Although not yet officially announced, fans of The Beatles worldwide are eagerly anticipating the news of this fall seeing expanded and remixed versions of the band’s now fifty-year-old hits compilations “1962-1966,” better known as the Red Album, and “1967-1970,” a/k/a the Blue Album. If early reports are accurate, the albums will not only contain tracks omitted from the initial releases but a previously unheard song, “Now and Then,” a John Lennon demo which the band’s surviving members worked on in 1995, hoping to use it as part of that year’s documentary “The Beatles Anthology.”
According to Penn Jillette, he heard “Now and Then” during a 2023 visit to Giles Martin’s London studio. Giles Martin, an accomplished producer and engineer in his own right, is the son of the late Sir George Martin, who produced all of The Beatles albums. Jillette has related that the song, previously unusable as Lennon had recorded its essential parts of piano and vocal with a TV blaring in the background, had been salvaged in no small part due to “Lord of the Rings” producer/writer/director Sir Peter Jackson, who in 2021 produced “The Beatles: Get Back” documentary. The documentary’s audio staff utilized sound isolation techniques used in “The Beatles: Get Back” to separate Lennon’s voice and piano from the TV noise. Martin combined these with parts played by Paul McCartney and George Harrison during the 1995 sessions that produced “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.”
When initially released in 1973, “1962-1966” and “1967-1970” had some notable omissions. “1962-1966” neglected everything Harrison wrote and ignored all of the covers The Beatles recorded during their early years, including their iconic rendition of “Twist and Shout,” written in 1961 by Phil Medley and Bert Berns. It was first made into a hit in 1962 by The Isley Brothers. The Beatles recorded and released the song in England in 1963. Its American release came the following year, the track rising to #2 on the charts behind only “Can’t Buy Me Love” by … you guessed it … The Beatles. 22 years later, the song hit the singles charts again thanks to Ferris Bueller.
Both sets will reportedly be expanded from two vinyl LPs to three, thus allowing the inclusion of songs previously neglected, along with “Now and Then” and, one would assume, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” The CD versions will be two-disc sets, same as now. Given that a vinyl LP can comfortably fit 20 to 22 minutes of music a side before requiring mastering techniques that noticeably degrade the sound, while a single CD can hold 80 minutes of music without breaking a sweat, one hopes that the CD releases will take advantage of the 35-40 minutes or so of extra space available to include even more deserving material.
While, as mentioned earlier, no announcement of an official release date has occurred, the educated guess is this will transpire in August 2023, with product hitting the shelves in September or October 2023. Those of us at or over a certain age ask forgiveness in advance from you young’uns as we scour the internet for word. In the meantime, yes, we will be blasting “Twist and Shout,” and if you don’t like it, get off our lawn.
A while back, I wrote about Greta Van Fleet unashamedly strutting their Led Zeppelin influences on their new album “Starcatcher.” Now, we have a new song by The Beatles. Perhaps 2023 isn’t a total disaster after all.