Record stores were overrun Wednesday with devoted Beatles fans clamouring to get their hands on yet another round of rereleased Fab Four material, this time remastered and repackaged in box sets, individual CDs and even the first-ever Beatles video game.
Those diehard fans — at least those who actually managed to walk away with product in hand — said they were more than happy to open their wallets for the latest and greatest Beatles package, even if they’ve bought into the hype before.
“The cynic in me would normally come out and say, ’Come on, how much money can you guys get from us?”’ said Toronto radio DJ Stu Jeffries, who picked up both versions of the new box sets.
“But I think the fan in me says, ’Great, if it’s better, I want it, and if there really is never before seen stuff, then I want it.”’
One set has all the Beatles classics with a new polish and mixed in stereo — some for the first time on CD. The other collector’s edition, for purists, has 10 of the band’s albums lovingly preserved in mono, as they were originally recorded. The sets also include new liner notes, packaging and documentaries, with archival footage from the recording studio.
Longtime fans have been through several rounds of rereleases and pricey collections — from the original upgrade from vinyl to compact disc in the 1980s, through the “Beatles Anthology” package of documentaries and rarities albums in the ’90s and the “Capitol Albums” box sets released in recent years — but Jeffries said the latest collections really are worth it, even at $189 for the stereo version and $219 for the mono.
“It’s a lot of money, there’s no question, but I think as far as (it being) a cash grab is concerned? No. It’s more like, ’Hey fans, we got it, we know you want it, come and get it.”’
And the fans came to get it Wednesday, quickly depleting stores of their stock.
In Toronto, an employee said HMV’s flagship store sold out of the box sets within about 40 minutes and the chain’s Top 15 selling CDs nationwide were all Beatles remasters.
The various versions of the new “Rock Band” game for different consoles also dominated the Top 5 video game chart, said Ken Kirkwood, HMV Canada’s director of product.
“It’s right across the board,” Kirkwood said of the Beatles frenzy at HMV stores all over the country.
“I don’t think there’s a place in Canada where there are people that aren’t (Beatles) fans.”
He said the limited-edition mono box set would definitely be sold out across the country by the end of the day, while a few stereo sets might still be kicking around.
Among the individual discs, the top seller was “Abbey Road,” followed by “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the “White Album,” “Revolver” and “Rubber Soul.”
“You can see the way the sales have gone that there are customers we’ve had that bought every single album,” Kirkwood added.
In Vancouver, a downtown Future Shop was ready to welcome eager Beatles fans by booking a live cover band, The Fab Fourever, to keep shoppers entertained.
Beatles fan Jennifer Cormack booked the day off to ensure she’d get what she wanted and even thought about picking up the “Beatles: Rock Band,” although she’s never played video games before.
“I’m definitely thinking about it. I’ve never been into video games or whatnot before, but now it’s something, definitely I have to talk to my husband about it,” she said.