Beatles Reissues on Ice, NY Times Lashes Out


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As if it were one last kick in the gut to the music business before another terrible year comes to an end, the NY Times today published an interesting but uninformative story about the delays in the Beatles’ digital and sonically enhanced cd reissues. Apparently there is an issue that EMI and the band’s company Apple Records can’t resolve.

My guess is this has to do with the traditional position of Beatles albums as the most expensive, never-on-sale level records and how they would be distinguished amongst everything else in iTunes. Ubiquity/positioning should be better than U2‘s was for “Vertigo,” for example.

LATE ADDITION: John Lennon appears in a new commercial asking One Laptop Per Child!

 

“Two of Us”

 

The article “Hard Day’s Night for Beatles Reissues,” was a scathing rebuke of all parties involved, but also leaves out critical info (McCartney has an issue). Not a very balanced article, but when you put a $400 pen up for sale to celebrate The White Album, you’re asking for it.

This isn’t the moptop Beatles they are celebrating with the pen, but the earthy/hippie/giving-it- all-away at the original Apple Store Beatles. They wouldn’t have sold a $400 pen with their name on it unless it made you invisible or something (Magic Alex?). While Brian Epstein irresponsibly sold off the rights to things like Beatle wigs and various other products in the 60s, during my life as a fan, they have jealously guarded themselves against all endorsements/products…

Until “Revolution” was used on a Nike commercial in the 90s and Ringo appeared on a commercial a few years ago (if you remember what it was for, please let me know), that is. Both ads had a negative reaction among fans and the industry. But these days, Paul McCartney hooking up with Starbuck’s and iPod is considered necessary for his marketing effort, and we all realize a whole generation of kids will love the Beatles if they play the songs in Guitar Hero (or better yet on a real guitar).

I am one of the biggest Beatle fans there is, and I sympathize with both parties. I would love to hear the Purple Chick (a bootleg label referenced in the Times article) material, but I have a feeling the Beatles’ Strategic Attorney Command, always in flight and at the ready, have descended on the company by now. They are right, Purple Chick is breaking the law by releasing their own albums. But the Beatles’ official page on YouTube hasn’t been updated in a year!

Other artists and labels are doing a ton in this area, for example Universal and Wolfgang’s Vault.  Even Bruce Springsteen, traditionally very stringent against bootleggers (The Boss was the first artist to prosecute T shirt “counterfeiters”), releases shows via his Sirius XM E Street Radio channel now.  The video above is unofficial, a bootleg.  The fans must wonder what the difference is, but in short, it’s cash. If there’s one thing the Beatles have it’s money. If there’s one thing EMI doesn’t have and needs desperately, it’s also money and in fact the same money!

The Beatles and their heirs have the right to say no to Purple Chick and yes to pens and Cirque du Soleil (although Love is supposed to be awesome), but they shouldn’t expect us fans to be happy about it. EMI is extremely dependent on this set of reissues to try to reposition their entire company/business model for the future. We shouldn’t expect anything rash but it’s not bad that Purple Chick is there to keep the big guys motivated. The Times really did the band dirty by publicizing the bootleg series so heavily.

And they didn’t even mention the Beatles greatest contemporary, Bob Dylan, and how well his reissues and late career has been handled (althought they did mention Apple Records’ Jeff Jones came from Sony Legacy). It helps when you can still kick a rhyme or two. Paul McCartney’s Chronicles would be damn interesting to me as well. But I can wait. Good luck Purple Chick with the attorneys! I hope your hq is on Tonga, Venus or Mars.

Visit TheBeatles.com and read the greatest band bio ever or snag some high-res album artwork for your iTunes files. It’s a very nice page, in concordance with the Beatles’ excellent packaging/artwork over the years. Please let us give you our money!

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