on June 6, 2001
As much as the Beatles were loved in the USA, we were short-changed. We thought we were getting a lot with an album every ten months, a handful of singles each year, a movie every two years, an occasional tour, and a sloppy Saturday morning cartoon.
But, in the UK, the Beatles were doing stage shows--not just their own act, but pantomime and vaudeville-type things--and tons of live radio, where "From Me To You" was converted to "From Us To You" and made their signature tune. LIVE AT THE BBC collects more than 60 of the best moments from their radio appearances in one fabulous package.
There are a couple odd glitches--the solo on "A Hard Day's Night" is an obvious edit of the studio solo patched over a live performance, for instance--but the vast majority of the music here is superb.
The cover of "Sweet Little Sixteen" is fantastic, really hard stuff the way Lennon always said he preferred the Beatles to sound. Harrison shines on "Nothin' Shakin'" and "Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby." McCartney wails on "Long Tall Sally," "Lucille," and "The Hippy Hippy Shake." The whole band delivers a jolt with my very favorite early Beatles rocker, "Some Other Guy."
Ringo, as always, is the heart of the Beatles sound. On "Thank You Girl" he sounds like he's going to knock the bandstand to pieces. Why he isn't universally acclaimed as one of the 2 or 3 greatest Rock drummers of all time is beyond me.
This is a great record of the Beatles early days, when they were just beginning to step away from a very 1950s sound. Who could have guessed how far they'd go in less than a decade?
When "Live at The BBC" was released back in 1994, it was the first time that the BBC archive had been tapped for these unique releases aside from the various bootleg releases (going back as early as the mid-1970's as John Lennon bought one and gave it to Paul thinking it was their Decca auditions). What's fun and fascinating to hear on "Live at the BBC" are the various covers the band did of favorites from their record collection that they never performed anywhere else. It's also fun to hear the band in its early stages bristling with energy and with decent (mono) sound quality.
This remaster is different from the 1994 original release in a number of ways. These recordings have been remastered from scratch without the overuse of noise reduction, various pops and clicks removed (since many of these are drawn from a variety of sources including acetates pressed for overseas broadcast, the few original tapes that exist and, in a few cases, from amateur recordings made off of the radio back in the day when other sources didn't exist) and, in a handful of cases, improved source tapes/acetates that improve the sound. Having said all of that, these releases don't show a huge improvement in sound quality--there is only so much you can do with 50 year old mono tapes and vinyl pressings--but the sound quality improvement will be important to hardcore Beatles fans.
A couple of tracks ("Soldier of Love" and "I Forgot to Remember" are the only two I could identify but there may be some others with minor tweaking) are speed corrected as well as they were running slightly too fast.
The packaging is different for this reissue compared to the original 1994 CD release. These are presesnted in a mini cardboard sleeve with each disc tucked into one portion of the packaging. The booklet occupies the third slot and it is an excellent one that provides recording details, an essay on the album and a series of excellent photos from the sessions as well.
The highlights here include "That's Alright Mama" (a killer cover of an Elvis classic), "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Things We Said Today", "I'm a Loser", "Ticket to Ride", "Honey Don't" (with John on lead vocal) and "Slow Down". There are, of course, many others. The talking where possible has been indexed separately. For those that wanted "Lend Me Your Comb" which was on the first disc of "Anthology", that does show up on Volume 2 of this set as do two of the three tracks that were exclusive to the original CD single from 1994 ("I'll Follow the Sun" and "Boys" with only "Devil in Her Heart" MIA on that or this set).
Highly recommended for Beatles fans.
Is this worth the upgrade? That really depends on how important the sound of this release is to you. If the original 1994 CD sounds perfectly fine to you, then the difference may not be that noticeable to you. I personally was unhappy with the overuse of noise reduction on the original which often made the sound of these mono recordings even more muddy. The improvement in sound is marginal by comparison to many releases but for those who disliked certain elements of the original release or who wanted improved sources for the handful of tracks here, this will be essential.
This CD should settle once and for all that the Beatles were fine performers live. It would be hard to prove that on copies of broadcasts from Shea Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl. With the exception of one obvious edit on "Hard Day's Night" (though to rectify it, they play the ending fadeout riff ad nauseum at the end of the song "Here's proving that they're playing live!" says the BBC emcee), this is the Beatles live (and usually without the fanfare of screaming teenage fans).
From 1962 to 1965, the Beatles performed live on the BBC featuring not only their own songs but other popular songs from other artists (Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Ray Charles and Buddy Holly, to name a few). There's even a few out of the ordinary songs included, like Ann Margaret's "I Just Don't Understand" (sung by John) and "The Honeymoon Song" (sung by Paul).
This is the Beatles at their most fun (and it sounds like they're indeed having fun!). Featured on this CD are are many songs never before released on LP or CD, like "Please Don't Change a Thing" and "Nothin' Shakin' (But the Leaves on the Trees" (both sung by George), "Double Shot of Rhythm and Blues," "I Got a Woman" (sung by John), "Lucille" (sung by Paul, why did that DJ have to pipe in on the instrumental introduction?), "Johnny B Goode" and "Carol" (both sung by John), "Hippy Hippy Shake" (sung by Paul), "Some Other Guy" (it's hard to believe that though this is featured in both The Compleat Beatles and The Beatles Anthology, this is the only version to surface on CD, bootlegs notwithstanding), "Young Blood" (sung by George), "Ooh, My Soul" and "Clarabella" (both sung by Paul, the latter featuring harmonica by John), "To Know Her Is to Love Her," "So How Come (No One Loves Me)," "Sure to Fall" (lead by Paul with harmonies from John and George), "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" and "Got to Find My Baby" (both sung by John), "That's Alright Mama" (sung by Paul) "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Lonesome Tears In My Eyes" (both sung by John) and the only Lennon/McCartney song never before released (at least aired on the BBC) "I'll Be On My Way." This song was given to Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas after they had written it.
Of course, there's the alternative version of "From Me to You" (retitled "From Us to You") at the beginning and there's also also notable versions of "Baby It's You" (with a jazzy coda, rather than the fadeout on Please Please Me), "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (with no echo reverb on George's vocal) and "Honey Don't" with John on vocals rather than Ringo), "I Saw Her Standing There," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "She's a Woman," "Things We Said Today," "Love Me Do" (with Ringo on drums), "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Rock and Roll Music," "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Till There Was You."
There are no recordings from 1962 featured here but I had read no quality recordings existed. Also included are short interviews with the Fab Four. Paul gives a rare serious answer as to what the Beatles miss in the midst of all the fame and fortune, John is the most jovial ("No, I play harp on this song! I play harmonica on 'Love Me Do'!"), Ringo gets a banana thrown at him ("'Ere, Ringo, have a banana"), George is wry as he introduces "Roll Over Beethoven" as a song that goes back to 1822 and at the beginning of Disk 1, each of the Beatles introduces themselves ("I'm Ringo and I play the drums" "I'm Paul and I play a bass" "I'm George and I play the guitar" "I'm John and I, too, play a guitar. Sometimes, I play the fool!"). Mark Lewishon provides some insightful liner notes and we learn that "Ticket to Ride" was one of the last songs the Beatles performed on the BBC. It doesn't include all the songs they performed on the BBC, since there was a CD single featuring 3 other songs from the BBC sessions not included here (also worth getting and probably even harder to find). Nevertheless, if you're a serious fan of the Beatles and this is not in your collection, this would be a worthy purchase.
It bears noting that at the time this compilation was released, the Beatles were banned from the BBC. Not because of any song content, mind you (as if), but because, if I remember the exact wording, they were "too boring." This all changed soon enough, when a year later Beatlemania was revamped by the Anthology series and "Free As A Bird"/"Real Love" releases.
But in the heyday of the sixties, the love affair between the Beeb and the boys from Liverpool was hot and heavy. And mutually beneficial, no doubt.
For those of us who love the "personal history" stuff of the Beatles story as well as the technical, which-riff-goes-where stuff, this set is a treasure trove. Not only do we get to hear early interviews where Paul, George, Ringo, and even cheeky John still have butterflies in their stomachs, but despite the low-tech feel of the recordings, the energy of the songs recorded here is palpable. In between the songs the lads chat with DJs and share Christmas and other holiday greetings. This gives us a glimpse, in part, into even the pre-"toppermost of the poppermost" days.
My favorite songs on the collection feature George, and listening to them gave me further insight into the frustration he must have felt playing an undeserved "second fiddle" role to the Lennon-McCartney partnership. His covers of "Young Blood", "Crying, Waiting, Hoping", "Nothin' Shakin'" are so fresh and spot on, to say nothing, of course, of "Roll Over Beethoven". Even though a Harrison original doesn't show up here, his musicianship and importance in the group comes through.
"Nothin' Shakin'", by the way, a terrific rockabilly number, is one of several unique recordings on this collection, along with songs such as Carl Perkin's "Glad All Over" (not to be confused with the Dave Clark number of the same name).
A must for any serious Fab Four collection.
on May 22, 2005
Unlike many of the reviewers here, I hear these broadcasts live - I may not have heard them all, but certainly a good number. Sometimes I would hear them at our home near Leeds, but many weekends were spent in Fylingthorpe, near Whitby in Yorkshire, and the radio was kept in the corner of the sitting room. If my memory serves me correctly some of the programmes were broadcast on Saturdays about 4 pm, and I would make sure that I was home to listen to them, and if that meant cutting short my walk with the dog along Middlewood Lane, so be it . I was fourteen years old at the time and I would plonk myself down, and be taken out of myself, an otherwise quiet and introspective boy. I certainly had heard Elvis Presley, and other rock stars by hiding the radio and listening to Luxembourg. But none of that music really caught my attention, until the Beatles came along. The music was as just so exciting and exhilarating. There was something here that really captured my imagination, and unlike some others, I really enjoyed the Beatles music more in their earlier days. I recall trying to tell my parents, they are just so good, don't you think they're the best, the best band in the world, Mum? My mother, who was brought up all over the world, and lived in Vienna and could sing operetta beautifully, was a bit uncomprehending. Each new Beatles song would be awaited with the most extreme longing, and I was never disappointed - a Hard Day's Night was a musical revolution and a revelation for me. Whilst later, in my student days, I recognised the new directions of Sergent Peppers, and enjoyed it, it's the earlier albums that still make me want to get up and dance, and twist and shout. Listening to these tracks is to take me back to another age, and a small boy just beginning to try to grow up. I have been trying every since.
on October 29, 2005
Every time I stumble across this set in the used bin of a record store, a little piece of my mind is blown.
Hey, I've had to sell off pieces of my CD collection for quick cash before, too, but I see the Beatles BBC almost every time I go through record store used bins, and that's something I do quite frequently. You may note, too, that there are more than 100 used copies for sale right here on Amazon.
What the hell? This is such a fine, happy little set of sounds that I'm amazed at how little respect it gets. Dozens upon dozens of raw, in-the-studio performances from a prime Beatle period: 1962-65; and a set list that burns through material that includes lots from the Beatles catalogue, plus R&B, Chuck Berry tunes, girl group songs, rockabilly and skewed cuts like "The Honeymoon Theme" and Johnny Burnette's "Lonesome Tears in My Eyes," my favorite track on the album.
My only complaint about the songlist: There's a huge chunk of the material from the great "Beatles For Sale," but no "Baby's in Black"?
But that's balanced out by lots of goofy, good-humored banter by the guys and BBC presenters Tony Hall, Brian Matthews and more. By all accounts, Beatlemania was a drag but based on this it certainly doesn't sound like it. These guys are playing great and having a blast.
i like the sound of the original 1994 release because it has deeper bass & it sounds fuller on a home stereo. the new remaster although clear sounds tinny in comparison.
for me, i will stay with my 1994 copy & skip this remaster.
The four Beatles introduce themselves and the instruments they play. Leave it to Mr. Lennon to be the witty one: "I'm John and I too play the guitar. Sometimes I play the fool."
Live at the BBC means that this was broadcast on any one of their radio program appearances from 1963 to 1965. However, there are actual live versions of "Thank You Girl" and "I Saw Her Standing There" here. And their version of "A Hard Day's Night" is interrupted during that final guitar just to prove that this wasn't just a record playing.
The rapport between the radio host and the Beatles is also fun, in the spirit of the dialogue on the A Hard Day's Night movie. John in particular is quite a clown. They get Lee Peters to introduce "Baby It's You" in his famous James Mason-impersonation voice. Another time, we learn that the Beatles current single is at number one in Portugal and it's called "Crisnk Dee Night", or "A Hard Day's Night".
The real treat is that the majority of songs aren't on any other Beatles album. They cover songs by Arthur Alexander, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley, to name a few. Basically, these two discs show what groups and artists influenced the Beatles. However, there are songs that are already on their studio albums, such as "Things We Said Today", "You Really Got A Hold On Me", "I'm A Loser", and "Ticket To Ride".
They capture the spirit of the originals. Foe example, John sings "I Got A Woman" by Ray Charles and it's a 50's rockabilly number. "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" is a Shangri-La's/Shirelles type number that could've been included on Please Please Me.
Well-known numbers that don't need any introduction: Chuck Berry's "Johnny B Goode" and Elvis Presley's "That's All Right, (Mama)" and Chan Romero's "Hippy Hippy Shake" which they originally did in their days with Tony Sheridan.
Classic rock and roll with Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business"
Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Carl Perkins in particular are given special note. They do five Perkins numbers here: "Sure To Fall (In Love With You)", "Matchbox", "Glad All Over", "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", and "Honey Don't." Nine, count'tem NINE (!) Chuck Berry numbers are done here. Other than the aforementioned three, the others are "Roll Over Beethoven" which they did on With The Beatles, "Rock And Roll Music" from For Sale, "Memphis, Tennessee", "Sweet Little Sixteen", "I Got To Find My Baby", and "Carol", which the Stones did on their first album. Little Richard songs are "Lucille", "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey", "Ooh! My Soul", and "Long Tall Sally".
The liner notes over each songs tells which artist originally covered this song, the show it was broadcast, and when it was recorded and transmitted. A very valuable addition to anyone Beatles collection.
on June 6, 2001
"The Beatles - Live at the BBC", containing recordings done by the Fab Four for the BBC during the years 1962-1965, provides an interesting perspective on John, Paul, George and Ringo, when they were still a bunch of young and ambitious friends, who just got together to play some rock'n'roll and impress the ladies, way before Lennon decided to change the world and McCartney decided to write enough sweet love songs to fill a candy store.
The recordings in the double album are mostly cover versions of r'n'r and r'n'b standards by the artists the Beatles liked - Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Larry Williams, Carl Perkins, and the rest. Here and there some of their early original hits (Love Me Do, Can't Buy Me Love, Ticket To Ride, and more).
The performances are strong and vigorous. John and Paul scream their lungs out, George's guitar imitates Chuck Berry quite well, and Ringo keeps the steady beat. They sound like they're trying to convince England that they're the best band in the world. They did manage to do that eventually.
All in all, not an album for everyone. People who look for all the famous songs from their later period - Let It Be, Hey Jude, Strawberry Fields Forever - will be disappointed. There is nothing psychedelic or experimental about these recordings - it's pure rock'n'roll.
If you're not (yet) a big Beatles fan, I recommend you'd start by buying one of their classic studio albums - Help!, Sgt. Pepper's or Abbey Road. However, if you already own most of the Beatles' material and you want to hear different Beatles - young, innocent and full of appreciation to the r'n'r legends of the '50s - this is an album for you.
One last note - due to the fact that these recordings were taken off radio sessions, the sound quality is so-so. Most of the songs sound good, but it's not what you're used to hear on studio albums.
on September 16, 2013
On a quality basis, most of the Beatles' original tunes on this album are superior to the covers (with the exception, possibly, of the Chuck Berry numbers). But it's the covers I love here. That's partly because of the Beatles' earnest and enthusiastic live performances - which capture the band's sound when they were still young and hungry - and partly because the group just plain had good taste. It's fascinating to hear the variety of influences the Beatles absorbed, and anyone who's interested in learning how they became the group we know and admire should acquire this disc.
From basic rhythm-and-blues to country-western to straight rock n' roll to American musical to Chuck Berry to Carole King - this album has the Beatles doing it all, and I've discovered a lot of great songs here I never would have heard otherwise. Some of the best of these unknowns are "Soldier of Love," "The Honeymoon Song," "Sure to Fall," and "Lonesome Tears in My Eyes." The Beatles also triumph on a number of 1950s rock classics we know and love, including some by Chuck Berry ("Carol," "Too Much Monkey Business," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Memphis)," all of which are sung with gusto by John; as well as one made famous by Elvis ("That's All Right (Mama)," which is belted out expertly by Paul.
The disc also punches holes in the old argument that John was the hard rocker and Paul was the balladeer. When you listen to Paul's rocking performances on "Clarabella" or "That's All Right (Mama)" or to John sweetly croon "To Know Her Is To Love Her," the stereotypes die. Of course, Paul is in his element with some of the ballads, like "The Honeymoon Song" and John can rock as well as anyone on tracks like "Too Much Monkey Business" and "I Got a Woman." George also has some good moments - particularly on "Young Blood," a country-influenced number with hilarious background vocals by Paul and John. The singing and playing by all four members is excellent throughout, although the sound quality isn't always top-notch. The performances are all live, punching holes in another old stereotype that the Beatles weren't a talented live band. I challenge anyone to listen to this and then try to make that argument.
To sum it up, when I want to hear the Beatles' original songs at their finest, I go straight to their official releases, not this one. But when I want to hear what they must have sounded like doing covers of their favorite songs at the Cavern Club in 1962 or 1963, I put on the BBC disc. Even after nearly 20 years, it's still rewarding (and the Beatles' silly banter with the radio host never fails to charm). It's a must-have for any Beatles fan.