The new 2009 complete remastering of the complete Beatles catalogue, from which this four-disc reissue of the 1973 Red Album and Blue Album has been culled, are subtly done--and that's a very good thing. Unless you're a true Beatles obsessive, you probably won't notice the slight additional clarity and bass presence over the 1987 CD masters.
Like all Beatles material, the stereo mixes (i.e. everything in this batch except the first few songs, which are mono) can be a little distracting in headphones because of the heavy left-right separation of the instruments and vocals. On speakers, that problem disappears--and true purists will probably buy the Mono Box Set
But regardless of that, if you don't yet have much Beatles material, this mini-box is the perfect place to start, better than the single-disc compilation The Beatles 1
for sure. Even if you already own the earlier digital incarnation of everything the band released, this is still a great collection to have in your car's CD player or as an iPod playlist. Play them chronologically or on shuffle: are there a better 54 songs from a single act? I doubt it. Sure, your particular favourite ("Rain," "Tomorrow Never Knows," "I'm Down," or "This Boy," perhaps) may be missing, but the compilation has to stop somewhere. Almost all the most important, classic tracks are here.
The included booklets are brief but informative, though they do gloss over some of the band's later infighting. And it's splendid to have all the lyrics printed to read along with. Yes, for instance, John is singing "jai guru deva" in "Across the Universe," not "jackaroo days, ah."
Listen through from start to finish, and you'll be smiling and singing along the whole time. What more could you want in a batch of music?