The lack of the two greatest hits albums, 1962-66 and 1967-70, in the compact disc market has long been the greatest anomaly in thousands of CD collections. The legal wrangle over distribution of royalties and methods of packaging has also meant an expensive and unsatisfactory alternative for fans.
The only way of getting every track on CD is to buy the complete Beatles box set for more than pounds 200. Even then, they would be spread about on various albums and mini-compilations and not be in chronological order.
In the singles-dominated market of the Sixties, the group often released singles that did not appear on albums. These included classic mid-period songs such as 'Strawberry Fields Forever', 'Penny Lane' and 'All You Need Is Love'.
Tracks on the red and blue albums were selected by George Harrison 20 years ago and include all the Beatles' singles, many B sides and the odd LP track such as 'Eight Days A Week'.
EMI, which wanted to issue the CDs at Christmas 1991, were stopped by an injunction from the three surviving Beatles' company, Apple Corps, a veto that was upheld in the High Court. EMI refused to comment yesterday on the agreement. Apple would only confirm that 'a commercial deal with EMI' has been finalised. It is not yet known whether the two double albums will be released as one or two CDs.
Beatles letter, page 25