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'The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963' Reaches Billboard 200 despite $40 price tag


Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of.

Week of 12/27/2013

WHO: The Beatles

WHAT: The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963

SPOT: 172

Back of The Billboards is a feature meant to highlight new releases from up-and-coming or at least smaller performers, but the last few weeks of the year don't bring in many new releases. The Beatles and the Universal Music Group took a page out of Beyonce's book and released The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 as an iTunes exclusive on December 17. 

The compilation collects 59 tracks from the band leading up to its first studio album in 1963, including 44 live tracks from the band's performances on BBC, as well as 15 outtakes from the studio. The collection totals more than two hours of music, but only one track tops three minutes, so it's fairly easy listening. 

Plenty of rock bands from that era frequently find themselves the subjects of new collections that claim to contain essential content for fans. More often than not, these claims are false. It's tough to deny how much value a Beatles fanatic will find in this collection. The outtakes of tracks such as "Do You Want To Know a Secret" and "Hold Me Tight" are interesting, but listening to the band's live performances is a much more intriguing experience.

Most interesting is the band's covers of its own favorite musicians, which at that point were probably less than ten years old. The aforementioned three-minute track is a cover of Arthur Anderson's excellent "Ann (Go To Him)," but the cover of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" is also well worth a listen. Listening to "Twist and Shout," a song The Beatles would make famous, is surreal considering how young the band was in its career at that point. 

The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 might be pricey at $40 for a download, but it might be worth it to dedicated Beatlemaniacs. 

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