The Beatles – Complete Rooftop Mix (Medusa MD-013)


The Beatles “Complete Rooftop Mix” (Medusa MD-013)

Roll Announcement / Get Back #1 (Warm Up) / Get Back #2 / Get Back #3 / Don’t Let Me Down / I’ve Got A Feeling / One After 909 / Dig A Pony / I’ve Got A Feeling #2 / Don’t Let Me Down #2 / Get Back #4 / Nagra Roll From The Street (49:28)

The Beatles most famous concert must be the bands most bootlegged too. A final farewell to pop music as a band after various other concepts and conceits were abandoned in favor of something a little more homegrown, this performance on the roof of the Beatles offices at No. 3 Saville Row, London was a simple affair but created as much commotion as it could, driving people from their local offices to crane their necks and listen to the ‘electronic noise’ outside.

Medusa are the latest in the long line of labels who have had a bash at the best version of this gig. Debate rages as to the previous best of this venerable outdoors venue – Yellow Dog and Vigotone hold the plaudits for the first versions to hit CD while both of them later came up with their own versions from the Nagra reels – Vigotone electing a compilation of the best bits, YD pushing out a double set, recorded from all angles including a worms eye view from the street.

Medusas compilation of all the existent reels (presumably borrowed from Yellow Dogs excessive set with a little bit of the “Let It Be” film to fill in any gaps) begins with the take announcements for each camera in turn. A stereo effect that spans – from left to right – the B rolls recorded from the street, the D rolls recorded from the opposite rooftop, the A rolls recorded right in front of the band and then on to the C roll recorded in Apples reception room, capturing the coming and going through the doors of No. 3.

It’s a wildly variable performance displayed here. Sometimes you get the feeling (excuse the pun) that you’re in a new vantage point that hasn’t been captured before, the sound through headphones is, what I believe, what the whole shebang would have sounded like to the audience at street level, outside of the doors to the offices, if you were standing close to the interviewer on the street. The audiences reactions in their brief interviews are priceless sometimes from grumpy dismay to slack jawed innocence through palpable excitement and are brilliant fun. The only real problem is the mix itself sometimes – due to the limitations of the source material we some times pan from stage right to a severe left without warning as the reels drop out as they were paused or a telephone will ring – a little bit of an oddity when portable phones weren’t as freely available – the beeps of the Nagra reels or their recorders is an small niggle too but years of listening to Get Back era bootlegs have softened the blow for me.

I’d certainly recommend this disk to Beatle fanatics for the sound. A heavily textured, stereo blend of the days performance with an interesting new perspective. If you’re not as in depth a curator of the Fab’s performances I’d seek out one of the other, straightforward versions of the Rooftop concert.

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