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The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 Itunes release examined

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 exclusive Itunes 59-track collection

The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 exclusive Itunes 59-track collection

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.


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25 Comments

  • Mark Boersma says:

    I bought it yesterday and compared the tracks to the bootlegs in my collection. The prize for me is the Lennon demo of “I’m In Love” which I’ve never heard. I found that the sound quality was either as good as or worse than the tracks I have from bootlegs. I ended up keeping a lot of the bootleg BBC recordings for the chat, missing from these versions. The quality of the “Bad To Me” demo is better than the two bootlegs I own(ed) – now erased.

  • BWB says:

    Thanks for the corrections above. I wondered why “She Loves You” was recorded twice on the same day. Do you have the correct broadcast date for Track 18 – “Too Much Monkey Business”? Thanks again.

  • Dr Jones says:

    Are you sure about the correct date for Too Much Monkey Business? It sure sounds like the version found on Hobnails 2nd edition as Pop Go The Beatles #2 June 11, 1963. The Yellowdog set seem to have used the Bootleg 1963 version for both dates. If this is the March 16th version then Hobnail got it wrong.

  • Leonardo says:

    “Too Much” is definitely not from the 16/03 Saturday Club. It’s from Pog Go the Beatles from 11/06. The reason for this confusion is that the Yellow Dog and Purple Chick sets mistakenly included the 16/03 version in the place of the original. The Unsurpassed Broadcasts, Beatles at the Beeb and the Great Dane set include the true 16/03 version.

  • Happy Nat says:

    Leonardo and Dr. Jones – I too fell victim to the duplication error on the Yellow Dog set that was followed through on the later Purple Chick set. It gets very confusing when three sources have it wrong (Yellow Dog, Purple Chick and Apple/Itunes). Going back to my Great Dane collection, I see that this version is the real March 16 version, since it is different from the other three BBC performances of the song. The one on The Beatles Bootleg Recordings is, as you say, the one recorded on June 1 (and aired on June 11) for Pop Go The Beatles. Thanks for pointing that out – it is now corrected above.

  • YouKnowMyNameLookUpThe# says:

    Are the discrepancies any indication they used boots for some of the source material? Not that I care, since I didn’t collect BBC recordings. I had one 2 CD set and a few tracks sprinkled among tracks on the Unsurpassed and Ultra Rare series. The nicer thing is we don’t have bad liner notes. Now we have a few bits of info to correct on the iTunes library. ;-)

    • Happy Nat says:

      It’s a very good question Leo. However, the error with the Itunes “metadata” for track 18 (as an example) is a different error than the Yellow Dog/Purple Chick error – so it’s like two errors for the same track. The others with errors all say they are from the same broadcast date of Jan. 26, 1963 for Saturday Club and they all are for Saturday Club for different dates. I haven’t seen this error on other bootlegs though with bootlegs anything is possible. The duplicate tracks of “She Loves You” seems very much like something that would happen on a bootleg. Finally I know that when Apple was working on gathering up all of the BBC recordings – they did have to resort to bootleg releases to fill in some of the holes. So – it’s very possible that some of these were sourced from boots.

  • Argus says:

    Hi, I’m new here so a big hello from Poland. I’ve been trying to sort out all that Beatles BBC output for quite a while and I’ve got some doubts. From what you say here – does it mean that there’s a mistake in Mark Lewisohn’s ‘Complete Chronicle’? In the index section of Beatles BBC performances, he lists TWO versions of ‘She Loves You’ recorded on 03.09.1963 – Version 4 for Pop Go #13 and Version 5 for Pop Go#15. Under the 1963 September 3rd entry he also mentions TWO different recording sessions of ‘She Loves You’. Is he wrong? Can you help sort it out? (ps. As a matter of fact, in the same index Mr Lewisohn does make a mistake – omitting the 17.07.64 / 03.08.64 recording of ‘Kansas City’)

    • Happy Nat says:

      The new Kevin Howlett book The BBC Archives lists “She Loves You” twice, once for Pop Go The Beatles #13 and once for #15 and gives Sep. 3 as the date the session was recorded. Lewisohn’s Complete Chronicle is consistent with this. Neither source specifies whether #15 is a new recording of it. The iTunes collection includes it twice, once for each show, but a comparison of the two tracks reveals that they are the same recording. The John C. Winn book Way Beyond Compare also states that the #15 version is a rebroadcast of the #13 version. Looking at the long list of other songs they recorded that day (15 or so in all) it is doubtful to me that they would have bothered to record “She Loves You” twice.

  • Argus says:

    Obviously, you’re right. There’s no doubt that Tracks 39. & 46. on iTunes “Bootleg” are the same ‘She Loves You’. And I also checked the information in the new Kevin Howlett book. But, what bothered me was that in the case of July 16 recording of ‘She Loves You’ Lewisohn CLEARLY STATED that it was used twice (in Pop Go #9 and #10) while in the case of September 3 version he DID NOT. Ayway, to cut a long story short, does it mean that there were NINE broadcast different BBC recordings of ‘She Loves You’? (not TEN as listed by Lewisohn?)

    • Happy Nat says:

      Argus, there is a feature on this website it seems you have not yet discovered. Click Search Nat’s Collection in the menu at the top. Click Songs/Tracks after that and type “She Loves You” in the search field to find 52 versions of the song as seen here. Search through them to get your answer.

  • Argus says:

    Thanks a lot for your help and patience, Nat. I had earlier discovered your “Search Nat’s Collection” engine but it was hard for me to believe that Lewisohn’s Chronicle could contain an error! – that’s why I had problems calculating the “famous” number of 275 BBC performances. Now I know! :) “And you know you should be glad” ;) [I also checked the two She Loves You’s in question on my Great Dane Complete BBC Sessions - they differ slightly in speed but, undoubtedly, it’s the same recording.]

  • peter c says:

    I’m surprised that no one has commented on the likelihood that I’m In Love was recorded in the mid-1970s and not in 1963. Its therefore curious that it was released with these other recordings.

    While it actual recording date has been much debated in other websites, the listener immediately notices that John is playing Piano on the recording, something he seldom (if ever?) did in 1963 but very commonly did in his post-Beatles NYC-based recordings. I also hear a older timber to his voice that again matches his recordings done in the 1970s.

    • Happy Nat says:

      At the time this account of “I’m In Love” was recorded, the lyrics were only about half finished (unless you instead believe “half-remembered”). The demo was found on a tape reel that also contained recordings of baby Julian and Cynthia (some of these was featured on The Lost Lennon Tapes radio series in 1988).

      On bootlegs the pitch plays in F-Sharp but John actually recorded it in G. When it’s speed-corrected, John’s voice sounds more like our 1963-era John. It’s funny how the chords (G-Em-B-C-D) are the same as the verses and chorus of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” which was written about the same time. For these reasons, I believe (as apparently does Apple) that the demo is from late 1963.

      • peter c says:

        Thanks for the added insight. I’m still curious as to whether there are any other demo tapes where John played the song on a piano in 1963 rather than the guitar. I vaguely remember reading that he didn’t really learn to play it until somewhat later (although we all remember his infamous organ playing at Shea).

  • angel says:

    which recordings (or recording variations) are exclusive to this release ?

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