The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 59-track Itunes exclusive album released on December 17, 2013 came as a bit of a surprise. After 50 years of age, unreleased Beatles recordings fall into the public domain unless they have been officially released, so the album was issued merely to retain the copyright protection on the carefully selected 1963 material and extend it for another twenty years. It is interesting to consider the material not selected, or previously released, from 1963 that has been available only on the black market bootleg releases. Looking at my own personal collection and considering all available mixes of Beatles recordings from 1963, I currently have 291 officially released tracks including those on the new Itunes album. I have 206 1963 Beatles recordings that have not ever been officially released, but many of which have been widely bootlegged at some point over the years. The majority of these are additional BBC recordings or studio out-takes. I suppose all of this material is now destined for the public domain by 2014 unless more are released by the end of the year. I have heard a rumor that another Itunes release may happen next week for this very reason.
The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 will not be released on any physical media but remain exclusively available as an Itunes download. For those of you that own any of the bootleg releases where these tracks were available previously, you’ll probably agree that the fidelity of the Itunes version for the most part sounds just as good or in many cases better than on the unofficial releases. This, of course, is somewhat subjective and also depends on which particular bootleg releases you are comparing against, as they vary considerably with respect to sound quality.
At over two hours and fifteen minutes worth of music, the album is a generous sampling of alternate versions of some well-known Beatles compositions and other not-so-well-known covers performed for radio broadcast.
Track 1-15 are studio out-takes, with tracks 1-8 being from the marathon recording session of February 11, 1963 when they recorded 10 of the 14 tracks (all but the previously issued 4 singles tracks) for their debut Please Please Me LP. Tracks 9-13 were recorded on March 5, 1963 and were sessions for their “From Me To You” single and include the first two takes of that song and the first two takes of “One After 909.” Tracks 14-15 come from the sessions for the follow-up album With The Beatles. All of these have been widely bootlegged with the least common being track 15 which is a mono mix of “Money (That’s What I Want)” that went on to be used for the master. Here it is presented before producer George Martin’s piano overdub was added.
Tracks 16-57 all come from BBC recordings The Beatles made in 1963. Although this is the majority of the collection, it doesn’t have the same “radio-feel” that either of the BBC compilations (Live At The BBC or On Air – Live At The BBC Vol. 2) has because, in the interest of time, almost all of the chat heard between tracks has been left out. None of these selections were included in the other 2 compilations though, so all of these are new to the world of legitimate releases. Track 17 is a January 22, 1963 recording of “Love Me Do” taken from the BBC radio program Saturday Club and has appeared on many bootlegs in incomplete form (missing the final 45 seconds), but is presented in its entirety here, perhaps for the first time.
The Itunes notes given with each track give the names of the BBC programs and broadcast dates, however their are a few inaccuracies (note: you may want to refer to the complete track listing on previous article here):
Track 18 – “Too Much Monkey Business” is listed as airing on the BBC program Saturday Club on January 26, 1963 when it actually was recorded for Pop Go The Beatles on June 1, 1963 and aired on June 11, 1963.
Track 20 – “Do You Want To Know A Secret” is listed as airing on the BBC program Saturday Club on January 26, 1963 when it actually was recorded for Saturday Club on May 21, 1963 and aired on May 25, 1963.
Track 21 – “From Me To You” is listed as airing on the BBC program Saturday Club on January 26, 1963 when it actually was recorded for Saturday Club on May 21, 1963 and aired on May 25, 1963.
Track 22 – “I Got To Find My Baby” is listed as airing on the BBC program Saturday Club on January 26, 1963 when it actually was recorded for Saturday Club on June 24, 1963 and aired on June 29, 1963.
Track 39 and 46 are both “She Loves You” with the Itunes notes describing that one is for a broadcast of the BBC program Pop Go The Beatles for September 10, 1963 and the other is for a broadcast of Pop Go The Beatles for September 24, 1963. While this is true, it is also true that a recording The Beatles made of the song on September 3, 1963 was used for BOTH broadcasts. Therefore tracks 39 and 46 are duplicates. This one must have slipped right by the QC department.
The album closes with two very interesting demos:
Track 58 is a short but great acoustic demo by John Lennon of “Bad To Me,” a catchy tune The Beatles gave away to Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, who released it on a single. The demo was recorded in mid-May 1963 and the single released on July 26, 1963 in the UK and went to number 1 on the singles charts there (Record Retailer). In the U.S. it was released on September 23, 1963 and peaked at number 11 on the singles charts there (Billboard).
Track 59 is another short demo, this time with John on piano, of “I’m In Love.” This was another give-away tune that The Beatles contributed to The Fourmost, who released it as a single on November 15, 1963 in the UK and took it to number 17 in the singles chart there (Record Retailer). It was also released in America on February 10, 1964 where it failed to chart.
The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 is a great collection of previously unavailable (or at least hard to find) alternates that now take their place with many other officially released tracks in the incredibly large Beatles catalog.