Nearly 20 years after the first volume of long-lost BBC recordings sold millions of copies, a second volume is here, and with it, a coffee table book with rare photos and heretofore unseen historical documents chronicling the band’s interaction with the BBC.
Like the first volume, “On Air – Live at the BBC, Vol. 2” is chock full of live covers of other acts’ hit recordings, including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. The sound quality ranges from crystal clear to exceedingly rough. Not all of the 275 performances the Beatles did were preserved by the broadcaster. Some had to be tracked down from fans’ home recordings, but the raw exuberance of Paul McCartney screaming a hyper rocked-out version of the ballad “Beautiful Dreamer” is a historical nugget in its own right.
There’s tons of on-air banter between all four mop tops and their radio hosts, showing John Lennon’s wry wit and irreverence at an early stage in the band’s career. Outtakes of the band playing “I Feel Fine” are included, showing how the deliberate feedback introduction wreaked havoc with the BBC’s finely-calibrated equipment, causing a technician to ask for multiple takes.
The “BBC Archives Book” by Kevin Howlett, one of the leading experts on the Beatles, traces their meteoric early rise with rare photos and even rarer documents from the BBC, including the group’s original audition form, and an evaluator’s report afterward: “John Lennon: Yes. Paul McCartney. No.”
And on the off-chance you have any money at all remaining after these two, the first volume of BBC recordings has been re-mastered and re-released as well. (AP)