Beatles’ ‘Rooftop Performance’ to Be Released as a Streaming Audio Album

An exhibit with clothing, instruments and written lyrics from the 'Let It Be'/'Get Back' recording sessions is also set to open at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in March.

giles martin
Courtesy Apple

Few Beatles fans had complaints about Peter Jackson’s recent “The Beatles: Get Back” documentary, but to the extent they did, there were some grumblings that the faithful wanted a way to hear the entire rooftop concert that makes up the last portion of the docu-series without the spoken interjections of the interceding British policemen or man-on-the-street interviews.

Now, they’ll be getting their wish, along with the luxury of being able to listen to the entire mini-concert in their homes or cars on demand. The audio of the full 1969 performance is being released to streaming services as “The Beatles: Get Back — The Rooftop Performance,” starting at midnight ET/9 p.m. PT tonight. (Or at 5 a.m. GMT Friday, for those Apple Scruffs that happen to be in the vicinity of the London locale whee it was recorded.)

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The Beatles’ ‘Rooftop Performance’ streaming audio album cover artwork Courtesy Apple

Three songs from the show, which many Londoners could hear but only a few could see, made it onto the 1970 “Let It Be” album: “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “One After 909” and “Dig a Pony.” But this marks the first audio release of the full 42-minute performance  the Beatles’ last public concert as a group, and their only one after 1966. But the new streaming release allows fans to finally officially enjoy live versions of two other tracks that were performed on the rooftop, “Get Back” and “Don’t Let Me Down,” outside the context of the documentary. The rooftop concert also included alternate versions of three of those five songs.

Giles Martin and Sam Okell remixed the concert, as they did most of the music included in the recent “Let It Be” boxed set and all of the performances heard in part or in full in Jackson’s “Get Back” series. They did separate stereo and Dolby Atmos mixes of “The Rooftop Performance.”

The release of the streaming album precedes the Feb. 8 release of Jackson’s documentary on home video, following an exclusive run for Disney Plus subscribers that began Thanksgiving weekend.

The 53rd anniversary of the rooftop concert is this Sunday. The occasion will be marked over the weekend by different rounds of commemorative activity. Norah Jones will release her own two-song rooftop concert: She and her band sang “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Let It Be” atop the Empire State Building, filmed performances of which will debut on her YouTube channel at noon ET/9 a.m. Friday.

The cast members of the Beatles-themed “Love” show in Las Vegas have a rooftop video, too, of a special “Get Back” performance, debuting on the Cirque du Soleil YouTube channel Saturday morning at 9 a.m. ET/6 PT.

On Friday, SiriusXM’s Beatles channel will air the entire rooftop performance, interspersed with commentary by Beatles historian Kevin Hewlitt — a special that will repeat throughout the weekend and be available to stream on the SiriusXM app.

And on Sunday, an hour-long excerpt from Jackson’s “Get Back” that includes the set-up for the rooftop show as well as the performance will run in IMAX theaters nationwide, accompanied by a video Q&A with Jackson.

Come March, there’ll be a more tactile tribute to the era documented in the “Get Back” film, as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland will open an exhibition named “The Beatles: Get Back to Let It Be” March 18. Items loaned by the members of The Beatles or their survivors include the handwritten lyrics for “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “Dig a Pony” and “I Me Mine” by Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison respectively; the red raincoat Ringo Starr wore for the rooftop performance, as well as his maple Ludwig drum hit, Harrison’s pink pinstripe suit, and other items of clothing seen in the docu-seroes; and Lennon’s Epiphone electric guitar and eyeglasses.

The song list for the new 40-minute “Rooftop Performance” streaming album:

“Get Back” (Take 1)
“Get Back” (Take 2)
“Don’t Let Me Down” (Take 1)
“I’ve Got A Feeling” (Take 1)
“One After 909”
“Dig A Pony”
Jam/excerpt of “God Save The Queen” (tape change interlude)
“I’ve Got A Feeling” (Take 2)
“Don’t Let Me Down” (Take 2)
“Get Back” (Take 3)