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On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2 [2 CD]

4.6 out of 5 stars 331 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In 1994, The Beatles' Live at the BBC was released to worldwide acclaim - hitting number one in the U.K. and number three in the U.S. and selling more than five million copies within six weeks. Now comes a new companion to The Beatles' first BBC collection, On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2. On Air's 63 tracks, none of which overlaps with The Beatles' first BBC release, include 37 previously unreleased performances and 23 previously unreleased recordings of in-studio banter and conversation between the band's members and their BBC radio hosts.

In the studios of the British Broadcasting Corporation, The Beatles performed music for a variety of radio shows. On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2 presents the sound of The Beatles seizing their moment to play for the nation. Thrilled to hear these exciting recordings again, Paul McCartney said, 'There's a lot of energy and spirit. We are going for it, not holding back at all, trying to put in the best performance of our lifetimes.'

Ten of On Air's songs were never recorded by the group for EMI in the 1960s, including two making their debuts with the new release: The Beatles' direct-to-air performance of Chuck Berry's 'I'm Talking About You' and a rocking cover of the standard 'Beautiful Dreamer.' On Air also includes different versions of six rarities heard on the 1994 BBC collection: Little Richard's 'Lucille,' Chuck Berry's 'Memphis, Tennessee,' Chan Romero's 'The Hippy Hippy Shake,' Ray Charles' 'I Got A Woman,' and two songs they learned from records by Carl Perkins, 'Glad All Over' and 'Sure To Fall.'

The Beatles' tribute to the BBC's most important pop show of the early '60s - 'Happy Birthday, Dear Saturday Club' - is another surprise. As John Lennon recalled in 1980, 'We did a lot of tracks that were never on record for Saturday Club - they were well recorded, too.' Paul remembers, 'We'd been raised on the BBC radio programs. One of the big things in our week was Saturday Club - this great show was playing the kind of music we loved, so that was something we really aspired to.'

Between March 1962 and June 1965, no fewer than 275 unique musical performances by The Beatles were broadcast by the BBC in the U.K. The group played songs on 39 radio shows in 1963 alone. Ringo Starr said in 1994, 'You tend to forget that we were a working band. It's that mono sound. There were usually no overdubs. We were in at the count-in and that was it. I get excited listening to them.' On their busiest BBC day, 16 July 1963, The Beatles recorded 18 songs for three editions of their Pop Go The Beatles series in fewer than seven hours.

The group played 88 distinct songs in their BBC sessions - some were recorded many times; others performed just once. At the time, three national BBC stations provided all daytime radio broadcasting in the U.K. Only the Light Programme network might occasionally play a record. Most broadcast music was live music. Consequently, to promote their releases, The Beatles had to play live at the BBC. 'Everything was done instantly,' remembered George Harrison, 'But before that, we used to drive 200 miles in an old van down the M1, come into London, try and find the BBC and then set up and do the program. Then we'd probably drive back to Newcastle for a gig in the evening!'

On Air also features BBC recordings of 30 well-loved songs from The Beatles' catalogue, including five number ones and other favorites such as: 'I Saw Her Standing There,' 'Twist And Shout,' 'Do You Want To Know A Secret,' 'Boys,' 'Please Mister Postman,' 'Money,' 'And I Love Her,' and 'If I Fell.'

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. And Here We Are Again (Speech)
  2. Words of Love
  3. How About It, Gorgeous? (Speech)
  4. Do You Want To Know a Secret
  5. Lucille
  6. Hey, Paul... (Speech)
  7. Anna (Go To Him)
  8. Hello! (Speech)
  9. Please Please Me
  10. Misery
  11. I'm Talking About You
  12. A Real Treat (Speech)
  13. Boys
  14. Absolutely Fab (Speech)
  15. Chains
  16. Ask Me Why
  17. Till There Was You
  18. Lend Me Your Comb
  19. Lower 5E (Speech)
  20. The Hippy Hippy Shake
  21. Roll Over Beethoven
  22. There's A Place
  23. Bumper Bundle (Speech)
  24. P.S. I Love You
  25. Please Mister Postman
  26. Beautiful Dreamer
  27. Devil In Her Heart
  28. The 49 Weeks (Speech)
  29. Sure To Fall (In Love With You)
  30. Never Mind, Eh? (Speech)
  31. Twist And Shout
  32. Bye, Bye (speech)
  33. John - Pop Profile (Speech)
  34. George - Pop Profile (Speech)

Disc: 2

  1. I Saw Her Standing There
  2. Glad All Over
  3. Lift Lid Again (Speech)
  4. I'll Get You
  5. She Loves You
  6. Memphis, Tennessee
  7. Happy Birthday Dear Saturday Club
  8. Now Hush, Hush (Speech)
  9. From Me To You
  10. Money (That's What I Want)
  11. I Want To Hold Your Hand
  12. Brian Bathtubes (Speech)
  13. This Boy
  14. If I Wasn't In America (Speech)
  15. I Got A Woman
  16. Long Tall Sally
  17. If I Fell
  18. A Hard Job Writing Them (Speech)
  19. And I Love Her
  20. Oh, Can't We? Yes We Can (Speech)
  21. You Can't Do That
  22. Honey Don't
  23. I'll Follow The Sun
  24. Green With Black Shutters (Speech)
  25. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!
  26. That's What We're Here For (Speech)
  27. I Feel Fine (Studio Outtake)
  28. Paul - Pop Profile (Speech)
  29. Ringo - Pop Profile (Speech)


Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 11, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B00F3VOL38
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (331 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,287 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas E. Davis VINE VOICE on November 11, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' first album "Please Please Me." The four lads from Liverpool were the biggest thing in popular music during the 1960s, and many folks still think they're the biggest thing in pop. Nearly everything they played, sang, said, and did was recorded, so there's a deep back catalog of words and music, a remarkable quantity of it still unissued by the copyright holders. Bootlegs exist, of course, but their quality and provenance are highly variable, and their cost can be exorbitant. "The Complete BBC Sessions," for example, a rare nine-CD box set produced in Italy in 1993, contains portions of 44 BBC appearances, but it will set you back hundreds of dollars - if you can find it.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo appeared no less than 52 times at the Beeb between 1962 and 1966, performing for "The Light Programme" at the beginning of their careers both in studio and before audiences on a variety of live shows. However, it's been nearly 20 years since the first volume of selected recordings from that era was officially released in 1994. "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2" at last brings us more of these broadcasts, two CDs full of great music, youthful exuberance, wit and humor. As on the first set, a 48-page booklet is enclosed, this one with an introduction by Paul McCartney. There's also a long essay, numerous photos, session details, and track-by-track commentary.

This package contains 40 musical performances, 37 of them never before issued by the BBC, EMI, Apple or Capitol (the first volume had 56 songs, 30 of them previously unreleased).
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Format: Audio CD
Once the Beatles secured a recording contract with Parlophone, they obtained their license to take over the world. On this live-in-the-studio companion to 1994's "Live at the BBC", the Beatles take to the open road again and they sound awfully invigorated as they travel it. This release could be guilty of too-much-overlapping, however, there's enough here to negate much of that theory. For example, I find the versions of "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Memphis, Tennessee" to be considerably more alive and less diffident here.

Rock and Roll can be seen as a modern day smoke signal. At their best, the Beatles embody that signal and a lot of the music herein is not just for crazed collectors. In sticking more closely to the Buddy Holly original, their glad spirits are infectious on "Words of Love", with those delectable two-part harmonies and George's gift of absorbing rockabilly. On a longer version of "Lucille" (this time without the host speaking over the intro), Paul continues to get thrilled at singing those high notes. And it's a thrill in hearing him. Heading their covers repertoire are the peppiness of Chuck Berry's "I'm Talking About You" and a blistering and punked-up version of "Money (That's What I Want)", in which John utilizes his greatest expressive tool to its fullest. It's the Cavern Club and Hamburg all over again.

A few of the originals benefit too. "Misery", with the din of a young audience, rocks more than the studio cut. George's guitar runs supplant the piano runs. "And I Love Her" is even more striking with strength-over-beauty in its electric arrangement. The dual guitars and harmonies on "If I Fell" are wondrous as it's done at a slightly faster tempo. "I'll Follow the Sun" is given a fresh treatment with its alternate bass pattern.
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Format: Audio CD
Nearly twenty years since the first Beatles at the BBC album comes Volume 2, nicely packaged in a double CD digi pack with a 46 page booklet. In my opinion it was worth buying the actual CD rather than downloading the music simply for the informative booklet, with an introduction by Paul, all the track details and lots of photographs. I know you can download it on your ipod, but the actual paper version is easier to read and ideal to peruse while you sit down and enjoy this great collection.

It is a slight shame that we don't get to hear the fun openings for shows, such as 'Pop Go the Beatles', which the band recorded specially. However, these CD's are packed with really good quality tracks and interview snippets as the Beatles read out cards and generally cause mayhem in the studio. George reads out a very strange card about the Flowerpot Men (Bill and Ben, not flower power just yet), Paul is asked about his 21st birthday party (not quite the success he suggests, as all fans know!), Ringo calls John a "College Puddin'" and both John and Paul are heard laughing at George when they are asked about writing the songs for "A Hard Days Night," among lots of other interview clips. Most of the songs are excellent quality and they include lots of early hits as well as great cover versions, showing how versatile the Beatles were and giving you an idea of the set list they would have played live in Liverpool and Hamburg. The poorest audio is heard on John singing Chuck Berry's, "I'm talking about you," which was presumably worth including because of its rarity. There are lots of early tracks on here which the Beatles never recorded and they give you an excellent flavour of the band in those early days. Lastly, there are four bonus interviews, approx 8 minutes, for each member of the group.
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