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1962-1966 (Red Album)

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Beatles 1962-1966 ("Red Album") cover art
'The Double Red' — or The Beatles 1962-1966, to give it its official title — was Volume One of Apple's first compilation of the band's canon. Together with its 1967-1970 companion ('The Blue'), simultaneously released in April '73, the combination of singles and album tracks made them instant hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

Allen Klein was actually responsible for the selection, aided and abetted by Neil Aspinall, then chief exec of the Corps(e). The four Beatles, separately of course, approved the issues. The two volumes were originally intended as the soundtrack albums for a documentary film, provisionally entitled The Long And Winding Road, which — though rumoured to have been completed — has never been released. They were brought forward, however, after an Italian bootleg collection called Alpha Omega had been advertised for mail order on British TV.

It also gave them an ideal excuse to use the rejected Get Back cover photo, The Four leaning over the EMI balcony Please Please Me-style. The images were switched to represent the timespan of the respective albums, though both included Don McCullen's '68 cemetery shot as the gatefold. Lyrics were printed on the inner-sleeves.

The Red boasts a 100% Lennon/McCartney tracklist, taking the story from the "Love Me Do" 7" debut (the only '62 vintage to be included), through to Revolver, with the tracks arranged more-or-less chronologically. In spreading the overview of The Beatles' career over eight sides of vinyl, it's an appropriate cut-off point, marking the group's transition from a live act to a strictly studio set up.

Side One moves on from the less-than-dazzling first outing, via "Please Please Me" and "From Me To You" (their first official Number One), straight to the eruption of Beatlemania. "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" still provide a roistering little double-whammy, even now! "All My Loving" is the only inclusion from the second LP, and "Can't Buy Me Love" concludes.

The second side opens with a CHANNNNG!!!, with "And I Love Her" completing the selection from the first film soundtrack. Beatles For Sale is solely represented by "Eight Days A Week". The first UK and US editions of the album included different mixes of "I Feel Fine", standardised on subsequent reissues. The whistle-stop tour continues with "Ticket To Ride", with the Stateside "Yesterday" single bringing it to the halfway mark.

"Help!" kicks off Side Three/Disc 2, with the American '007 opening' featuring on early vinyl issues there. The second soundtrack album also yields "Hide Your Love Away". As the world's first double A-Side 7", "We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper" are both there: heralding the psychedelic era at the time, and here preceding a lengthy incursion into Rubber Soul, beginning with "Drive My Car" and "Norwegian Wood".

That said, the selections from 'the pot album' are — perhaps predictably — the safer, poppier songs, shying away from its more adventurous compositions, and excluding both of George's contributions. Thus, we're presented with "Nowhere Man", "Michelle", "In My Life" and "Girl". "Paperback Writer" takes things into 1966, though Revolver ('the acid album') is represented by nothing more than the "Eleanor Submarine" single. Surely a case could have been made for one of Harrison's 'Indian Tracks' here, given their undeniable influence on sixties music and lifestyles.

Nevertheless, The Red and The Blue remained the definitive Beatles collections until the issue of Past Masters a decade and a half later. Indeed, due to their LP inclusions, they maintained their popularity even in the face of such stiff competition; registering healthy sales when released on CD in 1993. There were a few quibbles over The Red's sixty-three minutes being stretched out over two discs, but they were largely offset by the great selection of photos in the presentation box booklet. Remastered editions will be available by the time you read this.

The Red was the first Beatle record I ever owned: a black vinyl copy, swapped for a penknife with a mate who was going to buy the coloured version back in 1978. And yes, I still have it. My blue Blue followed for Christmas...

Who'd've imagined where it'd all lead to?!!

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