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REVOLUTION 9/9/9

Number nine, number nine, number nine. ...In the late '60s, the Beatles recorded Revolution 9, an experimental freakfest that screwed with head and headphones. It appeared on the band's ninth British release. It was largely the work of John Lennon, born on Oct. 9. The Beatles would split a year later: 1969.

The devil's work? Absolutely.

Turns out Satan might be a Beatles fan after all. Today is Sept. 9, 2009 - 9/9/9 ... or 6/6/6 upside down! - and it just so happens that full-on Beatlemania is being rebooted with two lush box sets, a total remastering of their catalog, a video game, plus parties, hype and playlists.

What's with all those nines? No clue. Heck, I'm still trying to figure out that "Paul is dead" thing. But in keeping with today's numerological vibe, here are Nine Key Elements to Enjoying Beatles Revolution 9/9/9.

1 The Beatles Stereo Box Set

When the Beatles were first released on CD in 1987, the sound was compressed, flat, hissy - not the best treatment for the greatest band of all time. (No, no argument. Stop. You'll embarrass yourself.) So EMI spent the past four years giving the band a bath. Fourteen albums - from Please Please Me to Let It Be, plus singles comp Past Masters - are now crisp, sparkly. Background vocals and instrumentation are given clearer channels. On Eleanor Rigby, Paul McCartney's vocal, from verse to chorus, shifts perspective and mood in your head. Cost: around $260.

2 The Beatles in Mono

The limited-edition Mono Box is nothing less than a completist's randy fantasy. Eleven albums are presented in their original recorded form - in other words, John, Paul, George and Ringo before they were remixed for stereo. Originally intended for your one-speaker 45 player, Helter Skelter in mono features an awesome thump, the Beatles coming at you as one indomitable gang. The mono releases are packaged with original art, including the cut-out 'stache from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Cost: around $300.

3 The Albums

The stereo discs are also available separately. If don't have the scratch for the box sets, the obvious choices for maximum sonic trippery are Pepper's and "the White Album." But listen to me: The slyest remastering is on Revolver, a groundbreaker of acid and pop. Cost: around $14 per disc.

4 The Beatles: Rock Band

On this video game, you can rock with the Liverpool princes as they surge through history, from the Cavern Club to the Ed Sullivan and beyond. According to my pal Eric Deggans, who played the game, it's "set to some of the most mind-bending visuals you can imagine." Get ready to stab someone at Best Buy to get your hands on one. Cost: around $250.

5 The iTunes Rumor

Apple has a music-related press conference scheduled today. Maybe it's just about a new iPod. Or maybe, just maybe, the Beatles will be made available on iTunes for the first time ever. Come on, Satan, use your pull!

6 The Sales

The Beatles have sold more than 1 billion albums worldwide, according to EMI. That number will only balloon, as Amazon is already complaining of sell-outs and the holidays are just around the corner.

7 The Parties

Tampa's Vinyl Fever and St. Pete's Daddy Kool Records will feature sales events. For a list of Fab fiestas, go to blogs.tampabay.com/tbt.

8 The Debates

Best Beatle? Best song? Pepper's or Abbey Road? The debates will rage! (The correct answers, by the way, are George Harrison, Something and Abbey Road.)

9 The Playlists

Entertainment Weekly has already posted its rundown of the top 50 Beatles songs (No. 1? A Hard Day's Night). And you can bet radio stations, blogs, etc. will be rife with slick lists. So in closing, here's ours:

Beatles: By the Numbers

1. Revolution 1

2. Two of Us

3. And Your Bird Can Sing ("You say you've seen seven wonders...")

4. Eight Days a Week

5. Revolution 9

6. 12 Bar Original

7. I Saw Her Standing There ("Well she was just 17...")

8. When I'm Sixty-Four

9. One After 909

10. A Day in the Life ("Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire...")

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.

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