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Thursday, September 26, 2013

LIVE AT THE BBC - side three

Back cover of the vinyl edition
One major criticism of this collection is that the overall sound quality is rather poor, but there does not seem to be much that executive producer George Martin and the Abbey Road engineers could have done about this.  Many, if not most, of the original BBC session tapes no longer existed in the 1990's because nobody would have believed in the early 60's that they would one day be compiled for sale to the general public.  A good amount of the material was salvaged from people who had recorded the actual broadcasts on home equipment.  The quality therefore varies quite a bit depending on the source and, amazingly, many of the 1964 recordings are inferior to most of the 1963 offerings.

With news of a second BBC collection in the works as of this posting, it will be interesting to see if today's technology can make any significant improvement to these historic performances.

Crinsk Dee Night - John surmises that this would be the title of their film in Portuguese.

A Hard Day's Night - This performance of their latest single features a rare overdub for a BBC session.  George Martin's piano solo from the record is clearly dropped in...

Have a Banana! - ...forcing host Brian Matthew to insist that the group was playing live before he introduces the next song from Ringo...

I Wanna Be Your Man - ...though this performance of the drummer's vocal outing from With the Beatles was from a broadcast months earlier than that intro.

Just a Rumour - A little banter in which George reveals that he has been singing the next song for 28 years.

Roll Over Beethoven - A Chuck Berry classic which the group had recorded for With the Beatles.

All My Loving - Paul's rollicking composition, also from With the Beatles.

Things We Said Today - This tremendous reflective number by Paul had appeared as both the B-side of the single A Hard Day's Night and on the non-soundtrack side of that album.  Here, it features a spoken introduction by Brian Matthew.

She's a Woman - Paul's bluesy screamer was the B-side of the recent single I Feel Fine at the time of this broadcast from November 1964.

Sweet Little Sixteen - John takes the lead on this Chuck Berry classic.  His snarling delivery of "They're really rockin' in Boston..." was included in radio station WBCN's inventive Boston medley back in the 1980's.

1822! - Another witty intro by John before handling the lead vocal on...

Lonesome Tears in My Eyes - ...this oddity from 1957 by Johnny Burnette and his Rock 'n' Roll Trio.

Nothin' Shakin' - George sings this rockabilly number originally done by Eddie Fontaine.

The Hippy Hippy Shake - Paul sings this song by Chan Romero that is in the same mold as the Little Richard screamers he did so well.

Glad All Over - This rockabilly tune once done by Carl Perkins is sung by George, whose high number of lead vocals on this collection gives us a good indication of how important he was to the group in their pre-fame stage act, especially during their marathon sets in Hamburg.

I Just Don't Understand - John sings this strange obscurity recorded by Ann Margaret in 1961.

So How Come (No One Loves Me) - Paul and John (or is it Paul and George?  I admit that it's even hard for me to tell sometimes) do their best Everly Brothers impersonation.  For some reason, the CD case mistakenly adds the word Top onto the beginning of the song title.

I Feel Fine - The group plays their latest single during a November 1964 appearance on a program called Top Gear.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

LIVE AT THE BBC - side two

Radio played a vital role in the British public's initial awareness of the Beatles in 1962 and had an even bigger impact in 1963, contributing greatly to the explosion known as Beatlemania.  Manager Brian Epstein secured John, Paul, George and Pete their first BBC appearance in March of '62, months before their inaugural recording session/audition at EMI.  Not only did the group's revised lineup with Ringo Starr eventually appear on all of the top programs like Saturday Club and Easy Beat, but they even headlined their own shows such as Pop Go the Beatles in 1963 and From Us to You in 1964.

A Little Rhyme - One of the delights of the collection for me is the bits of banter between some of the songs, giving a sense of what the actual broadcasts were like.  Here, John reads (and comments on, by his delivery) a poetic fan letter.

Clarabella - Paul performs one of his specialties, a screaming rocker originally done by the Jodimars.

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You) - John and Paul duet on this Elvis cover which the Beatles play at an absolutely manic tempo.  Those critical of Ringo's drumming should give this one a listen.

Crying, Waiting, Hoping - George handles the lead vocal on this Buddy Holly number, backed by John and Paul.

Dear Wack! - Another interpretive reading of a fan letter by John.

You Really Got a Hold on Me - A performance of the Smokey Robinson tune from around the same time the group recorded it for their upcoming album With the Beatles.

To Know Her Is to Love Her - John sings lead and he, Paul and George apply their three-part harmony skills to this Teddy Bears number written by Phil Spector.

A Taste of Honey - Paul once again handles the lead on this standard which the group had included on their album Please Please Me.

Long Tall Sally - The Little Richard rocker was performed here by Paul and the band almost a year before it appeared on their EP of the same name.  Of course, this version was also played live in the studio, but without producer George Martin's piano contribution as on the vinyl release.

I Saw Her Standing There - Paul's original rocker, the opening track of Please Please Me, was very well known by the time they played it for this October 1963 broadcast.

The Honeymoon Song - Like A Taste of Honey, this is one of those obscure standards that Paul would pull out during live sets for a change of pace.  According to the excellent liner notes by Kevin Howlett, a version of this song was released by Marino Marini and his Quartet in 1959.

Johnny B Goode - This is perhaps the weakest performance on the entire package, which is shocking given John's admiration for Chuck Berry.

Memphis, Tennessee - However, John and the boys do right by Mr. Berry with this fine rendition of another of his classics.

Lucille - A brief introduction by host Brian Matthew overlaps the opening bars of the Little Richard screamer sung by Paul.

Can't Buy Me Love - The group performs their brand new single on From Us to You in early '64.

From Fluff to You - On the same program, host Alan "Fluff" Freeman asks Paul about his influences as John repeatedly attempts to change the subject to his book In His Own Write.

Till There Was You - The third of Paul's standards on this side is this beautiful number from the Broadway show The Music Man, which the group had released on With the Beatles.