Friday, December 27, 2013

Beatles 32: Bootleg Recordings 1963

When a rumor emerges in Beatlemaniacland, the inhabitants immediately begin picking it apart, seesawing between euphoria and anger, and falling off several times into conjecture and other tangents. So it was that news of a bumper bundle of unreleased material to emerge on iTunes (now that the two companies named Apple were the bestest of buddies) sparked off a week or so of unfounded opinions. Then it was available, then it wasn’t, and then it was again.
Given the title Bootleg Recordings 1963, it’s a little over two hours of material—predominantly BBC radio performances as yet uncollected on an official Apple release, plus several studio outtakes and two demos. In all there are 59 tracks, retailing for 40 bucks American, or 67¢ a song. All of the BBC stuff has been floating around on bootlegs for years, as have the demos, while most of the studio outtakes appear for the first time in stereo.
The studio outtakes come first, peeking into the sessions for the Please Please Me album and follow-up single, and two more from later in the year. Then it’s a haphazard leap into the many radio appearances, tagged with the alleged (and often incorrect) original broadcast date. The usual suspects appear, as well as performances of some of the covers they didn’t put on their albums. If you haven’t had your fill of “A Taste Of Honey”, “Till There Was You” or even “She Loves You”, you might after this. Finally, non-professional recordings of two songs Lennon and McCartney gave away (“Bad To Me” and “I’m In Love”) round out the program.
Lots of collectors balked at spending their iTunes credits on stuff they mostly had, and cursed Apple for “ripping off the fans again”. Which is only true if something was promised and not delivered, and that didn’t happen. By boldly stating that these are bootlegs, that excuses any lack of sound quality. Considering how clean the studio stuff is, that’s not an issue either. It’s also hilarious to hear someone who can only have been familiar with this music thanks to pirates, copyright cheats and outright thieves complain about the rightful owners’ integrity.
Most tantalizing of all is the knowledge that there are several hours’ worth of studio material not included here. So if this was a gambit to protect their copyrights, as has been assumed with the existence of similar Bob Dylan compilations, what is the fate of the rest of the material? Clearly, we haven’t emptied the well.

The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 (2013)—3
CD availability: none; download only

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