Beatles Reissues: What Will Be Next?

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With the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Abbey Road, the signs are all there for a deluxe reissue of the classic album. (The original was released on September 26, 1969, in the U.K. and October 1 in the U.S.)

With 50th anniversary expanded editions of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 2017 and 2018’s THE BEATLES (aka the White Album), Beatles fans have now come to expect similar treatment of the rest of the group’s catalog. On August 8, 2019, it was revealed that Abbey Road will be next.

Related: Details on the Abbey Road 50th anniversary editions

The signs are there. You just have to look for them

At a September 26, 2018, presentation in New York City to introduce the deluxe edition of the White Album to the press, producer Giles Martin was asked about plans for a similar expanded treatment of Abbey Road. Martin politely deflected, indicating that the focus at that time was on the enormous task that had been completed on the expanded White Album. “I haven’t given it any thought,” he said.

Related: White Album facts and trivia

Months passed. And, then, on July 4, Martin tweeted a photo of a recording console. While it’s speculation, the photo was likely taken at the famed Abbey Road Studios, where Martin produced both recent anniversary packages.

Martin’s tweet included the caption: “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Those words, of course, are the lyrics of “The End,” Abbey Road‘s penultimate song. (The final track is the 23-second ditty, “Her Majesty.”)

Best Classic Bands interviewed Martin at Abbey Road Studios in 2016, while he was working on the Sgt. Pepper box. He fully recognizes the responsibility he has as the producer of the Beatles’ reissues.

“I’m very much aware I’m the son of George Martin,” he told us. “And there may be a perception of this sort of scepter in a throne room at Apple being passed on from father to son, which isn’t the case. I need to make sure that I do the best job there is because that’s what I’m meant to do.”

Giles Martin at Abbey Road Studios, 2018 (Photo: Alex Lake; used with permission)

Martin got his first Beatles assignment in 2003 for what would become The Beatles Love/Cirque du Soleil theatrical production in Las Vegas. He earned two Grammy Awards for the Love soundtrack album, which he produced with his father, George Martin. He then produced the 2016 remix of the Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl album.

He’s clearly gained the confidence of Apple Corps., the Universal Music Group–for which he now works–and, most importantly, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, on choosing from among the literally hundreds of alternate takes made by the group during their recording sessions.

We asked him how he approaches a new Beatles project. “I always begin at the end. It’s all to do with feeling, really, what you want the other person to feel.”

One surprise, among many, in the 50th anniversary edition of the White Album was the presence of demo versions of “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam.” The finished tracks, of course, comprise part of side two of Abbey Road. but were works-in-progress before that album took its final shape.

The music industry adopted a universal day, Fridays, for new releases. Postings in several online forums all point to Friday, September 27, as the logical date for an Abbey Road 50th anniversary release. We’ll know soon enough.

And what about the Beatle holy grail, the long-out-of-print 1970 film Let it Be and its attendant soundtrack album?

Well, we learned on January 30 that director Peter Jackson is working on a new film based on 55 hours of never-released footage from 1969. The untitled film, from Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Ltd., is currently in production and the release date will be announced “in due course.”

With 2020 being the 50th anniversary, and with Abbey Road ahead of it, that would be the most likely target date.

Sir Peter Jackson (Photo: Travis Graalman; used with permission)

In the January 30 announcement, Jackson said, “The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage, and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about–it’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together.”

“The original movie came out, and it was really sort of about the break-up of the Beatles. And so for me, it was a little sad, the movie,” McCartney told DJ Yannick Tremblay of Canada’s Radio X.

The Let it Be film, which also includes footage of the Beatles’ famous final live performance, on the rooftop of the Apple headquarters in London, has been unavailable since the 1980s.

Stay tuned!

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5 Comments so far

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  1. Ron Nasty
    #1 Ron Nasty 16 July, 2019, 06:45

    Why would the Esher demos of “Mean Mr Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” have surprised anyone? Both, in slightly different mixes, were released on Anthology 3 in 1996.

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  2. Tim Goldich
    #2 Tim Goldich 16 July, 2019, 14:02

    Thank God, at 63, I still have all my hearing intact (ear plugs are a wonderful thing). I LOVE these remixes from scratch. Eliminating the generation loss is like lifting several veils allowing one to hear into the mix with a clarity and musicality that could not be achieved any other way.

    Unfortunately, the Sgt. Pepper CD was ruined by hyper compression (to sound LOUD), but, with a little technical know how, one can rip the uncompressed sound from the dts tracks on the blu-ray (from the deluxe box) and burn that to a CD. But the White Album CDs were great as is!

    The naysayers have their role to play, but me, I’m thrilled with any new Beatles’ product. Can’t wait to see what Peter Jackson will do with those 55 hours of footage; I’m sure it will be wonderful!

    Reply this comment
  3. Not the walrus
    #3 Not the walrus 17 July, 2019, 05:56

    Surely there will be a suite of formats including a super deluxe edition on 9/27. It may not be the full scope like the White Album since first there are not as many songs and they didn’t take as much time in the studio creating Abbey Road. Still, expect something wonderful to come together over. Sorry, could not resist.

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  4. Highnuck
    #4 Highnuck 4 October, 2019, 11:55

    All of this is fine and good but what about the Let It Be 50th anniversary box set for the actual album. Not the movie. Being that it was released in May of 1970 are we to believe that one will be released in May of 2020 keeping with the other 50th anniversary releases that have all been released 50 years to the week they were initially released? For all of the music that could possibly be on the next set they would have to be working on it diligently as we speak. It better have a lot more material on it than this last Abbey Road box. The Abbey Road box is good but it’s not nearly enough material.

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