The Beatles

The Singles Collection

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In a sense, the 2019 box set The Singles Collection continues a project begun a decade earlier, when the Beatles catalog was given long overdue remasters. In 2009, the focus was on CDs, with both the stereo and mono mixes of the original U.K. albums receiving overhauls supplemented by the singles collection Past Masters. Five years later, the American LPs were stripped of their intrusive reverb and released as The U.S. Albums, but the more notable release of 2014 was the vinyl release of The Beatles in Mono. Cut from the original analog tapes, the vinyl edition of The Beatles in Mono was hailed as one of the best reissues of its kind, and this 2019 box uses it as a template. It contains all 23 of the Beatles' U.K. singles, cut from the original analog mono and stereo tapes (the mid-'90s reunion that produced the singles "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" -- A-sides paired here as a single 45 -- was always a digital construction). As the original British singles largely lacked picture sleeves, Apple/Universal decided to package these 23 45s with colorful covers issued around the globe during the '60s. This means The Singles Collection isn't precisely a replica record box, but that's also its appeal. From its blue slipbox to the heavyweight single sleeves, it's a handsome-looking item, enhanced by a very nice box with liner notes by Kevin Howlett. The fidelity fits the packaging, sounding very similar to the 2014 vinyl pressing, including its compilation Mono Masters. Perhaps these are bit tighter and punchier than the 2014 LPs, but that also suits the format. These are 45 rpm singles, designed to leap out of the speakers, and that's precisely what these 23 7"s do. That gripping sound combined with the loving packaging makes The Singles Collection the ideal kind of fan package, one that's as fun to look at as it is to hear.

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