In 1963, '64 and '65, the boys had stuck to the master plan devised by manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, releasing two albums and a handful of singles in each of those years. But in 1966, they broke the mold, first by spending two and a half months in the studio working on their masterpiece Revolver. They then embarked on a world tour which was a disaster on many levels. I cover this all-important event in detail in my presentation The Beatlemania Years: 1962-1966. Suffice it to say that by the time they flew out of San Francisco after giving their final performance at Candlestick Park on August 29th, they knew that their days of touring were over. Upon their return to England, they went their separate ways for a few months, uncertain of how, or even if, their career as a group could continue.
By October, Parlophone knew that there would not be a new album by the Beatles available for the Christmas market, and so, the powers that be decided to compile a greatest hits collection. There would be both mono and stereo versions of the album, but since some of the songs had never been mixed for stereo, four sessions were necessary for Martin, engineer Geoff Emerick, et al. to rectify that situation.
It was also decided that there would be sixteen songs included - thirteen of them from singles, two well-known album tracks plus a bonus track. Noticeably absent are the first two singles, Love Me Do and Please Please Me.
She Loves You - The song that inspired Beatlemania in Britain in August of 1963 is the perfect way to kick off the album.
From Me to You - The group's first indisputable number one from April of 1963 is the earliest song in this collection.
We Can Work It Out - From the double A-sided single released in December of 1965.
Help! - The title song of the second film, released in July of 1965.
Michelle - An album track which had attracted much attention, from Rubber Soul, released in December of 1965.
Yesterday - From the album Help!, released in August of 1965. It was a number one single for Capitol Records in the US, and a major hit worldwide.
I Feel Fine - A single from November of 1964.
Yellow Submarine - From their latest double A-sided single, released in August of 1966.
Can't Buy Me Love - A single from March of 1964.
Bad Boy - The bonus track is a rocker by Larry Williams. It was recorded by the Beatles on May 10th, 1965 along with Dizzy Miss Lizzy, another Williams number, specifically for the Capitol Records compilation Beatles VI. While the latter song was soon added to the British version of Help!, Bad Boy remained unreleased in the UK until this time. The recording features a fierce vocal by John and some great lead guitar work by George. The lyrics are decidedly American in nature, with references to hula hoops and laundromats.
Day Tripper - The other A-side of the December, 1965 single.
A Hard Day's Night - The title song from their first film, released in July of 1964.
Ticket to Ride - The single from April 1965.
Paperback Writer - Single from June of 1966.
Eleanor Rigby - The other A-side from the most recent single, released in August 1966.
I Want to Hold Your Hand - It may not have made much sense to the British fans, but closing the album with this November 1963 single, which helped the Beatles conquer America, has some logic to it.
The album was released on December 9th, 1966, just in time for Christmas. It is interesting to note that Capitol Records in the US resisted the temptation to produce a similar package at the time. Yet only a few months later, they would be clamoring for new material by the group, prompting the release of what many believe to be the greatest single ever, and altering the concept of the album in the works.