BBC Radio Bans Latest Beatles Record On Grounds It Lacks Merit

LONDON March 8 (AP) - Is nothing sacred? BBC radio's rock music channel Radio One has refused to play the Beatles' latest record "Real Love" on air on grounds it lacks sufficient merit and appeal.

The record is at number four in the British singles charts following its release Monday. It contains previously unreleased demonstration material recorded by John Lennon before he was slain by a gunman in New York in 1980.

The record combines that with overlays by the surviving Beatles - Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Lennon's demonstration tape of "Real Love" was given by his widow Yoko Ono to McCartney in 1994. The Beatles broke up in 1970.

"Each record is chosen for its own merit," the BBC said in a statement Thursday night announcing the ban. "It has not made the (BBC) playlist."

"With every week that passes more records are released and that is what it is up against," the statement added.

But Beatles publicist Geoff Baker said: "There is obviously a public demand for and interest in the record because it is at number four" in the British charts.

"I am being philosophical about it," Baker added. "The Beatles are legends and we are not whingeing (complaining). But I know it does not reflect the true situation."

BBC Radio One played "Free As A Bird" featuring a Lennon vocal recorded in 1977 and overlays by the three surviving Beatles recorded in 1994 when it was released in November. But one music critic at the time called it "a bit of a dirge."

Shortly before Christmas 1994, "Baby It's You" with Lennon as lead singer was released as part of the album "The Beatles Live at the BBC," which sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. "Baby It's You" was released as a single in March 1995.

"Free As A Bird" was part of an album of Beatles music called "Anthology" that went on sale in November last year. The "Free As A Bird' single went on sale on Dec. 4.

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