Commonly known as the "Red Album", the 2LP vinyl set "1962 - 1966" became an instant classic when it was first released in April 1973 (as did its "Blue" counterpart "1967-1970"). When they were finally reissued onto the new CD format in 1993 however, they caused consternation because of their extortionate full price.
So is this newly remastered 2010 mid-priced 2CD reissue on EMI/Apple 5099990675225 any better - the answer is an emphatic 'yes'.
The first thing you notice is that the clunky double jewel-case of the 1993 reissue has been dumped for a three-way foldout card sleeve. The centre and right flaps picture the photograph on the inner gatefold of the original vinyl double album (St. Pancras Old Church in London, 27 July 1969, The Beatles with the public looking through the railings). It also houses the two CDs - CD1 has the full Apple label (13 tracks, 31:02 minutes) and the 2nd CD has the half Apple logo (13 tracks, 31:45 minutes). The vinyl set is yet to come, the Digital Download versions are available from 25 Oct 2010 and there's also an issue that lumps both the Red & Blue reissues together as one package in late November.
The left flap houses a new 32-page booklet. The lyrics are intact from the inner sleeves of the original album issue, there's new liner notes by BILL FLANAGAN the MTV Executive and author of "Evening's Empire" (a book on Rock in the Sixties) and there's plenty of superb colour photos from the period - it's impressively done. Downsides - some complained that the 09/09/09 card digipak sleeves for The Beatles reissues were easy to smudge once out of the shrinkwrap and worse - the inner flaps easy to tear as you removed the disc. I'm afraid these are the same. I suppose I would have been naïve of us to think that EMI would actually listen to the complaints of 2009 about packaging, but they haven't - the need for these issues to look the same as the preceding ones has overridden all considerations... Having said that, I still think they look great - substantial even...
It doesn't take a particular genius to work out from the playing times provided above that this set could easily have fitted onto 1CD (and even included bonus tracks). But EMI would of course argue that this would fundamentally alter the aesthetic of the original release. At least this time, the reissue is at mid price, so we're not being charged for the privilege. I think the new price pitch makes the 'one' disc argument a mute point. Besides, I like the break, taking out the first disc and putting in the second - it's how the original 2LP issue was. And better, it doesn't actually diminish the listen, if anything it enhances it.
The compilation itself is basically the A-sides of all their UK 7" singles releases between 1962 and 1966 in chronological release date order with a few key album tracks thrown in for good measure. Eagle-eye fans would therefore note that as ALL Beatles UK 7" singles for that period were issued only in MONO, so the tracks on the album should reflect that - the MONO single mixes. But EMI did nothing of the sort. In fact the original 1973 albums stated only STEREO on the labels and only the STEREO code was reflected in their catalogue numbers too. At least this time this new 2010 issue notes that Tracks 1 to 4 on Disc 1 are in MONO, while all other are in STEREO ("Love Me Do" is the album mix and not the single version). Bottom line - I would argue that accuracy's loss is the listener's gain, because the STEREO versions used here are awesome.
Although the compilation is copyrighted to 2010 (released Monday 18 Oct 2010 in the UK and 19 Oct 2010 in the USA), the liner notes don't try to hide that these are the 2009 remasters by the same team who did the much-praised Beatles catalogue of 09/09/09. The sound quality is fantastic - breathtaking clarity on instruments - George Harrison's sitar on "Norwegian Wood" - the string quartet on "Eleanor Rigby" and so on.
But what impresses most is the actual listen itself. Even now, it's truly shocking to hear just how accomplished The Beatles were. Re-listening to each disc in straight order is a gobsmacking experience - and by the time you get to the real song-writing genius of "Ticket To Ride" and especially "Yesterday" (the song that single-handled shut all the begrudgers up) - you're left with a renewed sense of awe. "We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper" were a single for God's sake - not on any English album at the time of release! "Paperback Writer", "Ticket To Ride", "Michelle" - track after track of brilliance... Were they really 'this' good - and so early on - the answer is yes - and always will be.
To sum up - the sound on these new reissues is fabulous; the packaging better than the 1993 versions and each is being sold at mid-price - available in most places for less than the price of a single new album. You can't help but think that millions of people globally will take one look at these beauties on a shelf somewhere and slap them straight into their shopping baskets. And rightly so...
I've loved re-hearing these classic Beatles songs in this beautiful sound quality - I really have - and despite some minor packaging quibbles - the 2010 version of the "Red" album is wholeheartedly recommended.
on January 11, 2000
I bought the red and the blue on vinyl when they were released in 1973. At that time, album sides could not hold 30 minutes of music, hence the need for a double album.
The CD version was planned for 1992 then delayed until 1993. Prior to both projected release dates, it was announced that it would be a double disc affair even though the entire two albums could fit on one disc with 15 minutes to spare.
If this is due to the desire of preserving the original appearance of the album as a double anthology, I don't buy it.
Today, double discs are now presented in the slim CD case that look like single CDs. Therefore, they should release its blue album this way, put the red album on one disc and they would look comparable.
That way we would save a few bucks. Now for the music...
The first four songs are mono. The two track stereo tapes for Love Me Do and She Loves You are no longer in existence.
When The Beatles rerecorded their two biggest hits I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You in German in early 1964, they were able to just record the vocal track over the existing backing track of Hand. Since She Loves You's two tracks had been erased, they had to record a whole new rendition.
Please Please Me and From Me To You are also in mono. There are stereo masters for these but since Please Please Me in stereo has a vocal flub it was not used. It was announced there was no clean stereo master for From Me To You.
I do enjoy this compilation. It's great to have these songs remastered in the early 1990's, and I love hearing All My Loving, Can't Buy Me Love, A Hard Day's Night, And I Love Her, and Eight Days A Week in stereo.
In fact, this blows the excuse out of the water that the first four albums would sound terrible in stereo, so present them in mono only.
However, I wish they had used the US stereo mix of Day Tripper. This was on both US and UK versions of the red album. It is a cleaner mix, with less obtrusive echo on the vocal, has a longer fade out, and doesn't try to hide a vocal flub with a volume knob twist. The fade out should have been sung: Day Tripper...Day Tripper Yeh! The Beatles accidently sung it: Day Tripper Yeh!...Day Tripper Yeh! No attempts were made to have them resing the vocal. They just lowered the volume during the mistake. What that did was lower the entire backing track with it.
Still, it is a nice anthology with unpublished photos and the lyrics to all the songs (correct lyrics this time. Just compare the lyrics of A Hard Day's Night on the vinyl to the CD. "So why on earth should I moan, cos' when I get you alone" is correct)
I must admit to feeling a bit foolish for buying the Red & Blue albums AGAIN this time, despite already owning the Mono Box and the 9/9/9 Abbey Rd and Let It Be editions. The reason I got these is that when I first owned Beatles music on vinyl, I actually had these Red & Blue sets before I got most of the individual Beatles albums (except Abbey Rd & the White album). I've most likely listened to Red & Blue as much or more often than the individual albums. The specific sequence of songs on these two double albums just feels "right" to me, and I want to experience that again in this newly remastered form. Experiencing it all over again is just as grand: the wonderful harmonies, marvelous playing, amazing production, and - most of all - the terrific, life-altering songs.
One thing is strange to me, the decision to include mono mixes only with the first four (oldest) songs. Why didn't they use mono mixes of ALL the older material? (or none?) The stereo mix of "All My Loving" has the vocals only on the right channel. I would definitely have preferred the mono mix there! That's not a show-stopper, though. The overall sound quality of this edition of Red is excellent, and I've overcome my feeling of foolishness and am glad I bought this new Red.
I don't have the same negative opinion of the packaging as reviewer Mark Barry does. It looks pretty sturdy to me; I don't see the cardboard slots housing the two discs tearing apart anytime soon. I would have liked plastic sleeves for the two discs, but otherwise this packaging is OK by me.
One other note: I feel incredibly dense to have just picked up on this after many decades of being a Beatles fan -- when put together with the White album, these two collections make "Red, White & Blue." I must be the only person in the world not to see that for all these years.
on October 19, 2010
Just for those interested: The new remastered version of the Red album, DOES NOT include the 007 theme intro as part of Help! This was unique to the US Help! album and was included in the US version of the Red vinyl release. As expected, seeing as these are the 09/09/09 remasters, the UK Help! album never had the intro, so it would make sense that it wasn't included.
on November 19, 1999
Sure, there are other places to get all these songs (the original albums and Past Masters, Vol.1 & 2), and sure, Capital could have issued this on 1 cd and saved us a lot of money. But they decided to be true to the LP release (and make themselves much weathier), and this is what we've got. So here are the facts:
The music here rates 5 stars. The remastering is far superior to the other releases that contain these songs. So, if you are new to the Bealtes and want the best fidelity, you should bite the bullet on the price and buy it. If you're a Bealtemaniac, then you'll need it because of the superior sonics. If you don't like the Beatles, what are you doing here?
on October 21, 2010
Having collected pretty much all the Beatles' CD releases since 1987, I would like to present my considered (but by no means definitive) views on the re-release of the 'Red' Album Compilation (1962 -1966) which has been newly minted in remastered form by Apple Records.
For all fellow Beatles fans considering whether to invest (again!) in this title - I have played and compared it, track by track, against the original 1993 CD and also against previous digital releases that hold some of the same tracks, namely The Yellow Submarine 'Songtrack' CD Album (from 1999) and The Beatles '1' CD Album (from 2000). My aim is to provide a useful, constructively-critical guide to anyone unsure about committing themselves to this purchase.
1."Love Me Do" - 2:23 (Mono)
I found the version on the '1' Album to have better focus to the vocals and more clarity to the tambourine than both the 1993 & 2010 Red versions.
2."Please Please Me" - 2:03 (Mono)
I think The 2010 'Red' version has better bass definition than the 1993 'Red' version and the electric guitars sound crisper, Ringo's background drum fills are also cleaner.
3."From Me to You" - 1:57 (Mono)
It seems to me that the '1' Album's version sounds less bright overall than the 1993 & 2010 'Red' versions, with John & Paul's vocals being noticeably clearer with less (distracting) delay to the studio echo which George Martin applied to them.
4."She Loves You" - 2:22 (Mono)
In my view the '1' Album has the better version of this track than both the 1993 & 2010 'Red' versions as the mix is less muddy and the symbols don't tend to wander in and out of focus, Paul's bass and Ringo's drums are also better defined.
5."I Want to Hold Your Hand" - 2:26
Although I think that the new 2010 'Red' Album version is an upgrade of the 1993 release, it's only slightly better than the version on the '1' Album, with the stereo image being slightly wider and the hand-claps that punctuate the track (which are provided by all four Beatles)sounding more lifelike.
6."All My Loving" - 2:08
I actually prefer the 1993 'Red' Album version of this track to the 2010 'Red' Album version, as the vocals and guitars appear clear and crisp in the centre of the stereo image - the newer release has them driven (annoyingly) hard right with the remaining instrumentation placed more distantly left of centre.
7."Can't Buy Me Love" - 2:13
In my view the version found on the '1' Album contains a better rendition than either the 1993 or 2010 'Red' Albums - having a bolder presentation of Paul's vocals, cleaner lead and rhythm guitars and added depth to the bass; there's also a satisfying punch to Ringo's kick-drum.
8."A Hard Day's Night" - 2:34
The 2010 'Red' Album gives a slightly wider and taller stereo image than it's 1993 counterpart, it also presents far more detailed and realistic bongos and better focused vocals, bass and electric guitars.
9."And I Love Her" - 2:31
The 2010 'Red' Album again beats the old 1993 CD release with a rendition that adds just the right amount of gain to bring out the full emotion of Paul's lead vocal, perhaps at the expense of just a touch more audible tape hiss, the trademark blocks used as percussion throughout the song also have a more realistic 'clack' which is all conveyed with better reverb & studio depth.
10."Eight Days a Week" - 2:45
The smoother intro to The 2010 'Red' Album version and its more accurate portrayal of Ringo's drums and symbols steadily builds to create an image that beats the 'splashy' mix on the previous 1993 release.
11."I Feel Fine" - 2:19
The new 2010 'Red' Album's rendition is now far less 'brittle' as the opening guitar feedback is generated and the lead guitars kick in, John's double-tracked vocal is also now clearly portrayed in the centre of the stereo image.
12."Ticket to Ride" - 3:10
I actually prefer the Beatles '1' Album version of this track, the stereo is ever so slightly wider with larger sound to the vocals, guitars and drums.
13."Yesterday" - 2:05
Again I feel that The Beatles '1' Album has the better sounding version of Paul's classic song, his acoustic guitar sounds a little more 'real' with a more audible ring after the strings have been gently strummed; the chamber Orchestra sounds fuller and cellos especially can be heard to better effect than the 2010 release.
1."Help!" - 2:19
In my opinion the 2010 'Red' Album version relays the best version of this superb song, the added clarity now means there is now no doubt that both 6 string and 12 string guitars exist in the rhythm track and John's pleading vocals are placed fully forward in the mix.
2."You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" - 2:11
In my opinion The 2010 'Red' Album version has the best portrayal of the tambourine, maracas and 12 string guitar used on the backing track, John's vocals are superior to the 1993 release.
3."We Can Work It Out" - 2:16
It's my belief that The Beatles '1' Album has the best sounding version of this joint collaboration between John and Paul, as Ringo's drums sound more realistic and the picture painted by backing track comprising the accordion, tambourine and symbols is more solid and crisp than the 2010 'Red' version.
4."Day Tripper" - 2:49
I think the best lead and harmony vocals of this track can be found on the Beatles '1' Album version , they also don't suffer from audio drop-out and the lead and bass guitars sound far better than the 2010 remaster.
5."Drive My Car" - 2:27
The 2010 'Red' Album now gives a clean and accurate representation of this bouncy song that beats the old 1993 'Red' album version with ease the vocal echo now gives studio depth to the lead vocal provided by Paul.
6."Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" - 2:05
I believe The 2010 'Red' Album has the best sounding version of this song from John, the remastering now brings clarity to George's Sitar and makes is clear that there were timpani bells as well as tambourine used in the percussion.
7."Nowhere Man" - 2:44
I believe the version on The Yellow Submarine 'Songtrack' CD sits head and shoulders above those created for the 1993 or 2010 'Red' Album releases in fact the stereo image is so broad, defined and detailed it makes the other albums' versions sound almost mono in comparison.
8."Michelle" - 2:42
Starting a run of three tracks that sees the 2010 'Red' Album as the place to find the most satisfying versions, this pseudo-French song from Paul is now a step-up from the 1993 release in most departments, most obviously with the fuller bass and cleaner vocal.
9."In My Life" - 2:27
The 2010 'Red' Album continues its run with John's moving retrospective song, the new remastering bringing Ringo's drums and symbols into a fuller stereo image packed with information.
10."Girl" - 2:31
The final track in this fine run for the 2010 'Red' Album has the sultry brushwork by Ringo on his snare drum clearly sweeping around the mix with ultimate realism, the strong intake of 'breaths' from John are also now far more detailed.
11."Paperback Writer" - 2:31
I think the Beatles '1' Album gives a better view of this song than either of the 1993 or 2010 'Red' Album releases, the lead vocal stands further forward of the harmonies and the bass really drives hard.
12."Eleanor Rigby" - 2:08
It's abundantly clear to me that the version contained on the Yellow Submarine 'Songtrack' CD is the one that leaves the listener most satisfied; it has been created without the clumsy panning to the right when Paul first delivers the vocal of 'Eleanor...Rigby' and it also includes superior depth and detail to the cellos as well as conveying all the drama of the score George Martin created for the Chamber Orchestra.
13."Yellow Submarine" - 2:37
Without a shadow of a doubt the best version of this track still remains the title track from the Yellow Submarine 'Songtrack' CD, it surpasses the version on the 2010 'Red' album in every respect.
So in closing, I recommend this new 2010 release to all those new to the Beatles musical catalogue as it's the best place to start your journey of discovery - for all those others who are already 'hooked', you can buy this CD knowing most of the tracks will give an upgrade in sound quality to the 1993 release....
However, if you don't have them already, I also recommend that you buy The Yellow Submarine 'Songtrack' & '1' CD albums to fully realise the best sounding versions of these 26 tracks.
on February 23, 2000
The Beatles are THE most written-about recording group of all time, so any broad statements would just be repetitive. Suffice to say, the "Red Album" is a mannered look at the Beatles' early singles, all of which are hook-laden, strong classics. With the exceptions of "Norwegian Wood" and "Eleanor Rigby", there is little indication of the mind-blowing experimentalism of their later work. Like their British compatriots the Yardbirds and the Animals (among others), the Beatles grew up listening to and eventually covering the early rock pioneers (Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley being the most overt influences). The "Red Album" documents the band's attempt to capitalize on their American obsessions while breaking new lyrical ground. Lennon and McCartney are working so closely together here that their individual contributions are practically indistinguishable. The songs are starkly emotional and are stripped of any pretense that may have marred some of their subsequent recordings. The Beatles are still such an amazing cultural force, it really should go without saying that the "Red" and "Blue" albums both should be a prerequisite to any complete music collection. Without them, an individual is missing a very large piece of rock and roll heritage. Personal Favorites: the sitar-driven narrative of "Norwegian Wood", the melancholy classic "Yesterday", and the bittersweet recollections found "In My Life". Representative Lyrics: "Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church/ Where a wedding has been/ Lives in a dream/ Waits at the window wearing a face/ That she keeps in a jar by the door/ Who is it for?" ("Eleanor Rigby"); "I give her all my love/ That's all I do/ And if you saw my love/ You'd love her too" ("And I Love Her")
on October 15, 2000
My only complaint is that this collection is on 2 CD's when it could've been on just one (EMI claimed they wanted to keep in the "tradition" with the original LP release). If it were up to me, I would've included more songs from the earlier albums like "Twist and Shout", "She's a Woman", "Don't Bother Me", and "Rain".
Aside from that, this includes a few pictures not included in the original in the CD booklet, making it more attractive. The sound quality is excellent, too! It begins with their 1st single "Love Me Do", has the essentials like "Yesterday" (the most covered Beatles tune in history), "A Hard Day's Night", "She Loves You", "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (their 1st single in America), "Eleanor Rigby" (the beginning of their experimental phase), "Help!" (which was literally John's plea for help), and "In My Life". They feature the 1st ever "intentional" feedback on "I Feel Fine" and John once called the "Ticket to Ride" "1st heavy metal song" (Come on, John! It's a rocker but not the Yardbirds!). "Nowhere Man" is a song John wrote about himself, but really it's about all of us! Unfortunately, George doesn't get any songs of his on here but did a great job with the sitar on "Norweign Wood".
If you like the music of the Beatles but don't have any of their albums, this and 1967-70 (the "Blue" album) are the best place to start!
on October 13, 2001
In 1973, three years after the Beatles called it quits, two double albums of Beatle hits were released on vinyl. This compilation, quickly nicknamed the Red Album, covers their early years. But this digs deeper than the ONE greatest hits collection (released in 2000) because it also includes some B sides and essential album tracks.
As with any compilation, the song selection can be second-guessed. None of the Beatles' great cover songs are to be found -- no "Twist and Shout," no "You Really Got a Hold on Me," no "Rock and Roll Music," no "Kansas City." But these oversights are almost forgiveable because licensing restrictions may have gotten in the way. Less forgiveable are the omissions of Beatle originals such as "I Saw Her Standing There," "Taxman," and "Got to Get You into My Life." Another oddity is that there are six songs from RUBBER SOUL (nothing wrong with that) but only two from REVOLVER. A curious imbalance, considering that the consensus among fans and critics is that REVOLVER is the (slightly) better album.
When this album was finally issued on CD in 1993 there were a couple of improvements. The remastered sound is noticeably better than on most Beatle albums. The liner notes contain complete lyrics as well as rare photographs not included in the vinyl release. The bad news is that this was put on two CDs when there was no need to do so. Each CD runs barely 31 minutes. The songs could have easily fit on one CD, and there still would have been plenty of room to include the great songs that were left out. Can you spell R-I-P-O-F-F? Yet you have to wonder what kind of a windfall Capitol/EMI is really getting, considering how manufacturing a double CD also drives up their production costs.
Listening to this album should make anyone appreciate how great the Beatles really were. One hit is stacked on top of another and they just keep coming at you. But the key to their success was that they did not just milk the same formula over and over. The band that made "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" sounds almost nothing like the band that made "Norwegian Wood" and "Eleanor Rigby" -- and even that evolution only hinted at what was to come.
on April 13, 2006
THE BEATLES 1962-1966 is a compilation album covering the first four years of the band's commercial existence. Often referred to as "The Red Album," this with THE BEATLES 1967-1970 ("The Blue Album") is the quintessential Beatles "Greatest Hits" collection. They were both released in 1973 as double albums to chronicle the band's career. The double album THE BEATLES ("The White Album") is of course part of the formal Beatles discography. Capitol has chosen to re-release them all as twin CD collections in keeping with the initial vinyl releases. This profit-driven decision did drive up the purchase price, but critics of this policy need to consider that neither The Red Album nor The Blue Album are absolute "must haves" for a Beatles collection. If price is a consideration, simply give these two a pass and buy the original albums.
The true drawback to The Red Album is that a devoted Beatles fan will own (or want to own) the entire formal disc collection. Therefore, these compilations become somewhat extraneous.
Still, they are worth having, even if just to listen to in the car, or for variation. The Red Album has several slightly different mixes than the original release recordings or other Beatles collections, and purists or pundits will want them.
For casual listening, The Red Album is an excellent Beatles sampler. It carries the band from the innocent monaural days of "Love Me Do" all the way to the psychedelic era of "Yellow Submarine." We get to hear The Beatles mature and grow, experiment and experience. For anyone who was there, this is an encapsulation of the early '60s.
As an aside, another excellent collection is 1976's hard-to-find THE BEATLES ROCK 'N' ROLL MUSIC, which provides us with early Beatles covers of other performers' material.
Remembering, as I do, the first time I ever heard, "I Want To Hold Your Hand," circa the summer of 1964, sitting in the backseat of my father's 1960 Impala convertible, The Red Album becomes my private time machine. It is amazing how far The Beatles came in just four short years, and how they managed to bring us with them.
Together with The Blue Album this collection IS the Magical Mystery Tour.