After the Beatles broke up in April 1970, reunion rumors spread like wildfire - and kept up for years. But in the winter of 1980, those rumors were somewhat put to rest when former Beatles leader John Lennon was murdered in New York.

Since then, fans have waited patiently for the remaining three to "come together," to no avail.That is, until now.

British Broadcasting Corp. announcers Tony Hall, Rodney Burke, Brian Matthews and Alan "Fluff" Freeman conducted more than 52 sessions between January 1963 and May 1965 that were heard on the BBC but never intended for release as recordings.

"Live at the BBC" combines some of those interviews and music in a neat 69-track collection. The two-CD set features 56 music tracks, of which 32 songs have never been released by the band until now, mixed with an additional 13 interview bits. The other 24 songs have been released by the band in one form or another.

Intricate remakes of Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business," the Coasters' "Young Blood," Carl Perkins' "Sure to Fall (In Love with You)" and Elvis Presley's "That's all Right (Mama)" were recorded on the spot during this two-year interval early in the Beatles' career, along with the hits "Love Me Do," "A Hard Day's Night," "All My Loving" and "Ticket to Ride." Each arrangement reveals the Fab Four's musical inclinations.

Other songs include Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," Little Eva's "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" (which sounds like it was recorded in an old box), Arthur Alexander's "Soldier of Love" and Buddy Holly's "Crying, Waiting, Hoping."

Still, as with all live sessions, there are a few flaws. But that's what makes this release work.

The spontaneity, spunk and energy come through crisp, thanks to present-day remastering. Each of the songs, which were recorded in mono rather than stereo, stays true to the raw, edgy feel. Interestingly enough, these mono arrangements sound more dynamic than some of today's overproduced, stereophonically digital recordings.

When listening to the interviews with Ringo, George, John and Paul, the listener becomes a "fly on the wall." Sure, the Fab Four ham it up a bit, but this set would be incomplete without some vintage sort of goofing off.

Historians and Beatlemaniacs will cherish this collection, which comes with a 46-page booklet that contains rare, candid photographs and written commentary about each song. Also included is a short history of the Beatles' BBC sessions and what they meant historically and musically.

While "Live at the BBC" is a dream for all Beatles fans, those who enjoy the early, mop-top era will love it all that much more.