Expanded 50th Anniversary 180g 3LP Sets for The Beatles’ Legendary Red and Blue Albums Offer Colorful Listening Session Options for All Fab Four Fans, Both Old and New Alike

The history of the storied Red and Blue retrospective albums by The Beatles is quite fascinating. As the story goes, these two 2LP sets were created in response to a pair of very successful unofficial “pirate” box sets called Beatles Alpha Omega, both of which were brazenly marketed by a little company in New Jersey around 1972. Those releases were ultimately shut down, and those original bootlegs are now quasi-collector’s items for hardcore Beatles fans. However, the success of those sets provided valuable marketing research for The Beatles organization at that time — in effect, hard proof the public wanted, and was willing to buy, comprehensive retrospectives of The Fab Four’s music.

One year later, at the outset of April 1973, companion 2LP sets — 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 — were officially issued by Apple. These two Beatles releases quickly became known on the street as simply the Red Album and the Blue Album, similar to how November 1968’s The Beatles is often referred to as The White Album. Together, these 2LP collections documented the band’s early ascent and later artistic peaks. The albums were marketed with a strong advertising campaign — including both TV and print — touting them as “the only authorized collection of The Beatles.” This was most likely in response to those above-noted unauthorized pirated sets that were still around on the market that also had inferior sound quality, as they were reportedly copied from Capitol Records’ editions of Beatles albums.

The now iconic Red and Blue 2LP sets have proven evergreen in popularity ever since. In fact, for many people, these two albums were the gateway introductions to the Beatleverse at large.


Before we get to the play-by-play of individual Red and Blue tracks and highlights for me (and possibly for you too), let’s recap some of the significant DNA beneath these recordings, as provided in The Beatles’ official press materials: “In recent years, several 1967-1970 tracks and a few from 1962-1966 have received new stereo and Dolby Atmos mixes for The Beatles’ Special Edition album releases, including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017), The Beatles (White Album) (2018), Abbey Road (2019), Let It Be (2021), and Revolver (2022), as well as new stereo mixes for The Beatles’ 1 (2015). All tracks not also featured on those releases have been newly mixed in stereo and/or Dolby Atmos by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios, aided by WingNut Films’ audio de-mixing technology.”


While the press materials and online sources don’t seem to reveal information on the mastering per se, a look at the deadwax on the LPs reveals the tell-tale inscriptions from Abbey Road Studios mastering engineer Miles Showell. As we know from past releases, Showell prefers to cut his half-speed-mastered lacquers from digital sources. Now, we also know from the remixes and de-mixing technology employed here that these albums are likely crafted all in the digital domain — and for those of you who may be unclear or unaccepting of this reality, we felt it important to spell it out upfront.

As to the cost, the respective, now expanded 3LP 1962-1966 (Red Album) and 3LP 1967-1970 (Blue Album) collections are available individually for an SRP of $79.99 each, or can be obtained packaged together as a 6LP set housed in a classy protective hardshell slipcase box for an SRP of $149.99.

The Red and Blue albums have been reissued numerous times over the years, including red and blue vinyl editions in the 1970s, as well as remastered 180g editions in 2014 that established the British versions of the albums as being the definitive editions — including the replacement of some fake stereo early tracks with true mono. Though I haven’t heard those versions myself, some of my trusted Beatlefan friends tell me they sound very good indeed, as they were taken from the UK tracks. (Original U.S. editions used Capitol Records’ versions, including the James Bond-styled opening to “Help!,” as found on the original U.S. soundtrack LP .)


Accordingly, for the 50th anniversary of these two iconic album collections, UMG, Apple, and The Beatles decided to do something quite a bit different both for the global fanbase and for the music to ensure its legacy moving forward into the future. To that end, both of these new 3LP sets include a wealth of brand new mixes by go-to Beatles producer Giles Martin, as well as many tracks that were excluded for various reasons from the original sets — notably, key cover hits like “Twist and Shout” (Bonus Red LP3, Side A, Track 2), in addition to numerous songs by George Harrison that were left off the original collections.

Inevitably, the word “remix” is something of a two-edged sword among Beatle enthusiasts. Purists typically dig their heels in, considering any remix effort a musical blasphemy. I often have to remind folks to remember the original versions continue to exist, and no one is coming to take those versions away from your physical LP, CD, and tape collections. Me, I still have all my originals that I continue to cherish and enjoy. And, given that The Beatles are one of the biggest-selling artists in music history, it’s safe to say that the millions and millions of copies of their records sold around the world ensure there will pretty much always be copies of The Fabs’ entire catalog available somewhere, either on the new or used market, for ages to come.


For the hardcore fans who still geek out on the different takes and alternate mixes from the past — i.e., those of you who have collected all the albums in mono and stereo, all the singles, the bootlegs, the complete multidisc Anthology rarities series, et al — you are in for a treat with these new Red and Blue collections. For one thing, many of the tracks are very different sounding. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing either, as they certainly deliver another perspective on the music if you are deeply familiar with the original tracks.

For those newer fans and/or older casual fans who “just want to hear the songs” in any form, these new editions will likely be a wonderful listening experience. These versions sound like The Beatles because, well, they are The Beatles. And they will no doubt sound fine on modern stereos, and streaming options, and such.


As far as how the vinyl pressings of Red and Blue rank, I’m quite pleased. All six of the LPs in my two sets have been quiet, and well-centered. The cover art is comparable to the original U.S. editions, including the Apple Records label designs. Do note that, apparently, the original UK editions featured glossy laminated cover artwork, which these new versions do not recreate as they are not quite flat-matte — but they’re also not super-shiny. The blue color on 1967-1970 is a little darker than my U.S. original, but that is a tiny nit I can live with.

For me personally, most of this reissue series works and feels fine, with some exceptions that I’ll touch on in a moment. There are many nuances and musical parts revealed in these new remixes — things that were either buried or much less audible in the originals. Some examples follow.


The new 2023 remix of “Hey Bulldog” jumped out at me (Bonus Blue LP3, Side 6, Track 1, and originally appearing on the 1969 soundtrack LP for Yellow Submarine [Side 1, Track 4]). As great as the song is, the original mix was never especially satisfying to my ear for a variety of reasons, and this version mostly strikes a nicer balance than that of the 1998 Yellow Submarine Songtrack mix. The new version feels more powerful sounding, without sounding revisionist. Most significantly, an effect that was almost buried on the 1968 mix is now much more prominent in the bridge section, but is not quite as in-your-face as the Songtrack version that more or less employs the effect loudly throughout the song, effectively reducing the drama of its periodic appearance in the other versions.

This sound is a very deep reverb on the overdubbed snare during the bridge section. It is a neat effect that almost sounds like the gated snare reverb effect from the 1980s production universe — as in, it sounds like a loud gunshot or an explosion of some sort. There are still some quirks on this mix, but overall, it is a great upgrade for one of my favorite Beatles tunes.

The new mastering of this collection provides us with, effectively, unique mixes that (for now) can only be found here, as far as I know. For example, “Dear Prudence” originally appeared on November 1968’s aforementioned 2LP masterpiece The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) as a segue out of the album-opening “Back in the U.S.S.R.” But on the Blue album, “Dear Prudence” (Bonus Blue LP3, Side 5, Track 3) starts at full volume, with Lennon’s classic descending acoustic guitar motif.

This joins another semi-unique “clean intro” version of “A Day in the Life” that was added to the later versions of the album. That latter song originally concludes June 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, but is found here on the Blue LP collection on Side 1 of LP1 as Track 6, and begins without the fade-in from the “Sgt. Pepper (Reprise)” on the original Pepper’s album. (The first appearance of this version was on the soundtrack to the 1988 film Imagine, which celebrated John Lennon’s music and life.)


One of my question marks on the Red set has to do with the song "She Loves You” (LP1, Side 1, Track 4), which is the only track that sounds a bit off, somehow. Probably made with the de-mixing technology, the stereo separation is not as distinct on the vinyl as on the 24-bit/96kHz FLAC streaming version I spot-checked on Tidal. Instead, the Red LP version appears to sound a bit more distorted somehow, especially sandwiched between “From Me to You” (Track 3) and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (Track 5), both of which sound crisp and clear. That said, the original recording always did have a curious sonic texture to it, and I can hear now that a certain amount of distortion that I even remember hearing on my original Swan Records 45rpm single of the song was actually on the master.

According to the Interwebs, “She Loves You” was recorded to two-track tape back in the day, and mixed down to mono from that. The master recording only exists in mono today, as the original session two-track tapes were sadly destroyed due to EMI’s studio procedures back in the day. That this became one of The Beatles’ biggest ever hits and one of the biggest hits of the 1960s overall is a testament to it being an utterly amazing pop record — warts and all! I suspect that hearing this song in the original mono will continue to be the best way to hear this legendary track. This new stereo version is ultimately one of those curious, “it is what it is” modern scenarios, as they say.

I am also a bit on the fence about the new mix of “I Am the Walrus” (Blue LP1, Side 2, Track 1), as this is another unique new version which extends the recording at the end and raises the levels of different elements previously unheard. Ultimately, we may have to assume all those additional sound effects we are hearing here were probably recorded by The Beatles back in the day and not necessarily used originally, the track having faded out before they appeared. Is it “better” than the original? In a word, no — those original mixes will always be the benchmark.

But is this new version of “Walrus” a cool thing to hear? For sure! For sure! The expanded remix makes for an interesting addition to the several versions of the song that are out there.

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For me personally, the original UK mono mix — as heard on the stunning remaster in 2014’s The Beatles in Mono box set — is probably my favorite version, with the German true stereo from the early 1970s (Apple Records – SHZE 327, HÖR ZU – SHZE 327) being a close second. (Note that I have not had time to compare the Magical Mystery Tour remix tracks here to that 1973 German release as of yet, but hope to do so at some point.)

Other tracks, such as “I Saw Her Standing There” (Bonus Red LP3, Side 1, Track 1) — which amazingly never was on the original 1973 2LP version of the Red album! — sound much more punchy with the drums and bass higher in the mix. Also, the handclaps and some of the guitar parts are clearer and more identifiable.

The opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” (Red LP1, Side 2, Track 1) sounds quite different as well. One of my Beatles collecting buddies thinks he can hear a piano that was reputedly in the mix of that magical introductory multi-part chord, but I haven’t decided whether I’m hearing that for sure myself yet. Either way, this is a great-sounding track with much more detailing of instruments and more upfront bongos in particular.


Another curious difference is the track running order on the LPs. On the CD and streaming versions, the Blue album ends with the amazing technical achievement that is the new Beatles song, “Now And Then.” On the vinyl edition, “Now And Then” opens LP3, Side 5 in that set, while Side 6 ends the collection with “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” which originally ended Side 1 of Abbey Road. It’s a curious difference indeed, though I can appreciate both track listings options. (Your own preferences may vary.)

Personally, I have grown to appreciate each bonus LP3 in both the Red and Blue sets, as it makes it easy to just jump right to the newest additions to the respective collections. On the streaming and CD versions, those “new” Red and Blue tracks are integrated into the overall album playlist, more or less chronologically.

All of the new remixes offer an important side benefit for Beatles music in general, as it helps to future-proof it for current streaming and other listening services to come, something we haven’t really been able to fully forecast as of yet. Ultimately, the remixes allow the music to flourish in a fidelity and volume that will sit well against modern music playlists and other online outlets. It allows the music to be considered for use in films-to-come and other multimedia applications.

Again, as a Beatles fan, I have mixed feelings about all that. Part of me understands the underlying needs to do so, and appreciates the new, distinctive mixes. Yet another part of me lies kicking and screaming in a dark corner, fighting to honor The Beatles’ original artistic statements with no revisions allowed — after all, I do have some purist aesthetic in me as well! But, ultimately, it is not our decision to make, and — as we here at AP have said before — we can always listen to and enjoy our original versions in our collections any time we see fit to cue them up. (Remember that bit I mentioned earlier about all this being a two-edged sword?)

I could go on and on with a full track-by-track Red and Blue microscopy if we had the space, time, and endless budget. That said, I do hope that, from this review, you’ll get the idea that an interesting listen awaits you on both new 3LP editions of The Beatles’ 1962-1966 (Red Album) and 1967-1970 (Blue Album) collections, especially if you are intimate with the music already.

And if you are somehow new to The Beatles, I hope these two sets sound fresh enough to inspire you to dig down into the group’s back catalog of original mono and stereo LPs, many of which comprise the backbone of popular music as we know it yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

(Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has also worked in marketing communications for decades. He has reviewed music for AudiophileReview.com, among others, and you can see more of his impressive C.V. at LinkedIn.)

Music Direct Buy It Now


1962-1966 + 1967-1970 (2023 EDITIONS) 6LP VINYL SLIPCASE SET
(1962-1966: LPs 1-3 / 1967-1970: LPs 4-6)
(stereo / 1962-1966 3LP Vinyl & 1967-1970 3LP Vinyl = same track sequencing for each as listed below)


LP1 (‘Red’)

Side 1
1: Love Me Do (2023 Mix)
2: Please Please Me (2023 Mix)
3: From Me To You (2023 Mix)
4: She Loves You (2023 Mix)
5: I Want To Hold Your Hand (2023 Mix)
6: All My Loving (2023 Mix)
7: Can’t Buy Me Love (2023 Mix)

Side 2
1: A Hard Day’s Night (2023 Mix)
2: And I Love Her (2023 Mix)
3: Eight Days A Week (2023 Mix)
4: I Feel Fine (2023 Mix)
5: Ticket To Ride (2023 Mix)
6: Yesterday (2023 Mix)

LP2 (‘Red’)

Side 3
1: Help! (2023 Mix)
2: You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (2023 Mix)
3: We Can Work It Out (2023 Mix)
4: Day Tripper (2023 Mix)
5: Drive My Car (2023 Mix)
6: Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (2023 Mix)

Side 4
1: Nowhere Man (2023 Mix)
2: Michelle (2023 Mix)
3: In My Life (2023 Mix)
4: Girl (2023 Mix)
5: Paperback Writer (2022 Mix)
6: Eleanor Rigby (2022 Mix)
7: Yellow Submarine (2022 Mix)

LP3 (Bonus ‘Red’ LP)

Side 5
1: I Saw Her Standing There (2023 Mix)
2: Twist And Shout (2023 Mix)
3: This Boy (2023 Mix)
4: Roll Over Beethoven (2023 Mix)
5: You Really Got A Hold On Me (2023 Mix)
6: You Can’t Do That (2023 Mix)

Side 6
1: If I Needed Someone (2023 Mix)
2: Got To Get You Into My Life (2022 Mix)
3: I’m Only Sleeping (2022 Mix)
4: Taxman (2022 Mix)
5: Here, There And Everywhere (2022 Mix)
6: Tomorrow Never Knows (2022 Mix)


LP4 (‘Blue’)

Side 1
1: Strawberry Fields Forever (2015 mix)
2: Penny Lane (2017 mix)
3: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017 Mix)
4: With A Little Help From My Friends (2017 Mix)
5: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (2017 Mix)
6: A Day In The Life (2017 Mix)
7: All You Need Is Love (2015 Mix)

Side 2
1: I Am The Walrus (2023 Mix)
2: Hello, Goodbye (2015 Mix)
3: The Fool On The Hill (2023 Mix)
4: Magical Mystery Tour (2023 Mix) 5: Lady Madonna (2015 Mix)
6: Hey Jude (2015 Mix)
7: Revolution (2023 Mix)

LP5 (‘Blue’)

Side 3
1: Back In The U.S.S.R. (2018 Mix)
2: While My Guitar Gently Weeps (2018 Mix)
3: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (2018 Mix)
4: Get Back (2015 Mix)
5: Don’t Let Me Down (2021 Mix)
6: The Ballad Of John And Yoko (2015 Mix)
7: Old Brown Shoe (2023 Mix)

Side 4
1: Here Comes The Sun (2019 Mix)
2: Come Together (2019 Mix)
3: Something (2019 Mix)
4: Octopus’s Garden (2019 Mix)
5: Let It Be (2021 Mix)
6: Across The Universe (2021 Mix)
7: The Long And Winding Road (2021 Mix)

LP6 (Bonus ‘Blue’ LP)

Side 5
1: Now And Then
2: Blackbird (2018 Mix)
3: Dear Prudence (2018 Mix)
4: Glass Onion (2018 Mix)
5: Within You Without You (2017 Mix)

Side 6
1: Hey Bulldog (2023 Mix)
2: Oh! Darling (2019 Mix)
3: I Me Mine (2021 Mix)
4: I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (2019 Mix)


Chemguy's picture

Thanks! Have to disagree with you about the sound and the score of 8 you awarded. The sound is spectacular on this release, She Loves You notwithstanding, and is easily a 10, minimum. There is no comparison between the sonics on these records and the original Red and Blue OGs. And compared to the original originals, forget it...the new mixes crush their hard-panned butts.

Some may be dissuaded from purchasing by an 8 score. Don’t be y’all...the new Red and Blue are too wonderful to pass up.

volvic's picture

I was on the fence, but you’ve convinced me to put them on my list. My list has tripled in the last few days LOL!!!

Regcd's picture

Absolutely agree. This is a significant improvement over the UK 1st I have of Red. 8 sounds like a nostalgia pick.

Lemon Curry's picture

The 2014 is a 10. This AI version is better?

vinyl listener's picture

10 ? More like a 6/7. Pre-87 analog red/blues were a solid 8.5

jazz's picture

An 8 is already a kind of favor.

WesHeadley's picture

I have heard these tracks on decent to good systems throughout my life. I have an original pressing of the Red album from Holland and many other sets and collections including the Beatles in Mono white box set. These newer versions kill! By and large, they are obviously better in nearly every case. For one thing, there's bass! Vocals and harmonies are clearer and more present, and the instruments are not buried in muck. This is now my go-to copy.

The Blue album is also improved in many places- better in many of the same ways, but not by as wide a margin. The only comparisons that I lack are NM condition original UK first pressings-- but I suspect even those would not measure up to some of the remixed tracks-- and many suffer from "stupid stereo" mixing that sounds absurd compared to the newer far better balanced stereo mixes.

The problem that no one can solve is that each of us have memories of how these tracks "should" sound and that may make it very hard for many from the era to truly appreciate these remixes given those powerful (but not necessarily pristine) memories that are etched into everyone's brains differently and that light up whenever one hears an original version. IMO, we're lucky to have these!

Mike Mettler's picture
Your final paragraph really resonates with me, WesHeadley, as you've succinctly nailed the perennial conundrum any of us have listening to "new reissues" and trying to square them with the memories we have of our original experiences with the music at hand.

Mark often makes the point in his reviews (and I try to do it in my reviews too) that we can always go back to our originals if we want to. Reissues/remasters aren't replacing those memories, or our access to them if we choose to spin any older LP we may prefer.

Me, I love having access to both options. Sometimes, the newer listening experience winds up being the better/best one -- a la the recent, and truly outstanding, UHQR of Steely Dan's Aja -- but other times, the newer edition just isn't up to audiophile snuff, a la last year's flawed reissue of Pink Floyd's Animals.

The bottom line to me is, it's a great time to be listening to music on vinyl -- whether it be new, old, and/or reissues/remasters alike -- and I spend more time now doing so than ever before. How about you?

susanmounts's picture

Great news

RG's picture

Let's clarify a few things, shall we?

The writer asserts that "I often have to remind folks to remember the original versions continue to exist" but hat is incorrect, unless he wa actually referring to what is sitting in your collection now. To be precise, you do NOT have the option to buy new, either of these collections or any of their other primary albums that existed before Giles Martin was brought in. They are no longer readily available and have been essentially delected from the cataloge. You cannot stroll into Amoeba music and have the option to buy the Giles mixed versions or the originals. And I strongly object to that decision. I also strongly object to Giles feeling at liberty to add new material to the track as he evidently did on Walrus. Fixing mistakes like the drop out on Day Tripper is one thing, but also he botched the remix on Old Brown Shoe so that all of George's guitar flourishes are no longer there. Restoration is one thing, adding new material or removing material and messig the mixes is another.

RG's picture

One other thing about walrus. If the band intended for that extra material to be there at the end they would have done so. What justification does Mr. Martin offer for redrawing Mona Lisa's smile?

addictiontovinyl's picture

Giles Martin should have relegated his efforts to correcting sound-stage issues and fixing minor errors, and not taking egregious liberties with remixes that actually detract rather than enhance. Why position the drums hard-right in A Day In The Life, rather than keeping them centered, as per the original 1967 mix? Why are the drums so low in the mix of I Want You (She's So Heavy), now making it a rock-song with no backbone? Why mess needlessly with that guitar in Old Brown Shoe? Why make the last half of Walrus the muddy mess that it has now become? I'll mercifully stop here, because I don't want to belabor the point. My biggest non-mix gripe was STILL not including Rain on the 1962-1966 package; while I have no problem with the additional material on sides five and six, none of those songs are as critical as Rain to the Beatles' history. And why no tri-fold covers for the records? One record in one pocket and two records stuffed in the second pocket reeks of bean-counting accountant cost-cutting. It makes things look cheap. The Beatles were never about cheap! I'll always contend that if McCartney had personally overseen Giles' work, rather than rubber-stamping the proceedings, things might have been very different. But who knows? Still, I guess life will somehow go on...