Arguably the biggest Rock-n-Roll band ever to grace planet earth, The Beatles cultural impact has been far and wide. Releasing music over a decade span, between 1960 and 1970, their songs, image, and stylistic changes in many ways informed the way popular culture has flowed. An impact that astoundingly transcends their active period, it seems that everyone – from those who were present during The Beatles rise to stardom to the youth of today – know, love, and appreciate what the band has offered.
To some a phenomenon of epic portions, in truth, it is the songs that define The Beatles… and there surely are plenty of them to enjoy. The combined talents of leading songwriters Paul McCartney and John Lennon, which later on included more contributions from the quiet, yet immensely talented George Harrison, as well as Ringo Starr, The Beatles truly were an all-star band.
This all in mind, their legacy seems to always remain eternally in the spotlight after all these years. Something that can really trace back to 1995, when they released the career spanning documentary series The Beatles Anthology, to follow were three separate CD sets, but also very unexpected and special… new music! Something to ignite an entirely new generation of Beatles fans’ interest, first came the track “Free As a Bird,” followed by “Real Love.” Tracks put together by the then surviving Beatles (McCartney, Harrison, and Starr), they utilized unreleased material recorded by Lennon to work with. Done so with the permission of Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono, many did not realize it, but there was actually a third song from these archives. A very curious discovery, sadly it was never made into anything… until now.
Entitled “Now and Then,” apparently it was written by Lennon and recorded around 1977 as a solo home demo, but left unfinished. From here the song was seriously considered to be worked on by The Beatles, however, due to low quality of the recording, they opted to leave it be. To many, something that was thought to be lost forever, thanks to more modern audio restoration technology, the idea of finishing “Now and Then” became a legitimate possibility. Coming into consideration around the time they were working on the 2021 The Beatles: Get Back documentary with Peter Jackson, it became apparent that they could very well make something of the song.
So with that, it was announced with much anticipation, followed by some delay, that “Now and Then” would finally reach the public. At last doing so on November 2nd, it was released digitally, but also as a double A-side single vinyl; paired with a new stereo remix of the band’s first single, 1962’s “Love Me Do.”
Beyond this, the ‘lost’ song also became a part of the newly expanded reissues of the 1973 compilations 1962–1966 and 1967–1970; both of which were rereleased on November 10th. Now the big question is, what does all this mean for Beatles fans?
Well, it means that you get what is now regarded as the final Beatles song ever with “Now and Then.” A kind of bittersweet feeling, it features the entire band members; including of course Lennon, and even Harrison, who while passed away in 2001, was still around for the original, yet abandoned reworking sessions in 1995.
This all in mind, anyone who misunderstands what “Now and Then” is, it is important to clear up that this is not artificial inteligent Beatles. Something that might confuse some, the song includes all the real members, only with technologies assisting to make use of Lennon’s original vocals. And in the end it is a really lovely song, and not just one to throw away after one listen. It is thoughtful, emotional, and filled with the signature Lennon/Beatles sound everyone knows and loves.
Which leads us to the expanded and re-issues of 1962-1966 and 1967-1970. Both offered in several formats, they include the original hits, but with plenty of additional content. A lot to cover, some of the highlights include the version of “Love Me Do” with Starr on drums a part of 1962-1966; something which was originally issued only on first pressings of the 1962 UK single. Beyond this, you get a total of 21 new tracks between the 2 sets collectively with new stereo mixes for many; some of which are more recent mixes over the years, including those from re-releases such as 2022’s Revolver: Special Edition set.
All sounding really quiet clarified, without being overly modern and loud, any edition of these new reissues would be perfect for a Beatles fan of an age. However, if you are someone who owns so many Beatles releases and want just to add “Now and Then” to your collection, you can opt to pick up the new track on the vinyl edition of the single, or just pick up the newly reissued 1967-1970 album.
Whichever way you go, any of them is a good choice, because these new sets are really essential. Furthermore, if you are someone who truly appreciates the intricacy nature of vinyl, the new pressings are cut on 180 gram vinyl at a half-speed master which is breathtaking. Only adding to The Beatles history, “Now and Then” is a standout song and these repacked editions of 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 are stellarly put together. That is why Cryptic Rock gives everything involved here 5 out of 5 stars.