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How Do You Get Your Beatle Groove On Without Going Into A Movie Theater? (Hint: Vinyl, CD, Streaming & Blu-ray)

Mark Smotroff offers an option for some to consider…

This weekend a very special showing of The Beatles’ acclaimed Get Back documentary will debut in selected IMAX theaters for a unique presentation particularly focusing on the legendary “rooftop concert” portion of the film.

I have been on the fence about going to this limited edition viewing given that it is an indoor event and likely to be crowded. In normal times, attending would be an exciting no brainer event for me — I would have been all over it! But amidst the pandemic — and concerns about the mutating Omicron variant being so highly contagious — I have had to pause to consider what is important for my well being.

This is a difficult thing for me to skip. But… if I’ve passed on concerts by King Crimson and Elvis Costello in the past year, going to a packed movie theater is even lower on my agenda during a pandemic. Heck, I just passed on an invitation from a friend for free tickets to a Bjork concert!  

Not going is awful and completely frustrating. But, for me it feels the sane thing to do.

But… we’re all different, I know…

So, I write this review for the Beatle fan concerned about safety and well being; there are many ways you can get your Fab Four fix this weekend (and beyond) in a manner that will be safer and ultimately more long lasting.

First off, audio from the whole uncut 45-plus minute concert is streaming now on a number of online formats including Tidal (in 96 kHz, 24-bit fidelity MQA format). Click here or on the screen image following to jump to the performance if you have access to Tidal.

The Beatles’ Get Back “rooftop concert” is now streaming in its entirety on Tidal in 96/24 MQA fidelity. Click on the image to to jump to it!

While the much anticipated Blu-ray disc version of Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary is not released quite yet (it is out next month and can be pre-ordered), you can still watch it on Disney+ (click here for my review).

This also might be a good time for you to invest in one of the special Super Deluxe Edition box sets which came out last year. I reviewed the six CD and Blu-ray disc edition previously (links below) and I just recently finally got my hands on the five LP vinyl version of the collection. So, I thought it would be timely to explore that for you all…

As expected, the new 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Let It Be vinyl edition set has been prepared in a manner that is high quality in every way. In keeping with prior Beatles’ packages issued by Universal Music, this new one was crafted in Europe and shows that a lot of care went into its making. The dark black 180 gram vinyl albums are sturdy, dead quiet and well centered. All the LPs sport period-accurate labels (UK style) including Apple Records’ “test pressing” versions for the rarities collection. Each disc within each album cover comes to you protected in a plastic-lined audiophile-grade black inner sleeve.

And as much as I like the sound of the Stereo and Surround mixes on the Blu-ray disc in the digital boxed sets, there is something special about listening to this music on the format that it was originally made for: long playing vinyl records. The listening experience is different in many ways, from the physical disc mastering used to make the actual discs which impacts how the music sounds when you play it back on your home Stereo system to the music being broken up into different sides, forcing the listener to pause (and perhaps subconsciously reflect a bit) as they flip over the album.

Vinyl playback is a different entertainment experience…

For me, the extra fab feature in the new 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Let It Be collection is that we get a copy of the long-bootlegged early incarnation of what the original Get Back album might have been. As a lifetime Beatle fan it is so so very nice to finally hear this album on vinyl from a legitimate source in the best sound ever. Holding and appreciating the joy of the original cover art design concept in all its full-LP-sized glory is fantastic, mimicking The Beatles’ debut album from years earlier. In this instance, the five-inch CD version kind of pales in comparison, making the vinyl version quite essential for the serious fan to own. 

Even the outtakes and session rarities sound rich and warm in this new vinyl edition. 

I especially like the four-song 12-inch EP (ie. “extend play” disc) included in the new 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Let It Be box which makes more sense in the vinyl format than on a scaled down CD. Featuring new mixes of the single versions of songs like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Let It Be” — as well as previously unreleased Glyn Johns mixes of “Across The Universe” and “I Me Mine” — this 45 RPM disc comes in its own giant-sized version of the original Apple Records sleeve from the 1960s and ’70s. It includes a cut-out center hole so the label peers through the circular window (note: the CD version is a printed photos, not die-cut, in case you were wondering, so that part of the experience is somewhat diffused).

For those not in the know, back in the day many regular Apple Records 45 RPM single releases — which often didn’t come in their own “picture sleeve” packaging — came in a distinctive gloss-black protective dust sleeve with the word “Apple” emblazoned in green at the top-center. It was a striking look and a brilliant marketing effort which helped The Beatles’ label releases stand out from pretty much every other record label at the time — it made the records appear all the more eye catching even in these stock sleeves when put up in store displays of latest releases. 

Again, since I’ve previously reported on the music you’ll will hear on the new 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Let It Be boxed set, I’m not going to repeat those details here and I urge you to read my earlier reviews for more insights on what to expect.  Please click here for a listening report on the new Stereo and Surround Sound mixes… click here for a deep dive on engineer-producer Glyn Johns early concept for what the original Get Back album might have been before the tapes were handed off to Phil Spector… and then click here to read about everything else (all the rarities and such). 

The overall experience of listening to the Beatles’ 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Let It Be boxed set on vinyl is excellent and well worth the price of admission. You even get a beautiful, LP-sized hard cover book in this set with incredible photos and information from the sessions.

The new 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Let It Be set will no doubt last in your collection long after the limited run IMAX documentary has disappeared from the silver screen. And owning it will hold you over until the Super Deluxe edition three disc Blu-ray (or DVD) set comes out (it is available on pre-order now, click here).

As cool as it might be to see the Beatles larger than life on a theater screen — and they already are arguably larger than life when you stop to think about it –- I suspect that getting the Blu-ray version of Peter Jackson’s Get Back for home viewing will be more than satisfactory for most fans. And, it will be a lot safer for everyone given the pandemic. And maybe just maybe when this disease gets more under control there will be a return showing of Get Back in IMAX theaters. I will keep my fingers crossed and look forward to that time…

Until then, please stay safe, healthy and well while enjoying all the great Beatle grooves that have been released for our home entertainment. And they continue to roll out so I’ll no doubt keep you posted on future releases as they materialize…  Stay tuned!

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