Music Review: The Beatles Serve Up 14—or Maybe 15—’Rarities’

The Beatles Rarities

If almost any artist other than the Beatles were to issue an album like Rarities—which is dominated by slightly different outtakes of previously released tunes—it would seem like a ludicrous ripoff. Can you imagine paying good money to hear Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” in mono or Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” with an extra drum roll at the end? I doubt it, but the Beatles are the exception that proves the rule; it’s hard to stifle curiosity about variations on music that we know and love this well.

That’s why the original Rarities, available only in a very expensive limited edition of all Beatles material, attracted much airplay and demands for wider accessibility. At any rate, I’m having lots of fun with this 14-track package (15, if you count the two seconds of laughter and gibberish called “Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove”). Among the many highlights: the version of “I’m Only Sleeping” that appeared on the British Revolver LP; a stereo recording of “Penny Lane,” a song that, amazingly enough, had previously been available only in mono; and “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number),” a delightful novelty that has hitherto been known just to those with access to the flip side of the “Let It Be” single.

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