THE BEATLES 1962-1966 & THE BEATLES 1967-1970 (2023 REISSUES)
APPLE CORPS LTD./UNIVERSAL MUSIC
In 1973, The Beatles and their record label, Apple Records, released two double album sets, The Beatles 1962 – 1966 and The Beatles 1967 – 1970 to compete with a pirate box set at the time that was popping up in record stores (The Beatles Alpha Omega). These two sets became known as The Red and The Blue albums for their respective covers: 1962 – 1966 was red and 1967 – 1970 was blue. They were very faithful greatest hits packages with a few album cuts added. They included all of their singles which were presented in a chronological order. For many years these two sets served as an excellent overview of The Beatles career, from their first single, “Love Me Do” until their last single, “The Long And Winding Road”. Both were massive hits and both made number one around the world. Fifty years later these albums are being reissued with added songs and new configurations. Of course, the sets coincide with the release of the new Beatles single “Now And Then”.
It does feel a little like a Beatlemania redux. “Now And Then” has topped the charts worldwide and newer fans will find these two sets an excellent introduction to The Beatles. The albums in this set are best listened to in order, just to see the progression this band made from a simple pop band in 1962/1963 to world changing, music defining icons. Just compare “From Me To You” to “Tomorrow Never Knows” which are separated by a mere three years. Therefore, listening to the progression in music is extremely important. Ending with “Now And Then” is a brilliant decision.
Most, if not all of these songs, are part of our collective Beatles DNA. “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, “We Can Work It Out”, “Eleanor Rigby” and so many more are all number one hits. However, the first set, 1962-1966 is very different from the original versions you may have in your collection. A great many album cuts have been added to further demonstrate their growth, talent, and sheer brilliance as artists. Some of their early covers, which were hits, have been added, such as “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Twist And Shout” and “You Really Got A Hold On Me” all join the Red album along with songs like “Got To Get You Into My Life” (a hit in North America in 1976) and the aforementioned “Tomorrow Never Knows”. This set now gives a much fuller look at The Beatles’ early days.
There are additions to the Blue album as well. It still begins with the classic single “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”. This makes sense as the set is arranged chronologically, and this single was the first thing they released in 1967. The set moves on to several numbers from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with the addition of “Within You, Without You”. The extra album cuts do paint a much fuller picture of the era represented on the album. It ends with the new Beatles single, which is a nice addition.
The other big news is that it is available in Dolby Atmos surround sound. This is streaming only, as none of the Beatle music mixed for this format has been released on a physical format, but the songs are there for fans of streaming. A lot of the songs have been mixed for 2023 (“If I Needed Someone” is a great example), but the new mixes are subtle and don’t change from the original all that much. Not everything on the sets has been remixed, but the songs do benefit from a bit of updating in the studio.
The Beatles 1962-1966 and 1967 – 1970 have never been out of print and they have never really changed over time. Fans will note that a few years ago the North American opening of “Help!” (the James Bond type of opening) was removed but these new additions to the collection mark the first time the sets have been updated. While this makes them more encompassing of The Beatles, it is still recommended to go to their original albums and listen to each of them. But for casual and new fans these sets are a brilliant introductions and overviews. Also, perhaps best compilation sleeve design of all time.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: THE BEATLES – THE BEATLES 1962-1966 & THE BEATLES 1967-1970 (2023 REISSUES)