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Beatles, Sinatra: Silence Of The Cds

August 01, 1986|TERRY ATKINSON

OK, you've got your new compact disc player and you're ready to buy some CDs. The first thing you're going to do is replace some of your favorite albums--a bit scratched and worn--with durable, great-sounding CD versions. You know there isn't a CD for every vinyl LP yet, but there ought to be racks full of Frank Sinatra and Beatles CDs, right?

Think again. Scritti Politti has more CDs than the chairman of the board. "We get asked for CDs by Sinatra and the Beatles all the time," said a clerk at Tower Records on the Sunset Strip, one of the better-stocked CD outlets in the Los Angeles area. "But there just aren't any."

None? Well, not exactly.

There is a Beatles compact disc, drawn from that old album on which they backed Tony Sheridan ("The Beatles First" on Polydor), and two odd CDs on the Overseas label: one (the 28-minute "The Silver Beatles") consisting of what may be the group's Decca audition tape, the other (the 32-minute "The Golden Beatles") containing a couple of interviews and two songs by Beatles imitators listed as "The Yeadles" (sic) and "The Quorymen" (sic). That Hamburg live-club set reportedly has been put on CD, though I couldn't track it down (and considering that it's not very listenable, wouldn't really want to). There's also been talk for about a year of a Japanese pressing of "Abbey Road," but if any copies ever reached the States, they're collectors' items now.

There are absolutely no Beatles CDs on Capitol or Apple, and no imports from EMI. Also none of the individual albums made for Capitol by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison or Ringo Starr. (Capitol did, however, recently put out LP and CD versions of John Lennon's "Live in New York City" in tandem with a video, and the Lennon-Yoko Ono LP "Milk and Honey" is on a Polygram CD.)

Et tu , Old Blue Eyes?

Yeah, pal. Absolutely no Sinatra CDs on Capitol (where he recorded from 1953 to 1961) or Reprise (the self-created label he's been on since 1961). Sinatra also recorded for Columbia and RCA (with Tommy Dorsey) before 1953, but these are of less interest to most fans and '40s recordings are not prime CD fodder.

But there's good news. Warner Bros. plans to release nine Sinatra CDs before the end of the year.

"We're shooting for October," a company spokesman said, though he noted that CD production-plant schedules are unpredictable. The album titles, he said, will be "My Way," "That's Life," "The Concert Sinatra," "September of My Years," "A Man and His Music," "Strangers in the Night," "Old Blue Eyes Is Back" and two LPs made with Count Basie, "It Might as Well Be Swing" and "In Concert: Sinatra at the Sands."

Warners has delayed issuing any of the gems from its Sinatra vault because "we wanted to put together a solid presentation," the spokesman claimed. Sinatra's publicist at Solters & Roskin had little to add: "There was no particular reason why the CDs were not released until now."

There's no similar light at the end of the Beatles-CD tunnel. "Capitol is involved in long, protracted litigation with the Beatles," a spokeswoman said. "There are royalty issues, among others, so the company is not comfortable releasing Beatles CDs until these issues are settled." (In late 1984, Harrison, McCartney, Starr and John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono filed papers alleging that Capitol had defrauded the Beatles and paid no royalties on more than 19 million albums. Capitol termed the claims "insubstantial" and "frivolous.") Capitol also had no plans to release Sinatra CDs, said the spokeswoman.

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