1962-1966 (Red Album)

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Recorded: 1962-1966
Producer: George Martin

Released: 19 April 1973 (UK), 2 April 1973 (US)

Originally released in 1973, the so-called Red Album brought together 26 highlights from The Beatles' back catalogue, from their earliest EMI recordings to Revolver.

The albums were produced in response to a bootleg compilation titled Alpha Omega, which had been produced without authorisation in 1972. The Beatles 1962-1966 and its sister album 1967-1970 were the first Beatles compilations following the group's split in 1970.

The tracklisting for both collections was compiled by Allen Klein, and were approved by the former members of The Beatles. No cover versions were included, and all the songs on the Red Album were by Lennon-McCartney.

Alpha-Omega album artworkI didn't want lousy versions going out, I wanted them to be as was. And I asked Capitol/EMI, or EMI/Capitol whichever, please ask George Martin would he take care of this, so at least he knows what to do. I didn't want some strange guy, you know, making dubbed versions of it and putting it out, because of the versions that were going out [on other compilations] the reissues were pretty poor. I hadn't even listened to them, because I just presumed they'd take the tape as we made it and make a master and put it out again, but they didn't, they'd been screwing around with a few of the early ones. I didn't know that until it was too late. So on that last package where they had Beatles 60... different periods - that one. I made sure. The Red and The Blue, that one. I made sure George Martin was there and I made sure they put that picture which I got Linda [sic] to take of the same pose as their very first album over the Abbey Road... No what is it that... EMI office in some other place, some square? Manchester Square. So I was involved in that respect, in that package making sure that the cover was what I wanted and that the sound was done by George Martin. So I don't mind that one. Checked the remix after he'd done it, it was as good as you could get out of whatever mono recording we did then.
John Lennon, 1980
The Lennon Tapes, Andy Peebles

Cover artwork

The front cover of 1962-1966 featured a photograph by Angus McBean taken during the session for The Beatles' debut UK album Please Please Me. McBean photographed the group as they looked down from the stairwell at EMI House in Manchester Square, London.

In 1969 McBean was asked to recreate the shoot, with The Beatles in the same position. The resulting photograph was intended for the unreleased Get Back album, which was later reworked by Phil Spector and released as Let It Be.

The 1969 photograph was used on the back cover of 1962-1966, and on the front of 1967-1970. The gatefold covers of both albums were adorned with a photograph of The Beatles and fans taken during the 'Mad Day' in London on 28 July 1968.

The Red and Blue albums were reissued in 1993 on coloured vinyl, with an extra insert of photographs.

International variations

Different pressings in the United States and United Kingdom led to variations in the mixes and performances used. The Capitol Records version tended to use mixes and performances originally heard on The Beatles' US albums, such as the version of Help! featuring a James Bond-style introduction.

In the UK, all songs on the Red Album were in stereo, with the exception of Love Me Do. In the US five songs were in mono: Love Me Do, I Want To Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day's Night, I Feel Fine and Ticket To Ride.

Chart success

The Beatles 1962-1966 was released in the United States on 2 April 1973. It topped the Cashbox chart, but peaked at number three on the Billboard chart. The Blue Album (1967-1970) did reach number one on Billboard, however.

In the United Kingdom the Red Album was issued on 19 April 1973, and reached number three.

Remastered versions of the Red and Blue albums were reissued on 18 October 2010 (19 October in North America) as two-CD sets. The reissues include expanded booklets with new essays by Bill Flanagan, and extra photographs of The Beatles.

14 responses on “1962-1966 (Red Album)

    1. Von Bontee

      According to Apple, it’s because the 1967-1970 set is two discs, and they want to keep the two sets “consistent”, or some equally ridiculous non-reason – I forget how they worded it. (I already ranted about this on the messageboard!)

    2. hotrodotis

      I decided to burn my 2 CD set onto 1 CD and had enough room to add a few additional songs. So my original 2 disc set is still like new AND I have an awesome single disc with extra Beatles music!

  1. Marshall Houck

    Hi i need some info on the alpha omega box set i have it but mine is different from any other one I’ve seen instead of alpha and omega symbols it says Vol. 1 and has 60 songs on it

    please any help would be appreciated

  2. Tom

    A Hard Day’s Night, I Feel Fine and Ticket To Ride. are awesome on the US release because they are mono.

    I extracted the audio of the US vinyl from YouTube. Worked fine.

    The mono Ticket To Ride is the best track on the Red Album. The stereo version of song seems weakened. Even on remasters.

  3. Jonathan

    I remember as an 8 year old being fascinated by the TV adverts on British television for the Red Album in 1973.
    The ad was made up of a number of short clips from b&w silent movies. The only one I remember distinctly was a clip of “Ticket To Ride” which was played over the scene of a woman in some peril on a runaway coach with horses.

  4. kato1964

    These two compilations (62-66 & 67-70) were my Beatles primers. My Dad was in the military, so we moved a lot. It was hard to maintain any long term friendships as a result. After one move in my mid teens I met a guy at the new base we were living on. He was the first guy to be friendly toward “the new kid”, and invited me to his place to listen to records. He was a Beatles fanatic. (more specifically a JL fanatic…) I liked what I heard. Actually I realized I’d heard a lot of it before on the radio. I just never occurred to me that all these great songs were done by one band. I started with these two compilations, and went from there. Now I have the entire Beatles collection many times over, in pretty much any format you can name. The rec room is a virtual Beatles shrine. And I married a girl who was a Beatles fan. And I’m still best friends with that guy who was nice enough to invite “the new kid” to his house. Thanks, Phil!

  5. hotrodotis

    I’m curious about the insert that came with both of these albums that has the song titles for both sets on one side, and a Beatles discography on the other. Was this originally placed on the back cover under the shrink wrap to show the titles, or simply inserted inside? Please help. THX.

    1. Paul elliman

      I may be able to find you the date for the red album cover as it is an outtake from the please please me cover shoot.However ,I have spent weeks going through my files and online and can find no details of the blue shot.i guess it must be sometime spring 1969judging by the beards ,sometimes that’s the only way to date photos.A famous shot of John and Paul going through the running order of the abbey road medley (anthology booklet etc). Cannot be as John is clean shaven,more like the white album.So it’s a bit of a guessing game with some of the photos especially the later ones.

  6. Leonard Meyer

    Joe, out of curiosity, why aren’t the songs that appear on the “Red” and “Blue” albums not listed as being “available on” those respective compilation albums?

    1. Joe Post author

      Because I chose not to include compilations, as there have been so many of them. However, the Red/Blue albums do seem to have a special place in the canon, so perhaps I should include them.

      Bear in mind I wrote all the song features in 2008/9 before the remasters came out. At that point there were quite a few old compilations in the Beatles’ back catalogue (Rock ‘N’ Roll Music, Love Songs etc), but the only one Apple seemed interested in was the 1 album. Since they’ve since reissued the Red and Blue it shows that there’s a long-term commitment to keeping them available.

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