April 19 – Not American, But They Put Out Red, White & Blue Albums…

We often hear of The Beatles “White album” but today we look at two other colors: their so-called “Red” and “Blue” albums. The pair came out 45 years ago today, in 1973.

The Red and the Blue were actually greatest hits compilations; few bands besides The Beatles would warrant two, double-albums of hits! The real names of the records were The Beatles 1962-1966 (“Red”) and The Beatles 1967-1970 (“Blue”). We can apparently thank criminals for the records – they were issued by Capitol (North America) and Parlophone (Europe) in response to a bootleg “best of” that was selling quite well called Alpha Omega. As John Lennon put it, “I didn’t want lousy versions going out…I called Capitol/EMI (and said) please ask George Martin.” They did, Martin remastered the collection and it went out to instant acclaim.

Both albums were top 5 hits at home, the U.S., Canada and Australia, and would later chart as high as #4 in the UK when released on CD in the ’90s. The slightly more popular “Blue”(hits like “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, “Hey Jude”, “Strawberry Fields” and the only place you could get “Don’t Let Me Down” on LP at that point) was a #1 hit in the U.S. where it went 17X platinum. The “red” one (with earlier hits like “Please Please Me”, “Help” and “Yesterday”) was a #1 in France, and still went 15X platinum Stateside. Both were early recipients of the diamond-selling status in Canada.

If you’re a total completist who just won a lottery, you’ll be happy to know there are several versions of the albums to collect out there, depending on market and format. For example, the Spanish version dropped the single “The Ballad of John and Yoko”(Spanish authorities thought the line “Christ, you know it ain’t easy” too sacreligious to allow airplay) in favor of the song “One after 909”; and the CD version has a longer version of “A Day In The Life” than the LP.

If the covers looked vaguely familiar, they should have to the fans. The covers with the Fab Four looking down over a stairwell railing were taken in the EMI headquarters in London. The “red” one was taken when taking photos for their debut album, Please Please Me and is virtually identical to that one. The “Blue” cover has them re-enacting the scene some seven years later, beards and all.



7 thoughts on “April 19 – Not American, But They Put Out Red, White & Blue Albums…

  1. badfinger20

    I bought…or my mom bought me these albums. I got them in 76 when I was 9. They were like gold until I was played some of their album stuff…then I started to buy the original albums but they are a great introduction to the Beatles.
    I bought the Hey Jude greatest hits collection first, then Rock and Roll album (silver ugly cover) and then these two. You can’t go wrong with either of these.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They really did reshape music and the entertainment world, and its a real tribute to see how many fans they still have and how most of their catalog still sounds good over 50 years later. Yes, the cover pic was great!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice! I guess that kind of dedication is on my bucket list – and probably hinges on winning some money! I have a number of Beatles albums and between my sweetie and I we have the vast majority of their regular ones and a few compilations like “Beatles 1”. I liked them as a kid (I was a kid in the 70s mainly, after they broke up) but my appreciation for them has grown considerably through the last couple of decades. Thanks for reading & commenting too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: April 30 – Wings ‘Rose’ Again In ’73 – A Sound Day

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