EMI Music's hotly anticipated Sept. 9 release of the remastered Beatles catalog promises to clear away some of the thickening clouds hanging over the gloomy music retail market. But even brisk sales of the Fab Four's classic titles have little hope of slowing the pace of decline in U.S. recorded-music sales.

Pre-orders suggest the Beatles reissues will rack up strong early numbers, even though consumer purchases of "Rubber Soul" and "Abbey Road" will have a hard time matching the extraordinary spike in demand for Michael Jackson's music following the pop star's June 25 death.

The Beatles "will be the biggest physical music event of the year," says Bill Gagnon, VP/GM of North America catalog at EMI Music, referring to the fact that the Fabs' music still isn't available for purchase as legal downloads.

EMI is preparing to ship...

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