, by definition, focuses on The Beatles' number one hits — 27 of them — songs that everyone with the power of hearing has heard a million times or more. The charts used as reference were the UK's Record Retailer listing and the US Billboard Hot 100. This means the pivotal "Please Please Me"
wasn't valid for inclusion; and is why I personally prefer the NME chart, which had it on the topspot the day I was born. The most conspicuous other omission is that, while "Penny Lane"
is included, its far more pioneering double-A-side partner, "Strawberry Fields Forever"
, was inexplicably counted out. Whoever compiled the selection was evidently "living with eyes closed"...
This was the first budget-priced Beatles CD that EMI (bye-bye) condescended to issue and everything was specially remastered and processed for the occasion, if you're into that kinda thing. The cover art is somewhat unimaginative, and there's little in the way of sleevenotes (till now!) though the collection of international record covers included is fun. While Past Masters 1
can't be topped for neatly collecting together and B-Sides, for a fuller repass of the band's career, the good ol' Red
— on account of their album inclusions — remain equally interesting compilations.
The band's road, although most definitely winding, was in fact relatively short: just eight years as a recording unit. 1
is a whistle-stop tour of the commercial highpoints, from the exponential curve of Beatlemania to the psychedelic peaks. If you truly love music, its impossible to ignore the indelible imprint that the Beatles made on it — irrespective of how much you actually like them or not.
Listening to the progression from track to track in its strictly chronological layout, you really get to appreciate how quickly and consistently the band evolved as composers and musicians — in itself no mean feat, given the chaos that surrounded them as they were writing The Rulebook of Pop, and chalking up an unrepeatable series of music industry 'firsts'. Similarly, they always strove to avoid the safe repetition of tried-and-tested styles or formulae: something at very least a little different every time.
And so, without further ado,
"Ladies and gentlemen, here they are — The BEATLES!