NPR logo The Beatles Remastered: Who Cares?

The Beatles Remastered: Who Cares?

Answer: Okay, I care. I know Bob Boilen cares. In fact, he says he's been waiting his whole life for this: On Sept. 9, EMI Records will release the original Beatles catalogue, completely remastered. The discs will include replicated artwork from the original releases, expanded liner notes and brief documentary films about the making of each album. For hardcore Beatles fans, it sounds like a dream. But I've heard grumblings from some who think it's just another chance for EMI (and possibly the remaining Beatles) to squeeze more dollars out of the music before they finally give in and make it available for download.

I do wonder whether the average listener can really tell the difference between an original recording and a remastered one. I suspect, in the case of the early Beatles recordings, you'll be able to tell a difference, though I understand some who say it only matters to audiophiles.

I remember when the Beatles albums were first made available on compact disc in 1987. Some diehards complained that it sounded too pure or too clean. They said that digitizing the music made it sound mechanical and stripped all the warmth out of the recordings. I thought (and still think) that's just absurd. To me, we were finally getting to hear the music the way the band heard it, as it was being made, without the loss in fidelity that comes with multiple duplications and submixing. I'm hoping these newly remastered discs will get us even closer.

But what do you think? Do you plan on getting the remastered discs when they drop in September? Or are you dubious? When bands reissue an album, is it really a service to fans, or simply an attempt to make more money?