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Beatles - Red 1962-1966 and Blue 1967-1970

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 5 / 12 / 2023

Beatles - Red 1962-1966 and Blue 1967-1970
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Nick Dent-Robinson looks at The Beatles’ classic greatest hits Red and Blue albums which have just been reissued for their 50th Anniversary in expanded and remastered deluxe editions.

It is half a century ago that The Beatles' Red and Blue albums were released, quickly becoming known as the ultimate greatest hits compilations. The two double LPs brought together the highlights of the Beatlemania era (1962 – 1966, in the Red album) with the twists and turns of the late 1960s through to the 1970 demise of the group (the 1967-1970 Blue album). In 1973 none of the four Beatles showed much interest in this greatest hits release as all were too consumed with the launch of solo careers and various legal battles over their business interests. But the Red and Blue albums were a perfect introduction to the Beatles' incredible catalogue of songs – as Noel Gallagher tells all who will listen, these albums ushered in his own – and many of his generation's – lifelong love of the Fab Four's work. Following on from the recent release of the “last ever” Beatles single, ‘Now and Then’, the Red and Blue retrospective albums are now getting the deluxe reissue treatment. With 21 newly-added tracks plus a fresh 2020s-era production sheen that uses the same state-of-the-art “demixing” technology that transformed the decades-old demo of the new “last ever” Beatles single, the reissued version of the two albums is impressive. In many ways the early Beatles songs on the Red album seem more iconic and ear-catching– from ‘Love Me Do’ through ‘She Loves You’ to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Yellow Submarine’. Originally only Lennon-McCartney songs featured on the Red album but this has now been remedied with the addition of George Harrison's ‘Taxman’ and ‘If I Needed Someone’. Utilising the technology employed by Peter Jackson in making 2021's ‘Get Back’ documentary film, producer Giles Martin (son of original Beatles producer George) has painstakingly isolated individual instruments from old tapes and remixed them whilst staying faithful to the original arrangements and retaining the feel of a young, ambitious rock group playing live in the studio. The results are impressive. McCartney's bass and Lennon's harmonic are more vivid (for example on ‘Love Me Do’) and Ringo Starr's drums have renewed punch and vigour on ‘A Hard Day's Night’ and ‘Can't Buy Me Love’. George Harrison's superb guitar work is more stunning than ever throughout the album and the string quartet on ‘Yesterday’ is richer, too. The revamped Blue album is a great listen, also – with new mixes of ‘Revolution’ and three numbers from the 1967 ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ EP plus an even more incredible version of ‘Strawberry Fields Foreve’”. But, perhaps because George Martin's original production values on these later Beatles recordings were already exceptional, the new version of the Blue album doesn't quite have the same impact as the Red. Though, with ‘Now And Then’ also included, the new Blue album is still well worth adding to anyone's collection!

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Beatles - Red 1962-1966 and Blue 1967-1970

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