The chronological approach allows listeners to trace The Beatles’ advancements in songwriting throughout the 1960s, and their increasingly experimental approach to studio recording.
The songs included on 1 were number one hits in either the UK or US charts. Hence the inclusion of ‘Love Me Do’, which only managed number 17 in the UK, and ‘The Long And Winding Road’, which wasn’t even released as a single there.
A compilation such as this will never be the last word on the subject. After all, stunning album tracks such as ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ or ‘A Day In The Life’, and b-sides (‘Rain’, ‘I Am The Walrus’) often eclipsed the quality of the million-selling 7″ singles.
It’s also worth remembering that, during the 1960s, The Beatles were in the habit of putting out albums without lifting any singles from them, so With The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and The Beatles (White Album) remain unrepresented.
As an introduction to the world’s most successful band in history, though, 1 is packed full with essential moments, and anyone unfamiliar with The Beatles’ output could find many worse places to start.
1 was released worldwide on 13 November 2000 on compact disc and cassette. A vinyl edition was initially available only in the United Kingdom.
The compilation was hugely successful, topping the album charts in more than 35 countries. It was the highest-selling album of the whole decade. The album sold 13.8 million copies worldwide in 2000, and was the fourth best-selling album behind Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did It Again, and Santana’s Supernatural.
In the US, 1 charted at number one on the Billboard 200, with sales of more than 595,000 copies. It spent eight non-consecutive weeks at the top of the chart, and sold 1,258,667 copies in the week before Christmas. In the year 2000 1 was the sixth best-selling US album, with 5,100,000 copies sold.
In the UK the album became The Beatles’ 15th number one album, selling 319,126 copies in the first week. It became 2000’s best-selling album in just five weeks. 1 remains the band’s second best-selling album in the UK, behind Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
1 was also the year’s biggest-selling album in Australia, Italy, and Sweden. In 2001 it was the top seller in Austria and the USA. It also topped the albums charts in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.
On 15 September 2015 it was announced that a new edition of 1 would be reissued in November 2015, containing remixed versions of the songs, as well as CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray editions containing new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes, and a two-disc, 180-gram vinyl edition to follow.
A special deluxe edition, titled 1+, contains a second bonus disc of 23 videos, containing alternative versions, rare videos and TV appearances. Four of the videos feature exclusive audio commentary or filmed introductions by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The deluxe edition also includes a 124-page hardback book.
The promotional films were digitally restored from the original 35mm negatives scanned in 4K, with audio produced from the original analogue tapes by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios.