A Collection of Beatles Oldies (subtitled But Goldies!) is a compilation album by the English rock band the Beatles. Issued in the United Kingdom in December 1966, it features hit singles and other songs released by the group between 1963 and 1966. The compilation served as a stopgap release to satisfy EMI's demand for product during the Christmas period, since the Beatles had only begun the recording for their new studio album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, late the previous month. The album was the band's first official greatest hits collection.
A Collection of Beatles Oldies peaked at number 7 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also released in some other European countries and in Australia. The album was deleted from the Beatles' catalogue following the reissue of their albums on compact disc in 1987.
After completing their 1966 world tour in San Francisco on 29 August, the four members of the Beatles took a break from group activities for the next three months. John Lennon went to Almería in Spain to film a role in the comedy How I Won the War, while George Harrison travelled to India to further his sitar studies under the Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar. Ringo Starr spent time at home with his wife and child before briefly joining Lennon in Spain. Paul McCartney attended cultural events in London, worked on the film score to The Family Way with producer George Martin, and then holidayed in Europe and Kenya with Mal Evans, one of the Beatles' assistants. By early November, rumours in the press claimed that the group were breaking up, and alternatively, that they were to sever ties with their longtime manager, Brian Epstein, and instead be represented by Allen Klein. Fans of the band were disappointed by the announcement that the Beatles were not playing any UK shows over the Christmas period, and demonstrated in front of Epstein's home in central London.
The Beatles returned to work on 24 November, when they began the recording sessions for their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In late October, Epstein had informed EMI that, unlike in the previous three years, no new Beatles material would be ready in time for a Christmas release. As a result, the record company planned a compilation album, titled A Collection of Beatles Oldies (But Goldies!), for release in Britain and other territories overseen by EMI. Writing in 1977, author Nicholas Schaffner noted that it was surprising that EMI's US counterpart, Capitol Records, did not also issue the album, given the company's policy of maximising the amount of Beatles releases in North America.
Although an article in Melody Maker stated that the band would issue a new single in December, the only other scheduled release was the Beatles' annual fan-club Christmas record. A Collection of Beatles Oldies was the band's first official greatest-hits set and their eighth official album release in Britain.
A cover version of Larry Williams' "Bad Boy" was the sole new track for the UK market. It had already been released in the United States, on the Capitol album Beatles VI in June 1965. Most of the other songs had been issued as singles, and several tracks, including "Paperback Writer", were remixed in stereo for the new release. The compilation provided the debut album release in the UK for the following songs: "From Me to You", "I Feel Fine", "Day Tripper", "We Can Work It Out" and "Paperback Writer". The stereo mixing was carried out by Martin, with none of the Beatles present, between 31 October and 10 November 1966.
The album cover is a painting by artist David Christian, who captured the vibrant colours then popular in London's Carnaby Street fashion boutiques. The back of the LP sleeve featured a photograph of the Beatles taken by Robert Whitaker. The photo was taken in the Tokyo Hilton, where the band members were confined for much of their 1966 concert tour of Japan due to security concerns. The Beatles are shown inspecting objets d'art that the Japanese promoter had arranged to have brought to the group's hotel suite, on 1 and 2 July, to help fill the time before their shows at the Budokan Hall.
EMI's Parlophone label released A Collection of Beatles Oldies on 10 December 1966. The compilation reached number 7 on the UK Albums Chart, where all of the Beatles' previous albums had held the top position for a minimum of seven weeks. On the national chart published by Melody Maker, it peaked at number 4. Australia's retrospectively compiled Kent Music Report recorded a chart peak there of number 7.
The relatively poor commercial performance was perhaps because most fans already owned most of the tracks on other releases. Author Robert Rodriguez cites the blatant commercial motivation on EMI's part, since: "It must have been obvious to anyone paying attention that, given the low-rent design and their own oft-stated aversion to compilations, the Beatles had nothing to do with this project." Writing for Rough Guides, Chris Ingham describes it as a "fair, if safe, mid-career compendium". In his review for AllMusic, Richard Ginell contends that EMI were attempting to give fans value for their money, by offering sixteen songs instead of the usual quota of fourteen for a British LP release, one of which was the previously unissued track. Ginell rates the album three stars out of five and says that in retrospect, it stands as "a decent summing up of the Beatles' achievement just before the plunge into 'Strawberry Fields' and Sgt. Pepper".
For many years, A Collection of Beatles Oldies remained the only British album to contain the Beatles' version of "Bad Boy". Although briefly available on the Music for Pleasure budget label, it was superseded by subsequent compilations: the band's 1962–1966 greatest hits set, released in 1973, contained fifteen of the songs; the remaining track, "Bad Boy", was then included on the 1976 compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music. A Collection of Beatles Oldies was deleted from the Beatles' catalogue following the reissue of their albums on compact disc in 1987.
All songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney except where noted.