Extra security is stationed outside the Capitol Records compact disc plant in Jacksonville, Ill., where millions of copies of the first new Beatles music in 25 years are being produced.
Capitol hopes to dump the first of three boxed sets on the market the day after ABC television's Nov. 19 airing of "Free As a Bird," the first of two newly completed Beatles songs.
In addition to the curiosity factor involved in the new recordings, the anthology series promises to be a treasure trove for Beatlemaniacs who are starved for something different from the limited body of work the group left behind.
The first anthology contains several unreleased recordings, including two that date back to 1958, some live performances, and alternate takes of many old favorites.
Those who have heard most of the material, while not trying to dampen the hype surrounding part one, suggest the more intriguing and valuable recordings will come with the second and third sets next year.
"Free As a Bird" is attracting the most interest. The three surviving Beatles went into the studio to add voices and instruments to a home recording left behind, and never released, by the late John Lennon. It reportedly was written in response to Lennon's victory over immigration authorities in the 1970s.
The set will also include two 1958 recordings by the Quarry Men, the Liverpool band that featured Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison and predated the Beatles. They cover Buddy Holly's hit, "That'll Be the Day." Three other original songs from pre-Beatlemania days also are included.
Five songs are featured from the Beatles' January 1962 audition with Decca Records, when they were turned down by executives who thought guitar groups were on the way out.
Other previously unreleased material on the CD from the Beatles' early days include "How Do You Do It," a song later recorded by Gerry and the Pacemakers, and "Leave My Kitten Alone," a rhythm and blues number sung by Lennon. Several "alternate" versions of well-known songs show how the Beatles experimented before settling on an approach.
"Listening to the songs, the working versions of the songs, enables one to feel almost as if you're working with them in the studio. It's a chance to eavesdrop on the creative process," says Mark Lewisohn, author of six Beatles books.