In the early eighties, it was discovered that the twentieth anniversary of the Beatles' first single "Love Me Do/ P.S. I Love You" was imminent. EMI was ready to mark the occasion by releasing a double LP containing all of the 22 British singles (including the 4 double "A" singles) brining the total to 26 songs spread over two discs. This double LP was to be called "The Beatles Greatest Hits" (very original !!) and white label pressings were made. The project even issued a catalogue number of EMTVS34. The product was to be heavily advertised on television. The double LP was supposed to be released on October 11 1982 (six days after the anniversary of the first single) but was scrapped in favour of a single LP with the A-sides. I'm sure the double LP would have been a massive seller but the record company (in their infinite wisdom) were afraid that the double LP would be compared to the earlier 1973 double LP (The Beatles 1962/1966 and 1967/ 1970). This was utterly ridiculous but...there you go.
Instead EMI released "20 Greatest Hits" as a single disc on Parlophone PCTC 260 on October 18 1982. The LP contained 20 songs from singles that reached the number one spot on the charts in chronological order. "Love Me Do" was also included and opened side one. "Love Me Do" and "She Loves You" are mono but the rest of the material is in stereo. "From Me To You" contains the stereo version with no harmonica intro and "I Feel Fine" has the stereo "whispering" version. The LP was released on the silver and black Parlophone label.
In North America, this LP was also released under the same name and a similar cover. This was released as Capitol SO-12245 in Canada and as Capitol SV-12245 in the United States. The front cover of the LP is different whereby the song titles are featured above the title of the LP on the UK version, the North American version does not feature the song titles - only the title of the LP and the "Beatles" graphic. It must also be noted that there is a difference on the Canadian and US versions of the back cover. The US version contains a barcode on the upper right side of the back cover whereas the Canadian version does not. The inner sleeve is the same for all version featuring a collage of various photographs of the Beatles put together by Chuck Ames.
There are track differences as well between the UK and North America. Six songs that are on the Capitol version but not the EMI version are: "Eight Days A Week", "Yesterday", "Penny Lane", "Come Together", "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road". Six songs that are on the Parlophone version but no the Capitol version are: "From Me To You", "Day Tripper", "Eleanor Rigby", "Yellow Submarine", "Lady Madonna" and "The Ballad Of John And Yoko". The North American version of this LP contained the material on both the purple Capitol labels as well as the re-issued Rainbow styl Capitol labels (for both Canada and the US). My personal copy of the Canadian Rainbow label version also had an invert for Beatles Books. Also noted is the fact that original purple label in the US had "Yesterday" timed on the label as 1:04 and was later changed to it's correct timing of 2:04.
Ironically, the LP stalled at number 50 in the US with a 28 week run. The UK LP did better with the highest position at number 09. My theory is that the public had been saturated in the US with numerous compilations over the past five years (1976-1981) as we have seen. A much better single package of greatest hits would be issued in 2000 with much better results (see post for the Beatles "1"). In the UK, The Beatles' "20 Greatest Hits" was the first UK LP not to contain album tracks.