Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who Compiled the Beatles' Red and Blue Albums?

Q: The Red and Blue compilations came out in 1973 when John and Paul were estranged. Did they have a hand in selecting the tracks? Otherwise, who compiled the albums?

Allen Klein, acting as their manager at the time, is commonly reported as having compiled the albums, originally titled The Best of the Beatles, but eventually released as The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were apparently not happy with the compilations, the latter reportedly seeking an injunction against their distribution. The albums, however, soon received their blessing in early 1973 to combat pirate sales from another "best of" release. A Capitol Records press release stated: "We will be issuing, on Apple, a two-record set of vintage Beatle songs in an effort to counteract the sale of the bootleg Beatles records, called Alpha Omega, which are currently being blatantly advertised on television and in newspapers across the country. We feel it will be easier to fight the bootleg product with a rival package than through the courts. It's appropriate and right that the Beatles have, on Apple, the official authorized collection put together by themselves."

Lennon revealed in an interview later that year that their producer George Martin played a large role in the albums' compilation: "George (Martin) controlled the choice of the material on those albums more than any of us. They sent me lists and asked for my opinion, but I was too busy at the time. I think it was the pressure of the bootlegs that finally made us put them out after all this time."

Lennon in particular wasn't a fan of the stereo mixes on the albums. He commented, "The fast version of 'Revolution' was destroyed! I mean it was a heavy record, but they made it into a piece of ice cream!"

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