18. Full Set From The Cavern Club (1962)
The Beatles cut their teeth and honed their talents playing at the Cavern Club, tucked away in an old fruit cellar on Liverpool’s Matthew Street. The band played there an astonishing 292 times between February 1961 to August 1963, and it was widely seen as the group’s home base. A precious few recordings from their electrifying early sets have surfaced over the years, but not as many as you might think given the number of times they performed there. They recorded a tape of themselves rehearsing in late 1962, and a few songs were famously filmed by Grenada Television around the same time, but the real crown jewel is an 18-song tape containing covers that have yet to circulate on Beatle-bootlegs/the interwebs. These include versions of Bruce Channel‘s “Hey! Baby”, “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” by James Ray, and more! The tape was apparently bought at auction by Paul McCartney in the ’80s, so we can be reasonably sure it’s not going to leak out until he’s good and ready for us to hear it.
17. “I’m In Love” (John demo, 1963)
As the Beatles’ success took off in 1963, so did the demand for songs by other Liverpool bands who wanted to get a piece of the Lennon-McCartney magic. Always willing to oblige, John and Paul cranked out an astonishing number of poppy tunes, many times giving them away without a second thought (but keeping the best for themselves, of course). Often they would record a quick acoustic demo as a musical blueprint for these other bands, and these demos are incredibly charming. Case in point: this Lennon demo of a song that was later recorded by their friends, The Fourmost.