Beatlemania is back

11th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Fans queued up from Tokyo to London this week to get their hands on new versions of all the legendary British quartet's albums, and the new "The Beatles: Rock Band" game.

London -- A new wave of Beatlemania swept around the world Wednesday as the Fab Four's digitally remastered albums and a new video game were released.

Fans queued up from Tokyo to London to get their hands on the rejuvenated and cleaned-up versions of all the legendary British quartet's albums, and the new The Beatles: Rock Band game.

"I've been here since 3:00 am. I'm planning to spend GBP 800 (EUR 900, CHF1,559) for the box sets and the game," said Alan Harrington, 59, first in the queue at the HMV record store on Oxford Street in central London.

In Japan, eager Beatles fans flooded in all day to the HMV music store in the downtown Ginza shopping district, said a store manager Kozo Shimoda.

"The customers are mainly men in their 40s, and a few in their 30s,” said Shimoda. “They prefer to buy the box set. This year it will probably top the charts."

Five million albums have been shipped to stores across the world, reports said, and retailers are bracing themselves for a new generation of fans eager to snap up copies of the music and game.

The Beatles' company Apple Corps has historically shunned releasing their music in digital formats due to piracy concerns.

Bu Rock Band players will be able to download entire albums in the coming months as the 1960s icons catch up with 21st century technology.

The Beatles' back catalogue was first released on compact disc in 1987, though many fans felt the sound quality did not match the original vinyl, while technological advances since then have highlighted flaws and imperfections.

The new editions include the group's 12 albums, plus the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack and the Past Masters releases covering non-album singles.

"The experience of The Beatles is now what it should be," said producer Giles Martin -- son of The Beatle's producer George Martin -- who worked on Rock Band.

"You can listen to the material in the same way people listened to them in the 60s, if not better.

"It's the single most well-known and beautiful collection of music in the world."

The albums are those released in Britain, and retain the original artwork and track listings.

They also come in two box sets: one in stereo -- selling for about GBP 170 in Britain -- and the other in mono, priced about GBP 200.

Some analysts are tipping them to dominate the charts around the globe.

Online retailer said the stereo collection had topped its bestseller list on pre-orders alone.

And the first 50,000 box sets in mono have sold out, said executive Ernesto Schmitt from record label EMI.

The albums were digitally remastered over a four-year period at Abbey Road Studios in London, where The Beatles -- lead guitarist George Harrison, rhythm guitarist John Lennon, bassist Paul McCartney and drummer Ringo Starr -- recorded most of their music.

McCartney said after the band's initial success, "we thought, if we were lucky, we might last for 10 years."

"And then things just got out of hand. Now it feels like The Beatles will go on forever," he wrote in The Sun newspaper Wednesday.

The Fab Four have been recreated in virtual forms in The Beatles: Rock Band, which lets players join the band as they springboard from gigs at the Cavern Club in their native Liverpool, northwest England, to global stardom.

At a game launch late Tuesday at the Cavern, fans strummed on plastic guitars, kept the beat on a drum kit and sang along as they tried to emulate their idols.

Forty-five songs are included with the game, and more of the bands' tunes will be sold as digital downloads from the Internet.

McCartney said he hoped Rock Band would encourage younger fans.

"For me the most interesting thing is that it will introduce Beatles music to people who might never have heard it because they game all the time,” he told New Musical Express magazine, “they don't listen to the radio, they haven't got much of a record collection."

Loic Vennin / AFP/ Expatica

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