The Beatles – ‘On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2’

A second collection of Fab Four Beeb performances will be a hit stocking filler for Beatlemaniacs

In the early ’60s, The Beatles were as common a sight in the halls of the BBC as new director generals are now, meaning the corporation have vast quantities of Beatles performances in their vaults.

In 1994 the release of ‘Live At The BBC’ was big news. Before the exhaustive ‘Anthology’ series that followed, these were the first ‘new’ Beatles recordings heard in 24 years. Arriving on the cusp of Britpop, it helped reaffirm the Fab Four’s position as toppermost of the poppermost. At over two hours long, you might assume that album involved every last scraping from the BBC’s Beatles cupboard, but not so. Nearly 20 years on, a second volume has arrived, featuring more than 40 performances from BBC radio broadcasts in 1963 and 1964.

The tracklisting includes covers of blues and rock’n’roll hits (‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘Long Tall Sally’), early Beatles tracks (‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘If I Fell’), long forgotten rarities (‘Happy Birthday Dear Saturday Club’) and chit-chat with plummy voiced announcers. Given its proliferation of short skits and vast quantity of songs, the album has the madcap tracklisting of a hip-hop mixtape, but with more Everly Brothers covers.

At this early point in their career, the Beatles’ studio technique was to turn up, switch on the tape and – bingo – two-and-a-half minutes later a hit was born. The method for recording these BBC specials – turn up to the studio, joke around for a bit, record a few tunes – was not so different, so the overall quality of the tracks here is very good. It’s not an essential purchase, but a hit stocking-filler for the Beatlemaniac in your life.

Dan Stubbs


Record label: Apple
Release date: 11 Nov, 2013