CDs (in roughly chronological order):
1. The Decca audition tapes, January 1, 1962: The complete 15-song tape of their unsuccessful audition for Decca Records, long bootlegged, with five cuts finding official release on Anthology 1. This is the first studio-quality, album-length recording of the Beatles, as well as by far the best-sounding recording of the group while Pete Best was still the drummer. Among the material not to show up on Anthology 1 is one Lennon-McCartney original ("Love of the Loved") and two covers (of Bobby Vee's "Take Good Care of My Baby" and the pop standard "September in the Rain") of which no other Beatles versions have circulated.
2. Live at the BBC, Vol. 2: Although the cream of the Beatles' BBC recordings were compiled on the official 1994 two-CD set Live at the BBC (which properly emphasized the songs they did on the radio that they never put on their official releases), enough exists for about a ten-CD box set. A ten-CD box set would be too much for all but fanatics, especially considering that the group did many songs in multiple versions on their 1962-65 BBC sessions. But certainly a one- or two-disc supplementary set could be considered, making sure to include the five covers (of Roy Orbison's "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)," Joe Brown's "A Picture of You," the Coasters' arrangement of "Besame Mucho," Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer," and Chuck Berry's "I'm Talking About You") that the band never issued in studio versions while active.
3. The live Hamburg Star-Club tapes, late December 1962: Thirty songs from these tapes were issued way back in 1977, and have cropped up piecemeal on numerous tacky reissues ever since. A sanctioned compilation with all thirty songs, the few unreleased tracks that have circulated from these same tapes, and accurate, informed historical liner notes is long overdue.
4. The Beatles Christmas Album: As most fans of the group know, for every year between 1963 and 1969, the Beatles put out special flexidiscs with a five-minute-or-so Christmas message available only to members of their fan club, combining holiday greetings with sketches, bits of songs, and (from 1966 onward) quasi-surrealistic sound montages. In 1970, with the band having recently split, the fan club instead put out a full LP, The Beatles Christmas Album, collecting all of the 1963-69 flexis on one long-playing disc. Long bootlegged, this should be released officially, with outtakes from the sessions (and there are some that have already been bootlegged as well) added as bonus tracks.
5 . The Complete Hollywood Bowl Concerts: The 1977 LP The Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl (itself never reissued on CD) drew from parts of three concerts that Capitol Records recorded at the Los Angeles venue on August 23, 1964, August 29, 1965, and August 30, 1965. All three of the complete concerts have been packaged together on bootlegs already; such a package would make a worthy official release, despite the multiple versions of many of the songs.
6. The "Kinfauns" (White Album) demos, circa late May 1968: Around late May 1968, shortly before entering the studio to record The White Album, the Beatles recorded no less than 27 acoustic-flavored demos at George Harrison's house, "Kinfauns," in his home in the London suburb of Esher. In addition to including early versions of 19 songs from The White Album, these included half a dozen songs never to be released by the Beatles while they were active, though all of these would appear in some form on some post-Beatles compilation, solo Beatles release, or (in the case of "Sour Milk Sea") a cover version by fellow Apple Records artist Jackie Lomax. A thorough compilation of all 27 (or more, if they exist) Kinfauns demos, with the best available fidelity and cleaned-up sound, would be a solid contender for the best collection of (largely) unreleased Beatles material that could be envisioned at this point.
7. More Get Back/Let It Be sessions, January 1969: Around 100 hours of material from when the Beatles were recording what was originally to be the Get Back LP, and ended up being the Let It Be LP and film, in January 1969 have been bootlegged. It would be too extreme to officially release all of this, but an additional CD or two would certainly be possible. This could take the shape of the entire January 30, 1969 concert on the rooftop of Apple, from start-to-finish, and/or one or two discs of the best alternate/unissued takes/rehearsals that have yet to be blessed with commercial availability.
8. Anthology Vol. 4: Although the three two-disc Anthology volumes did cream off the best previously unreleased Beatles material in the 1990s, there's enough for an additional, fairly solid one- or two-disc set. Click here for a sample set of thirty 1962-70 tracks that could fit onto one 78-minute disc.
DVDs (in roughly chronological order):
1. Washington Coliseum concert, February 11, 1964 (the complete version, not the incomplete one issued on The Beatles in Washington D.C.., February 11, 1964): The Beatles' first US concert was filmed a little crudely and not in the best of sound, but there is no more exciting document of live Beatlemania.
2. Around the Beatles (British TV special, April 28, 1964): Rarely seen in the US, the Beatles hosted this frenetic special with little-seen (in the US) British Invasion acts like Cilla Black, Millie Small, P.J. Proby, and Long John Baldry. The Beatles closed the show with a half-dozen numbers of their own, including a wild version of the Isley Brothers' "Shout!," a song they never put on their own releases.
3. The Beatles Sing for Shell (TV special of June 17, 1964, concert in Melbourne, Australia, if its missing fragments can be found): A fine, energetic show from their 1964 tour Down Under, though unfortunately a few fragments are missing from the circulating tape.
4. Les Beatles (TV special of June 20, 1965, concert in Paris): A full concert from their 1965 European tour, showing the band still to be in excellent form onstage, and including, believe it or not, the only decent live version of "A Hard Day's Night" on film.
5. Help!: Believe it or not, the Beatles' second feature film is unavailable on DVD in the US as of this writing.
6. The Beatles at Shea Stadium (TV special of August 15, 1965, concert): A documentary of perhaps their most famous individual concert.
7. Compilation of all Beatles promotional films, 1965-1969: All the promotional films they made for their singles (and, in the case of "A Day in the Life," an LP cut), including all of the multiple/alternate versions that were made for specific songs.
8. Tokyo concerts from June 30, 1966 and July 1, 1966 (both combined onto one DVD): While these were not the Beatles' best concerts, as they were taken at a time when they were starting to get up with touring, they're the only full-length concerts preserved on color film. They are also important historical documents of how the group sounded (and felt) onstage when they were on the verge of retiring from live performance.
9. The Making of Sgt. Pepper: Though it's not exactly a Beatles film, this 1992 television documentary is an interesting, well-done look at the making of the Beatles' most famous album, including interviews with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and George Martin.
10. Magical Mystery Tour: Believe or not, like Help!, this is unavailable on DVD in the US as of this writing.
11. Let It Be: Another Beatles film unavailable on DVD. There are reportedly anywhere from about 30 to 100 hours of unreleased footage in existence, and while (as with the audio tapes of their January 1969 sessions) that's way too much to fit onto a commercial release, certainly there must be two hours or so of extras that could easily be tacked on as bonus footage.
12. John Lennon TV documentaries 24 Hours and Man of the Decade, December 1969 (combined onto one DVD): Two interesting half-hour British television documentaries of John Lennon in the period when he'd already told the other Beatles (but not the public) of his intention to quit the group, and was accelerating his involvement in peace activism.
contents copyright Richie Unterberger , 2000-2010 unless otherwise specified.
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