The “Complete” Rooftop Concert: What’s Missing and What’s New?

Album cover

So we have a new Beatles album! Yes, this time it’s only available on streaming platforms (Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, Pandora etc) and not even downloadable as a digital album from iTunes (although it was listed there as upcoming and then removed) and other providers. But streaming platforms IS the current best-selling way to release music, and I’m sure The Beatles have lucrative deals in place with the platforms of their choice. We don’t know whether or not Apple will make the album available as a download or as physical media in the future, what we do know is that if they don’t, bootleggers will. In fact, bootleggers are already all over this album.

But any way you look at it, it’s a new Beatles album and it was made available to the general public (aka “released”) on January 28, 2022. Unlike the current cinematic presentation which is more or less just the rooftop portion of the Disney+ documentary series, including interviews with bystanders, this is the real deal – full focus on The Beatles – just the concert with all the in-between-numbers chat and improvisations. Or is it? Mike Carrera examines.

The “Complete” Rooftop Concert: What’s Missing and What’s New?

Mike Carrera

Fans couldn’t be happier with everything that has been officially delivered to us regarding the January 1969 sessions and the mythical Rooftop Concert, which was actually more of an outdoor recording session (three of those performances were selected for the ‘Let it Be’ LP).

While we technically have it “complete” in terms of the five songs they chose to perform (doing multiple takes of three of them), there are bits of warm-up rehearsals and jams that were recorded between songs or while changing film reels and not all of it is included in the newly released official 2022 Audio Streaming mix, nor in Peter Jackson’s ‘Get Back’ documentary, as at that particular time the 8-track tape was also stopped by recording engineer Glyn Johns; however, luckily for collectors, most of the audio was recorded as well on portable NAGRA reel-to-reel tapes, albeit in monaural (or with ambient sound at street level recorded by Camera B while conducting interviews), and is only available on unofficial or Bootleg discs. Peter Jackson also had to use this audio recorded by the NAGRAS for his restoration of the Rooftop Concert (as well as the rest of his documentary ‘Get Back’) completing sections not available on the professional audio tape that we now have in Streaming, but he had to leave out the more distant-sounding fragments.

The importance of these improvisations as a real part of the event has been highlighted in the documentary ‘Get Back’ and the 2022 digital audio release by including as part of the “official set list”, the short rendition of “God Save The Queen” (plus the warm-up jams before “Dig A Pony” and “I’ve Got A Feeling Take 2” although they are not listed as separate tracks), however, there are many others that also deserve a mention. There is no “complete” version of the entire concert, official or Bootleg, and in order to have the vast majority of the event, it would be necessary to resort to the mono NAGRA tapes, the film ‘Let it Be’ or the Peter Jackson documentary, and the official audio recordings.

Being very detailed, this would be the complete Set List of the event of January 30, 1969 with a duration of 46 and a half minutes, of which Apple gave us 38:34 via Streaming and Peter Jackson about 42 minutes.

01-Arrival & Set-Up

02-“Get Back” -Warm-up Jam

03-Soundcheck: Drums & Bass

04-“Get Back” -Take 1

05-“Get Back”/”I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” Jam

06-“Don’t Let Me Down” -Warm-up Jam

07-“Get Back” -Take 2

08-“Don’t Let Me Down” -Take 1

09-“I’ve Got A Feeling” -Take 1/”Oh My Soul”

10-Concert interval

11-“One After 909”  -Warm-up Jam

12-“One After 909″/”Danny Boy”

13-“Dig A Pony”  -Warm-up Jam

14-“Dig A Pony”

15-“God Save The Queen” Jam

16-“I’ve Got A Feeling” -Warm-up Jam

17-“I’ve Got A Feeling” -Take 2 /”Rainy Day Women #12 & 35″

18-“A Pretty Girl is like A Melody”/”Get Back” (false start)

19-“Don’t Let Me Down” -Take 2

20-“Get Back” -Take 3

Depending on your listening tastes, you can choose different audio mixes regarding the performances on the Rooftop: ‘Let it Be’, ‘Let it be… Naked’, ‘Anthology 3’, ‘Let it Be 50th Anniversary’; the film ‘Let it Be’, the Peter Jackson documentary ‘Get Back’ (which has a totally different mix compared to the 2022 audio that just came out, both supervised by Giles Martin), the Streaming 2022 version, and Bootlegs discs; each one different: clearer voices, more prominent instruments, dialogues with better definition, etc. For this short review we will use only three versions and these abbreviations:

1-Official audio streaming 2022 ‘GET BACK THE ROOFTOP PERFORMANCE’= “Audio 2022”

2-Peter Jackson’s documentary ‘Get Back’ 2021 = “PJ Get Back”

3-NAGRA mono tapes (on Bootlegs).


01-Arrival & Set-Up  

The “concert” begins with the arrival of Paul and Ringo on the roof. Only the first 41 seconds were recorded by Glyn Johns on the 8-track tape (available on “Audio 2022”), he stopped recording everything until Take 1 of “Get Back”. Peter Jackson uses a much longer sequence with the help of the NAGRA tapes however he leaves out six seconds when director Michael Lindsay-Hogg asks for the first time to stop filming while the instruments (particularly drums) are being arranged, just before from Ringo’s comment “let’s set them up”; in the documentary “PJ Get Back” it seems that everything until that moment happens without interruptions. The complete audio is located on the NAGRA tapes.

02-“Get Back” -Warm-up Jam

Only available on NAGRA tape. A short warm-up rehearsal of about a minute that starts with many bass riffs and then from the middle-eight with George’s guitar solo over which Ringo and John gradually join in, Paul mistakenly sings the opening phrase “Jo Jo was…” at the same time that John sings the chorus “Get Back… Get Back”, Paul corrects himself and joins John. The rehearsal stops after singing the chorus twice, continues with more guitar and bass tunings and riffs, and Paul sings a-cappella “Jo Jo was a..”. Peter Jackson found a couple of film segments of this rehearsal, however the real audio available is very distant, so he had to improvise by mounting a fake audio: what he lets us hear in “PJ Get Back” as a soundcheck of 20 seconds of the song “Get Back” is actually from another take (George’s count-in heard is also from another performance) and doesn’t sound at all like the actual rehearsal, which was much more rustic and disorganized.

03-Soundcheck: Drums & Bass

Only available on NAGRA tape. For about a minute and 20 seconds, Glyn Johns conducts a sound check: he asks Ringo to let him hear some of the bass drum and Paul’s bass. An impatient Michael Lindsay-Hogg asks Johns “Tell me when you’re ready Glyn“, to which he replies somewhat annoyed: “Not Yet“. We can hear how Glyn is instructed by John to record the following performance, which would become Take 1 of “Get Back” on the Rooftop, although Glyn originally labeled it as “Rehearsal”.

04-“Get Back” -Take 1  

Available on “Audio 2022”, “PJ Get Back” and NAGRA tapes. The joking comment made by John before starting this first take “Come on you idiots” is more prominent on the NAGRA tapes or “PJ Get Back”. A second cut in the filming occurs at the end of the take to adjust the amplifiers. “Audio 2022” has at the end 4 seconds of previously unavailable dialogue with the voices of John and Billy Preston before Glyn stops the tape as well.

05-“Get Back” Jam/ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” Jam 

Only available on NAGRA tape. While Camera B was conducting some interviews in the street, they were able to record as ambient sound another short 25-second rehearsal with some chords from the song “Get Back”, and 20 seconds with the characteristic guitar riff of the song “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” which they would record weeks later for their next album; mostly instrumental and only with John on guitar however towards the end we can hear Paul’s voice “You… Uhh” and John answering “Yes

06-“Don’t Let Me Down” -Warm-up Jam

Only available on NAGRA tape. Paul continues with more bass chords as recording resumes, and for the next 20 seconds he takes the opportunity to vocalize “Don’t Let Me Down” as Billy Preston briefly joins him on organ. John jokes towards the end among other words with: “Each and every one of you.. Good night!”

07-“Get Back” -Take 2  

Available on “Audio 2022”, “PJ Get Back” and NAGRA tapes. “Audio 2022” begins with two never-before-heard seconds, John’s instructions on the order of the two songs they would perform one after the other, with no pauses: “(Don’t let) down”  then “I’ve Got a..(feeling)”.

08-“Don’t Let Me Down” -Take 1

09-“I’ve Got A Feeling”   -Take 1/ “Oh My Soul”

Available on “Streaming Audio 2022”, “PJ Get Back” and NAGRA tapes. This take of “I’ve Got A Feeling” was included on the ‘Let It Be’ album. John improvises the phrase “Oh My Soul” at the end as a reference to the Little Richard song.

John Lennon flubs some lyrics on “Don’t Let Me Down”, even though Kevin Harrington is holding up the lyrics.

10-Concert interval

The vocals are clearer on the NAGRA tape or “PJ Get Back” than on the “Audio 2022”. The group and the technicians take a break while John, Ringo and George take the opportunity to go to the edge of the roof to watch the people. Available partial (1:05) on “Audio 2022” and “PJ Get Back” at Glyn’s request to stop filming for a moment (he also stops the 8-track tape), however the NAGRA tape kept recording the audio and we have the complete sequence (1:35) with an additional 30 seconds where we hear the group tuning their instruments, of which Peter Jackson uses 18 seconds that he inserted without anyone noticing during the warm-up jam of “Dig A Pony ”, hidden in the mix during the scene where the cops are at the reception talking to Debbie and Jimmy and they are told that the group is not in the studio but on the roof.

11-“One After 909”  -Warm-up Jam

Available on the NAGRA tape. Only 14 seconds of what was a short instrumental rehearsal survive; at the end Billy Preston plays some notes on his keyboard.

12-“One After 909”/ “Danny Boy”

Available on “Audio 2022”, “PJ Get Back” and NAGRA tapes. This take was included on the ‘Let It Be’ album. At the end, John improvises a few lines from the song “Danny Boy” (Frederic Weatherly).

13-“Dig A Pony”  -Warm-up jam 

Lasting approximately a minute and a half that finally appears complete and in stereo in “Audio 2022” (partial in “PJ Get Back” and incomplete in NAGRA). Michael Lindsay-Hogg puts some pressure on Paul while John looks for the sheet where he has written down the lyrics to “Dig A Pony”: “What about running your old favorites?” to which Paul replies: “Like?… I don’t know”, and Michael keeps trying to get the group to perform some familiar song: “Do you know any of the old stuff?”, but is ultimately ignored. This dialogue is less prominent in “Audio 2022”.

14-“Dig A Pony”

© 2022 Apple Corps Ltd.

Available on “Audio 2022”, “PJ Get Back” and NAGRA tapes. This take was included on the ‘Let It Be’ album. It includes a brief false start at the request of Ringo, who still had his cigarette. At the end George says to John “Should we do “Can You Dig it”?”, Michael Lindsay-Hogg seconds the request: “Can You Dig it?”, to which John replies: “I don’t feel like it”, unfortunately this request from George is almost inaudible in “Audio 2022” but very prominent in the NAGRA tape or “PJ Get Back”. “Audio 2022” cuts long before the NAGRA tape, which continues for another 10 seconds: Glyn tells Michael Lindsay-Hogg to change reels while we can hear Paul playing some notes on the bass and George on the guitar.

15-“God Save The Queen” Jam

Partially available on “Audio 2022” and “PJ Get Back”, complete on the NAGRA tape. The first 6 seconds with a guitar intro are only available on the NAGRA, Glyn started recording it late and cut it at 25 seconds not allowing us to hear the final embellishment that Paul gave it with his bass; the full track continues for another 10 seconds with bass notes and electric guitars and Paul can be heard singing something like “Nice the Woman” in the distance. 25 seconds appear in the digital streaming “Audio 2022”. Peter Jackson used only 21 seconds from the 8-track tape, however the ending with Paul’s bass notes was reconstructed with the NAGRA tape. The full 40-second performance is available on the NAGRA tapes although the sound comes from Camera B at street level.

16-“I’ve Got A Feeling”  -Warm-up Jam

Another nearly two-minute warm-up rehearsal, previously available in mono as the group listened in the control room to what had been recorded moments before, now appears in perfect quality on “Audio 2022.” “PJ Get Back” only used ten seconds in the documentary.

17-“I’ve Got A Feeling”  -Take 2 /”Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”

Available on “Audio 2022”, “PJ Get Back” and NAGRA tapes. John improvises twice during the last verse of “I’ve Got A Feeling” the lines “Everybody must get stoned” from Bob Dylan’s 1966 song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”, while Paul answers him “I’ve Got a Feeling that everybody gotta get stoned”. The audio mix on “PJ Get Back” during this part is much clearer than on “Audio 2022” or the NAGRA tape.

18-“A Pretty Girl is like A Melody” /”Get Back” (false start)

In order not to lose the habit with John’s ad-libs he was doing that day, at the end of “I’ve Got A Feeling” he proceeds immediately with the first lines of the popular song “A Pretty Girl is like A Melody” which is heard very far away on “Audio 2022” along with the following dialogue (but on “PJ Get Back” and the NAGRA tapes the voices are totally clear):

George: “Get Back”?

John: Yeah!

Paul: “Get Back”?

John: “I’m For the First Time” (wanting to say “Don’t Let Me Down”)

So Paul, George and Ringo start playing “Get Back” and John stops them apologizing. A scream is heard on the NAGRA tape or “PJ Get Back” (but isn’t there on “Audio 2022”) coming from another nearby building: “Off the Roof!!” (sounds very similar to “Rock and Roll” as previously thought although the 5.1 mix of “PJ Get Back” allows you to clearly hear the words “Off the”, still very confusing) and John replies “You too!”.

19-“Don’t Let Me Down”  -Take 2  

20-“Get Back” -Take 3

Available on “Audio 2022”, “PJ Get Back” and NAGRA tapes. Peter Jackson added some “special effects” to the audio during “Get Back Take 3,” with the sound of the amplifiers being turned off and on to add a bit more drama to the documentary.

The promotional clip for this album utilizes unrestored footage


21 Responses

  1. Philalban7 says:

    Just before Don’t Let me Down take 2, I hear it as ‘Rock and roll!’ being shouted not ‘Get off the roof!).

    • MC says:

      Yeah at first and during many years I’ve thought it was “Rock and Roll” but now with the 5.1 mix it’s more clear in a British accent “Off the Roof”, specially “OFF” and John’s immediate reply “You Too!”, which would make no sense to reply that for a “Rock and Roll” shout but I agree with you, it does sound like that at first. Here is for you the shout:

      • JPMacOriginal says:

        I believe in closed caption on mode on Disney+ it says “Rock & Roll” but doesn’t mean it’s

  2. Rick says:

    What’s the meaning behind the sign that someone is holding up?

  3. James Peet says:

    Yeah, I always thought it was Rock and Roll. Though John’s reply kind of works for both shouts .

  4. Ted Pastuszak Jr says:

    Possibly someone confirmed this already, but if not, is it fair to say that the streaming audio of the Rooftop Concert reflects the mixes/edits that were originally done in preparation for the proposed CD on the original Let It Be box? Thanks.

  5. Blakey says:

    On the excellent bootleg ‘The Warmth and the Freshness’ a bystander at street level can clearly be heard shouting ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll.’ Paul then replies with ‘You Too’ before the Beatles go into ‘Don’t Let Me Down’.

  6. Bob says:

    Please tell me – In the streaming Disney+ version, Jackson does not allow a full uninterrupted performance of any song from the rooftop. Has that changed with the “Rooftop Performance” release which was/is in IMAX or with any subsequent release?

  7. Richard Walsh says:

    A complete Version (Video or Audio) can
    hold it’s own without the street interviews,
    inserted clips, etc. The roof camera shots
    & related video are OK as long as the main
    focus is on the band & the music is allowed to play continuously. There’s a
    progressive tension that builds up by
    not messing with the performance. I have
    a Official DVD of the original “Let It Be”,
    (early 70’s ?) BUT no date on the sleeve
    or Disc. With all the same Info. & layout
    of the Original VHS & Laserdisc. But i
    enjoyed the Jackson Doc & appreciate
    everything that has been released to

    • JPMacOriginal says:

      You never had an official DVD of the movie “Let It Be” because they never did make one of Let It Be on DVD were bootlegged
      from either taking off of LaserDisc or VHS (the only two formats officially released)

      • Bobww1959 says:

        Plus, DVD’s weren’t even sold until 1996, so a DVD claiming to be from the early ’70’s is obviously fake.

  8. Rickenbacker620 says:

    Some of the tuning up during setup seems to be newly added and not from that day

  9. JPMacOriginal says:

    And by the way, John did not mess up the lyrics on “Don’t Let Me Down” while Kevin Harrington was holding the clipboard of lyrics. Kevin Harrington wasn’t holding them up at that time, I believe John requested for him to hold the lyrics for “Dig a Pony”….

  10. Josh says:

    Did I miss the explanation on why this article doesn’t give info for either full performance of Don’t Let Me Down (8 and 19)? Both were bootlegged, then Paul combined for Let it Be Naked, and then take 1 was released on the Let It Be box in the fall. Any major differences between the fall release and Audio22?

  11. Kusaywa says:

    I’ve always interpreted what John is saying during Don’t Let Me Down is “You Know She Really Got Me Bloody Good” in his best Scouse accent…

  12. Erich Krusz says:

    So, would it be too much to ask to post the timings for the various edit points so we could assemble our crown complete version if we had all the sources?

  1. February 10, 2022

    […] now that the full or close to full audio is out there, no doubt video bootleggers will match that soundtrack with footage from the rooftop and no street […]

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