Beatles at the BBC Revisited
Submitted By Joe J. & Tee Eff

Source: Guardian UK

Sleuthing by Beatles fans appears to have uncovered a new release from the Fab Four. They discovered MCA Music in the Philippines – part of Universal Music, which now owns the Beatles' catalogue – was promising on its Facebook page a new anthology collecting previously unreleased recordings from their mid-60s appearances on BBC radio.

The amateur detectives came from Beatles fan-site WogBlog, who discovered both the month of release and the album art for the new full-length. Bloggers even traced the photographer whose colourised image is being used on the cover. Neither Universal's UK and US wings nor the Beatles' official website have confirmed the news.

The first volume of Live at the BBC consisted of 56 songs and 13 dialogue tracks from the Beatles' appearances on the BBC's Light Programme (now BBC Radio 2). The double CD, released in 1994, reached No 1 on the UK albums chart, No 3 in the US, and arguably set the stage for the Fab Four's three Beatles Anthology collections, released in 1995 and 1996.

Although it was broadcast across the country, the Beatles' BBC material is quite rare. The Beeb did not seriously begin archiving its programmes until the end of the 1970s. As WogBlog points out, the forthcoming Live compilation may be the result of the 2012 Listeners' Archive campaign, in which BBC officials asked the public to donate home-recorded radio and television shows.

On October 10, 2013 BBC Books in association with Harper Design (Harper Collins Publishers) will publish a new book by Kevin Howlett: The Beatles – The BBC Archives: 1962-1970. This is an "in-depth account of The Beatles' BBC appearances" with conversation transcripts and unreleased photographs, ranging "from the unprecedented excitement of Beatlemania to the mature reflection of the last interviews before the group's split". Howlett is perhaps the world's foremost Beatles scholar and penned all of the booklet essays for the group's 2009 catalogue re-rereleases.

Tee Eff's Graphic Impression and Story
With the fall release of Kevin Howlett’s updated book The Beatles: The BBC Archives: 1962-1970, and the planned remastering of the 1994 CD The Beatles Live at the BBC, there have been unverified media accounts announcing the release a second volume of Beatles performances on British radio.

While we can’t confirm any such release is in the pipeline at Apple, there are indeed enough titles (without getting into multiple performances of the same song) to support a second volume. Taking into account such multiple performances, the number of songs approaches 300 (just how many performances of “Twist and Shout" do you think they did at the BBC ? Probably more than you want to hear).

In all, the Beatles performed 36 songs for the BBC which were never recorded for their singles or albums, 30 of which appeared on the 1994 double disc set, and one more (“Lend Me Your Comb") appeared on the Beatles Anthology Volume One shortly thereafter. The remaining five – “Dream Baby", “A Picture Of You", “Talkin’ "Bout You", “Beautiful Dreamer" and “Besame Mucho" would be welcome additions to the official canon. Heck, they could even tack on the spot where the band backs Australian Rolf Harris on a Beatle-ized version of his hit, “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport".

But make no mistake - such a release would hardly be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Indeed, a couple of their earliest #1 hits “She Loves You" and “I Want To Hold Your Hand" circulate in superb quality and could anchor such a release. Additional hits such as “Do You Want To Know A Secret", “Twist and Shout", “And I Love Her" and “P.S. I Love You" would provide additional star power (as if a Beatles collection needs it), as would songs the band never performed live in concert, such as “The Night Before".

With the precedent of including between-song chatter having been established on the 1994 Apple set, some unused bits have survived, which would add considerable cache as well. How about the bit where the band is asked about songwriting, and Ringo & Paul break into an off-the-cuff version of “Don’t Pass Me By", which would not appear until release of the White Album, some four years later !

We’ve put together what we think would be a great single disc collection, which would gather these and the remaining titles from the BBC archives to complement the existing BBC collection. While a lot of Beatles fans wish lists center on a DVD of Let It Be, The Beatles at Shea Stadium, The Christmas Album or even Live at the Hollywood Bowl, the BBC archives provided the hands-down most valuable dip into the vaults and should be mined to full potential.

Hey – we can dream, can’t we ?

(Tee Eff sez: better yet …. How about reconfiguring the original collection, plus this additional material, as a triple-CD with the whole lot ? We’re coming up the 20th anniversary of the original set in 2014 … just sayin’.)


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