the Beatles in Stereo box from 2009 replicated George Martin's 1987 remix of the album, whereas a remastered version of the original 1965 stereo mix was a bonus included with the remastered Beatles in Mono 2009 boxed set. Will the new Japanese "Help!" CD be a mixture of these two different mixes of the album?

The new boxed set is also listed at Amazon.co.jp but not yet at the official Beatles store in Japan.

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