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Mythology of the Beatles

How Rare Out-takes From Their Sessions Found Their Way Out Of Abbey Road Studios

By Bernard Webb

During their eight-year career as recording artists, the Beatles laid down literally hundreds of hours of tape to produce their 12 official albums, 21 singles and one EP of all-new material. Each set of recordings was painstakingly logged in Mark Lewisohn's ground-breaking 1988 book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, which detailed take numbers, mono and stereo remixes and a multitude of unreleased songs and alternate versions.

For the first time, the wider public had detailed knowledge of just what went on at Abbey Road studios, and millions of Beatles fans went green with envy at the thought of Lewisohn listening to all those unedited session tapes. But while the book proved that some tracks were just figments of someone's imagination ("Pink Litmus Paper Shirt", "Colliding Circles"), it confirmed the existence of unreleased songs like "What's The New Mary Jane", "Not Guilty", and "12-Bar Original".

But when were EMI and Apple going to let these tracks see the light of day? Working tapes of the Beatles' recorded oeuvre were always the ultimate Holy Grail for the fanatic, who could only dream of hearing all this stuff until a series of bootlegs began to appear on the black market in the late 80s.

Beatles bootlegs date back to the late 60s with albums like "Sweet Apple Trax" and "Kum Back" that collected some of the never-ending "Get Back"/"Let It Be" sessions. The "Alpha/Omega" 4-LP pirate box sets of 1973 compiled some of the band's best tracks, which actually prompted Apple and EMI to release the official "1962-1966" and "1967-1970" albums. In the main, 70s bootlegs presented the curious fan with a variety of live tracks, broadcasts, interviews, yet more "Get Back" sessions, but only a smattering of genuine out-takes.

When, in 1988, the Swingin' Pig CDs "Ultra Rare Trax" Vols. 1 and 2 appeared, it was like manna from St. John's Wood. Previously, the majority of Beatles bootleg releases (in common with other "honoured" artistes) were a poorly mastered, lo-fi mish-mash of tracks, misleadingly annotated (if at all), and were usually housed in a plain white sleeve with a photocopied insert. At the time, it seemed beyond the realms of possibility to ever hear Take 1 of "Can't Buy Me Love" or ragged run-throughs of "A Hard Day's Night" in pristine stereo quality.

Then the floodgates opened. Two double vinyl sequels appeared in 1989: "Ultra Rare Trax Volumes 3 and 4", and "5 and 6". From out of nowhere, fellow European company Yellow Dog upped the ante by issuing their "Unsurpassed Masters" series. Unfortunately, by 1993, the well appeared to have run dry.

However, that was not the end of the story. Strawberry, a subsidiary of Yellow Dog which has been operating since 1994, recently issued three box sets of out-takes, TV and radio interviews and live recordings, called "Mythology". The 11 CDs (analysed in detail below) have provided a few new finds - a real gem in Take 11 of "What You're Doing" and pristine-quality versions of an abandoned re-make of "That Means A Lot".

Twelve years after the fact, what was the mysterious source of these EMI session tapes? It's a question many an exasperated EMI exec is keen to know the answer to, and all has been revealed within the booklets housed inside each "Mythology" box. Included are reams of technical notes taken from the personal notebook of EMI recording engineer, the late John Barrett. They list every track that exists in the Abbey Road archives, starting with "Besame Mucho" from 6th June 1962 through to the "Ringo version" of "Love Me Do", dubbed from disc on 20th September 1962, in time for the single's 20th anniversary reissue.

But who was John Barrett, and why was he given unprecendented access to the Beatles' EMI recordings? Furthermore, was Barrett responsible for the hundreds of bootlegs that have surfaced in the last 15 years?


The story of the John Barrett tapes begins in 1976, when the Beatles' nine-year contract with EMI expired. For the first time, the company was free to take stock of what recordings resided in the archives, for possible exploitation as reissues and repackages of existing material. The first releases were the double-album "Rock'n'Roll Music" and a complete set of reissues of the Fabs' UK singles.

When EMI and Capitol issued two different albums called "Rarities" in 1978 and 1980, fans were disappointed that they only included rare mixes, rather than any of the unreleased songs that were rumoured to exist. However, the notion of exploiting the archives was still floating around the minds of EMI executives.

As Abbey Road studio manager Ken Townsend related in The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, John Barrett was a young balance engineer at the studios who became seoiusly ill with cancer in the early 1980s. "During the time he was undergoing chemotherapy," recalled Townsend, "John asked if there was anything to do to keep his mind occupied. My suggestion was that he listened through every Beatles tape and logged all the details -- a job he did to perfection."

It's these logs that form the basis of the "Mythology" booklets -- Barrett produced a colour-coded catalogue of each Fabs tape, complete with take details, job numbers and any other items of interest. For example, the Harrison song "Long Long Long" was the subject of several sessions in October 1968 -- Barrett notes that "first few takes wiped; takes 63-67 now at start [of tape]". More interesting is the unused reel of sound effects for "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", and the cancelled 1964 EP, "Golden Hits".


Even more fascinating (especially where unreleased tracks are concerned) are tape reels of mixed versions of the abandoned "Get Back" LP bearing the legend "Do Not Use For Mastering" and dated 29th July 1970 -- three months after the final cut of "Let It Be" was completed.

Then there were tracks like "Not Guilty" and "What's The New Mary Jane", which were mastered in June 1971, and may have formed part of the unfinished Long And Winding Road soundtrack (Neil Aspinall's lengthy film biography that ultimately became Anthology).

There were also versions of "One After 909", "If You've Got Trouble", "That Means A Lot", "Come And Get It", "Leave My Kitten Alone" and 1969 takes of "Shake, Rattle & Roll", "Not Fade Away", "Mailman Blues" and something titled "Rock Jamming", all of which were mastered in April 1976. This was around the same time that tracks for the "Rock'n'Roll Music" album were collated, which indicates that these up-tempo numbers may have been slated to appear on that collection.

Ken Townsend recalled that he and Barrett were invited to a Beatles convention in 1982 to promote the release of Brian Southall's book on Abbey Road studios. The secrets of Barrett's catalogue formed the basis of a compelling question-and-answer session, in which many secrets of the archives were revealed for the first time.

That same year, the control room at Abbey Road Studio 2 was due for an overhaul, to enable the installation of updated recording equipment. With ticket receipts as an incentive, EMI took the unprecendent step of throwing open the doors to Studio 2 during the 'down-time', and running a 90-minute audio-visual show, The Beatles At Abbey Road, between July and September 1983 (see below).

The programme promised previously unreleased Beatles songs from the archives, several of which have remained unheard in their remixed form to this day. Barrett sifted through what was suitable for the public's ears, tape copies were made of certain job numbers (entire sessions in some cases) and fresh stereo remixes were prepared. These tapes remained in Barrett's possession until his untimely death from cancer in 1984, whereupon they were sold privately.

Here, the plot thickens. Capital Radio DJ Roger Scott was chosen to narrate the Beatles At Abbey Road show. A keen collector of obscure rock artefacts, he was apparently given access to a different cache of Abbey Road tapes, and even flagrantly presented snippets on a 9-part American Westwood One radio show, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: A History Of The Beatles Years 1962-1970, broadcast in 1984.

Out-takes from songs such as "Do You Want To Know A Secret", "A Hard Day's Night", "I Feel Fine", "Ticket To Ride", "Help!", "Day Tripper", "We Can Work It Out" and "Paperback Writer" were all mixed into the programmes. Before his death in 1989, Scott apparently sold the tapes to benefit his estate, and virtually complete session tapes of each of the above songs soon appeared on various bootlegs.

Which brings us to the publication of Lewisohn's Recording Sessions book in 1988. By an uncanny coincidence, the first two volumes of Swingin' Pig's "Ultra Rare Trax" bootlegs hit the streets around the same time, implicating the unfortunate author as the source of the leakage. In fact, they were merely the first instalment of the John Barrett tapes -- acquired before Lewisohn ever set foot in Abbey Road.

"Ultra Rare Trax 1 and 2" contained such gems as the unedited version of "How Do You Do It", "Leave My Kitten Alone", "If You've Got Trouble", "That Means A Lot", Take 1 of "I'm Looking Through You", "The One After 909" and alternate takes of "I Am The Walrus", "Paperback Writer", and others. These collections were a landmark in Beatles bootlegs, offering excellent sound quality, courtesy of the John Barrett tapes.

The Barrett tapes had remained "hot" for several years, but once Swingin' Pig had taken the first step by illegally issuing them, other underground labels followed suit. In 1992, American label Vigotone issued the albums "Arrive Without Travelling" and "Nothing But Aging", featuring several previously unreleased EMI out-takes in poor sound quality (which Strawberry have now issued in pristine condition). In 1995, Yellow Dog issued "The Ultimate Collection", three box-sets of live and studio material.

According to reports, the Strawberry "Mythology" material was ready to hit the market in 1999 from an American source, but a notorious FBI bust put the kibosh on the goods being ready for the Liverpool Beatles convention. The tapes have finally been presented in box-set form, and more John Barrett excavations are promised from Strawberry in the near future. An independently produced European double-CD (based on a US disc released in 1999), distastefully titled "Turn Me On, Dead Man" (actually "No. 9, No. 9" from "Revolution 9" played backwards -- Conspiracy Theory Ed) features some of the EMI John Barrett material, alongside some stereo remixes not available on the Strawberry sets, and the tasty addition of the noticeably different 'Remix 11' of "Tomorrow Never Knows" that appeared on initial matrix "-1" pressings of "Revolver".

While this may bode well for those fans who dare dip a toe into the murky world of bootleggery, what of the law-abiding citizen who can't -- or won't -- purchase illegal CDs? Of the three official "Anthology" releases, a great deal had appeared before on underground releases -- and undoctored into the bargain. It seemed the way was now clear for a comprehensive archive reassessment -- something that Elvis, Doors and Hendrix fans simply take for granted.

Think again! Rumours that the 30th anniversary of The Beatles would contain a bonus disc of unreleased material (the 20 minutes-plus "Helter Skelter", for instance) proved unfounded. Likewise, the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, which featured some revelatory remixes, could at least have included, for example, the unedited "It's All Too Much", which these "bloodsucking bootleggers" have made available to fans on numerous occasions. In fact, before the release of the album, Apple had made encouraging noises about issuing the whole of this psychedelic masterpiece -- after all, George Harrison himself had been heavily involved in the remixing of the track.

Sadly, it wasn't to be. So what does the future hold for the Beatles connoisseur? It seems likely that "Let It Be" will be the next project to fall under the remastering microscope, but will this be a straight reissue of the soundtrack and film?

Rumblings about a 'Project X' titled "The Best Of The Beatles" around Christmas last year came to nothing, and many fans feel that they're getting a raw deal from EMI and Apple, by shelling out for -- admittedly brilliantly polished -- previously-available material.

It seems only a matter of time before the entire Beatles sessions are available to download from an official website, but until then, the bootleggers have the monopoly on these rare recordings.


The intervention of the BPI Blue Meanies has put paid to a hefty haul of illicit Beatles product in recent years, but as long as there's a demand, there will always be bootlegs -- a maxim no better illustrated than by the recent release of "Mythology" -- three box-sets (a total eleven CDs) of Fabs' ephemera spanning 1962 to 1969.

Strawberry Records have continued the pioneering work instigated by such labels as Swingin' Pig, Yellow Dog and Vigotone in the late 80s. Starting in 1999 with Glyn Johns' rejected second mix of the aborted "Get Back" album and previously unheard late 60s/early 70s George Harrison material ("A True Legend"), Strawberry are still unearthing interesting archive discoveries (however nefarious the means), with an eye for superior sound and packaging -- a situation Apple and EMI are still slow in responding to.

As for "Mythology", in the final analysis a great majority of the eleven-plus hours doesn't bear repeated listening -- for quality and aesthetic reasons. The music and chat could have been segregated onto separate discs (e.g. EMI sessions, BBC appearances, TV slots, etc) and unfortunately, much of that can be filed under 'negligible'. The verdict? There's 3 great CDs bursting to get out of 11, but then, some say the 'White Album' would have made a great single LP.

If you're casual fan, "What You're Doing" (Take 11), the "Rubber Soul" studio tracks, 'White Album' acetates, and the multi-track "Get Back" material are worthy of your listening pleasure. For others, too much is not enough, but the sets ably demonstrate the wealth of material that exists in the archives, begging for an official release.

BOX ONE 1962-64

CD 1 sets the template with a chronological mixture of BBC sessions, EMI out-takes and off-air audio recordings of rare telecasts and radio shots. The series opens with all 45 lo-fi seconds of "A Taste Of Honey" from a BBC broadcast on 25th October 1962, and four upgraded tracks from the group's first Saturday Club appearance on 22nd January 1963, including versions of "Love Me Do", Ritchie Barrett's "Some Other Guy", Little Eva's "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" and Macca crooning "Beautiful Dreamer" (which Brian Matthew charmingly describes as "an exciting rhythm and blues treatment").

The sound quality improves dramatically on the stereo "Please Please Me" and "From Me To You" EMI session material that has appeared (at varying tape speeds) more fully elsewhere -- three takes of "I Saw Her Standing There", one of "Do You Want To Know A Secret" (complete with a clean intro), six of "Thank You Girl" and four edit pieces for "From Me To You" demonstrate the Fabs' hard-working attitude in the studio. A five-minute audio snippet of John's appearance on the BBC's Juke Box Jury (alongside such luminaries as Katie Boyle) is a real find. Elvis's "Devil In Disguise" gets short shrift -- "he sounds like Bing Crosby" -- comparing it to a sing-a-long on a coach trip. Unreleased 1963 BBC session material and interviews round things off.

CD 2 kicks off with the audio to the Beatlemania-breeding appearance on Sunday Night At The London Palladium, captured on a Grundig reel-to-reel tape, purchased, so the notes inform us, for a quid at a Liverpool boot fair. The video soundtracks to the Royal Variety Performanc and The Morecambe and Wise Show are familiar through "Anthology 1", but they are presented here complete.

Unfortunately, the Beatles' memorable appearance as panellists on Juke Box Jury seems no longer to exist. Until this show can be unearthed, the last nine minutes of the programme are preserved aurally with the thumbs-down being given to Billy Fury, Bobby Vinton and girl group the Orchids, who emerge from the studio audience -- the lads are immediately contrite, with Lennon commenting "I'll buy two of your record". Speech highlights include Lennon's Doncaster dressing room reading of "The Neville Club" and a Gloucestershire hack attempting to glean their interests. George's hobbies include "Beethoven's poems and reading Telstar" -- told straight-faced while the yokel was undoubtedly taking it all down.

CD3 is much of a muchness, and co-stars Rolf Harris, Bruce Forsyth, and Jimmy Savile. The soundtrack to It's The Beatles is from the original BBC TV broadcast but is missing George's "Third Man Theme" outro which is available on video bootlegs.

For the second screamathon appearance on Sunday Night At The London Palladium, host Bruce Forsyth introduced the group via signs (Paul: "Normally, we tell a joke here but John couldn't think of one!"). The familiar Rolf/Fabs BBC jam on "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" has been speed-corrected (how could they tell?) and Lennon's Foyle's literary lunch debacle is presented in all its ten-second glory ("Thank you very much -- you've got a lucky face").

Recent video bootlegs have appeared of the Beatles' NME Pollwinners Concert appearances. Inevitably, off-line audio recordings of three are included (1965 and '66 appear on Box Two) and the '64 date comes with OTT introductions from Jimmy Savile and trademark "Fifth Beatle" Murray "The K".

BOX TWO 1964-66

CD1 begins with a nervous Paul chatting with David Frost regarding his aspirations for the near future. "I'd like to retire," he decides, but Frostie comments that he couldn't possibly retire until 2010! Takes 2 and 3 of "A Hard Day's Night" feature George's fumbling shots at the distinctive opening chord. "That's not it," chortles John. "You're still playing 'This Boy'!".

A Lennon-less Fab Three record some trailers for Top Gear (first heard, like most of the "rare" BBC material on the 1998 series The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes). An excerpt of George's appearance on Juke Box Jury includes a thumbs-up to the Zombies' "She's Not There".

The real highlight of all three volumes is undoubtedly Take 11 of "What You're Doing". Ringo's drum intro hasn't been devised, the guitar riff must have given the Byrds a few ideas, John and Paul share unison vocals and there's an unexpected key change and pause at the end. Why this wasn't used on "Anthology 1" instead of "Mr. Moonlight" (Take 4 of which is included here in untampered form) is baffling.

An ITN interviewer interrupts the Fabs' tea-break on the eve of 1964 election night, provoking some subtle barbs from Lennon and Harrison. "What would you like to see a new government bring in?" Ringo: "More wine."

CD2 begins with multiple takes of Paul's "That Means A Lot", which although intended for "Help!", remained consigned to the vaults. Take 1 (available on "Anthology 2" sans studio chat) and an edit piece are reasonable enough for an unremarkable filler, but they just wouldn't let it lie. Five takes (numbered 20 to 25) of an unwise uptempo re-make swiftly disintegrate into nothing.

Take 4 of the backing track to "Help!" features George having tempo problems with the descending riff leading into the verses. Paul suggests overdubbing it later, while John taps out a beat on his Jumbo acoustic. Peter Sellers' familiar "Grandma Awards" presentation begs for the visuals and the BBC chat finds the Fabs being confronted at every juncture by the hip and happenin' Brian Matthew, most notably on the 25-minute special, The Beatles Abroad.

A generous selection of "Rubber Soul" out-takes dominate CD3, although it's business as usual with a rare chat-show appearance on The Eamonn Andrews Show, where the blarney is chewed with journalist Katharine Whitehorn and playwright Wolf Mankowitz.

The public debut of "Yesterday" on Blackpool Night Out finds Lennon in wickedly deflating mood: "Thank you Ringo, that was wonderful!" Take 5 of "Run For Your Life" features John's spine-tingling, single-tracked vocal without Paul and George's harmonies, while the second of two tentative takes of "This Bird Has Flown" features unobtrusive bass and drums, and documents the song's slow-but-careful evolution.

Many a harsh word has been uttered about "12-Bar Original", but it's appealing as a curiosity, mainly because of the "Rubber Soul" ambience. An American remix of "The Word" features Lennon's double-tracked vocal clearer in the mix, possibly concocted by a wily bootlegger.

CD4 is dominated by the truly abysmal quality of a previously-unbootlegged performance from Essen, Germany in June 1966, while an inane press conference from the same city reveals four fatigued Fabs ("Do you like German girls?" Paul: "Yes").

An intriguing insight into the creative process of acid-era Lennon is provided with acoustic demos for "She Said, She Said" ("He said, I said") taped at his Weybridge home, much of which has previously appeared as part of The Lost Lennon Tapes. Brian Matthew's never far away, with more chat conducted midway through the "Revolver" sessions. The question of a British tour is skilfully dodged, while the Fabs' enthusiasm is most evident when discussing their new recordings. Two unremarkable stereo remixes of "She Loves You" engineered by Geoff Emerick for "A Collection Of Beatles Oldies" sound like a relic from a different age.

BOX THREE 1966-69

The studio years commence on CD1 with some interesting "Pepper"-era mono remixes. "When I'm Sixty Four" (RM [mono remix] 6) is essentially the released take, but it's interesting as the master was speeded up a semi-tone. "Strawberry Fields Forever" (RM3 from Take 7) has appeared before, but RM9 from Take 26 boasts a new vocal. RM10 of "Penny Lane" has all the final ingredients, with a prominent cor anglais that was later replaced by David Mason's piccolo trumpet solo.

The Beatles weren't even safe from Brian Matthew in the recording studio, with John and Paul interviewed at EMI about the recording of "Sgt. Pepper" and jokily evading the thorny issue of touring. The unedited "It's All Too Much" would have been a definite highlight had it not previously appeared on Vigotone's "The Lost Pepperland Reel" bootleg.

The Beeb's exclusive preview of the Fabs' most advanced album on Where It's At gets a full airing -- although it's patched together from a mixture of the original BBC tape and a murky off-air recording, the sense of excitement about the new LP can still be felt. Kenny Everett enthuses in his own inimitable style, while "A Day In The Life" remained unheard thanks to a BBC ban imposed on the same day.

CD 2 starts with Ringo's fond farewell to pirate station Radio London, and heralds the Summer of Love with take 58 of "All You Need Is Love" from the Our World broadcast (at the end, the backing tape cuts off and McCartney exclaims "Happy New Year everybody!"). The mega-mix of "I Am The Walrus" has been successfully created by skilfully editing together all known offical and unofficial versions, which although it's technically a bit of a cheat, is an interesting exercise.

John and George's earnest re-appearance on the David Frost show to promote meditation has been lifted off a video bootleg -- their first guest spot on the programme is also doing the rounds but doesn't appear here. "Magical Mystery Tour"-era BBC material comes in the form of a Miranda Ward interview with George during the shooting of the film, while John and Paul discuss the soundtrack with Where It's At's Kenny Everett and Chris Denning. Paul breaks into a piano ditty -- "All Together On The Wireless Machine" -- which has been heavily bootlegged before, but is now finally in much-improved quality.

CD3 includes the complete thirteen-and-a-half minute interview with Kenny Everett, recorded during sessions for the 'White Album', which appears to have come from a tape source for the first time. The ominous presence of Yoko Ono can be heard, and the involvement of George and Ringo is audible, which wasn't apparent on the broadcast version.

The John and Yoko David Frost interview from August 1968 makes for pretty dull listening until "Hey Jude" is played over the closing credits. Lennon evidently wasn't expecting it (the record wasn't in the shops for another week) and leads the studio audience in a spirited chorus.

The first version of "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" and the acoustic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" are now familiar, but the sing-along-a-Macca acoustic 'White Album' medley recorded during sessions for "I Will" has not appeared in full before. It outwears its welcome pretty quickly, but it's interesting to hear the "can you take me back" link to "Revolution 9" in its original context. The poor-quality McCartney 'White Album' Radio Luxembourg interview with Tony Macarthur isn't helped by a rather annoying on-air whine (the signal that is, not Macca).

The final disc of the series opens with some 'White Album' mono mixes from acetates, which have previously appeared on a very rare Japanese bootleg CD "Primary Colors" in inferior quality to this release. Both "Everybody's Got Something To Hide" and "Birthday" catch extraneous Lennon comments and count-ins at the start ("This is Ken McIntosh and the Roving Remixers"), while "Helter Skelter" has a false start and being a mono mix, fades before Ringo's blisters comment. "Dear Prudence" features a clean intro and finish, and was previously on Midnight Beat's "Gone Tomorrow, Here Today" CD.

The "Get Back" session material is a mixed bag -- brief excerpts of Lennon doing Sun-era Elvis rub shoulders with an appallingly out-of-tune "Hallelujah I Love Her So". Despite the bickering, the band could always rally around a golden oldie, like the Little Richard rock'n'roll medley "Miss Ann"/"Kansas City"/"Lawdy Miss Clawdy", presented here off a multi-track tape preserved by Glyn Johns.

The main man of the final CD is George, who offers a piano-led run-through of "Old Brown Shoe", featuring rather amateurish drumming from either Paul or John, and "How Do You Tell Someone?" -- one of a trove of unreleased Harrisongs from the period -- which is sabotaged by John's tuning and an unsolicited "Get Back" solo. George's demos of "All Things Must Pass", "Something" and "Old Brown Shoe" taped on his 26th birthday (featured on "Anthology 3") are presented in their original state. A jam comprising a shaky medley of "Cannonball"/"Not Fade Away"/"Hey Little Girl (In The High School Sweater)" and "Bo Diddley" first appeared on an old vinyl boot "File Under Beatles", but here it's taken from Johns' multi-tracks.

There's a chance to compare Glyn Johns' and Phil Spector's remixes of Paul's "Teddy Boy", done almost a year apart to the day. The Abbey Road medley has been restored as originally intended with "Her Majesty" following "Mean Mr. Mustard" and preceding "Polythene Pam", enabling the listener to hear where the disembodied chord at the opening of the song fits in. A minor stereo remix of "Come And Get It" brings things full circle.


From 18th July to 11th September 1983, Abbey Road studios in London threw open its doors to visitors for the first time. For the princely sum of 4.50 (plus refreshments), fans were given the opportunity to hear excerpts from a number of unreleased tracks and alternate takes for the first time.

The tour was held three times a day (at 10.30am, 3.30pm and 7.30pm), seven days a week, during which visitors were given a short tour of the studio complex before enjoying a 90-minute audio-visual presentation that included rare films along with the previously unheard tapes. Tickets were only available by applying to a PO Box number, and EMI were adamant about one thing -- this would be the only time the public were allowed into the inner sanctum of Abbey Road.

The audio-visual show, narrated by Roger Scott, featured new stereo remixes of commercially-released material along with the previously-unheard tracks. The show kicked off with the released version of "Love Me Do". This was followed by a brief snippet of the unreleased "How Do You Do It" and a sequence of takes of the group recording "Seventeen" (aka "I Saw Her Standing There"). A new mix of "Twist And Shout" was followed by an edited verison of "One After 909", a breakdown of "Don't Bother Me", and Takes 2 and 3 of "A Hard Day's Night".

A brief excerpt from "Leave My Kitten Alone" (which Roger Scott explained was "not a Lennon and McCartney original") led into a 1982 Mix of "I'm A Loser", and an early take of "She's A Woman". A new stereo version of "Ticket To Ride" was followed by Take 4 of the backing track to "Help!", and edited version of the first takes of "Norwegian Wood" and "I'm Looking Through You". New stereo mixes of "Paperback Writer", "Rain" and "Penny Lane" then heralded the 'studio years', which gave outsiders the first chance to hear Take 1 of "Strawberry Fields Forever". This segued into excerpts from both 'halves' of the finished recording to demonstrate the wonders worked by George Martin. "A Day In The Life" appeared complete with Lennon's count-in, and was followed by a new mix of "Hello Goodbye", and a take of "Lady Madonna" minus saxophones and with McCartney bursting into laughter at the start.

A rehearsal take of "Hey Jude" was followed by the now-familiar acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", complete with full ending. The final track was a mix of "Because" that started with the voices-only mix before the synthesiser backing was faded in at the end. The show ended with Ringo commenting: "Cheerio and best of luck from the Beatles!"

The event drew around 22,000 visitors and obviously appealed to bootleggers, a fact that hadn't occurred to EMI. However, after an audience member was caught trying to make an audio recording of the presentation, EMI installed metal detectors and security guards in the hallway leading into the studio to catch anyone trying to smuggle in tape recorders. There were also notices stating "Absolutely no sound recordings may be made of this presentation".

This didn't deter people, as three US fans conspired to smuggle in a small Sony cassette recorder to tape the show. To hide their 'illegal' equipment, they each had a shopping-bagful of London souvenirs, in which they had hidden the tape recorder, microphone, batteries and blank tapes. Unfortunately, they hadn't heard about the metal detectors, and almost fled when they saw the guards.

Unbelievably, the guard gave the bags a cursory once-over, passed the bags around the metal detector, sent the would-be bootleggers through the gates and gave them their bags back on the other side! The recording later appeared as an illegal double-LP, "The Beatles Live At Abbey Road" in 1984. Cheekily, a photography of the "no recordings" notice appeared in the gatefold sleeve. With the release of the John Barrett tapes, a clean soundtrack has now surfaced.