Last week we were overjoyed to learn that a new collection of unheard recordings by the Beatles will be hitting stores on November 11th! Called On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2, the double disc is the follow up to their 1994 retrospective that draws on exclusive recordings made for radio titan in the early sixties. The sessions not only include rare live performances of classic Lennon-McCartney originals, but it also features cover versions of songs that were never recorded anywhere else. So we’re about to hear brand new music from the Beatles…how awesome is that!?!
Obviously we’d be thrilled about any offering from our favorite Liverpudlians, but the news got us thinking about the host of other legendary Beatles recordings that still haven’t seen the light of day after nearly half a century in the vaults. S0me of us raging Beatlemaniacs have had to turn to the hard stuff (low quality bootlegs) to get our Fab Four fix over the years, and we’ve uncovered some gems that would dazzle hardcore obsessives and casual listeners alike. And then there are some mythical “lost” recordings that are just languishing away in a tape box somewhere, unheard by anyone. This stuff keeps us up at night!
Read on to see (and occasionally hear) 20 legendary unreleased Beatles recordings that we’d love to see issued. We’re not trying to be greedy, but if any record execs out there are trying to put together a new compilation together, may we humbly suggest these?
20. “Puttin’ On The Style/Baby Let’s Play House” (The Quarrymen performance, July 6th 1957)
The sound quality is a little rough on this one, but the history is crystal clear in this tape of a 16-year-old John Lennon performing with his first group. Not only is this the earliest recorded musical venturings of any pre-Beatles, but it was apparently captured the very day that Lennon was introduced to a 15-year-old kid named Paul McCartney! The recording was done at the St Peter’s Parish Fete, a church fair in the leafy Liverpool suburb of Woolton. Student Bob Molyneux was testing out his new tape player, and inadvertently captured the unmistakable sound of Lennon and his friends from the Quarry Bank School (hence the name) providing some afternoon entertainment with the skiffle tune “Puttin’ On The Style” and Elvis Presley’s “Baby Let’s Play House.”
Little Paul was in the audience, and apparently liked what he heard. He asked to meet the plucky frontman after his set, and the rest is….well, you know. The meeting of Lennon and McCartney has become a myth in the minds of Beatlemaniacs, so it’s really special to hear the songs from that day. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll Big Bang! The tape above is just a short excerpt of the complete version, released to the media before it was auctioned off. We’d love to hear the whole thing…
Coincidently, Lennon borrowed the opening line of “Baby Let’s Play House” for his song “Run For Your Life,” released on 1965’s Rubber Soul. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
19. “September In The Rain” (Decca audition tape, January 1st, 1962)
On New Year’s Day 1962, the Beatles (with Pete Best on drums, in lieu of Ringo) drove south from Liverpool to London to audition for Decca, one of the largest record companies at the time. The pre-fabs whistled through 15 songs from their live setlist in just under an hour, jumping genres from rock to pop and even showtunes. Despite (or perhaps because of) their varied song choices, Decca famously passed on the group, apparently telling them that “guitar groups are on their way out,” and that “the Beatles have no future in show-business.” Womp womp. But at least their audition was recorded for the ages! Many of the tracks recorded that day have found their way onto The Beatles Anthology project in 1995, but this old chestnut sung with spit and vinegar by McCartney is pretty hard to find.