Beatles fan? Got a spare £20,000 in your back pocket? Then you might want to get yourself along to London auction house The Fame Bureau next week, where the Fab Four’s infamous Decca audition tape is due to go under the hammer.
On New Year’s Day 1962 John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and original Beatles drummer Pete Best recorded a 15-track demo for Decca Records, the label which famously refused to sign the band and told their manager Brian Epstein “The Beatles have no future in show business.”
Comprising 12 covers and three original tracks, the Decca session features the Beatles in transition from a cabaret club act to a band of bona fide pop stars. Here’s the track list:
1. “Like Dreamers Do” (Lennon–McCartney) 2. “Money (That’s What I Want)” (Gordy/Bradford) 3. “Till There Was You” (Meredith Willson) 4. “The Sheik of Araby” (Smith/Wheeler/Snyder) 5. “To Know Her Is to Love Her” (Phil Spector) 6. “Take Good Care of My Baby” (King/Goffin) 7. “Memphis, Tennessee” (Chuck Berry) 8. “Sure to Fall (In Love with You)” (Cantrell/Claunch/Perkins) 9. “Hello Little Girl” (Lennon–McCartney) 10. “Three Cool Cats” (Leiber/Stoller) 11. “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” (Buddy Holly) 12. “Love of the Loved” (Lennon–McCartney) 13. “September in the Rain” (Warren/Dubin) 14. “Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velázquez) 15. “Searchin'” (Leiber/Stoller)
The recording has never been officially issued, though five tracks did appear on The Beatles Anthology CD collection in 1995, and the session has been widely bootlegged over the years.
Anyone bidding in next week’s auction won’t be getting the whole session though, as the tape on offer is a 10-track “safety master” or back-up. However, according to Ted Owen of the Fame Bureau, the tape does offer something that the bootlegs don’t: high-fidelity sound.
“The most important thing about this is the quality,” he said. “There are bootlegs out there, horrible bootlegs – some are at the wrong speed, others are crackily and taken from a cassette off an acetate (disc). This quality we’ve never heard.”
The tape is expected to fetch between £18-20,000 when it is sold on Tuesday 27 November, but if you fancy saving yourself a small fortune, have a listen to the full session below:
If you’re in the mood for more from the Beatles after that, why not have a look at our A-Z guide to the group?