In life, there are three certainties: death, taxes and the release of a new Beatles remix/master every year. In tandem with the new single, “Now and Then,” a double re-release of perhaps their most widely known compilations released on Friday, Nov. 10.
“1962-1966” and “1967-1970,” or more colloquially known as the red and blue albums, are a compilation of the Beatles’ biggest hits of their career. The former features the band’s early career — before their retirement from touring — while the latter features the band’s later career, characterized by experimentation. Originally released in the early 1970s, these two records have been released multiple times with new mixes.
If “Beatlemania” is a widely accepted phenomenon, I’d like to introduce “Beatlefatigue.” While it’s cool to see old music redone with modern technology for a cleaner sound, this is the fourth re-release of these compilations. This band is perhaps the most influential in the world, and their music has touched the hearts of billions across the globe in the past 60 years. That being said, it would be great if the audio engineers at Abbey Road Studios would stop remixing their music every year. At a certain point, the music stops getting noticeably better and just sounds slightly different compared to last year.
Ironically, there’s almost nothing to be said about the music in this album review. Almost everyone knows all of these songs; they have billions of streams collectively and hundreds of millions of physical versions have been bought. The point of this release is to provide a new experience of the songs featured. Digital and CD variants are available in Dolby Atmos surround sound, which is a nice touch for those with hi-fi setups.
However, not all of the songs have been given brand new remixes. Particularly on the blue album, a myriad of versions from 2015 to 2021 are used instead. While the 2023 remixes are fundamentally redundant, one thing that stands out about them is the vocals. They are a lot wider and generally more lustrous than on previous versions, but that doesn’t justify a new mix being made.
On the red album, 12 additional tracks are included, bringing the total runtime of the record to just over 90 minutes. Its blue counterpart comes to a total of 134 minutes. Notably, the version of “Love Me Do” featured on the record is the single version, with Ringo Starr on drums instead of Andy White.
While many hardcore fans may see this release as a must-have entering the holiday season, casual fans may not see the appeal. Audiophiles may enjoy spinning these records on their expensive stereo setups. On the other hand, many fans (including me) will continue to enjoy the music of the Beatles through their studio albums or their own curated playlists. Rating these albums feels particularly redundant given that they’re greatest hits compilations, but since it happens to be one of the most revered groups of all time, only one score is fitting. At the end of the day, “Taxman” or “Eleanor Rigby” will be amazing songs no matter how they are mixed. Though releasing their music ad nauseam can be annoying, it’s still the Beatles.