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In each of the years from 1963 to 1969, the Beatles issued a flexi-disc recording of a Christmas message as an annual gift to members of their official fan club. In 1970, the year of the Beatles' breakup, Apple Records released The Beatles Christmas Album, which compiled all seven Christmas messages on one disc. The messages are mostly spoken word, especially in the early years, and contain plenty of oddball Brit humor. Interestingly, the messages grew increasingly bizarre as the years progressed, much like the Fab Four's professional and personal lives did. As a result, The Beatles Christmas Album serves as a revealing (and amusing) historical document of the career of the most successful rock band of all time. Anyone who is familiar with such strange Beatles tracks as "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)" and "Revolution 9" will have the best idea of what to expect from this album. My personal pick is the 1968 track, a surreal White Album-related pastiche that ends with the tacky spectacle of the late Tiny Tim (get the Christmas pun?) warbling "Nowhere Man" and strumming his ukulele. This album may only be of interest to Beatlemaniacs and music historians, but it is a definite curio for those who are interested. Note: this album was released in the U.K. under the title From Then To You (Apple LYN 2154).

Track Listing:

1. 1963
2. 1964
3. 1965
4. 1966
5. 1967
6. 1968
7. 1969

In 1977, Capitol Records released The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, a recording culled from two of the Fab Four's performances at the L.A. venue on August 23, 1964 and August 30, 1965. It was the first "official" live recording of the band. According to George Martin's liner notes, the shows were recorded "for posterity" by Capitol, but neither Martin nor the band wanted the recordings released at the time because it only consisted of songs that were previously released on studio albums (apparently, releasing such an album was considered unusual at the time!). The only problem with the original album is the quality of the recordings. Only three-track recording was possible at the time of the concerts, and the original album is discolored by tape hiss and other anomalies (not to mention the constant screaming of countless young girls). Even with these inconveniences, the album is totally enjoyable. The charm of the Beatles' performances shines through on this record, making it a valuable document of early Beatlemania. Producer Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick did their best to clean up the sound using 1977 technology.

Nearly 40 years later, the album was finally released digitally and on CD in 2016, under the title Live at the Hollywood Bowl. The reissue was sourced directly from the original three-track tapes of the concerts and was remixed and remastered at Abbey Road by George Martin's son, Giles, and engineer Sam Okell. The remixing made a major improvement, making the sound much clearer, and bringing the music further to the front of the mix while pushing the audience's screaming into the background. The reissue contains four previously unreleased tracks: "You Can't Do That" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from the 1964 show, and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby" and "Baby's In Black" from the 1965 show.

Track Listing:

1. Twist And Shout **
2. She's A Woman **
3. Dizzy Miss Lizzie **
4. Ticket To Ride **
5. Can't Buy Me Love **
6. Things We Said Today *
7. Roll Over Beethoven *
8. Boys *
9. A Hard Day's Night **
10. Help! **
11. All My Loving *
12. She Loves You *
13. Long Tall Sally *

* - Recorded August 23, 1964
** - Recorded August 30, 1965

The Beatles Love Songs album was also released in 1977. It consisted entirely of material that was previously released. It focused mostly on ballads that can be classified as love songs. It has been out of print for many years, as all the American versions of Beatles albums and compilations usually have been. The reason for this is that Capitol only released the original British versions of the proper Beatles albums on CD, totalling 13 in all, and later released new CD compilations, box sets, and anthology sets. (The American versions of the proper Beatles albums have been reissued in limited editions, but that's another story). Although all of the songs on Love Songs are currently available on Beatles CDs, magazine polls have indicated that many people want the triple-platinum-certified collection to be released on CD. This is not likely to happen; Capitol has no apparent intentions to do so. Still, an old LP copy is a nice thing to have. It contains many choice Beatles songs on one two-record set, and comes with a lyrics booklet. My only complaint: what is the lugubrious "She's Leaving Home" doing on a collection of Love Songs? Below is a listing of the compilation's tracks; for each track, I have indicated in parentheses the Beatles CD that the song is available on.

1. Yesterday (HELP!)
2. I'll Follow the Sun (BEATLES FOR SALE)
3. I Need You (HELP!)
5. In My Life (RUBBER SOUL)
6. Words of Love (BEATLES FOR SALE)
7. Here, There, and Everywhere (REVOLVER)
8. Something (ABBEY ROAD)
9. And I Love Her (HARD DAY'S NIGHT)
10. If I Fell (HARD DAY'S NIGHT)
11. I'll Be Back (HARD DAY'S NIGHT)
12. Tell Me What You See (HELP!)
13. It's Only Love (HELP!)
14. Michelle (RUBBER SOUL)
16. You're Gonna Lose That Girl (HELP!)
17. Every Little Thing (BEATLES FOR SALE)
18. For No One (REVOLVER)
20. Long And Winding Road (LET IT BE)
22. Norwegian Wood (RUBBER SOUL)
23. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (HELP!)
25. P.S. I Love You (PLEASE PLEASE ME)

In 1980, Capitol released a collection in the U.S. titled Rarities, an album less interesting than its title promised. Most of the rarities that were on the album were minutely different versions of well-known Beatles songs (some had an extra riff at the end, some were in mono instead of stereo; you get the idea) while others had only been available before as B-sides in the U.S. This collection is even less valuable now, because some of the tracks are available on current Beatles CDs and are therefore no longer rarities. The most interesting rarity the LP has to offer is not a song; the inner gatefold cover contains a pristine reproduction of the infamous "butcher photo" that originally adorned the cover of Yesterday and Today in 1966. The track listing below hopefully explains why the tracks were then considered rarities, and why some are no longer.

1. LOVE ME DO -- The better-known version of this song has Andy White playing drums while Ringo Starr plays a tambourine. This version has Ringo playing drums and no tambourine.
2. MISERY -- This was once a non-LP single in the U.S. It is now available on the Please Please Me CD.
3. THERE'S A PLACE -- Another non-LP single now available on Please Please Me.
4. SIE LIEBT DICH -- German-language rendition of "She Loves You", now available on the Past Masters Volume One CD.
5. AND I LOVE HER -- On this version, the guitar riff at the end of the song is repeated six times instead of four, due to an editing mistake. This version appeared on a German album.
6. HELP! -- The single version, with a different lead vocal track.
7. I'M ONLY SLEEPING -- This is the version from the English Revolver album. In other words, it is the version that currently is available on the Revolver CD.
8. I AM THE WALRUS -- This version repeats the intro riff six times instead of four, and has a few extra beats in the middle of the song. Do you care?
9. PENNY LANE -- This has an extra horn riff at the end of the song.
10. HELTER SKELTER -- The mono version, without the post-fadeout finale.
11. DON'T PASS ME BY -- mono version
12. THE INNER LIGHT -- The B-side of the "Lady Madonna" single, now available on the Past Masters Volume Two CD. A strong George Harrison composition dominated by sitar.
13. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE -- The original version, with bird-chirping sound effects and no strings.
14. YOU KNOW MY NAME (LOOK UP THE NUMBER) -- The B-side of the "Let It Be" single, now available on Past Masters Volume Two. A long, strange recording.
15. SGT. PEPPER INNER GROOVE -- A whole two seconds of laughing and other noise. It now appears at the tail end of the Sgt. Pepper CD.

Paul McCartney's Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) was a 500,000 copy limited edition CD/cassette of McCartney's acoustic performance on MTV Unplugged recorded on January 25th, 1991 at Limehouse Studios in Wembley, London. With a five-piece backing band that included Linda McCartney, he performed engaging acoustic versions of Beatles songs (including "We Can Work It Out" and "Here, There, and Everywhere"), solo numbers ("Every Night", "Junk"), and cover tunes ("Be-Bop-A-Lula", "Good Rockin' Tonight"). It is amazing how great this performance sounds; those Beatles songs probably hadn't sounded that good since the Fab Four did them together! This CD was proof-positive that the man could still do it. (Notes: this album is now available digitally. This version of "We Can Work It Out" was included on the now-deleted Various Artists CD The Unplugged Collection from Warner Brothers.)

Track Listing:

1. Be-Bop-A-Lula -- (Vincent/Davis)
2. I Lost My Little Girl -- (McCartney)
3. Here, There, and Everywhere -- (Lennon/McCartney)
4. Blue Moon of Kentucky -- (Monroe)
5. We Can Work It Out -- (Lennon/McCartney)
6. San Francisco Bay Blues -- (Fuller)
7. I've Just Seen a Face -- (Lennon/McCartney)
8. Every Night -- (McCartney)
9. She's a Woman -- (Lennon/McCartney)

10. Hi-Heel Sneakers -- (Higgenbotham)
11. And I Love Her -- (Lennon/McCartney)
12. That Would Be Something -- (McCartney)
13. Blackbird -- (Lennon/McCartney)
14. Ain't No Sunshine -- (Withers)
15. Good Rockin' Tonight -- (Brown)
16. Singing the Blues -- (Endsley)
17. Junk -- (McCartney)

In 1994, Apple Records released Live at the BBC, a double-album compilation of mostly live-in-the-studio performances that the Fab Four recorded at the Beeb between 1963-65. The many recordings, which were selected and digitally remastered by George Martin, mainly consist of covers of early rock and r&b songs, with the occasional Lennon/McCartney original. The performances are enjoyable, and the sound quality is superb. Casual fans might find it exhausting, but aficionados will be delighted. The set contains extensive liner notes, including a 47-page booklet of photos and commentary. Live at the BBC received a 1996 Grammy nomination for Best Historical Album. A remastered version of the album was issued in 2013, to coincide with the release of the follow-up set On Air: Live at the BBC Volume 2, and the remastered version also was part of a 4-CD box set which combined the two volumes.

Track Listing:


1. Beatle Greetings (speech) -- recorded October 9, 1963
2. From Us To You -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded February 28, 1964
3. Riding On A Bus (speech) -- recorded November 17, 1964
4. I Got A Woman -- (Charles) -- recorded July 16, 1963
5. Too Much Monkey Business -- (Berry) -- recorded September 3, 1963
6. Keep Your Hands Off My Baby -- (Goffin/King) -- recorded January 22, 1963
7. I'll Be On My Way -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded April 4, 1963
8. Young Blood -- (Leiber/Stoller/Pomus) -- recorded June 1, 1963
9. A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues -- (Thompson) -- recorded August 1, 1963
10. Sure To Fall (In Love With You) -- (Perkins/Claunch/Cantrell) -- recorded June 1, 1963
11. Some Other Guy -- (Leiber/Stoller/Barrett) -- recorded June 19, 1969
12. Thank You Girl -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded June 19, 1969
13. Sha la la la la! (speech)
14. Baby It's You -- (David/Bacharach/Williams) -- recorded June 1, 1963
15. That's All Right (Mama) -- (Crudup) -- recorded July 2, 1963
16. Carol -- (Berry) -- recorded July 2, 1963
17. Soldier Of Love -- (Cason/Moon) -- recorded July 2, 1963


1. A Little Rhyme (speech)
2. Clarabella -- (Pingatore) -- recorded July 2, 1963
3. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You) -- (Thomas/Biggs) -- recorded July 16, 1963
4. Crying, Waiting, Hoping -- (Holly) -- July 16, 1963
5. Dear Wack! (speech)
6. You Really Got A Hold On Me -- (Robinson) -- July 30, 1963
7. To Know Her Is To Love Her -- (Spector) -- July 16, 1963
8. A Taste Of Honey -- (Marlow/Scott) -- July 10, 1963
9. Long Tall Sally -- (Johnson/Penniman/Blackwell) -- recorded July 16, 1963
10. I Saw Her Standing There -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded October 16, 1963
11. The Honeymoon Song -- (Theodorakis/Sansom) -- recorded July 16, 1963
12. Johnny Be Goode -- (Berry) -- recorded January 7, 1964
13. Memphis, Tennessee -- (Berry) -- recorded July 10, 1963
14. Lucille -- (Collins/Penniman) -- September 7, 1963
15. Can't Buy Me Love -- (Lennon/McCartney)
16. From Fluff To You (speech)
17. Till There Was You -- (Willson) -- recorded February 28, 1964


1. Crinsk Dee Night (speech)
2. Hard Day's Night -- (Lennon/McCartney)
3. Have a Banana! (speech) -- recorded July 14, 1964
4. I Wanna Be Your Man -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded February 28, 1964
5. Just A Rumour (speech)
6. Roll Over Beethoven -- (Berry) -- recorded February 28, 1964
7. All My Loving -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded February 28, 1964
8. Things We Said Today -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded July 14, 1964
9. She's A Woman -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded November 17, 1964
10. Sweet Little Sixteen -- (Berry) -- recorded July 10, 1963
11. 1822! (speech)
12. Lonesome Tears In My Eyes -- (J and D Burnette/Burlison/Mortimer) -- recorded July 10, 1963
13. Nothin' Shakin' -- (Fontaine/Calacrai/Lampert/Gluck) -- recorded July 10, 1963
14. The Hippy Hippy Shake -- (Romero) -- recorded July 10, 1963
15. Glad All Over -- (Bennett/Tepper/Schroeder) -- recorded July 16, 1963
16. I Just Don't Understand -- (Wilkin/Westberry) -- recorded July 16, 1963
17. So How Come (No-one Loves Me) -- (Bryant) -- recorded July 10, 1963
18. I Feel Fine -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded November 17, 1964


1. I'm A Loser -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded November 17, 1964
2. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby -- (Perkins) -- recorded November 25, 1964
3. Rock And Roll Music -- (Berry) -- November 25, 1964
4. Ticket To Ride -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded May 26, 1965
5. Dizzy Miss Lizzy -- (Williams) -- recorded May 26, 1965
6. Medley: Kansas City -- (Leiber/Stoller); Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! (Penniman) -- recorded July 16, 1963
7. Set Fire To That Lot! (speech)
8. Matchbox -- (Perkins) -- recorded July 10, 1963
9. I Forgot To Remember To Forget -- (Kesler/Feathers) -- recorded May 1, 1964
10. Love These Goon Shows! (speech)
11. I Got To Find My Baby -- (Berry) -- recorded June 1, 1963
12. Ooh! My Soul -- (Penniman) -- recorded August 1, 1963
13. Ooh! My Arms (speech)
14. Don't Ever Change -- (Goffin/King) -- recorded August 1, 1963
15. Slow Down -- (Williams) -- recorded July 16, 1963
16. Honey Don't -- (Perkins) -- recorded August 1, 1963
17. Love Me Do -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded July 10, 1963

The song "Baby It's You", a cover of the Shirelles tune from the Live at the BBC album, was released as a CD-single. The three B-sides were more tracks recorded for BBC radio programs which were not included on the album. These consisted of another Shirelles cover ("Boys"), another girl-group cover (the Donays' "Devil In Her Heart"), and a performance of "I'll Follow The Sun". These four tracks (each featuring a different Beatle on lead vocals) make up a decent accessory for owners of the BBC album who want more.

Track Listing:

1. Baby It's You -- (David/Bacharach/Williams) -- recorded June 1, 1963
2. I'll Follow The Sun -- (Lennon/McCartney) -- recorded November 17, 1964
3. Devil In Her Heart -- (Drapkin) -- recorded July 16, 1963
4. Boys -- (Dixon/Farrell) -- recorded June 17, 1963

In the mid-'90's, Capitol released three anthology sets containing previously unreleased recordings from various phases of the Beatles' existence. The first two anthology sets each contained one "new" Beatles song that was released as a single. Both of these songs were constructed from unfinished John Lennon solo songs that were overdubbed by the three surviving Beatles. Jeff Lynne produced both songs, and both had a noticeably ELO-like flavor. Purists objected, but the songs weren't bad. Neither, however, was great. Both of them were released as CD-singles, each with three B-sides that are not available elsewhere. These CD-singles are recommended mainly for completists, or for those who want the two main songs without purchasing the anthology sets.

"Free As A Bird" was the single released from Anthology 1. The song is a spacey ballad. Lennon's voice track has a strangely distant feel, as if he is singing to us from the great beyond; meanwhile, the voices and instrumentation by the other Beatles sound more down-to-earth. A flawed but interesting experiment. The CD-single's three B-sides include a different take of "I Saw Her Standing There", two unfinished takes of "This Boy", and (most interestingly) a 1967 Christmas song that was previously offered (in less coherent form) on one of their fan club discs in the '60's.

"Real Love" was the single released from Anthology 2. It was a more upbeat, full-bodied pop song that was easy enough to like, though it was no great milestone. The CD-single's three B-sides include a previously unreleased song from their August 1965 performance at the Hollywood Bowl ("Baby's In Black"), a remix of "Yellow Submarine" with a spoken-word intro by Ringo, and a simpler take of the beautiful "Here, There, and Everywhere".

Track Listings:


1. Free As A Bird
2. I Saw Her Standing There
3. This Boy
4. Christmas Time (Is Here Again)


1. Real Love
2. Baby's In Black
3. Yellow Submarine
4. Here, There, and Everywhere

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