The Beatles

The Japan Box

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Early in 2014, Universal released The U.S. Albums, a long-awaited box set of CD replicas of the Beatles' original American LPs from the '60s. This set fulfilled the wishes of many hardcore Beatles fans by putting these albums -- which, with the notable exception of a pair of mid-2000s box sets, had been out of print since the group's catalog was standardized to the U.K. editions upon the initial CD reissue campaign -- back in circulation and that is also the idea behind 2014's The Japan Box. Appealing to a far smaller segment of collectors than its American cousin, the Japan Box nevertheless follows the blueprint of The U.S. Albums by housing CD replicas of the first five Beatles albums released in Japan on Odeon Records: Meet the Beatles, The Beatles No. 2, A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles No. 5, and Help! Fab fanatics will note slight variations between these titles and their American counterparts -- The Beatles Second Album is The Beatles No. 2, Beatles '65 is Beatles No. 5 -- and that fits because despite the similar artwork, these have different track listings than the source LPs. Meet the Beatles is also a variation -- its title is presented in red, not blue, the track listing is a bit different -- but despite the completely different artwork on A Hard Day's Night (the only album here to sport an entirely original cover), the track listing is identical to the U.K. album; similarly, Help! winds up as a replica of the U.K. record. This is all a roundabout way of saying these Japanese albums aren't as varied or interesting as the U.S. albums, nor do they have the same lore within the Beatles discography; only the hardest of the hardcore knew these existed prior to this 2014 set. As all five albums rely on the acclaimed 2009 Beatles remasters, the reason to pick this up is the packaging, and this is as nicely assembled as The U.S. Albums or The Beatles in Mono, with the addition of OBI strips for the five records and a booklet that mainly includes lyrics. Whether or not this is enough of an enticement is entirely up to the individual Fab fanatic.

blue highlight denotes track pick