Live At The BBC

By The BeatlesOfficial live • Part of the collection “The Beatles • Post break-up albums

Timeline See what happened in November 1994
UK release date:
Nov 30, 1994
US release date:
Dec 06, 1994
Publisher:
Apple

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Track list

Disc 1


1.

Beatle Greetings

0:14 • Radio show • Introductions during a BBC magazine programme called ‘The Public Ear’ broadcast on 3 November 1963. Presenter Tony Hall pointed out that the Beatles ‘didn’t just happen overnight’ and mapped out the group’s progress from their earliest days in Liverpool. Their contribution was recorded on 9 October 1963.


2.

From Us to You

0:27 • Radio show • The signature tune and title of four programmes broadcast on public holidays. This adaptation of their third single was heard on the three 1964 shows broadcast on Easter, Whitsun and August Bank Holidays.


3.

Riding on a Bus

0:54 • Interview • Brian Matthew interviewed the group more than anyone during these years and received a surprisingly serious reply to his question.


4.

I Got A Woman

Written by Ray Charles, Renald Richard

2:48 • Radio showA • The song was an American R&B hit for Ray Charles in 1955 and included on the first Elvis Presley UK album called Rock ‘n’ Roll No. 1.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 13, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

5.

Too Much Monkey Business

Written by Chuck Berry

2:06 • Radio show • This is the fourth BBC performance of Chuck Berry’s 1956 recording and had been in the Beatles repertoire since 1960.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Sep 10, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar

6.

Keep Your Hands Off My Baby

Written by Gerry Goffin, Carole King

2:30 • Radio show • For their Saturday Club debut they included a current Little Eva hit written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King as the follow-up to their big success with her, ‘The Loco-motion’.

Concert From "Saturday Club" in London, United Kingdom on Jan 26, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
Bernie Andrews:
Producer

7.

I'll Be On My Way

Written by Lennon - McCartney

1:58 • Radio show • The only recording by the Beatles of this Lennon-McCartney original, which had been given to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas for the B-side of their debut single.

Concert From "Side By Side" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 24, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar

8.

Young Blood

Written by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Doc Pomus

1:57 • Radio show • This song was on the B-side of the Coasters’ ‘Searchin’’ – a big American hit in 1957. The Beatles also recorded ‘Young Blood’ at their audition for Decca Records on New Year’s Day 1962.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 11, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Vocals
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Vocals

9.

A Shot of Rhythm and Blues

Written by Terry Thompson

2:15 • Radio show • Rhythm and Blues singer Arthur Alexander, who was a particular favourite of John’s, first released this in March 1962 on the B-side of another British beat boom staple ‘You Better Move On’. The Beatles performed it on three occasions for the BBC; this was the last.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in Manchester, United Kingdom on Aug 27, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

10.

Sure to Fall (in Love With You)

Written by Carl Perkins, Bill Cantrell, Quinton Claunch

2:08 • Radio show • The first of four times the group recorded this Carl Perkins favourite.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 18, 1963


11.

Some Other Guy

Written by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Richard Barrett

2:01 • Radio show • ‘Some Other Guy’ was first recorded in 1962 by Richie Barrett. Not much of a hit anywhere, but a Liverpool anthem as almost every Mersey group tackled it.

Concert From "Easy Beat" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 23, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar

12.

Thank You Girl

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:02 • Radio show • ‘Thank You Girl’ was the B-side of their third single ‘From Me To You’.

Concert From "Easy Beat" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 23, 1963


13.

Sha La La La La!

0:28 • Interview


14.

Baby It's You

Written by Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Barney Williams

2:44 • Radio showL1 • Lee Peters presented the first batch of four Pop Go The Beatles programmes and the group were tickled by his relentless corny links. ‘Baby It’s You’ – an American Top Ten hit for the Shirelles in summer 1962 – was included on the first album Please Please Me. The BBC version has a cute ending rather than the familiar fade.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 11, 1963


15.

That's All Right (Mama)

Written by Arthur Crudup

2:54 • Radio show • Written by Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, it was Elvis Presley’s first American single and sung by Paul as early as the skiffle days of the Quarrymen.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 16, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar

16.

Carol

Written by Chuck Berry

2:35 • Radio showL1 • A Chuck Berry hit from 1958, which the Rolling Stones included on their first album in June 1964.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 16, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Rhythm guitar

17.

Soldier of Love

Written by Buzz Cason, Tony Moon

2:00 • Radio show • John sang Arthur Alexander's 'Anna' on the first Beatles album and here he covers another record by the singer; a track which could have enhanced any of the group's early discs.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 16, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar

18.

A Little Rhyme

0:26 • Interview


19.

Clarabella

Written by Frank Pingatore

2:39 • Radio showL1

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 16, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Harmonica, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar

20.

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)

Written by Joe Thomas, Howard Biggs

2:01 • Radio show • ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)’ like the other two Elvis covers on this disc, was released in the UK on Rock ‘n’ Roll No. 1.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 06, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

21.

Crying, Waiting, Hoping

Written by Buddy Holly

2:10 • Radio show • ‘Crying, Waiting, Hoping’ was recorded by Buddy Holly in his New York apartment just weeks before his death in February 1959. The song was featured in the Beatles audition for Decca Records.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 06, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Vocals
Terry Henebery:
Producer

22.

Dear Wack!

0:42 • Interview


23.

You Really Got a Hold on Me

Written by Smokey Robinson

2:38 • Radio showL1 • One of four BBC performances recorded in summer 1963 of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ hit. The Beatles released their EMI version on With The Beatles in November.

Concert From "Saturday Club" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 24, 1963


24.

To Know Her Is to Love Her

Written by Phil Spector

2:49 • Radio show • The Teddy Bears’ American number one was the first success for Phil Spector in 1958.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 06, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

25.

A Taste of Honey

Written by Bobby Scott, Ric Marlow

1:58 • Radio show • The Lenny Welch recording of this popular standard had inspired the Beatles version for the ‘Please Please Me’ LP.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 13, 1963


26.

Long Tall Sally

Written by Richard Penniman, Enotris Johnson, Robert Blackwell

1:53 • Radio show • The second of four BBC versions of the Little Richard rocker – all broadcast before the song’s release on the Beatles EP called ‘Long Tall Sally’ in June 1964.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 13, 1963


27.

I Saw Her Standing There

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:32 • Radio show • For their second appearance on Easy Beat, they selected the song that kick started their debut album.

Concert From "Easy Beat" in London, United Kingdom on Oct 20, 1963

Ron Belchier:
Producer

28.

The Honeymoon Song

Written by Mikis Theodorakis, William Sansom

1:39 • Radio show • The theme tune from the film ‘Honeymoon’ written by Greek composer Theodorakis. A vocal version was released in June 1959 by Marino Marini and his Quartet.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 06, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

29.

Johnny B. Goode

Written by Chuck Berry

2:51 • Radio show • Not a British hit for Chuck Berry in 1958, but a song that was hammered out by almost every British beat group of the sixties and one of the most frequently performed tunes on Saturday Club.

Concert From "Saturday Club" in London, United Kingdom on Feb 15, 1964

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar

30.

Memphis, Tennessee

Written by Chuck Berry

2:13 • Radio show • Five BBC versions of the song were recorded, including one for their first broadcast on March 1962.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 30, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

31.

Lucille

Written by Richard Penniman, Albert Collins

1:49 • Radio showL2 • The second time they recorded Little Richard’s song for the BBC was for the fifth birthday edition of Saturday Club. Brian Matthew’s nod to the Everlys was because the brothers were fellow guests that day and had also scored a hit with ‘Lucille’.

Concert From "Saturday Club" in London, United Kingdom on Oct 05, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar


33.

From Fluff to You

0:28 • Interview


34.

Till There Was You

Written by Meredith Willson

2:13 • Radio show • A song from the musical ‘The Music Man’, popularised by Peggy Lee. Australian born broadcaster Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman presented two From Us To You specials and his quirky sense of fun clicked with the Beatles. While Paul picks out a few heroes, John attempts to draw Fluff’s attention to his book ‘In His Own Write’ published a week earlier.

Concert From "From Us To You" in London, United Kingdom on Mar 30, 1964

Disc 2


1.

Crinsk Dee Night (speech)

1:05 • Interview



3.

Have a Banana! (speech)

0:22 • Interview • Top Gear was a new late night pop show set up by the Saturday Club team of Brian Matthew and producer Bernie Andrews, who launched the programme with the Beatles as their guests. ‘Pity we had to sink it the first week!’, George joked. With the first Beatles movie about to open, the title song was on its way to number one. The piano solo from the record was rather obviously cut into the session tape as no-one could reproduce what George Martin had played on the single. Bernie remembers that they were expecting George Martin to arrive, but he never made it.


4.

I Wanna Be Your Man

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:09 • Radio showL1 • ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ was the first Top 20 hit by the Rolling Stones, a gift from John and Paul.

Concert From "From Us To You" in London, United Kingdom on Mar 30, 1964


5.

Just a Rumour (speech)

0:20 • Interview • More From Us To You banter between Alan Freeman and George.



7.

All My Loving

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:04 • Radio showL1 • The above three songs were from With The Beatles released a few weeks before Christmas 1963 and still at number one when this programme was broadcast on Easter Monday.

Concert From "From Us To You" in London, United Kingdom on Mar 30, 1964


8.

Things We Said Today

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:18 • Radio show • The ubiquitous Brian Matthew presented a show distributed on LP disc to overseas listeners by the BBC’s Transcription Service called Top Of The Pops. It featured recent BBC session material and his voiceover is taken from that programme. ‘Things We Said Today’ was not in the film but included on Side 2 of the UK soundtrack album.

Concert From "Top Gear" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 16, 1964


9.

She's a Woman

Written by Lennon - McCartney

3:15 • Radio show • The flipside of their Christmas 1964 single ‘I Feel Fine’. During Top Gear, John and Paul described how they completed writing ‘She’s A Woman’ on the morning of the EMI session. John explained they had ‘about one verse and we had to finish it off rather quickly’.

Concert From "Top Gear" in London, United Kingdom on Nov 26, 1964


10.

Sweet Little Sixteen

Written by Chuck Berry

2:21 • Radio show • ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ was Chuck Berry’s first British Top 20 hit in June 1958.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 23, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

11.

1822! (speech)

0:10 • Interview


12.

Lonesome Tears in My Eyes

Written by Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, Paul Burlison, Al Mortimer

2:36 • Radio show • To set the record straight, ‘Lonesome Tears In My Eyes’ was released by Johnny Burnette and his Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio (including his brother Dorsey) in March 1957.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 23, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Rhythm guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

13.

Nothin' Shakin'

Written by Eddie Fontaine, Cirino Colacrai, Diane Lampert, John Gluck Jr.

2:59 • Radio show • George’s affection for rockabilly led him to this number by Eddie Fontaine, whose biggest impact came with his performance in the movie ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 23, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Vocals
Terry Henebery:
Producer

14.

The Hippy Hippy Shake

Written by Chan Romero

1:49 • Radio show • Originally recorded by Chan Romero in 1959, it was another Mersey anthem that gave the Swinging Blue Jeans a British number two hit in January 1964.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 30, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

15.

Glad All Over

Written by Aaron Schroeder, Sid Tepper, Roy Bennett

1:52 • Radio show • One of two recordings made for the BBC of this 1957 Carl Perkins track sung by George.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 20, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Vocals
Terry Henebery:
Producer

16.

I Just Don't Understand

Written by Marijohn Wilkin, Kent Westberry

2:47 • Radio show • Swedish born movie starlet Ann Margret (Olson) had an American Top 20 hit with this in August 1961.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 20, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

17.

So How Come (No One Loves Me)

Written by Felice Bryant

1:54 • Radio showL1 • A track from A Date With The Everly Brothers, a Top Three album in 1961.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 23, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Harmony vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Vocals
Terry Henebery:
Producer

18.

I Feel Fine

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:13 • Radio show • The complete BBC session tape of ‘I Feel Fine’ reveals that the distinctive feedback opening took quite a few attempts to get right and that riff was pretty tricky too!

Concert From "Top Gear" in London, United Kingdom on Nov 26, 1964


19.





23.

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Written by Larry Williams

2:42 • Radio show • ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ was one of three Larry Williams songs the Beatles covered on record. Their last BBC performance was produced by Keith Bateson, who had balanced the sound on many of their Pop Go The Beatles and From Us To You sessions.

Concert From "The Beatles (Invite You To Take A Ticket To Ride)" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 07, 1965


24.

Medley


1.

Kansas City

Written by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller

2:38 • Radio show • An early BBC recording of a medley devised by Little Richard and eventually included on ‘Beatles For Sale’ at the end of the following year.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 06, 1963



25.

Set Fire to That Lot! (Speech)

0:28 • Interview • Rodney Burke picking on Ringo (at least he didn’t throw him a banana!).


26.

Matchbox

Written by Carl Perkins

1:57 • Radio show • Ringo takes his turn at a Carl Perkins number first released in 1957.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 30, 1963


27.

I Forgot to Remember to Forget

Written by Stan Kesler, Charlie Feathers

2:09 • Radio show • During the second From Us To You that Alan Freeman presented, the Beatles slipped in this Elvis cover.

Concert From "From Us To You" in London, United Kingdom on May 18, 1964

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Vocals
Terry Henebery:
Producer

28.

Love These Goon Shows! (speech)

0:27 • Interview


29.

I Got to Find My Baby

Written by Chuck Berry

1:56 • Radio show • John singing and playing ‘the harp’ on a Chuck Berry release from 1960.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jun 11, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Harmonica, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

30.

Ooh! My Soul

Written by Richard Penniman

1:37 • Radio showL1 • ‘Ooh! My Soul’ was a Top 40 US hit for Little Richard in the summer of 1958.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in Manchester, United Kingdom on Aug 27, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
Terry Henebery:
Producer

31.

Ooh! My Arms (speech)

0:36 • Interview


32.

Don't Ever Change

Written by Gerry Goffin, Carole King

2:03 • Radio showL1 • ‘Don’t Ever Change’ was a Top 5 hit in the UK for the Crickets, the group who had backed Buddy Holly on most of his hits before his tragic death in February 1959.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in Manchester, United Kingdom on Aug 27, 1963

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Vocals
Terry Henebery:
Producer

33.

Slow Down

Written by Larry Williams

2:36 • Radio show • The only BBC recording of a Larry Williams B-side that was broadcast almost a year before its inclusion on the Beatles’ EP ‘Long Tall Sally’.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Aug 20, 1963


34.

Honey Don't

Written by Carl Perkins

2:12 • Radio show • Although this is Ringo’s vocal outing on Beatles For Sale, John had always sung this Carl Perkins song live. By the time of the next BBC version in May 1964, John had handed over to Ringo making this earlier recording a lucky capture on tape of the way it used to be.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in Manchester, United Kingdom on Sep 03, 1963

John Lennon:
Vocals
Ian Grant:
Producer

35.

Love Me Do

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:30 • Radio show • They performed their first Parlophone single nine times at the BBC; this version was from an edition of Pop Go The Beatles when the presenter’s opening statement ‘I’m Rodney Burke’ was met with John’s quip ‘That’s your fault’.

Concert From "Pop Go The Beatles" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 23, 1963

About

From Wikipedia:

Live at the BBC is a 1994 compilation album featuring performances by the Beatles that were originally broadcast on various BBC Light Programme radio shows from 1963 through 1965. The mono album, available in multiple formats but most commonly as a two-CD set, consists of 56 songs and 13 tracks of dialogue; 30 of the songs had never been issued previously by The Beatles. It was the first official release by The Beatles of previously unissued performances since The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in 1977, and the first containing previously unreleased songs since Let It Be in 1970.

Although the songs were recorded ahead of broadcast, allowing for retakes and occasional overdubbing, they are essentially “live in studio” performances. Most of the songs are cover versions of material from the late 1950s and early 1960s, reflecting the stage set they developed before Beatlemania. Before the album’s release, comprehensive collections of The Beatles’ BBC performances had become available on bootlegs.

A remastered repackaging of the album was released on 11 November 2013 along with On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2, a second volume of BBC Radio broadcasts.

History

Recording

The Beatles performed for 52 BBC Radio programmes, beginning with an appearance on the series Teenager’s Turn—Here We Go, recorded on 7 March 1962, and ending with the special The Beatles Invite You to Take a Ticket to Ride, recorded on 26 May 1965. Forty-seven of their BBC appearances occurred in 1963 and 1964, including ten on Saturday Club, and fifteen on their own weekly series Pop Go The Beatles which began in June 1963. As The Beatles had not accumulated many original songs by this time, the majority of their BBC performances consisted of cover versions, drawing on the repertoire that they had developed for their early stage act. In total, 275 performances of 88 different songs were broadcast, of which 36 songs never appeared on their studio albums.

Several of the programmes aired live, but most were recorded days (or occasionally weeks) ahead of the broadcast date. The BBC’s studio facilities were not as advanced as those at Abbey Road, offering only monaural recording (no multitracking) and basic overdubbing; few retakes of songs could be attempted owing to time limitations. It was not the BBC’s practice to archive either the session tapes or the shows’ master tapes, owing to storage space and contractual restrictions.

Earlier collections and presentations

The first collection of Beatles BBC performances was the bootleg album Yellow Matter Custard, issued in 1971, consisting of 14 songs that were probably off-air home recordings made during the original radio broadcasts. Some additional performances with similar “tinny” sound appeared on other bootlegs in the following years; then in 1980, the bootleg The Beatles Broadcasts was released featuring 18 BBC songs with superior sound quality.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of their first BBC appearance, the BBC (nicknamed “the Beeb”) aired the two-hour radio special “The Beatles at the Beeb” in 1982, featuring a mix of BBC performances and interviews (the show was expanded to three hours when syndicated to other countries). The more comprehensive series The Beeb’s Lost Beatles Tapes was broadcast by BBC Radio 1 in 1988 as 14 half-hour episodes. When gathering material for that series, only a small number of original tapes were found; many more performances were obtained from vinyl recordings of the programmes that the BBC Transcription Department had made to distribute to BBC stations around the world.

By that time, a 13-album bootleg series had appeared under the title The Beatles at the Beeb, featuring many previously unavailable performances. This was surpassed in 1993 by The Complete BBC Sessions, a nine-CD box set released by Great Dane in Italy, where copyright protection for the broadcasts had expired; the set contained performances from 44 of The Beatles’ 52 BBC appearances, including many complete shows.

Compilation and release

An official Beatles BBC album was being planned as early as 1989, and it was reported that “EMI was preparing an album” of the BBC material by late 1991. To supplement the archive he had partially rebuilt for The Beeb’s Lost Beatles Tapes, BBC Radio producer Kevin Howlett sought out additional sources, such as tapes kept by people involved in the original sessions; others had contacted him after the series aired to inform him of their own home recordings of additional broadcasts. Remaining gaps were filled by recordings taken from available bootlegs.

From the available recordings, the tracks for Live at the BBC were selected by longtime Beatles producer George Martin. Martin’s selection criteria included both the quality of the sound and of the Beatles’ performance. Of particular interest were the 36 songs that The Beatles never performed on their official releases, of which 30 were selected for the album. Three of the six omitted were from 1962 (none of the 1962 recordings were judged to be of commercial sound quality): Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)”, The Coasters’ arrangement of “Bésame Mucho”, and Joe Brown’s “A Picture of You”, all with Pete Best on drums. Two others, from early 1963, also were omitted for substandard sound: the Gerry Goffin-Jack Keller adaptation of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer“, and Chuck Berry’s “I’m Talking About You“. The reason for the omission of the final song of the six, Carl Perkins’ “Lend Me Your Comb” from July 1963, was not clear as it had very good sound quality, and it was speculated that it was held back for inclusion on a later release; the song was indeed issued the following year on Anthology 1. It is also included in the On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 2013 compilation, as are “Beautiful Dreamer” and “I’m Talking About You”.

The selected songs included “I’ll Be on My Way“, the only Lennon–McCartney composition that The Beatles recorded for the BBC with no available studio version. The Buddy Holly-style ballad was their first composition to be “given away” without The Beatles attempting to record it for their own release. The song was given to Billy J. Kramer, another artist managed by Brian Epstein recording for Parlophone, who released it in the United Kingdom as the B-side of a cover version of “Do You Want to Know a Secret“.

In all, 56 songs were chosen for the album, along with some banter among the group and the hosts. Abbey Road engineer Peter Mew used audio manipulation software to reduce noise, repair minor drop-outs, and equalise to a more consistent sound from one track to the next. The resulting sound quality was considered generally better than the best equivalent bootlegged versions available at the time, although a small number of tracks were noted as exceptions.

Live at the BBC was released on 30 November 1994 in the UK (Apple/Parlophone PCSP 726), and on 6 December 1994 in the United States (Apple/Capitol CDP 7243-8-31796-2-6). The track listing on the back of the CD case inadvertently included the word “Top” at the start of the song title “So How Come (No One Loves Me)”; the listing was corrected for the 2001 reissue. When “Baby It’s You” was released as a single in March 1995, it contained three other BBC songs that were not included in the album.

2013 remastered version

The 11 November 2013 remastered reissue features some minor changes in the track listing and editing. Most noticeable are the inclusion of three extra tracks. The only musical addition is the closing version of “From Us To You” at the end of disc two. “What is it, George?” is a new speech track incorporated between “Carol” and “Soldier of Love” on disc one. The speech track “Ringo? Yep!” is a new addition to disc two, replacing “Have a Banana!” as track 3. The majority of “Have a Banana!” has been incorporated as the end of the previous track, “A Hard Day’s Night,” but the phrase itself, which gave the original speech track its title, has been omitted.

Reception

Live at the BBC peaked at number 3 on the US Billboard 200 album chart and reached number 1 on the UK Albums Chart. The album sold an estimated 8 million copies worldwide during its first year of release.

A reviewer for Time said that the collection contained “few buried treasures“, but “as a time capsule, the set is invaluable.” Another reviewer described it as “worth hearing” even though the album is a “quaint memento” in which The Beatles sound “scruffy and fairly tame”. Anthony DeCurtis, writing for Rolling Stone, was more enthusiastic, calling the album “an exhilarating portrait of a band in the process of shaping its own voice and vision” while noting the “irresistible” spirit and energy of the performances. […]

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