As of this morning, The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 became available for $40 via iTunes. Many have speculated the rare material appeared simply so the band can re-establish copyrights for its recordings – European Union copyright laws stipulate that the Beatles and their label may own the material for a total of 70 years if they’re officially published.
The 59 rare songs capture the Beatles during a fruitful period, the year they released their debut album Please Please Me and With the Beatles. The harmonies are pristine and energetic, particularly on “A Taste of Honey” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” During “From Me to You,” the band abruptly stops recording and Paul McCartney says: “What happened? I just thought I heard you talking, actually.” Lennon responds: “Did you whistle? Heard a whistle.” After a bit of sarcastic whistling, McCartney demands, “Come on,” and the band resumes. They can also be heard bickering briefly on an early version of “One After 909.”
Other artists have taken a similar approach to the new European copyright laws – the Beach Boys, Motown and Bob Dylan have hastily made rare recordings available for sale in recent months, but without much publicity or fanfare. Both volumes of Dylan’s 50th Anniversary Collection made just 100 copies available apiece, according to the New York Times. Reps for Apple (the computer company) and Capitol Records refused to comment, and a publicist for Apple Corps (the Beatles’ longtime record company) did not return a phone call.