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Doug Gallant
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New collections commemorated 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first visit to North America and their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show

You’re a Beatles fan.

A serious Beatles fan.

Just two months ago you invested in a copy of The Beatles: Live at the BBC Vol. 2.

You thought it was money well spent and that it would likely be your Beatles fix for at least a little while.

Maybe not.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first visit to North America on Feb. 7, 1964 and their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show two nights later, The Beatles’ record label has released The Beatles: The U.S. Albums.

This one will cost you a bit more than the BBC offering did — on iTunes the pre-order price was listed as $119.99 — but for hardcore fans it may be hard to resist.

The U.S. Albums is a 13-CD collection that starts with 1964’s Meet The Beatles and follows the band right up to 1970’s Hey Jude.

The Beatles’ U.S. albums were slightly different from their releases in the U.K. in that the tracks lists were different, the song mixes were different, the art work was different, even the titles were different.

The albums in this series contain both mono and stereo mixes with two exceptions, The Beatles’ Story, an audio documentary featuring interviews with the band, and Hey Jude. Both those records are available in stereo only.

The packaging of this set will also appeal to collectors. The sets feature faithfully replicated original artwork for each record, including the albums’ inner sleeves.

A 64-page booklet featuring Beatles photos and promotional art from the period are also included. In addition, packaged with these recordings is a new essay by American author and television executive Bill Flanagan.

While it would be nice to take the whole package, the price tag may prove too much for some. But there is a window of opportunity in which you can buy individual releases in the series, with the exception of The Beatles Story.

Younger music buyers may look at a series like this and wonder why bother. That’s perfectly understandable because they didn’t experience Beatlemania and do not have the reference points of that generation.

Ed Sullivan spoke of the unprecedented frenzy in his memorable first introduction of The Beatles.

“Now, yesterday and today our theatre has been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles.”

As someone who came through that experience and recalls half the neighbourhood being crammed into a medium-sized living room to see those first Sullivan Show appearances, I agree with him. This set unleashes a torrent of early 1960s memories, all of them good. It was an exciting time for kids looking to escape the music of their parents. Radio stations across the U.S. began to play The Beatles’ latest U.K. singles in almost non-stop rotation, trying to meet an insatiable listener demand.

Capitol Records rushed out the American single for I Want To Hold Your Hand on Dec. 26, three weeks ahead of schedule, one month after the single’s U.K. release. More than one million copies of the U.S. single were sold within 10 days, an almost unheard of number at that time.

Virtually every record that followed over the next number of years met with the same kind of success.

The U.S. Albums boxed set is not cheap but you’ll get your money’s worth.

Still want more?

On Sunday, Feb. 9, The Recording Academy, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and CBS will broadcast The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles. The two-hour primetime entertainment special airs precisely 50 years to the day, date and time of The Beatles’ groundbreaking debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The special broadcast will feature performances of Beatles songs by many of music’s biggest stars in HDTV and 5.1 surround sound.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes this column for The Guardian every week. He can be reached dgallant@ theguardian.pe.ca or 629-6000, ext. 6057.

Organizations: The Beatles, BBC, The Guardian Capitol Records CBS The Ed Sullivan Show.The

Geographic location: U.S., North America, U.K. Liverpool

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