In 1973, The Beatles put their best songs on two compilation albums - 1962-1966 (The Red Album) and 1967-1970 (The Blue Album). The compilations introduced successive generations to The Beatles' music (including myself.) Originally released on vinyl, the compilation albums were released on CD format in the 90s and in 2007 when I personally started getting into the band, my grandpa had the albums on CD and burned copies of them and put them in a case titled "Bethany's Beatles Collection", which I still have to this day.
Fifty years later, the albums have released with additional tracks, 2023 mixes, is available in Dolby Atmos and includes super deluxe editions on vinyl and CD formats. The Beatles also recently released their final track that includes all four members contributing to the song titled "Now and Then", currently sitting at #1 across Billboard and iTunes charts, as well as debuting their first track on the Digital Sales Charts. What was originally recorded on a demo cassette from John Lennon, other members - Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - began working on the song in 1995, fifteen years after John's death in 1980. With the help of AI, Paul and Ringo were finally able to complete and release the track in November 2023, a double-sided single on vinyl and DSPs along with The Beatles first-ever hit, "Love Me Do." Listen to the double-sided single HERE.
The Red Album kicks off with the UK single version of "Love Me Do" - bringing us right back to where everything started for The Beatles. The harmonica-filled track provides a catchy chorus and has been in our hearts ever since we first heard it. "Please Please Me" known as the band's second-ever single to hit the charts in 1963 and is the name of The Beatles' debut album, also released in 1963. The first added track "I Saw Here Standing There" is crystal clear as your ears can perfectly hear all vocals, bass and drums. Following is a fan-favorite track that will make you "twist and shout" and send you straight back to the band's bubble-gum pop era. The band's all time best-selling UK single is a song titled "She Loves You" (one of my personal favorites from my younger years) as it also sold over two and a half million copies in the US alone (keep in mind - this was before streaming and the internet were things). With its catchy hook line "yeah yeah yeah" there's no way you could ever forget about this song.
My personal forever and ever favorite early Beatles song "I Want To Hold Your Hand" debuted in the US in 1963 (just ahead of the British invasion) sold more than a million copies in advanced orders alone. It became the band's first number-one hit in America and kick-started the British invasion. The song exclaims romantic melodies and simple guitar riffs - which made the ladies go crazy. "All My Loving" is another romantic track by the band and was the first song The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The song is also part of the soundtrack for featured film A Hard Day's Night. "And I Love Her" features soft acoustics and Paul on vocals, providing sweet melodies for a love song. "Ticket To Ride" was one I probably wore out on my cd because for some reason, it just spoke to me. The song exclaims calming vocals by both Paul and John with repetitive guitar riffs from George. "Yesterday" will always be one of those songs you can never shake. Paul admits he woke up with the melody in his head one morning and struggled to find lyrics for it, but eventually made it work and wrote one of The Beatles' most vulnerable tracks.
"Help!" kicks off the second half of The Red Album and features John on lead vocals, which he has explained was one of the most real songs he'd ever written. As John struggled with mental issues in the height of Beatlemania, he needed a song to project how he was feeling - which is exactly what the chorus does. "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" presents itself as an acoustic-focused track with John explaining he was in his Bob Dylan era and was influenced to write a softer tune. "Nowhere Man" describes a man with no direction in his life or no genuine worldview. But, he's also like the rest of us. "In My Life" is from 1965's Rubber Soul and remains relevant with its relatable lyrics and simple guitar riffs. Another track added to this album "If I Needed Someone" was written by George and features dreamy melodies and sweet vocals, as George has the best voice in the band (right behind Paul - we're getting controversial here)."Paperback Writer" is more of a fast-tempo song with fuzzy guitars and groovy drum beats, with a fun chorus. "Yellow Submarine" was obviously written by Ringo and even inspired the 1968 Beatles film.
The Blue Album begins with fan-favorite "Strawberry Fields Forever" released in 1967 and introduced us to the pyschedelic era of The Beatles. "Penny Lane" released along with "Strawberry Fields" and refers to a street in Liverpool. With a memorable chorus and lyrics that feature Paul's childhood nostalgia, it remains a feel good fan-favorite. "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" serves as the return of The Beatles in the later 60s - completely reinvented and intending to present themselves as a completely different band. Leading straight into "With A Little Help From My Friends", was written by Ringo and serves as a sing-a-long and has been covered by other artists many other times. "All You Need Is Love" was inspired by the anti-war movement in the '60s and was released as a non-album single. The track is one of the world's most embraced songs and became an anthem for the flower power philosophy, consisting of motivational lyrics, melodic harmonies and ethereal vocals. "Hey Jude" was written by Paul and released in 1968 for John's son Julian when his parents were going through a divorce, and John started seeing Yoko Ono. Known as one of the greatest Beatles songs, the fan-favorite always sways crowds with the "na na na na's."
"Revolution" ends the first half of The Blue Album and is the first overtly political Beatles song, as it was John Lennon's response to the Vietnam War.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is from The White Album and written by George, consisting of soft piano melodies, psychedelic guitar acoustics and breathtaking vocals. The song conveys his dismay at the world's unrealized potential for universal love, which he refers to as "the love there that's sleeping". "Don't Let Me Down" was dedicated to Yoko by John, exclaiming hard-hitting melodies and tons of soft guitars and bass. Originally from 1969's Abbey Road, "Here Comes The Sun" posses soft acoustics, calming strums and motivational lyrics. George's lyrics - "The smiles returning to the faces" - will inspire you for years to come. "Something" comes from Abbey Road and two weeks after its release, the song became a double A-side single with "Come Together". With its smooth guitar riffs and calming vocals from George, he originally stated it was a love letter to his ex-wife Pattie Boyd. John Lennon even stated "Something" is the best song on Abbey Road.
"Let It Be" conquers all and is one of the most meaningful Beatles tracks to me. Paul states on the song, It was autumn of 1968 and I think I could sense The Beatles were breaking up, so I was staying up late at night, drinking, doing drugs, clubbing. But one night, I had a dream. My mother came into my dream and said, ‘let it be’. And I went right over to the piano and wrote, ‘When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” The song provides soothing lyrics, swaying piano sounds and inspiring lyrics. Such lyrics - "There is still a light that shines on me/Shine until tomorrow, let it be" leaves you feeling hopeful, yet its entirety feels like a last Beatles song. "Across The Universe" features soft acoustics, cosmic stories and serves as a meditation track through a calming chorus. "The Long And Winding Road" will always be the last Beatles song to me as it's the last track on the original version of The Blue Album and the last song on the Beatles 1 album. It was issued as a single in May 1970, a month after the band's breakup. It became the Beatles' 20th and final number-one hit (until "Now and Then" was released). With its captivating lyrics - "Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried/Anyway, you'll never know the many times I've tried" - presents closure for the band and album.