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Friday, March 29, 2013

20 GREATEST HITS - UK & US

Ten years of compilations made without the group's consent came to an end with these releases at the end of 1982.  In The Mammoth Book of the Beatles, Sean Egan reports that EMI originally wanted to make a double album which would have included all of the A-sides officially issued in the UK during the band's career.  As usual, for reasons unknown, the plan changed and twenty titles were crammed onto a single album instead.  Capitol Records in the US was allowed to create their own lineup using the same title.

Here is a side by side comparison of the two versions:

UK                                                                          US

SIDE ONE                                                               SIDE ONE

Love Me Do                                                            She Loves You
From Me to You                                                      Love Me Do
She Loves You                                                        I Want to Hold Your Hand
I Want to Hold Your Hand                                       Can't Buy Me Love
Can't Buy Me Love                                                 A Hard Day's Night
A Hard Day's Night                                                  I Feel Fine
I Feel Fine                                                              Eight Days a Week
Ticket to Ride                                                          Ticket to Ride
Help!                                                                       Help!
Day Tripper                                                             Yesterday
We Can Work It Out                                                We Can Work It Out
                                                                                Paperback Writer
SIDE TWO                                                                
                                                                                SIDE TWO
Paperback Writer                                                      
Yellow Submarine                                                    Penny Lane
Eleanor Rigby                                                          All You Need is Love
All You Need is Love                                                Hello Goodbye
Hello Goodbye                                                         Hey Jude
Lady Madonna                                                         Get Back
Hey Jude                                                                  Come Together
Get Back                                                                   Let It Be
The Ballad of John and Yoko                                   The Long and Winding Road

Essentially, each version included the songs which had gone to number one in the respective countries - with a few exceptions.  Love Me Do had never hit the top spot in the UK, only peaking at number seventeen on its initial release, but it had recently been reissued on the twentieth anniversary of its debut and had hit a much more respectable number four.

And, of course, there is the exclusion of Please Please Me, the record which had hit number one on all but one of the British charts in 1963.  By all rights, it should be on this collection (in place of Love Me Do, in fact) and, sadly, this is not the last time that this great song would suffer such an indignity.

The greatest sin, however, occurs on the American version.  On my entry for the Beatles Ballads, I noted that squeezing twenty tracks onto a single vinyl album negatively affected the sound quality of the product.  In a misguided attempt to preserve the fidelity of the record, Capitol actually had the temerity to lop off the final two minutes of the Hey Jude coda.  Whatever your feelings about the extended fadeout of that song, it is still tantamount to painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

The two albums were issued a week apart in October of '82.  The UK version went to number ten, but the US version only went as high as number fifty.  These were the final official releases until the group's catalog appeared on CD in 1987.

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