The Beatles – Live At The BBC/ The Collection Vol. 1 (1994/2013/BOO1914-02) and Vol. 2 (2013/BOO19415-02) – Apple Records/Capitol Records (four mono CDs) ****:
(Featuring The Beatles with live interviews and BBC performances from 1962-1965. Paul McCartney – bass, vocals; John Lennon – guitar, harmonica, vocals; George Harrison – guitar, vocals; Ringo Starr – drums, vocals)
When The Beatles Anthology was released, even The Beatles figured this would be the final curtain. Even with a new single “Free As A Bird”, the BBC Documentary, three volume set of double albums and book was encompassing. But that was not the end. The group was renowned for their exceptional studio work. However, like most bands, they developed their chemistry playing gigs. Apple Records has released a four disc compilation of BBC live (mostly) performances from 1962-1965, taken from various shows like Pop Go The Beatles, Sunday Club, Easy Beat and Tops Of The Pops. Gone is the desultory aloofness of Let It Be. In its place is the eager to please, road-tested band trying to connect to an audience. A lot of the material reflects the seminal influences on the band. Live At The BBC showcases the “boys” (as George Martin would call them) belting out rockabilly rhythm and blues. Lennon shines on a Buddy Holly-inspired cover of Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman”. He also connects on Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”. There are several Berry pieces, the architect of guitar rock and roll. Paul McCartney based some of his vocal styling on Little Richard. “Long Tall Sally” and “Lucille” are testament to that. George Harrison (who contributes a lot of guitar solos) also handles assorted vocals including “Memphis, Tennessee”. There are energetic, festive versions of classic songwriters, including Burt Bacharach (“Baby It’s You”), Leiber and Stoller (“Some Other Guy”, “Young Blood”), Buddy Holly (“Crying, Waiting, Hoping”) Phil Spector (“To Know Her Is To Love Her”) and Smokey Robinson (“You Really Got A Hold On Me”). Added into the mix are performances of original material (among them“ Can’t Buy Me Love”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “I Feel Fine” and I’m A Loser”). Their context is easily understood against the backdrop of rock and roll, soul music and rockabilly.
Live At The BBC Vol. 2 offers additional music. It is clear that by 1964, they were at their peak…as performers. Their harmonies on another Buddy Holly tune “Words Of Love” is reminiscent of The Everly Brothers. They also capture the pop nuance of Goffin/King’s “Chains”. This song features Harrison on lead vocal. While the flow of these two discs is similar, there is a weird rocking version of “Beautiful Dreamer”. Their original material continues to develop. Live versions of “Please Please Me” “I Saw Her Standing There”, “And I Love Her” and “You Can’t Do That” are crisp and relaxed. Their on air demeanor is playful, but sincere. Ringo gets into the act with his enthusiastic vocals on Carl Perkins’ “Honey Don’t”. There are separate interviews with all four members, although some of the journalistic questions are lightweight. In keeping with the upbeat nature of these BBC shows, there is no controversy and none of the latter songs that delve into social criticism. But, their wit is always present.
What makes Live At The BBC/The Collection (Vol. 1 was released initially in 1994) unique is the lack of master tapes. BBC did not preserve them. The performances were extracted from derivative sources. The re-mastered, mono fidelity (by Guy Massey and Alex Wharton at Abbey Road Studios) is excellent. Vocals are clear and the music sounds great.
The Beatles/Live At The BBC will be regarded as a historical document by some. For others it will be a live multi-disc offering from a talented rock and roll band.
Live At The BBC, Vol. 1
Disc 1: Beatle Greetings; From Us To You (Opening); Riding On A Bus; I Got A Woman; Too Much Monkey Business; Keep Your Hands Off My Baby; I’ll Be On My Way; Young Blood; A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues; Sure To Fall (In Love With You); Some Other Guy; Thank You Girl; Sha La La La La!; Baby It’s You; That’s All Right (Mama); Carol; What Is It George?; Soldier Of Love; A Little Rhyme; Clarabella; I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You); Crying, Waiting, Hoping; Dear Wack!; You Really Got A Hold On Me: To Know Her Is To Love Her; A Taste Of Honey; Long Tall Sally; I Saw Her Standing There; The Honeymoon Song; Johnny B. Goode; Memphis Tennessee; Lucille; Can’t Buy Me Love; From Fluff To You; Till There Was You
Disc 2: Crinsk Dee Night; A Hard Day’s Night; Ringo? Yep!; I Wanna Be Your Man; Just A Rumour; Roll Over Beethoven; All My Loving; Things We Said Today; She’s A Woman; Sweet Little Sixteen; 1822!; Lonesome Tears In My Eyes; Nothin’ Shakin’; The Hippy Hippy Shake; Glad All Over; I Just Don’t Understand; So How Come (No One Loves Me); I Feel Fine; I’m A Loser; Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby; Rock And Roll Music; Ticket To Ride; Dizzy Miss Lizzy; Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!; Set Fire To That Lot; Matchbox; I Forgot To Remember To Forget; Love These Goon Shows; I Got To Find My Baby; Ooh! My Soul; Ooh! My Arms; Don’t Ever Change; Slow Down; Honey Don’t; Love Me Do; From Us To You (Closing)
On Air/Live At The BBC Volume 2
Disc 1: And Here We Are Again; Words Of Love; Haw About It, Gorgeous?; Do You Want To Know A Secret; Lucille; Hey, Paul…; Anna (Go To Him); Hello!; Please Please Me; Misery; I’m Talking About You; A Real Treat; Boys; Absolutely Fab; Chains; Ask Me Why; Till There Was You; Lend Me Your Comb; Lower SE; The Hippy Hippy Shake; Roll Over Beethoven; There’s A Place; Bumper Bundle; P.S. I Love You; Please Mr. Postman; Beautiful Dreamer; Devil In Her Heart; The 49 Weeks; Sure To Fall (In Love With You); Never Mind, Eh?; Twist And Shout; Bye Bye; Bonus Interview Tracks : John-Pop Profile; George – Pop Profile
Disc 2: I Saw Her Standing There; Glad All Over; Lift Lid Again; I’ll Get You; She Loves You; Memphis Tennessee; Happy Birthday Dear Saturday Club; Now Hush, Hush; From Me To You; Money (That’s What I Want); I Want To Hold Your Hand; Brian Bathtubes; This Boy; If I Wasn’t In America; I Got A Woman; Long Tall Sally; If I Fell; A Hard Job Writing Them; And I Love Her; Oh, Can’t We? Yes We Can; You Can’t Do That; Honey Don’t; I’ll Follow The Sun; Green With Black Shutters; Kansas City/ Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!; That’s What We’re Here For; I Feel Fine (Studio Outtake Sequence); Bonus Interview Tracks: Paul-Pop Profile; Ringo – Pop Profile