The Beatles‘ acclaimed 1995/1996 rarities sets, Anthology, Volumes 1-3, are now available for streaming on all digital outlets. The collections, which contain studio outtakes and alternative versions of iconic tracks, have been newly remastered at Abbey Road Studios by the same engineers involved in the 2009 reissue campaign.
The first two Anthology sets contain “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” two singles completed in 1995 by George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr using the foundation of low-fidelity John Lennon demos recorded in 1977. The trio approached longtime producer George Martin to helm the sessions, but he declined due to hearing issues; they then recruited ELO’s Jeff Lynne, who’d previously worked with Harrison on the former Beatle’s 1987 solo LP, Cloud Nine, and as part of supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.
Harrison, McCartney and Starr intended to finish one more Lennon demo, “Now And Then,” using this same technique for the third Anthology; following various complications, they instead included “A Beginning,” an instrumental orchestral piece originally recorded for 1968’s The Beatles (or “The White Album”). “Free as a Bird” became the band’s 34th American top 10 hit and won a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal.
The Anthology project also included an expansive TV documentary series and a book chronicling the band’s history.
After a long holdout, the core Beatles catalog hit major streaming services on Christmas Eve 2015. This included the band’s 13 U.K. studio albums and four compilation sets: Past Masters (Volumes 1 & 2), The Beatles 1962-1966, The Beatles 1967-1970, and 1.