The Beatles – In Stereo 17-CD set (Pictured)
The Beatles – In Mono 13-CD set
The most eagerly awaited reissues this year, some would say that the anticipation for The Beatles’ canon getting remastered equals the same level experienced when these same albums were making their debut on CD more than 20 years ago. The wrongs of the original digital releases—with their tinny and cold sound quality—are righted on both sets with vastly improved remastering that makes the Beatles’ catalog sound warm and restores these songs to their former greatness. Despite the fact that the In Mono set is missing Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be, (the only Fab Four albums solely recorded and released in stereo), the preceding albums are particularly impressive sounding as the mono recordings gibe closest with how The Beatles wanted their music to be heard.
Frank Sinatra – Sinatra: New York 5-CD set
Even though the Chairman of the Board grew up across the river in Hoboken, the Big Apple has been the site for plenty of career triumphs. Containing performances ranging from the mid-’50s up through 1990, this set contains 61 previously unreleased performances, a 44-page booklet crammed with photos, plus a DVD of a 1980 Carnegie Hall performance.
The Rolling Stones – Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out! 40th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set (3-CD/1-DVD)
Arguably the best live album The Rolling Stones ever released, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out! gets a significant upgrade on this 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. Recorded during the Stones’ triumphant comeback playing live in the United States for the first time in three years, Ya-Ya’s found much of the tour ending up in the seminal documentary Gimme Shelter. In addition to adding a bonus disc of five previously unreleased Stones performances, there’s another disc split between the live sets of that tour’s opening acts, B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner, in addition to a DVD featuring those same five songs (“Prodigal Son,” “You Gotta Move,” “Under My Thumb,” “I’m Free” and “Satisfaction”) that are on the second CD.
Various Artists – Def Jam Recordings 25th Anniversary 4-CD set
If an alien ever landed on Earth and wished to learn about hip-hop, it wouldn’t be too far fetched a solution to just point him in the direction of this impressive set. Containing hits from the label’s myriad of stars including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Ludacris, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, DMX, Method Man, Redman and more, these four CDs literally encompass a lion’s share of rap’s short history. Added bonuses here include a 60-page commemorative Def Jam book plus a limited-edition Adidas T-shirt.
Star Wars -The Clone Wars: Season 1
(Warner Home Video)
Personally overseen by Star Wars grand poobah George Lucas, the first 22 episodes that make up the first season of Star Wars – The Clone Wars are the beginning of what will eventually be an at-least 100-episode commitment. In the meanwhile, the story arc falls in the three-year period between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars II: Revenge of the Sith. Between the top-notch storylines and eye-catching animation, Clone Wars is an addictive means of catching up with the exploits of numerous familiar characters including Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku and Mace Windu.
(Walt Disney Video)
Qualitative consistency is the name of the game for Pixar and so it goes for the latest addition to the animation studio’s canon. With the main character being an elderly widower looking to use party balloons to fly his house down to South America as a means of fulfilling a promise to his late wife, the film does have dark overtones. But as usual, Pixar pulls the story off with a mix of humor that never talks down to kids, excellent dialogue and a raft of memorable characters. Throw in the spot-on casting of Ed Asner as main character Carl Fredericksen and you have a film that easily measures up to prior Pixar triumphs like The Incredibles and the Toy Story series.
Parks and Recreation: Season 1
Co-created by part of the creative team behind The Office, Parks and Recreation stars Amy Poehler as bureaucrat Leslie Knope, who serves in the town government of Pawnee, Indiana and whose exploits and delusions of grandeur are constantly being shot by an anonymous documentary crew. As in The Office, P&R gets plenty of mileage from its cast, whose characters gibe splendidly with Poehler’s Knope and includes Aziz Ansari (Human Giant), Nick Offerman (George Lopez) and Rashida Jones (The Office).
Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition
(Walt Disney Video)
The winner of five Oscars, this 1964 classic not only forever linked Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and was an excellent example of live action and animated scenes perfectly melded together, but spawned a myriad of memorable songs including “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and of course, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidcious.” The bonus disc also includes plenty about Mary Poppins’ move from the silver screen to Broadway.