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Friday, November 30, 2012

THE RED ALBUM - sides one and two

In 1973, finally accepting that the Beatles had no intention of reuniting and noting that fans continued to purchase the back catalog in impressive numbers, EMI decided to put together a retrospective package worthy of the greatest act in recording history.  Though the group had only issued recordings for about seven and a half years, both the quality and quantity of their material pushed the limits of a typical greatest hits collection.  The result was a sprawling four-record set combining all of the number one singles with many well-known album tracks and a few B-sides.   

Asking fans both new and old to shell out the money for a four-record set was a bit much, but since the group's career neatly split into two pretty distinct halves, the obvious solution was to create two two-record sets.  The public could thus decide to concentrate on only one half of the Fab Four's output or all of it, if they so desired.  The collections were officially titled The Beatles/1962-1966 and The Beatles/1967-1970, but because of the colors of the packages, they quickly became known as the Red and Blue albums. 

With only a few exceptions, the selections are laid out chronologically according to their original release dates.  And though there are some tracks that are questionable for their inclusion and others that are curiously absent, these are mercifully few.  Indeed, part of the fun for die-hard fans is arguing such issues for each and every compilation that has followed over the ensuing years.


Love Me Do - The single that started it all.  It was a number one hit in the US a year and a half after its initial release.

Please Please Me - Their first big hit, a number one on all of the British charts except the Record Retailer, where it peaked at number two.

From Me to You - The first undisputed number one in the UK.  Amazingly, this collection marked the first time that this song appeared on Capitol Records (or on an album) in the US.  It had only been available as a single on VeeJay Records during the group's career.

She Loves You - The monster hit that spawned Beatlemania.  It was the group's biggest-selling single in the UK.

I Want to Hold Your Hand - The song that conquered America.  The British Invasion soon followed.

All My Loving - The first album track in this collection, from With the Beatles.  Technically, it should be placed ahead of I Want to Hold Your Hand in this collection, as the album was recorded and released first.  This song made the charts in the US as an import single from Capitol of Canada.  It was the first number the group played on their historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. 

Can't Buy Me Love - Recorded in Paris, this single topped the Beatles' jaw-dropping domination of the US charts in the spring of 1964.


A Hard Day's Night - The title song of their first film.

And I Love Her - A well-known and loved album track from the film.

Eight Days a Week - An album track from Beatles for Sale.  In the US, Capitol released it as a single in February of 1965 and it became a number one hit.

I Feel Fine - This single was released ahead of Beatles for Sale and should appear before Eight Days a Week in this running order, even though the latter song was recorded first (confusing, I know).

Ticket to Ride - From the Help! soundtrack, but released as a single well ahead of that film.

Yesterday - The most famous song in the group's catalog.  Initially, it had only appeared on the non-soundtrack side of the Help! album in the UK, but Capitol released it as a single in the US in September of 1965 and it became a huge number one hit.  As far as this collection is concerned, the song is out of sequence, as Help! and You've Got to Hide Your Love Away were recorded months earlier, but it works well in this position to bring the album side to a beautiful close. 

Note that side two only has six songs.  A superior B-side like This Boy or She's a Woman, or a great album track such as Twist and Shout would have fit nicely on these first two sides with a little juggling of the running order. 

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