The legendary Rock'n'Roll Circus made in 1968 featured the last appearance of the band's doomed guitarist Brian Jones. There was an astonishing array of stars in support, including John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull and The Who.
The entire extravaganza was filmed, but never released. Now it will be available on CD soundtrack and video, issued by ABKCO Records.
As the Beatles album soars to the top of the UK charts, other groups are set to release archive collections, making 1996 the year of the outtake. Sony Music plans to issue perhaps the most famous unreleased piece of rock music of all, Bob Dylan's 1966 concert with The Band at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a pulsating session in which a member of the audience shouted "Judas" at Dylan for deserting his folk roots. It has been available as a bootleg for more than 25 years.
The likely cash bonanza is repairing fractured friendships. Peter Gabriel, who was lead singer of Genesis in the Seventies, has reunited with Phil Collins and the rest of the band he left more than a decade ago. They will search through the archives for marketable outtakes.
The prospect is of rejected material that has been mouldering for decades now earning millions. According to former Stones bass player Bill Wyman, Rock'n'Roll Circus - which includes classic but slurred tracks such as "Jumping Jack Flash" - was never shown because "when Mick [Jagger] saw the rushes of the shoot he insisted that our appearance was below standard, since we'd gone on so late and so tired."
But with the money to be made different standards are beginning to apply. The Beatles may well be embarrassed on Christmas Day when London's Capital Radio, after delving into its own archives, presents an interview with George Martin, the Beatles' producer and compiler of the Anthology albums.
Talking in 1988, Martin said out of the outtakes: "To be honest, they are not very good. I mean, I've listened to everything. But if they weren't the Beatles, nobody would think twice about it. They would just consign them to the rubbish heap. They are only of historical interest for those nuts who want to listen to the Beatles coughing or something. I didn't think much of them at all."
By contrast with the enthusiasm of the surviving Beatles, who are considering releasing yet more tracks from the archives, Jagger was not keen on releasing early material now, and he had not approved the Rock'n'Roll Circus release, a spokesman said. Pointing to the new Stones CD-Rom Voodoo Lounge, he added: "Mick doesn't look back, he looks to the future and is obsessed with CD-Rom."Reuse content