Thursday, June 28, 2012

Red Alpha/Blue Omega

1973 began with Ringo making another appearance on BBC Radio's Scene And Heard. His interview with David Wigg was taped January 3rd (probably in his office at Apple) and broadcast three days later. With no new product to plug, the discussion touches on financial matters, how to deal with bothersome fans, and the state of relations between the ex-Beatles.

Wigg guessed that Ringo would be the one to bring all four together on a project, a theory which would soon be borne out. But with no group releases since the split, and no greatest hits package available in the US, some unscrupulous entrepreneurs filled the market's gap.

Dubbing the recordings from whatever vinyl was handy, they pressed a 4-LP set collecting 60 Beatles songs, seemingly chosen at random and sequenced roughly in alphabetical order. Many hits were included, but so were album tracks such as "I'll Follow The Sun", "All I've Got To Do", and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby". Solo numbers including "Imagine", "Bangla Desh", and "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" were also tossed in.

The unauthorized package, titled The Beatles Alpha Omega, was sold only by mail order and promoted with a series of TV and radio ads beginning around Christmas 1972; here's a radio spot from a January 27th, 1973 airing. It was quickly followed up by another 4-disc set, this time called Beatles Vol. 2, and likewise advertised on TV. The sequel had an even stranger track listing, with filler material ("Maggie Mae", "Why Don't We Do It In The Road") alongside solo cuts ("Apple Scruffs", "Crippled Inside", "The Lovely Linda") and even a George Martin number ("Pepperland")!

Needless to say, the Beatles and EMI were quick to counter the unofficial product; on February 16th, Allan Klein filed a suit against the producers, Audiotape, Inc., as well as ABC, which aired the offending commercials, for $15 million in damages. The best way for Apple to quash the pirates was to put out their own "greatest hits", so two official double-LP sets were hurried into production.

The intelligently-sequenced and attractively packaged sets, The Beatles 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 (colloquially known as the Red and Blue albums), hit US store shelves on April 2nd, accompanied by EMI's own TV ads. Both were certified gold based on pre-orders alone, on March 31st, and both would top the charts.


  1. 1973! What a blog! I can't believe you have these old ads!!

    For those who might be interested, here's the tracklisting for the Alpha Omega comps. What a weird selection/sequence!!!

    Side One

    1. Act Naturally
    2. All I've Got to Do
    3. All My Loving
    4. And I Love Her
    5. Baby's in Black
    6. Yesterday
    7. The Ballad of John and Yoko
    8. Bangladesh

    Side Two

    1. Can't Buy Me Love
    2. Come Together
    3. Day Tripper
    4. Do You Want to Know a Secret
    5. Eight Days a Week
    6. Eleanor Rigby
    7. Uncle Albert

    Side Three

    1. I Should Have Known Better
    2. It Won't Be Long
    3. I Want to Hold Your Hand
    4. Lady Madonna
    5. Ticket to Ride
    6. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
    7. Michelle
    8. Mr. Moonlight

    Side Four

    1. I Feel Fine
    2. If I Fell
    3. I'll Be Back
    4. Hey Jude
    5. I'm a Loser
    6. I'm Happy Just to Dance With You
    7. I Saw Her Standing There

    Side Five

    1. Nowhere Man
    2. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
    3. Paperback Writer
    4. Penny Lane
    5. Help!
    6. Roll Over Beethoven
    7. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

    Side Six

    1. Get Back
    2. Hello, Goodbye
    3. Revoution 1
    4. Here Comes the Sun
    5. I'll Follow the Sun
    6. Imagine
    7. Honey Don't

    Side Seven

    1. We Can Work It Out
    2. With a Little Help From My Friends
    3. Yellow Submarine
    4. Baby, You're a Rich Man
    5. You Can't Do That
    6. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
    7. Maybe I'm Amazed
    8. A Hard Day's Night

    Side Eight

    1. She Loves You
    2. Something
    3. Strawberry Fields Forever
    4. Tell Me Why
    5. The Long and Winding Road
    6. Let It Be
    7. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby

  2. Not to take anything away from our friend Chip, but a Winn tome about the solo Beatle years would be welcome on my bookshelf.

  3. I cannot find the answer to this anywhere, so I am posting it here...Uncle Albert was written and recorded by Paul and LInda McCartney during his solo career in between the Beatles and Wings...why then is it also on this Beatles album?

    1. It was a pirate collection. So they threw on anything they wanted. Also included Imagine by Lennon, Bangladesh by Harrison, as well as some other solo material. Purely a quick cash venture, not an historical record.