20 Unreleased Beatles Recordings Please use <> buttons to view all videos
18 - “Puttin’ On The Style/Baby Let’s Play House” (The Quarrymen performance, July 6th 1957)
The sound quality is a little rough on this one, but the history is crystal clear in this tape of a 16-year-old John Lennon performing with his first group. Not only is this the earliest recorded musical venturings of any pre-Beatles, but it was apparently captured the very day that Lennon was introduced to a 15-year-old kid named Paul McCartney! The recording was done at the St Peter’s Parish Fete, a church fair in the leafy Liverpool suburb of Woolton. Student Bob Molyneux was testing out his new tape player, and inadvertently captured the unmistakable sound of Lennon and his friends from the Quarry Bank School (hence the name) providing some afternoon entertainment with the skiffle tune “Puttin’ On The Style” and Elvis Presley’s “Baby Let’s Play House.”
Little Paul was in the audience, and apparently liked what he heard. He asked to meet the plucky frontman after his set, and the rest is….well, you know. The meeting of Lennon and McCartney has become a myth in the minds of Beatlemaniacs, so it’s really special to hear the songs from that day. It’s a rock ’n’ roll Big Bang! The tape above is just a short excerpt of the complete version, released to the media before it was auctioned off. We’d love to hear the whole thing…
Coincidently, Lennon borrowed the opening line of “Baby Let’s Play House” for his song “Run For Your Life,” released on 1965’s Rubber Soul. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
17 -“September In The Rain” (Decca audition tape, January 1st, 1962)
On New Year’s Day 1962, the Beatles (with Pete Best on drums, in lieu of Ringo) drove south from Liverpool to London to audition for Decca, one of the largest record companies at the time. The pre-fabs whistled through 15 songs from their live setlist in just under an hour, jumping genres from rock to pop and even showtunes. Despite (or perhaps because of) their varied song choices, Decca famously passed on the group, apparently telling them that “guitar groups are on their way out,” and that “the Beatles have no future in show-business.” Womp womp. But at least their audition was recorded for the ages! Many of the tracks recorded that day have found their way onto The Beatles Anthology project in 1995, but this old chestnut sung with spit and vinegar by McCartney is pretty hard to find.
16- 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.
“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.
14- “Bad To Me” (John demo, 1963)
John Lennon wrote this song for fellow Liverpudlians Billy J.Kramer and the Dakotas, who shared Beatles manager Brian Epstein. In fact, John apparently wrote it while on holiday with Epstein in April 1963. He recorded a demo for Billy and the boys to follow when they went into Abbey Road Studios to cut the song (with Paul McCartney in attendance, for added Beatle effect). The tune was one of the stronger ones that the Beatles “gave away,” going to number one in the UK, and becoming a top ten hit in the States the following year. The demo is fun to hear, providing an alternate universe glimpse into if the Fab Four themselves issued the song.
13- “One and One Is Two” (Paul demo, 1964)
Keeping with the theme, Paul recorded this song-to-order demo in his suite at Paris’ George V hotel in January 1964, mere days before he learned that the Beatles had their first American number one with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” However, the same fate was not in store for this little tune, written in response to mounting pressure from the record company for more “product.” Lennon completely denied he had anything to do with the composition, later calling it one of Paul’s “bad attempts” at songwriting. It was rejected by not just one, but TWO of their Liverpool mates, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (who recorded “Bad To Me” several months before), and The Fourmost (who had already had hits with several Lennon-McCartney songs, including John’s “I’m In Love”). A version was eventually released by the South African group The Strangers with Mike Shannon in May 1964, and it disappeared without a trace.
12- “A World Without Love” (Paul demo, 1964)
Paul got it right this time with a tune that he apparently started writing when he was just 16. Originally offered to Billy J. Kramer, the lyrics still needed a little work and he rejected it. “The funny first line always used to please John,” McCartney recalled in his memoir Many Years From Now. “’Please lock me away –’ ’Yes, okay.’ End of song.” When Paul moved into the family home of then-girlfriend Jane Asher, he dusted it off and gave it to her little brother Peter, who lived in the room next door and had just received a contract to record as the duo Peter and Gordon. The song went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic. For years the sole copy Paul’s acoustic demo was in Peter Asher’s possession, but a 30-second clip of the tape leaked early this year. In order to hear the whole thing, you have to get tickets to Peter’s live show!
11- “Yellow Submarine” (“Rap” intro, 1966)
Already one of the most beloved songs in the Beatle cannon, this child-friendly tune originally had a long spoken-word intro penned by John Lennon in the style of a medieval epic poem and read by Ringo Starr. The ode name-checked a charity walk done by Dr. Barbara Moore from Land’s End to John O’Groats (the two points farthest apart on the British mainland) and somehow tied back to the whole yellow submarine theme. Yeah, we don’t really get it either. Although they spent hours trying to get all kinds of sound effects in place, session engineer Geoff Emerick described the final result as “in a word, boring,” and the intro idea was ultimately scrapped. It finally saw the light of day (albeit briefly) as a track on the CD single for “Real Love,” a Lennon demo completed by the three surviving Beatles for the Anthology project in 1996.