Monday, September 14, 2009

COLUMN: Beatles...

Otherwise known as

Dear world, please help. Earlier this week I was robbed of my life's savings by a gang of thugs. Penniless and hungry. Love, Shane.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'm a sucker and an idiot. Either way, I'm officially broke, and I swear to you all that it's not my fault one bit. I was simply the victim of a nefarious marketing scheme designed to suck the last penny out of every music nerd on the planet. And it's all due to a wily group of thugs whose gang-related activities have infiltrated our culture, corrupted our judgement, and shaken us down for untold amounts of loot.

What gang could do such a heinous act? The Crips? The Bloods? Nope.


I've known this week was coming for ages. I knew the size of the dent this week would put in my pocketbook. I should have been prepared. But it's one thing to have knowledge of your impending fiscal doom, and it's another altogether to see the reality of your credit card getting swiped for amounts of money that are clearly unwise to be spending. But I can't help myself. O God of Music Nerds, thy will is done.

Wednesday was 9/9/09 -- "Revolution #9," indeed. To commemorate such a monumental date, and/or to commemorate Paul McCartney's need for a few more million pound notes, we are officially experiencing Beatlemania Revisited. But instead of girls screaming in delight, this time it's chubby loser music geeks like me screaming at the holes in our wallets.

It's a project that's had music nerds salivating for a loooong time: the Beatles went and got themselves a facelift. For the past four years, a team of sound engineers have been hard at work painstakingly remastering every song the band committed to tape. Using the newest in recording technologies alongside the same vintage gear that the Fab Four themselves used, the end result is a sound that's brighter, wider, and more visceral than any Beatles record you've ever heard in your life.

For a music geek like me, the remasters are must-owns. Sadly, though, they're not free.

The Beatles put out 12 albums in their day. At a suggested retail price of $18.99, that's $227.88. Then don't forget the "Magical Mystery Tour" soundtrack, because a Beatles collection without "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" should be punishable by flogging, so there's another $18.99. Oh, and the Past Masters discs of rarities, because hey, a fella can't live without having immediate access to such vital gems as the German-language version of "She Loves You" (Sie Liebt Dich! Ja! Ja! Ja!) That's a double record, so that's $24.98. Come to think of it, the White Album's a double, too, so change that $18.99 to a $24.98 Which brings our total to (gulp) $277.84.

"But Shane," you say, "Why buy all 14 at once? That makes no sense. Why not pick them up one by one when you can afford it?"

Someone must have asked the same thing to the marketing executives at Capitol Records, because they had an answer: the limited edition collectible box set. Okay, sure, there's no extra content or any advantage to buying the set en masse, except it's in a box. I like boxes. And it's limited edition. And it's collectible (it says so right on the sticker.) Therefore, it had to be mine -- for the low price of $269.

Now, there's one big argument amongst we hardcore music nerds when it comes to The Beatles: mono vs. stereo. See, the first ten Beatles albums were originally recorded in then-standard mono and later remixed for the stereo format. Some folk believe that the stereo remix is the way to go, while some purists prefer to hear the music the way the band originally intended: in exciting low-fi monophonic sound. Capitol, in all their kindness, figured out a solution: an even-more-limited-edition, even-more-collectible box set of the first ten albums in restored and remastered mono. So there's another $224.

I know what you're thinking. "Okay, sure, Shane -- listening to the Beatles in both mono and stereo formats is pretty sweet. But what's the point if you can't hear the tunes without being able to press multi-colored buttons in time with the music?" And you would be absolutely correct.

That's why this week was ALSO the release of Rock Band: Beatles, a Fab Four addition to the pantheon of insipid video games that have ruled/ruined my life for the past three years. I've been concerned for years now about the amount of time I waste playing a game clearly designed for 12-year-olds, so at least a Beatles edition means that it's cool to be an old fogey AND addicted to a video game.

So there's $60 more dollars to the Buy-Ringo-Some-More-Jewelry fund. But wait, no. If you're going to play a fake game where you pretend to be the Beatles, you better have the fake instruments. That's why you can buy a fake Rickenbacker so you can be fake John, a fake Hofner bass so you can be fake Paul, a fake Gretsch Duo Jet to be fake George, and a fake black oyster logo'ed drum set to be fake Ringo. The fake ensemble is yours for a very real $249.

And if you're mortgaging your house to show your love for the Beatles, you'd better be able to answer some questions about 'em. That's why you need the piece de resistance, Beatles Trivial Pursuit ($34.95.)

So I am officially pimped out in Beatles gear while Yoko presumably is having a bed-in with piles and piles of my money. And while my music nerd street cred survives yet another fiscal challenge, I know that some of you must think I'm ridiculous and insane. To that, all I can say is that my nerd-dom keeps me happy and that the remasters sound so good they're worth every penny. At least they must be. I'll find out for sure when I've saved up enough cash to get my power turned back on.

1 comment:

luckydog russ said...

LOL... The same mysterious forces were at work on me, Shane. I sprang for the limited-edition mono box set -- pre-ordered on Amazon in early August and delivered to my door on 9-12-09.

I had no choice.

I was driving around after midnight in my '59 Catalina convertible with the top down back in W.Va., listening to WBZ-Boston, when the deejay aired what he said was the first-ever radio playing in the U.S. of a Beatles tune.

I was hooked for life that night!