Dont let me down : The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 debacle.


Public relations nightmare, cynical marketing and generally a really bad move. I am considering all these things on Christmas Day 2013. This has traditionally been A) time for me to think of a baby in a stable  and  B) to open presents related to the Beatles . At the moment it’s two Beatle shirts and a book of John Lennon letters, later on it should be The Beatles at the BBC volume two.But in the midst of all this joy I am angered by the ridiculous release on ITunes of The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963. This has been made even worse with the rumour that Universal (The Beatles current record label) are intending to release in January a collection of The Beatles US Albums.

In the case of the “Bootleg” recordings some critics have unfairly attacked the material. If you are a fan of Anthology One, you will enjoy  the historic nature of the outtakes, radio recordings and rare demos. You probably won’t enjoy the price.  Both UK and Australian fans have been slammed with charges close to circa $70 Australian. In an era of digital technology , with no liner notes and poor cover art this is akin to highway robbery. To put this into perspective I paid around $50 Australian for the original Anthology Two in 1996. Anthology Two was  the best of the anthology series featuring rare live performances and the development of Sgt Pepper. In that instance it was an old style double jewel case with liner notes and two CD’s, and I have the photographs to prove it!

Whilst I have always wanted a legitimate copy of Bad to Me, and outtakes are always fun. Not for this price. True, fans will pay high prices for real bootlegs. But this is from a legitimate source, not a dodgy geezer  wearing a plastic mac in a deserted car park on a rainy night. With a retail price markedly higher than any other single Beatles release (Including the comparable Anthology series) , the men in the mac’s or the dudes with downloads won’t go out of business just yet. Whilst the release of this material to ensure it can still be legally owned by the Beatles is  a fair case, both Dylan and the Beach Boys have arguably handled recent issues from this era with more sensitivity. Looking at the upcoming box set release of the US albums is also deceptive.  Already attempted using the original US masters in 2004/2006 by EMI but mysteriously left incomplete. This sounds really good, the package to even include the famous “butcher” cover  and Hey Jude album. However, unlike the EMI issue which remastered the original (controversial) US mixes , rumours suggest that the newer box set will be more sonic recreation from the 2009 remasters than historically accurate. If not to make money, what is the point of these releases? As a Beatles fan, I will buy good product at ridiculous prices. But not this time. If Universal continues to market The Beatles in this way, they risk seriously damaging the brand. Perhaps I’ll put  Dylan and the Beach Boys on my Christmas list next year instead.


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