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Another bite of the Apple for the Fabs

After years of negotiation, The Beatles’ back catalogue can now be purchased from the iTunes Store – but the work of Frank Zappa, AC/DC and several other major acts continues to be unavailable on the site.

After years of negotiation, The Beatles’ back catalogue can now be purchased from the iTunes Store – but the work of several other major acts remains unavailable on the site, writes David Davies.

November 16 brought the long-awaited announcement that The Beatles’ complete catalogue had been added to the iTunes Store after agreement was reached between Apple Corps, EMI and Apple.

In addition to the group’s 13 remastered studio albums, the two-volume Past Masters compilation, and the Red and Blue collections being made available for purchase as either complete albums or individual songs, a special digital Beatles Box Set includes a special exclusive concert film, Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964, documenting the group’s first US concert.

The news was welcomed by both surviving Beatles as well as the families of George Harrison and John Lennon.

“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes. It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around,” said Sir Paul McCartney.

“We love the Beatles and are honoured and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It has been a long and winding road to get here. Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realising a dream we’ve had since we launched iTunes ten years ago.”

But while iTunes now affords the opportunity to purchase Beatles tunes as disparate as ‘She Loves You’, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and ‘Hey Jude’ (which was the most popular download in the first day of availability), it’s still no-go when it comes to ‘Who Are the Brain Police?’, ‘Watermelon In Easter Hay’ or ‘Stinkfoot’ – the back catalogue of Frank Zappa being one of the most notable omissions from Apple’s music store.

Whilst the 100 album-plus Zappa catalogue was briefly available on iTunes in 2005, it was swiftly withdrawn. In a September 2008 interview with The LA Times, the widow of the late producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist attributed the omission to insufficient file quality. “That’s fine perhaps if you’re Britney Spears… but it’s not fine for Frank Zappa’s music, and he was interested in protecting that,” said Gail Zappa, who continues to oversee the catalogue of her husband, who died in 1993.

Other notable absentees include King Crimson, Kid Rock and AC/DC, which declined to make its songs available individually. Large parts of the Pink Floyd catalogue have also been removed from the site in recent months following the expiration of a contract between the band and EMI.

Image courtesy of Apple