Apparently, there was a gap in the Beatles' catalog, after all -- all the big hits weren't on one tidy, single-disc compilation. It's not the kind of gap you'd necessarily notice -- it's kind of like realizing you don't have a pair of navy blue dress socks -- but it was a gap all the same, so the group released The Beatles 1 late in 2000, coinciding with the publication of their official autobiography, the puzzlingly titled Anthology. The idea behind this compilation is to have all the number one singles the Beatles had, either in the U.K. or U.S., on one disc, and that's pretty much what this generous 27-track collection is. It's easy, nay, necessary, to quibble with a couple of the judgment calls -- look, "Please Please Me" should be here instead of "From Me to You," and it's unforgivable to bypass "Strawberry Fields Forever" (kick out "Yellow Submarine" or "Eleanor Rigby") -- but there's still no question that this is all great music, and there is a bit of a rush hearing all these dazzling songs follow one after another. If there's any complaint, it's that even if it's nice to have something like this, it's not really essential. There's really no reason for anyone who owns all the records to get this too -- if you've lived happily without the red or blue albums, you'll live without this. But, if you give this to any six or seven year old, they'll be a pop fan, even fanatic, for life. And that's reason enough for it to exist.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine