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Nine years after the release of the first volume of The Beatles’ BBC recordings, another cache of songs surfaces: no fewer than 40 of them, a mix of rock and roll covers and versions of their own hits.

Recorded between 1962 and 1965, they’re a time capsule of the foursome’s early days as a tightly knit, hard-working band, cranking out Chuck Berry songs (“Memphis, Tennessee” is a highlight) and channelling Roy Orbison on “Please, Please Me”.

The performances are live, one-take affairs, at once vibrant and professional, and the period detail is augmented by chat between BBC deejays and the Fabs, a lovely glimpse of their sharp-witted charisma. “John,” says Alan “Fluff” Freeman, “alongside all your singing commitments I am told that you’re budding into a real blooming Somerset Maugham. Is that right?” “No,” replies Lennon. “Why not?” asks Fluff. “Well,” says the singer, “I’m not blooming.”

The Beatles

On Air: Live at the BBC Volume 2

(UMC)

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