The Beatles have announced that they are to release a new – and reportedly final – single on 2 November, 2023. Yeah, that's right: The Beatles are releasing a single. Now And Then will be the last Beatles song – written and sung by John Lennon, developed and worked on by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and completed by Paul and Ringo over four decades later.
Now And Then will be released as a "double A-side single" that pairs the last Beatles song with the first – Love Me Do, the band’s debut UK single from 1962 – and by doing so they're about to fix a weird glitch in the band's back catalogue.
Both songs are mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos®. Acclaimed pop artist Ed Ruscha has designed the cover for the single which will be available to stream, download and as a 7" black and colored vinyl record (light blue andclear), on 12-inch black vinyl and as a limited edition Beatles Store-exclusive cassette and 7-inch blue and white marbled vinyl
A mini-documentary Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song, written and directed by Oliver Murray, will premiere on 1 November on The Beatles’ YouTube channel at 7:30pm GMT / 3:30pm EDT / 12:30pm PDT. It promises to tell the "poignant story behind the last Beatles song, with exclusive footage and commentary from Paul, Ringo, George, Sean Ono Lennon and Peter Jackson. The trailer is below.
The single precedes of the band's classic compilations, The Beatles’ 1962-1966 (aka ‘The Red Album’) and 1967-1970 (‘The Blue Album’). Released as '2023 Editions' (by Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe) both collections’ tracklists have been expanded, and all the songs mixed in true stereo and Dolby Atmos.
Now And Then has been added as the final track on 1967-1970 (2023 Edition) and the UK single version of Love Me Do now kicks off 1962-1966 (2023 Edition). This means that Ringo Starr's drumming now begins and ends the compilations: The previous editions of 'The Red Album' featured the album version of the track, also released as the US single, with Scottish session drummer Andy White replacing Ringo.
Ringo Starr had joined the Beatles not even a month before Love Me Do's recording on 4 September 1962. The song had previously been attempted in June that year with original drummer Pete Best. In his book about The Beatles' recordings, Revolution In The Head, Ian MacDonald notes that the original Pete Best recording, "shows one of the reasons Pete Best was sacked: in moving to the ride cymbal for the first middle eight, he slows down and the group falters. (On the other hand, his switch to Twist-beat for the second – instrumental – middle eight is effective, suggesting that this is how The Beatles may then have played the song live, whipping up the audience with a mini-crescendo.)"
The Pete Best version was unreleased until 1995's Anthology 1 compilation.
Best's replacement Ringo Starr recorded his version on 4 September, but producer George Martin was apparently concerned with Ringo's unorthodox drumming – according to McCartney, Martin felt that Ringo had failed to 'lock in with the bass drum' – and insisted they re-record. Session player Andy White stepped in and Ringo added tambourine and maracas.
White had played drums on UK rocker Billy Fury's The Sound Of Billy Fury, an album thought to be the UK's first rock'n'roll album, and would go on to play on hit singles like It's Not Unusual by Tom Jones and Lulu's Shout!
The Ringo Starr version was the one released as a single in the UK, while Andy White's re-record became the version released as a single in the US, on the band's debut album Please Please Me, and subsequently collected on 'The Red Album'.
This new edition of 'The Red Album' puts Ringo back in the drum chair.
Preorder/pre-save 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 (2023 Editions) here
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Scott is the Content Director of Music at Future plc, responsible for the editorial strategy for online and print brands like Guitar Player, Guitar World, Total Guitar, Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, Guitarist and more. He was Editor in Chief of Classic Rock for 10 years and Editor of Total Guitar for 4 years. Scott regularly appears on Classic Rock’s podcast, The 20 Million Club, and was the writer/researcher on 2017’s Mick Ronson documentary Beside Bowie.
Over the years Scott has interviewed players like Jimmy Page, Slash, Brian May, Poison ivy (the Cramps), Lemmy, Johnny Depp (Hollywood Vampires), Mark Knopfler, Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), Will Sergeant (Echo & The Bunnymen), Robert Smith (The Cure), Robbie Robertson (The Band), Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), Joe Bonamassa, Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley), J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr), Mick Jones and Paul Simonon (The Clash), Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks) and more.