The Beatles are the undisputed kingpins of the pop world by now, and the Beeb has to fight for their spare time just like everyone else. But they remain committed to Saturday Club, the programme they grew up with as teenagers, and in March turn in a very interesting session indeed.
This rendition of Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby is so totally different to the one put down for Pop Go The Beatles a year earlier, and really highlights the shift in The Beatles' sound away from flat-out dance hall music to a more laid back style. Paul's bass really pumps and George's newly acquired twelve string Rickenbacker gives this song and the others on this session a really unique sound. John performs the only other known rendition of I Call Your Name but doesn't seem quite sure of the words. He makes up for it in full with a screaming version of I Got A Woman, once again so totally different to the Pop Go The Beatles version. This shows that The Beatles took these sessions seriously - they must have found time to rearrange it in a different style since it's unlikely they'd performed it since their previous recording. This track like several others has double tracked vocals, a technique they were virtually addicted to by now. Sure To Fall was obviously one of their favourite songs, and here features for the first time the same "ska" reggae beat in the middle section that they'd recently used on I Call Your Name. Long Tall Sally has changed from the fast version with a skip drum beat that they did all through 1963 to a four-in-the-bar treatment they would keep from now on. Evidence once again that The Beatles didn't just pump out the same old sounds over and over like some critics claimed. They were constantly reinventing themselves.
The third From Us To You is another interesting session, with four numbers that had not yet appeared on record. I Forgot To Remember is a rare gem indeed for 1964, with George showing an increasing fondness for country guitar sounds. Honey Don't is still sung by John, although by now it incorporates Carl Perkins' walking lead guitar part that was missing from their previous rendition. And Ringo turns in one of his rare BBC vocals on Matchbox, sounding particularly eager.
Top Gear was the first of a new generation of "with it" pop programmes that dispensed with the jazz and middle of the road and concentrated on live sessions with a rock flavour. Unlike Saturday Club, it was on late at night after the kiddies had gone to bed and was squarely aimed at a more mature teenage audience. The Beatles appeared on the debut show and turned in a great session, with interesting electrified versions of And I Love Her and If I Fell. A Hard Day's Night was for some reason edited to incorporate the solo from the actual record. Why exactly this was done has never been satisfactorily explained. This edition was excerpted in part in the debut edition of "Top Of The Pops" - not the tv show of the same name but a special series created by the BBC Transcription Service. The one hour radio show was hosted by Brian Matthew and contained only live BBC sessions, which were pressed onto disc and circulated across the globe. Running to literally hundreds of editions, it would preserve for posterity many of these valuable sessions throughout the sixties and beyond. A copy of the Top Gear broadcast was also kept by producer Bernie Andrews, which accounts for the existence of the remaining tracks.
Finally there is an extract from the recording session for the final From Us To You. How exactly this survives is unknown, but perhaps a copy was kept by one of the studio staff. Sadly very little material of this sort seems to exist.
Track 47 provides a glimpse into the Light Programme's habit of playing random BBC sessions after midnight. Since these were never logged there is no way of knowing what was played, but it's not hard to imagine that some Beatles sessions got another airing.
Around this time Pop Go The Beatles was also revived for airing on the General Overseas Service (aka BBC World Service), although the guests artists were discarded and new links recorded. Only episodes 11-15 of the original PGTB series were mined (the rest had probably already been erased); two more runs under the same title would follow with material mined from Top Gear, Saturday Club and Ticket To Ride. Frustratingly, since the GOS transmitted from London using tape rather than disc, they would appear not to have survived.http://www.dereferer.org/?http%3A%2F%2Fwe%2Etl%2F6wrCyLjsmx
Note: this zip also includes a patch for the BBC Beatles Night (Paul's intro for Money) plus typo-corrected versions of a handful of covers.