Tuesday, September 10, 2019
The Beatles: Complete BBC Sessions (1962-68)
If not the most cohesive listening experience among the Beatles' still-unissued recordings (though spacing it out sufficiently does give it that grace), this is surely the most essential and comprehensive bootleg that retains its value as an enormous chunk of professionally performed, well-recorded (and usually well-preserved) Beatles music that even casual fans will at least enjoy and that hardcore fans will find fascinating. There are several varying versions of this ten-disc collection out and about but the one I'm reviewing is the 2004 compilation by Purple Chick; my understanding is that slightly superior editions exist on the unauthorized internet marketplace, usually as free downloads, but the content across all variations should be more or less the same.
Basically, as you probably know if you're reading this, this eleven and a half hours of material is comprised of every surviving performance by the Beatles that was recorded for broadcast on the BBC, where they played dedicated sessions over fifty times from 1962 to 1965, though the overwhelming majority date from 1963, the defining year of their hectic career in Great Britain. As fans of this material well know, this was long an untapped goldmine for Beatles fans because not only are these unique and tight but also quite raw performances, they have the added benefit of mostly (though not always, and not entirely) being live Beatles recordings that usually don't have the distraction of an audience filled with screaming teenagers. Moreover, the Beatles varied their setlist considerably from the constraints of their stage show at the time, especially when they got their own series called Pop Go the Beatles for a season, allowing them to take deep dives on a great number of old Hamburg and Cavern Club favorites and some oddball new selections that were never recorded by the group at EMI. In total, the Beatles recorded 36 songs for the BBC that they never otherwise laid down professionally in a studio; all together, they played 88 different songs for the radio corporation in 275 distinct performances on 52 different broadcasts (often of established series like Saturday Club but sometimes dedicated specials for the Beatles).
So why on earth wasn't this wealth of material mined well before bootleggers began to have their way with it in the 1970s? The problem was the BBC's truly dire archival practices in the '60s, which meant that the masters of these invaluable performances were wiped, usually just after broadcast. As a result, most of the early bootlegs were created from home tapes that happened to be kept and located, and some such recordings still are the primary preservation method for a number of these shows, though thankfully several BBC backup tapes for network distribution were tracked down in the '80s and are the source for many of the official releases; Purple Chick has updated their copies accordingly (though you'll note that Apple's releases put out since 2004 tend to sound better than these) and maintain this mammoth set to be as consistent as can reasonably be expected; though the quality, especially early on, is sometimes lacking, the number of established BBC dates that the collection is actually missing is pleasingly scant.
Its value has been slightly diminished over the decades by the existence of a few official releases that have chipped away at its uniqueness, namely the nearly transcendent Live at the BBC, plus its sequel On Air and the enjoyable archive dump Bootleg Recordings 1963, as well as some fragments in Anthology 1 and the now-obscure 7" EP and promotional CD single for "Baby It's You." But that still leaves a number of gaps, some of which are unlikely ever to be approved for release for various reasons, and moreover, the official versions don't give you the full experience of sitting and listening to a full show with all of its songs and banter presented in their correct original sequence. Although the bootlegs are still missing some content from the broadcasts (namely, the performances of other artists that were originally interspersed, and the occasional playing of a record), the proper organization has a surprisingly modernist application now -- if you put on a Beatles BBC broadcast once a week you can pretend you're privy to this terrific band's regular podcast, and it's essentially the truth.
As noted, the bulk of Complete BBC Sessions -- really, the majority of the first seven discs -- dates from 1963, which is also the most extensively mined year of Beatles BBC music for official release; that's mostly because it's the only year for which Apple prepared a dedicated copyright extension release, and you can assume that the various scraps from '63 that remain unissued are nearly certain to stay that way forever. Before and after that date there's a greater proportion of intriguing material you can only hear "illegally," and some of it is fascinating, though in fairness it should be stated that most of the best BBC recordings are now available for anyone to hear quite easily from above-board sources. The Beatles' earliest BBC work predates their EMI contract and in fact predates Ringo Starr's replacement of Pete Best, while their presence at the Beeb was far more sporadic -- and, sadly, less cozy -- after they became a global act in 1964.
To review the contents of these ten discs, I'm going to quickly go over each of the surviving Beatles BBC programs and a listing of the (extant) broadcast songs. I'll have some general notes on each show overall and specific comments on performances that have not been released by Apple on any of the official CDs or downloads. On those instances when a song has been released, I will give the source. The date given is the date of recording, not the date of broadcast (which was usually days and sometimes weeks later). When possible I've tried to include a few details about the DJ or "compere," who in some cases (Brian Matthew, most famously) have a wonderful rapport with the band that comes through clearly in their interactions.
A general note on this set as a listening experience. At the very least, I suggest spreading it out disc by disc, but ideally you should hear the individual programs as each a distinct piece unto itself; I believe you'll get more out of the experience that way, and if you do so and you like the Beatles' early rock & roll material, going through this collection is a wonderful experience with a real sense of journey. There's great intrigue to hearing the band's early career in what amounts to "real time," as you witness the chit-chat around each single's rise to prominence and the band's increasing dominance of the national, then international, charts, as well as their considerable development as artists. There's a lot to learn from these discs, and a great deal to enjoy.
1962-03-07 Teenager's Turn: Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Memphis - Chuck Berry cover, never recorded at EMI. The recording is faint, Pete's drums are rough, but John's vocal is powerful.
2. Dream Baby - Roy Orbison cover, never recorded at EMI and no version officially released by the Beatles. A rudimentary stomp, Paul doing an Elvis impression, with Beatles "Big Beat" inappropriately applied perhaps but fascinating to hear.
3. Please Mr. Postman - Marvelettes cover, later recorded for With the Beatles; relatively unenthused, but it's crazy to hear this over a year before they recorded it for EMI. Lewisohn's book points out that this would have been the first time a Tamla-Motown song was played on the BBC.
- Notes: The Beatles' first national radio performance, arranged through the ingenious machinations of Brian Epstein and recorded before a very enthusiastic live audience in Manchester; incredibly, said audience wouldn't have been familiar with them prior to this, but the girls are already screaming. It's crucial to note the chronology here: this is two months past the infamous Decca audition and predates the first EMI session by three months, which means Pete Best still has nearly half a year left in the band. (In fact, this is so early that, while he's no longer in the band, Stuart Sutcliffe is still alive as it's being recorded.)
- This and the next BBC showcase are the only live-on-stage recordings of the band with Pete. It's overall a very promising performance with lots of personality, infinitely better than the Decca tape, and Best remembered its broadcast as a watershed moment of happiness for the group.
- One additional song, "Hello Little Girl," was played but not aired, so it very nearly would have been the first Lennon-McCartney song ever heard on the radio.
1962-06-11 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Ask Me Why - Eventually (November 1962) recorded as the b-side to the Beatles' second single, "Please Please Me," and then included on their debut LP. First BBC broadcast of a Beatles original, John coos but they don't sound like they're clicking with the song yet.
2. Besame Mucho - Famous 1940 song by Consuelo Velázquez, recorded by numerous artists with the Beatles' version inspired by the Coasters' novelty record, played by them at both Decca and EMI recording tests, the latter officially released in the '90s. More incoherent Pete rumbling, still a weird cover choice to which the band was curiously attached (not the last example we'd get of that).
3. A Picture of You - Joe Brown cover, big British hit. George vocal, audience handclaps; it swings a little but it's indistinct, with some unexpected stop-starts and a Paul scream or two.
- Notes: Though the audience for the second BBC show (still with Pete, also in Manchester) included a large number of Beatles fan club members, they sound less enamored on the recording we have, at least to me. It sounds like someone boos when Joe Brown's name is mentioned!? The performance isn't particularly interesting except vocally, and "Ask Me Why" is an excellent song but doesn't quite push over the top like it eventually would. There's still a touch of that Decca-level, suit-wearing tentativeness.
1962-10-25 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. A Taste of Honey - 1960 instrumental pop standard, based on the lyric version sung by Lenny Welch, later recorded for the Please Please Me LP. This is only a fragment, can't tell much.
- Notes: The first BBC broadcast with Ringo in the band. Three songs were broadcast (four played) but this is all that still exists.
1963-01-16 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Chains - Cover of a song by the rather obscure girl group the Cookies, of whom the Raelettes were a subsequent offshoot, recorded by the Beatles for Please Please Me a month after this. Very hard to hear the band, sounds like a club performance; Paul's bass is very prominent for some reason. They're clearly a lot tighter.
2. Please Please Me - The band's first huge hit, which had been released five days before this recording was made. John overdoes it on the falsetto a bit here, sounds like shit on the tape! But they're all in on this song and he's otherwise pretty vicious.
3. Ask Me Why - The second extant BBC performance of the b-side to "Please Please Me," first with Ringo. A big improvement from last year, John is over-miked but shows a lot of passion.
- Notes: The recording quality and the fact that 2/3 songs are incomplete keeps this from being as valuable as it would be otherwise, especially because we have a much better record of them playing just a week later.
1963-01-22 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Some Other Guy [released on Bootleg '63]
2. Love Me Do [Bootleg '63]
3. Please Please Me - Second BBC performance of this song. Just a fragment, with a jarring cut in the middle of the song, unfortunate because from what we can tell it's a good performance.
4. Keep Your Hands Off My Baby [Live at the BBC]
5. Beautiful Dreamer [On Air]
- Notes: One of three programs the band recorded at the BBC on this day; only a fraction of the work overall survives but this show is complete. It's tinny but quite clear, a huge improvement on all previous selections sonically; "Love Me Do" is preceded by a statement that Beatles fans are now mostly in Liverpool but "soon" will be all over the country. They sound great here overall, bluesy and loose except "Please Please Me" which sounds very well-oiled. "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" is a tad longer than on the official CD here, with a nice coda. This performance overall is particularly interesting because it catches them on a good night just before they recorded their first album. "Some Other Guy" has considerable punk swagger here.
- Three songs never recorded for EMI: "Some Other Guy," "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" and a very strange arrangement of "Beautiful Dreamer."
1963-01-22 The Talent Spot [live audience; host: Gary Marshall]
1. Ask Me Why - Third extant BBC version of the b-side to "Please Please Me," released just over a week before this. Very distorted (especially vocals), can't tell much; sounds like the song is a little quickened, or maybe the recording is the wrong speed. George never misses a bit with that closing guitar.
- Notes: Two other songs -- "Some Other Guy" and "Please Please Me" -- were broadcast but don't survive.
1963-03-06 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Misery [On Air]
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret [Bootleg '63]
3. Please Please Me [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: This entire broadcast has been officially released (they also performed "I Saw Her Standing There" but it wasn't broadcast); the emcee notes that the songs are from the band's forthcoming first LP, soon to be released (on March 22nd, having been recorded in early February). This has the only live (with audience) versions of "Misery" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on tape anywhere.
1963-03-16 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There [Bootleg '63]
2. Misery - Second BBC tape of this song. EMI version released a week afterward on the Please Please Me album; introduced as a song written for Kenny Everett, and an excuse for promoting the LP here. Lots of echo and a slightly slower, "jauntier" tempo.
3. Too Much Monkey Business - Chuck Berry cover, never recorded at EMI. Guitar is a little high in the mix but John's vocal on this is brutal and relentless, at least in the verse. Pretty elaborate George solo too; I still can't figure out what John is saying instead of "for me to be involved in" on his performances of this song.
4. I'm Talking About You [On Air]
5. Please Please Me - Fourth BBC tape of this song. George is having guitar troubles.
6. The Hippy Hippy Shake - Chan Romero cover, long a stage staple and one of the Beatles' live signatures in the pre-EMI days along with "Some Other Guy." This take is an oddly intimate arrangement heavy on guitar interplay (drums are buried) but kind of cool.
- Notes: One of the messier, thus more intriguing 1963 shows, dating from just after John was out with sore throat, as directly noted -- he just rejoined last night. Kind of funny that they play "I Saw Her Standing There" shortly before "I'm Talking About You," blatant source of the former's bassline.
- "I'm beginning to see why nobody could exist on the same stage as this act" says the DJ, and not incorrectly. The band was in the middle of slowly coming to dominate a tour on which they were opening for Chris Montez and Tommy Roe.
1963-04-03 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. From Me to You - Very early performance of this eventual #1 single, eight days out from release (it was recorded at EMI a month earlier) and still "hoping" it will be a hit. It sounds a little stilted and boring, rather like the record. There's a Gerry Marsden intro for some reason, hamming it up and self-promoting.
- Notes: Versions of "Please Please Me" and "Misery" don't survive, nor does a sequence in which John and Paul reviewed new records.
1963-04-18 Swinging Sound '63 [live audience; hosts: George Melly & Rolf Harris]
1. Twist and Shout - Isley Brothers cover and the climax of the Please Please Me LP. A lively performance; it's surprising that it's not officially released, maybe because George hits a bum note on the bridge.
2. From Me to You - Third BBC tape of this song. The first of many examples of performances of this being better than the single, if only slightly here; it's just more enthusiastic... some tape glitches though.
- Notes: Recorded at the Royal Albert Hall. Paul met Jane Asher during the aftermath of this performance.
1963-04-01 Side by Side [Purple Chick breaks chronology here to keep discs even; host: John Dunn]
1. Long Tall Sally [Bootleg '63]
2. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
3. Chains [Bootleg '63]
4. Thank You Girl - B-side of the Beatles' third single, "From Me to You," which was ten days from release. Tape glitches are probably the main reason this is the only cut that hasn't been released from this show; it's a serviceable rendition, and the only original at the session. Also, John sings "that's the kind of love that seems too good to be true" here -- a touch of optimism??
5. Boys [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: This is well before the canon recording of "Long Tall Sally," which wouldn't see release until June 1964.
- John tells the Flaming Pie story in a stupid voice. Paul says "A Taste of Honey" is "a great favorite of me Auntie Gin's."
- Overall a jaunty, spirited performance; John and George don't even sound bored on "A Taste of Honey." Nice skit when Dunn asks who does arranging, composing, etc. and they all say they did. They play the Side by Side theme song too but there's only a fragment.
1963-05-21 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Second BBC tape of this song, first track on the first LP. Muffled but propulsive. Afterward George reads a letter in which Peggy Lucas of Matlock asks the Beatles to play "anything."
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret [Bootleg '63]
3. Boys - Third BBC tape of this Shirelles cover recorded for EMI on Please Please Me; a pretty loose version, sounds like the rhythm guitar isn't miked until the bridge? And Ringo is off-tempo vocally!
4. Long Tall Sally - Second BBC tape of this Little Richard cover, which would be recorded for EMI a year later. A quick, extremely fast (over-fast) version; Paul says "bald headed Sally" (the correct line) here. Atypically terrible drums from Ringo.
5. From Me to You [Bootleg '63]
6. Money - Barrett Strong cover, recorded at EMI starting two months later for With the Beatles. A very early take on this, already much improved from the performance at Decca in January 1962, and edging gradually toward the master version; mediocre recording quality is probably the only reason it didn't make any of the official releases.
- Notes: That fast version of "Do You Want to Know a Secret" is quite strong, with George really getting into singing the hell out of it. "Long Tall Sally" and "Money" at the time were non-EMI songs but of course would later be recorded at Abbey Road.
1963-05-21 Steppin' Out [live audience; host: Diz Disley]
1. Please Please Me - Fifth BBC tape of this song. Terrible quality, badly distorted, but it's a very enthusiastic performance if you can hear under all that.
2. I Saw Her Standing There - Third BBC tape of this song. The problems continue here; apart from the weak solo, a good performance too.
- Notes: This is a dreadful recording but seems like they were in a groove, and just 45 minutes after laying down the previous BBC program!
1963-05-24 Pop Go the Beatles #1 [host: Lee Peters]
1. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Pre-EMI take on this Carl Perkins song eventually (Oct. 1964) recorded for Beatles for Sale at EMI. This tape is heavily distorted and distant, but actually more "countrified" than the master.
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret - Third BBC tape of this Please Please Me track. This song gets faster and more rollicking every time; it's not even a ballad anymore at this point. Also, two George songs in a row!?
3. You Really Got a Hold on Me [Bootleg '63]
4. The Hippy Hippy Shake [Bootleg '63]
5. Misery - Third BBC tape of this song; a pretty bouncy version, hey did you ever notice the irony of this jolly number being called "Misery"!?!?!
- Notes: First in a 15-episode BBC series conceived by corporation employee Vernon Lawrence that was devoted exclusively to the Beatles and guests, and this is where their song choices and arrangements get really interesting; this debut episode starts the tradition of "deep cuts" with just two songs that were then offered on the Beatles' EMI releases.
- They recorded a Big Beat-styled "Pop Go the Weasel" theme tune that's pretty dumb, but hey, it's kind of a lost song. "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" is a pre-EMI version (the song would be laid down at Abbey Road in July) and subtly electrifying.
1963-06-01 Pop Go the Beatles #2 [host: Lee Peters]
1. Too Much Monkey Business [Bootleg '63]
2. I Got to Find My Baby [Live at the BBC]
3. Young Blood [Live at the BBC]
4. Till There Was You [Bootleg '63]
5. Baby, It's You [Live at the BBC/Baby It's You EP]
6. Love Me Do - This had lost its status as a live staple -- to the extent it ever was -- by this point, and they sound rusty on it! Paul almost cracks up at one point. Lots of guitar.
- Notes: It was always the Beatles' aim to use Pop Go to bring back their eclectic, rock & roll-oriented setlists from the pre-EMI days and this is a great example of them immediately starting to fulfill that promise.
- Almost all of this has been released; it was apparently a hell of a great day, with even more distinct songs recorded than at the Please Please Me session (see also next show).
- "Young Blood" has a flub from George after "better leave my daughter alone."
- John just feels every bit of "Baby It's You," and it gets a perfect solo and ending; it's too bad they didn't play it more.
1963-06-01 Pop Go the Beatles #3 [host: Lee Peters]
1. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues [Bootleg '63]
2. Memphis - Second BBC tape of this Chuck Berry cover, unrecorded at EMI, the previous one having been from the Beatles' very first BBC performance with Pete Best on drums. There seems to be a bit of echo on John's voice. The influence of Lonnie Mack's cover version is obvious in the guitars. There's a lot of rumbling, the good kind, from Ringo. Unfortunately we have weird issues here with the tape source; the song changes tone completely during the bridge.
3. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
4. Sure to Fall [Live at the BBC]
5. Money [Bootleg '63]
6. From Me to You - Fifth BBC tape of the then-most recent Beatles single. A fairly rudimentary performance but not bad, not sure why it's unreleased.
- Notes: The bulk of this has also been released over the years though most of it is on the archival record rather than either of the commercial BBC discs.
- No repeat songs across the first 3 Pop Go the Beatles episodes.
- Across several programs, there are comments on the mountain of requests from fans for "From Me to You."
- "Money" was still almost two months away from being laid down at EMI.
- There's a long-lived mystery of why the Beatles played "A Taste of Honey" so much at the BBC. Nothing else to say, really, I just had to mention it.
1963-06-19 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. Some Other Guy [Live at the BBC]
2. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
3. Thank You Girl [Live at the BBC]
4. From Me to You - Sixth BBC tape of this song. The official release compilers apparently were as cool on this selection as I am; this is actually a pretty good version, tight and fast, and John's practically shouting through it.
- Notes: Aside from the Cavern performances from 1962, a good chance to hear onetime Beatles signature "Some Other Guy" in high quality. Also, the only live (with an audience) version of "Thank You Girl" that exists on tape.
- Recorded the day after John beat the living shit out of Bob Wooler, allegedly because Wooler implied John and Brian Epstein were having an affair. Perhaps this is some clue why Lennon sounds so oddly aggressive on "From Me to You"?
1963-04-04 Side by Side [another chronological break from Purple Chick; host: John Dunn]
1. Too Much Monkey Business - Second BBC tape of this song has John killing it once again, the band a little quieter, and a great scream before the solo.
2. Boys - Second BBC tape of "Ringo's one and only song." A slightly lackluster performance, the solo cuts out and flails, though Ringo sounds good.
3. I'll Be on My Way [Live at the BBC]
4. From Me to You - Second BBC tape of this brand new song, restrained but rocking pretty hard; they're very tight on a cut that was once demanding a lot of them.
- Notes: They sing the Side by Side theme song again, and here it's complete.
- This precedes Billy J. Kramer's release of "I'll Be on My Way" -- the only Lennon-McCartney original the Beatles recorded at the BBC but not EMI -- by a couple of weeks. George is too hoarse to sing and demonstrates by trying to sing "From Me to You" before "I'll Be on My Way," which incidentally is ever so slightly shorter on this bootleg than on the official release, resulting in two extra seconds total.
1963-06-17 Pop Go the Beatles #4 [host: Lee Peters]
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Fourth BBC tape of this song. The tape is badly degraded and hissing, though the performance is very audible and solid.
2. Anna (Go to Him) [Bootleg '63]
3. Boys [Baby It's You EP/On Air]
4. Chains [On Air]
5. P.S. I Love You [On Air]
6. Twist and Shout - Second BBC tape of this song and a rawer than usual performance, John really working the vocal; he finds a new bit of soulful melody on "twist it little girl." There's also prominent bass, which is pleasing. I'm surprised this one isn't officially out there.
- Notes: Strange jazz chord at the end of "P.S. I Love You." A lot of letters get read out in this episode which are kind of funny, especially if you have Google Maps handy; I assume Lewisohn has looked up all these people?
1963-06-24 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Got to Find My Baby [Bootleg '63]
2. Memphis - Third BBC tape of this song, has a distant transistor-radio sound that's weirdly appealing. First of many inexplicable mentions of "Harry and His Box" on Beatles BBC programs, and to this day I don't think anyone knows what that means.
3. Money - Third BBC tape of this song, still a month ahead of its EMI recording. Dreadful quality on this one though, probably not releasable, but you can make out a good performance.
4. Till There Was You - Second BBC tape of this song from The Music Man, popularized by Peggy Lee, which the Beatles had been playing for some time (it was trotted out at Decca and is audible on the Star Club tape) and would bring to EMI for With the Beatles a month after this. Paul is doing some jazz phrasing shit on the vocal here. Poor tape quality continues but this sounds better than "Money."
5. From Me to You - Seventh BBC tape of this song, pretty much the average performance of what was then The Hit.
6. Roll Over Beethoven [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: Not a bad show but not very memorable either. The first track (finally released in 2013) is by far the best; the "Roll Over Beethoven" sounds pretty rough, though I like the barroom vocals at the end.
1963-07-03 The Beat Show [live audience; host: Gay Byrne]
1. A Taste of Honey - Fifth BBC tape of this song, in awful quality, with wow and flutter etc.
2. Twist and Shout - Third BBC tape of this song. A pity the sound quality is so bad because this sounds like a downright thunderous performance.
- Notes: The growing frenzy of the audience compared to the last time they did a live recorded performance is very obvious.
- A performance of "From Me to You" has been lost.
- Bernard Herrmann served as conductor on this program!
1963-07-02 Pop Go the Beatles #5 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. That's All Right [Live at the BBC]
2. There's a Place - Highlight of the Please Please Me LP. This sounds rough because of the tape but what an enthuiastic vocal performance! We don't have any non-BBC "live" versions of this, which is why they sound a bit loose here presumably (though one of the BBC takes has an audience) so it's great to hear the broadcast versions.
3. Carol [Live at the BBC]
4. Soldier of Love [Live at the BBC]
5. Lend Me Your Comb [Anthology 1/On Air]
6. Clarabella [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: this was heavily DNR'd on the Apple release, so you can hear lots of distortion on the boot, but it's one of the Beatles' most spectacular live performances regardless. As would soon be tradition for Pop, only one EMI Beatles song is played here.
1963-07-17 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Fifth BBC tape of this song. The recording quality is pretty bad again, but they sound fine of course. Really good solo from George.
2. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues - Second BBC tape of this Arthur Alexander song, never recorded for EMI. It's very interesting to hear a track like this in front of an audience!
3. There's a Place - Second BBC tape of this song and the only "live" (with audience) performance of it of which we have recorded evidence. John hits a couple of bum notes.
4. Twist and Shout - Fourth BBC tape of this song. Stabbing guitar lines during the instrumental break!
- Notes: A solid enough band performance, maybe a little uneasy, but the tape quality wrecks it for anyone except hardcore fans.
1963-07-10 Pop Go the Beatles #6 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Sweet Little Sixteen [Live at the BBC]
2. A Taste of Honey [Live at the BBC]
3. Nothin' Shakin' [Live at the BBC]
4. Love Me Do [Live at the BBC]
5. Lonesome Tears in My Eyes [Live at the BBC]
6. So How Come (No One Loves Me) [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: One of several extraordinary episodes of this recorded within the same week, and little wonder it was issued in its entirety (save banter) in 1994. "Sweet Little Sixteen" sounds better here than on the official release but don't ask me why. This whole disc (disc 4) of the PC set is fabulous.
- The Beatles seem to have had the time of their lives making the setlists for these performances. Goodness gracious they were a thundering raucous band.
1963-07-10 Pop Go the Beatles #7 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Memphis [Live at the BBC]
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret [On Air]
3. Till There Was You [On Air]
4. Matchbox [Live at the BBC]
5. Please Mr. Postman [On Air]
6. The Hippy Hippy Shake [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: "Memphis" was either slowed down for the 1994 CD or is sped up here. "Do You Want to Know a Secret" is so fast here (but is on the CD too), as if they are breaking their necks to get through it, which is how the song usually came off at these shows!
- Pre-EMI "Till There Was You" (laid down at Abbey Road a week later), "Please Mr. Postman" (three weeks later) and "Matchbox" (a full year later).
- Only one then-canon Beatles song here.
- I just realized they used maybe the worst version of "Hippy Hippy Shake" for the Apple release (and it's still terrific).
1963-07-16 Pop Go the Beatles #8 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You) [Live at the BBC]
2. Crying, Waiting, Hoping [Live at the BBC]
3. Kansas City [Live at the BBC]
4. To Know Her Is to Love Her [Live at the BBC]
5. The Honeymoon Song [Live at the BBC]
6. Twist and Shout [On Air]
- Notes: The Beatles recording an astonishing three programs on this same day. This is another with an intriguing, wildly unorthodox setlist; only "Twist and Shout" among these songs was then an EMI cut, which is quite a bold choice. ("Kansas City" would be added to the canon almost a year and a half later.) "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry," "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" and "To Know Her Is to Love Her" are three of the greatest Beatles performances not on their actual records, and "The Honeymoon Song" is one of the oddest.
1963-07-16 Pop Go The Beatles #9 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Long Tall Sally [Live at the BBC]
2. Please Please Me [On Air]
3. She Loves You - The Beatles had just recorded this at EMI on July 1st and it wouldn't be released as their fourth single until the 23rd of August. Uneven volume and tempo on this and a vocal flub (John and Paul go flat a lot); a slightly clunky performance, maybe to be expected.
4. You Really Got a Hold on Me - Second BBC tape of this transcendent Miracles cover, which they began recording at EMI two days later. Someone writes in a death threat ("a package that ticks, and it won't be a clock")! George's vocal is miked heavily here. It's a lovely version as usual. Notice heavy echo on "tighter."
5. I'll Get You - The b-side to "She Loves You," poised for release soon. An especially enthusiastic version, surprisingly unreleased unless it's because of too much level on Lennon's guitar (but I actually like that).
6. I Got a Woman [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: The audience (?) is becoming self-aware with such vicious bon mots directed at Burke as "We believe you write all of the requests. We believe you wrote this!"
1963-07-16 Pop Go the Beatles #10 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. She Loves You - repeat of the preformance from episode #9.
2. Words of Love [On Air]
3. Glad All Over [Live at the BBC]
4. I Just Don't Understand [Live at the BBC]
5. Devil in Her Heart [Baby It's You EP]
6. Slow Down [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: At time of broadcast, "She Loves You" was just released and on the verge of charting explosively. "Words of Love" (in poor quality compared to the eventual official release of that performance) and "Slow Down" are well ahead of EMI versions, both by a year or more. The requests pour in, sometimes for non-Beatles songs bizarrely. "Slow Down" has an almost Pete Best-like rumbling rhythm!
1963-07-30 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Long Tall Sally - Fourth BBC tape of this song, still pre-EMI but they knew this one back to front regardless. Horrendous quality, barely even audible.
2. She Loves You - Second BBC tape of this song is also washed out, can scarcely be heard; it's multiple generations away from whatever source exists, and apparently Apple doesn't have a good one either. My wife Amber says it sounds like they're "gargling blood" on this tape.
3. Glad All Over [On Air]
4. Twist and Shout - Sixth BBC tape of this song preceded by another Harry & His Box reference: "is this the box? We must remember to ask Harry." The tape improves here. Not sure why this isn't out unless it's because John sounds listless and like his voice is torn to pieces.
5. You Really Got a Hold on Me [Live at the BBC]
6. I'll Get You - Second BBC tape of this song is actually a sweet, full-throated version that takes the slight characteristic of a barroom singalong.
- Notes: The first part of this program is terrible quality; the rest is apparently sourced from an archival BBC telecast in the '90s.
1963-08-01 Pop Go the Beatles #11 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Ooh! My Soul [Live at the BBC]
2. Don't Ever Change [Live at the BBC]
3. Twist and Shout - Seventh BBC tape of this song. Weird guitar arrangement, sounds like chiming acoustic here, and John still sounds totally fucked.
4. She Loves You - Third BBC tape of this song but just a fragment. Afterward, Burke reads a letter addressed to him: "We hate you, you never crack a joke and you pay them to laugh at you."
5. Anna (Go to Him) [On Air]
6. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: First of two programs recorded this day. Paul destroys the Little Richard song ("Ooh! My Soul"). Overall one of the weaker episodes though, not least because a chunk of it is missing and another bit of it sounds awful here. ("Anna" improves on official release.)
1963-08-01 Pop Go the Beatles #12 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. From Me to You - Eighth BBC tape of this song is washed out and hard to hear, thanks to both bad broadcast and bad tape quality.
2. I'll Get You - Ditto with the third BBC tape of this song, although it does have a nice loud bass sound!
3. Money - Fourth BBC tape of this song just days after it was recorded at EMI, oddly enough requested... in a letter from "two John lovers." The sound quality is pretty bad still and the arrangement isn't totally polished just yet.
4. There's a Place [On Air]
5. Honey Don't [Live at the BBC]
6. Roll Over Beethoven [On Air]
- Notes: "Honey Don't" of course heard here well over a year before the EMI version, with John's lead vocal rather than Ringo. Others are good once the thing gets going. "Roll Over Beethoven," which they'd just recorded at EMI, is a request from "Shep the Sheepdog!"
1963-09-03 Pop Go the Beatles #13 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Too Much Monkey Business [Live at the BBC]
2. Love Me Do [Bootleg '63]
3. She Loves You [Bootleg '63]
4. I'll Get You [Bootleg '63]
5. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
6. The Hippy Hippy Shake [On Air]
- Notes: First of three Pop episodes (the last three) recorded this day. Heavily mined of course, and highly slick versions of all these songs. Fall 1963 was the peak of their tightness/professionalism as a live act. A version of "Till There Was You" is set up but is apparently missing. John's freakout when reading letters is fun.
1963-09-03 Pop Go the Beatles #14 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Chains [Bootleg '63]
2. You Really Got a Hold on Me [Bootleg '63]
3. Misery - Fourth BBC tape of this song; slightly mediocre quality tape, sounds a little distant but I like how lively the band seems to be here.
4. Lucille [On Air]
5. From Me to You - Ninth BBC tape of this song, requested in the midst of an apology for the "mean fans" who complained last week. A pretty typical performance, vocals mixed way above the instruments; it actually sounds a lot like the record. Also: people want George to say "brackets."
6. Boys [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: Wildly bizarre guitar solo on "Lucille" here, plus some of Ringo's most incredible drumming and a perfect vocal from Paul.
1963-09-03 Pop Go the Beatles #15 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. She Loves You - repeat of the performance from episode #13
2. Ask Me Why [On Air]
3. Devil in Her Heart [On Air]
4. I Saw Her Standing There [Bootleg '63]
5. Sure to Fall [On Air]
6. Twist and Shout [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: The last episode of the series with a lot of manufactured dismay at this fact, when really it was only ending because the band were going to be too busy to continue. It's startling to consider it was all over before JFK was shot, and of course before they had an inkling of forthcoming popularity in America.
- What a sweet, lovely performance of "Ask Me Why."
- They thank "Rodney, for being a good help throughout the 49 weeks." They sing to each other at the conclusion and it's goofy.
1963-09-07 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There [On Air]
2. Memphis [On Air]
3. Happy Birthday Dear Saturday Club [On Air]
4. I'll Get You [On Air]
5. She Loves You [On Air]
6. Lucille [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: Saturday Club's fifth birthday show. The comment "paying tribute to the Everlys," which made it to the intro of "Lucille" -- a Little Richard song, though the Everly Brothers did cover it -- on Live at the BBC finally makes sense! (They were guests on this episode.) "She Loves You" has an excellent "woo!" toward the end.
1963-10-16 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There [Live at the BBC]
2. Love Me Do [Bootleg '63]
3. Please Please Me [Bootleg '63]
4. From Me to You [On Air]
5. She Loves You [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: The final BBC show before an audience, apparently because of safety concerns (the crowd here is positively manic).
- The concept, as explained by Brian Matthew, is a runthrough (after the intro) of all the Beatles' big hits of "the past twelve months" since they hit "the show business jackpot" so there's an interesting linear quality to the performance.
- "Love Me Do" already sounds... old! This is the last time the Beatles would ever play it, aside from a goofing off at the Get Back sessions.
- The Royal Variety Performance is announced.
- Matthew, in response to the shrill crowd reaction: "All I can say is Alfred Hitchcock's Birds have got nothing on you lot." That was a very contemporary reference at the time! (The Birds had premiered in London a month earlier, after an American release earlier in 1963.)
1963-10-09 The Ken Dodd Show [live audience; PC chronology broken again]
1. She Loves You - Super distorted and hard to hear. You can tell they were extremely tight on this cut though.
- Notes: The only song they played on this night, as this was primarily a sketch comedy show starring fellow Liverpool favorite son Dodd.
1963-12-17 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. This Boy [On Air]
2. I Want to Hold Your Hand [Bootleg '63]
3. Till There Was You [Bootleg '63]
4. Roll Over Beethoven [Bootleg '63]
5. She Loves You - repeat of the 9/7/63 performance
- Notes: "All My Loving" is listed but is just a clip of the studio version.
- Obviously winding down on their once-breathless BBC schedule (by necessity); it was two months since their last appearance. Interestingly, perhaps as a result of this hiatus George feels a need to re-explain the concept that the Beatles are going to be actually playing in the studio... though the trotting out of the master of "All My Loving" probably has something to do with that.
- There's some additional singing/performing here of "All I Want for Christmas" and something called "Crimble Medley" of their hits plus "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," which was probably put together for the then-forthcoming Christmas stage show. They also change the novelty "All I Want for Christmas Is a Beatle" to "All I Want for Christmas Is a Bottle," predating a bad Comedy Central pun (referring to Joel Hodgson as "the fifth bot-tle" for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 promo) by three decades.
- The Christmas-related goofing around is quite charming. It's strange to hear them in the brief window between the release of With the Beatles (and the JFK assassination) and their explosion in America, which was about ten days away from kicking off.
- Overall a solid performance; what a long way they'd come in two years. Or one year, even.
1963-12-18 From Us to You #1 [host: Rolf Harris (!)]
[From Us to You theme] - this version interrupted by Rolf Harris chatting
1. She Loves You [Bootleg '63]
2. All My Loving [Bootleg '63]
3. Roll Over Beethoven [Bootleg '63]
4. Till There Was You [Bootleg '63]
5. Boys - Sixth BBC tape of this song. Nice swinging performance here, with Ringo really into it; not sure why this wasn't released unless it's the deviation from the usual structure of his vocal.
6. Money [On Air]
7. I Saw Her Standing There - Eighth BBC tape of this song; also a perfectly good, raucous, nicely loose performance.
8. Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport - Cover of a novelty number by host Rolf Harris, with his own contributions. As a result of his child sexual abuse allegations uncovered in the 2010s, this will never be released. Also it sucks. And blatant self promotion from Rolf.
9. I Want to Hold Your Hand [On Air]
[From Us to You theme]
- Notes: Instead of another weekly series like Pop Go the Beatles, the band's next close collaboration with the BBC was an irregular run of specials starting with this one, broadcast on Boxing Day.
- It's now unreleaseable due to the hosting duties of Rolf Harris! Harris and Jimmy Savile, both of whom participated in the Christmas shows, are going to have to be wiped totally clean from the Beatles' early history. Harris is insufferable, too, and terribly unfunny. "All my love in" wtf.
- God Paul sings like an ass sometimes.
- George sounds sloppy as hell on "Roll Over Beethoven," but it's a lot more spirited than it was just one day earlier.
- On "Till There Was You" Paul loses a little of the remarkable swagger from yesterday (which may or may not be the best thing for the song) while George finally nails the goddamn solo that's been giving him trouble since Decca.
1964-01-07 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. All My Loving - Second BBC tape of what's been called the Beatles' first "standard," from With the Beatles. Note the arrangement change after the bridge on every live performance of this. This performance is nice, and would likely have been released if it weren't from 1964; that goes for a lot of stuff from here on out, where we finally encounter some excellent performances that haven't been put out officially.
2. Money - Sixth BBC tape of this song; nice pounding beat here.
3. The Hippy Hippy Shake - Fifth BBC tape of this song is a less bass-heavy and rollicking version, kind of minimal/punkish; afterward, there's nice discussion about the filming coming up.
4. I Want to Hold Your Hand - repeat of 12/17/63 performance
5. Roll Over Beethoven - Fifth BBC tape of this Chuck Berry number included on With the Beatles; there's unfortunate voiceover over the intro. George sounds rough and under-rehearsed, John's rhythm guitar line is chk-chk-chk weirdness. Glad they don't do the weird rumbling under the "glow-worm/spinning-top" lines anymore. This is the finalized arrangement I reckon.
6. Johnny B. Goode [Live at the BBC]
7. I Wanna Be Your Man - Ringo-centric rocker, finally replacing "Boys" as his usual staple, from With the Beatles; the intro mentions the Stones' version, which was that band's first single. Someone's sister Pam requested it!! Ringo sounds breathless: "tell me / thatcha / love me / baby!!" In the outro, he closes us out by sarcastically muttering "that's fine."
- Notes: I never actually liked this performance of "Johnny B. Goode"; it sounds so listless... otherwise this is a nice moment of the Beatles in the absolute eye of the storm, on the verge of the biggest year of their lives, while the residency of Christmas shows was still in the midst of happening!
1964-02-28 From Us to You #2 [host: Alan Freeman]
[From Us to You] [Live at the BBC]
1. You Can't Do That - The b-side of "Can't Buy Me Love," which had just been recorded a few days earlier but would be released by the time this program was actually broadcast. It's a really interesting version, a tad listless, with John's timing slightly off -- but it's still cool to hear them play this so soon after it was laid down; and George does pretty well on the solo (one of his best in the studio) actually.
2. Roll Over Beethoven [Live at the BBC]
3. Till There Was You [Live at the BBC]
4. I Wanna Be Your Man [Live at the BBC]
5. Please Mr. Postman - Third BBC tape of this Marvelettes classic included on With the Beatles, which was something of a live rarity. John's vocal is pretty wonderful. The denouement is soulful in a very different way from the master.
6. All My Loving [Live at the BBC]
7. This Boy - Second BBC tape of the b-side of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Closer, more unified harmonies on this version, more of a "wall of sound" vibe. It's quite terrific and is one of the best unreleased performances in the vaults; holy shit, does John soar on the bridge. This is a keeper.
8. Can't Buy Me Love [Live at the BBC]
[From Us to You] - rocks.
- Notes: The Beatles return to British radio after a transformative month in which they had all but literally conquered the U.S.
- "Can't Buy Me Love" b/w "You Can't Do That" wasn't released yet as of the recording date, was #1 by the time of telecast.
- Freeman is... playful! Lot of annoying dad jokes but also some good chemistry with the lads. John, re writing career: "well, I'm not blooming." They talk about how many songs will be in the film, with "Can't Buy Me Love" already planned for it.
- Someone asks for "Young Blood" but the Beatles refuse to play it!
- General note: the Beatles pretty much permanently changed the arrangement of "All My Loving" immediately after recording it, it seems.
1964-03-31 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Second BBC tape of this song, still half a year away from being recorded at EMI, and here is heard in an even more slowed-down country version! It's a slightly better, more playful (but also more Perkins-like) arrangement.
2. I Call Your Name - A song that had been sent to America for release but wouldn't be issued in Britain till the summer. Heard here with a double tracked vocal in a skeletal, bass-heavy version. It's really interesting to hear such an approach to the song despite bad reproduction quality. The weird reggae bridge makes it too, and a pretty nice transition out of it.
3. I Got a Woman [On Air]
4. You Can't Do That - Second BBC tape of this song, pushing the flipside of the hit. The overdubbing is very obvious -- which kind of gives it an interesting, time delayed vibe -- but they've gotten pretty tight on this one.
5. Can't Buy Me Love - Second BBC tape of this song, with awkward double track at beginning. Otherwise this is pretty much the single except really maxed-out and distorted by poor tape quality!
6. Sure to Fall - Second BBC tape of this cover of one of Carl Perkins' best songs, never recorded by the band at EMI. A more gentle, acoustic-driven version than the Live at the BBC take; I like the singing better on this one but I hate Ringo's weird skipping beat on the bridge. George fucks up the solo too.
7. Long Tall Sally - Fifth BBC tape of this classic that had finally been recorded at EMI at the beginning of the month and would be issued first in America, then on an EP in the UK in the summer. Furious Paul vocal here, as good as he ever sounded on this track.
- Notes: The Beatles were in the middle of filming A Hard Day's Night and hadn't played live in over a month. There's a bit of distortion on this, especially early on, but the performances are very tight and strong, though they're a lot more worked over than the older strictly live BBC recordings. It's cool that they're still doing exclusive non-EMI cuts at this point too.
- Brian Matthew thanks them for not forgetting the BBC while they were in America. You can sense how different things are now with this being a more infrequent affair, and it's really quite weird to hear them dedicating songs to individual people after becoming a global phenomenon.
- Paul describes the plot of the film. "It sounds dull, but I don't think it is."
1964-05-01 From Us to You #3 [host: Alan Freeman]
[From Us to You] - repeat of the performance from the previous edition
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Ninth BBC tape of this song; a nice, rocking version.
2. Kansas City - Second BBC tape of their cover of Little Richard's variant of this song. Also a very strong, rollicking performance; is the master the laziest version of this they ever recorded? (And i even like it!)
3. I Forgot to Remember to Forget [Live at the BBC]
4. You Can't Do That - Third BBC tape of this song; slightly rawer than the studio version, but basically identical otherwise.
5. Sure to Fall - Third BBC tape of the song is a marginally more muscular, John-dominant approach. Still with the stupid stuttering off-beat on the bridge though. Afterward: "I think you're disgusting" - Paul to DJ who asks him to send a "big juicy kiss" to a fan.
6. Can't Buy Me Love - Third BBC tape of the song, emphasis on slamming beat.
7. Matchbox - Second BBC tape of another Carl Perkins song, which they would record at EMI a month later; fun as usual, at last breaking the monotony of Ringo always singing "Boys."
8. Honey Don't - Second BBC tape of still another Carl Perkins song, still with John singing lead, which would be taken over by Ringo at the end of the year on Beatles for Sale. It's still fun to hear Lennon take it on even though it's so well suited to Ringo.
[From Us to You] - this disc of the PC set closes with the complete version from the official BBC CD.
- Notes: They also sing "Whit Monday to You," a stupid off the cuff song to the tune of Happy Birthday.
- No less than three Carl Perkins covers, and they'd done another at the last BBC session!
1964-07-14 Top Gear [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Long Tall Sally [On Air]
2. Things We Said Today [Live at the BBC]
3. A Hard Day's Night [Live at the BBC]
4. And I Love Her [On Air]
5. If I Fell [On Air]
6. You Can't Do That [On Air]
- Notes: "I Should Have Known Better" is listed but is just a fragment of the studio master. The bootleg has bad distortion on "You Can't Do That," improved on the official CD.
- Carl Perkins was a guest on this. There's a great promo in which the Beatles assail Brian Matthew for having a "posh voice."
- Weird crunchy guitar effect on "Long Tall Sally."
- Also contains one of the best bits of dialogue from Live at the BBC, in which Matthew discusses how "they used to have actors in films" and demonstrates his agility with Beatle banter.
- The solo from the recorded version of "A Hard Day's Night" is very awkwardly spliced in; and for more BBC wizardry, there's a double-tracking error on "And I Love Her."
- "Don't Pass Me By" is mentioned as the song Ringo is working on writing four full years before the White Album.
1964-07-17 From Us to You #4 [host: Don Wardell]
[From Us to You] - same as it ever was
1. Long Tall Sally - Seventh BBC tape of this song -- a more bare/skeletal version, which I kind of enjoy. It comes off as a tad raucous!
2. If I Fell - Second BBC tape of this song from the album and film, A Hard Day's Night; actually looser than it was just a few days earlier! Downright infectious in this guise.
3. I'm Happy Just to Dance with You - The only live version of any kind of this A Hard Day's Night selection that we have (though sessions reveal the vocal was recorded separately). It won't win any converts to the song (the romance of which I always loved), but the vocals sound great even though George flubs a couple lines.
4. Things We Said Today - Second BBC tape of the b-side from "A Hard Day's Night" sounds a bit distant -- super loud handclaps! -- but I like the double-track sound on Paul.
5. I Should Have Known Better - The only live performance of this AHDN selection too (but not really live, vocal/harmonica overdubbed). It's a very basic arrangement but lovely and John sings the hell out of it. Strange that this is the only time the Beatles played it outside Abbey Road.
6. Boys - Seventh BBC tape of this song; surprisingly, this was still in their regular repertoire at this late stage. Obviously they know it backwards and frontwards... which doesn't prevent George from playing a really odd (not bad) solo.
7. Kansas City - Third BBC tape of this which would've been the only non-EMI song at this session, though of course they were soon to record it for Beatles for Sale... so clearly this is a different arrangement than on the eventual recording, with a jauntier, more Perkins-like solo and a general resemblance more to Wilbert Harrison's record, though it does have Little Richard's new bridge. Paul gets kind of lost on the last minute but he's soulfully lost.
8. A Hard Day's Night - Second BBC tape of the new single and title song from the concurrent LP and film. Faster than the Top Gear version... and clearly better, especially because it has an actual (and quite competent) solo. Inexplicable that Apple went for the earlier version on the 1994 compact disc.
[From Us to You] - still bashing it out
- Notes: PC's disc includes recording sessions for this program.
- The Beatles probably aren't fond of this set because it's so unusually relaxed and messy (and heavily doctored), but this makes it one of the most fascinating Beatles performances of the period (they were somewhat out of practice, just out to promote LP/film).
- Cilla Black's "It's for You" is included for some reason (maybe just because it was a Lennon-McCartney song?).
- Wardell has a damned awful voice.
1964-11-17 Top Gear [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I'm a Loser [Live at the BBC]
2. Honey Don't [On Air]
3. She's a Woman [Live at the BBC]
4. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby [Live at the BBC]
5. I'll Follow the Sun [Baby It's You EP/On Air]
6. I Feel Fine [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" sounds almost exactly like the EMI master, about to be released.
- On Air also has outtake version of "I Feel Fine," rumored to be substituted at the last second for "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport."
- This program has the "Riding on a Bus" bit which is poignant in time context (with a few more jokes about Americans edited on the official release). There's also a lot of behind the scenes talk about Beatles for Sale.
- On "Honey Don't," we've got Ringo now!
- Weird skittering beat on the BBC version of "She's a Woman." "I Feel Fine" complete with feedback.
- As already noted, "I'll Follow the Sun" is lovely and better than the EMI version (but speed seems off here).
- Banter that's funny in context about "the b-side's better than the A-side" and "the people in Australia gave me a ring" and "when are you gonna get married, George?"
- Promotion of the Beatles Christmas Show (with Jimmy Savile).
1964-11-25 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Rock and Roll Music [Live at the BBC]
2. I'm a Loser - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
3. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
4. I Feel Fine - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
5. Kansas City [On Air]
6. She's a Woman - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
^ "Rock and Roll Music" swings a little here, with an interesting varying drum pattern. But it and "Kansas City" seem to be the only actual new performances for this episode of Saturday Club.
- The new film's going to be in color; "great choice," says Matthew.
- The performances are still good but the BBC stuff has really lost its excitement by this point. Recording session work on "I Feel Fine" is supplemented to the end here as well as a bit of the "single track vocal" version. Lennon calls the sound "crap."
1965-05-26 Ticket to Ride Special [host: Denny Piercy]
1. Ticket to Ride (short introductory version)
2. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Fourth BBC tape of this song; it's distorted but George is seemingly having fun.
3. I'm a Loser - Second BBC tape of this melancholic Beatles for Sale selection. "Beneath this wig I am wearing a tie": this is how John amuses himself. A fine version as usual despite bad tape quality.
4. The Night Before - The only outside-EMI version of this Help! track. Piercy talks over the beginning and the tape is bad still. John sounds exhausted on the backing vocal. There is an electric piano though!
5. Honey Don't - Fourth BBC tape of this song; Ringo's usual freeform approach.
6. Dizzy Miss Lizzy [Live at the BBC]
7. She's a Woman - Second BBC tape of the "I Feel Fine" b-side; "my love don't buy me presents," Paul sings, so John's not the only one who's over this.
8. Ticket to Ride [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: the last of the Bank Holiday specials, no longer labeled From Us to You at the band's insistence. Also the very last Beatles BBC program, and while "Ticket to Ride" sounds all right, it's really time.
- "One big question right now, the film." "That's not a question..."
- My question: why THESE songs? Some fairly rudimentary covers, a fairly musty b-side and only two Help! selections. Also, even the announcements are half-assed by this point. Weird to think this chapter of the story was ending when it's still early days in terms of their legacy.
The last disc of the PC set has a bit of extra interview material; 1965 brings a few notes of mild disharmony when Brian Matthew asks John and Paul twenty questions about songwriting and George chimes in with "Ringo and I are painting Buckingham Palace." A similar bitterness permeates when Matthew asks about a potential musical that John and Paul are thinking of writing and Lennon says "Paul's thinking of it, I'm doing it." They also rather openly chide him for labeling "Ticket to Ride" as "folk."
- You also get Apple's edit of "Honey Don't," and a version of "Ticket to Ride" that the compilers call "unfettered." Finally some later '60s material that was used for interstital purposes: the mysterious "All Together on the Wireless Machine," and John's half-assed version of "Cotton Fields" for Kenny Everett... which I like to pretend was thrown on the end of Abbey Road instead of "Her Majesty."
In sum total, everything after the end of 1964 here is pretty pedestrian, but there are few more immersive ways to experience the Beatlemania years from the British perspective than this often wondrous collection of music and chatter.