On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2 [2 CD]
Audio CD | 2 CD, Digipack
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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.'
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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). Between the songs are 19 short clips of banter among the boys and their rather plummy radio hosts in which they tease one another, respond to fan requests, and discuss a variety of topics such as the making of the film "A Hard Day's Night" in 1964. These interpolations give you an experience very much like the one you would have had listening to the programs on the radio. You are a witness to the birth of British Beatlemania.
Seventeen of the tracks are Lennon-McCartney classics like "She Loves You," "And I Love Her," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "I Saw Her Standing There," "You Can't Do That," and "I'll Follow the Sun"; the remainder are covers of songs by the likes of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Arthur Alexander, Goffin & King, and Lieber & Stoller. So many of my favorites are here: "Chains," "Words of Love," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Twist & Shout", and "Long Tall Sally," together with delightful surprises like Chan Romero's "The Hippy Hippy Shake," Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman," Carl Perkins' rockabilly number "Lend Me Your Comb," and his country ballad "Sure to Fall (in Love with You)." There's even a tune that appears nowhere else in the Beatles discography, Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer" in the form of an utterly transformed rave-up.
Extended interviews with each of the four lads are appended as "Pop Profiles," two at the end of each disc, totaling 35 minutes of relaxed, down-to-earth charm. Recorded in November 1965 just before the release of "Rubber Soul" and in May 1966 during the "Revolver" sessions, these conversations saw the Beatles talking candidly about their musical influences and the processes of composing and recording as well as their families and living situations. They discuss the activities they were enjoying, how the public seemed to perceive them, their childhood memories, and their hopes for the future.
The monophonic sound is pristine throughout save for a couple of slightly muffled tracks included for historical reasons ("Beautiful Dreamer" and the Chuck Berry rarity "I'm Talking About You"). The playing and singing, needless to say, are top-notch. You won't be able to resist Ringo's full-throttle vocals and George's guitar solos on "Boys" and "Honey Don't," and you'll thrill to John's raucous voice on "Money (That's What I Want)" and Paul's iconic leads on "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Lucille." You might even find yourself screaming along with the girls in the audience when you hear the boys' harmonies on "From Me to You."
In his introduction, Sir Paul expresses great pleasure at this collection: "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." He explains that their fascination with American music and their first attempts at songwriting were inspired by listening to the BBC and Radio Luxembourg, browsing manager Brian Epstein's record shop, and hearing about new sounds from peers. Since there's so much talk on the set, it may not be quite as wonderful as Volume One, but no one can say that all of the world-changing music and joyful nostalgia aren't worth 20 bucks. Buy it!
This beautifully designed CD is Volume 2 and contains two discs and a nicely packaged and well-detailed book of liner notes that is contained within the inner sleeve. For listeners that are just beginning to delve into the live sounds of The Beatles, indeed, this is a treat as it was for the first volume; although several tracks are repeated on this set from the first, they are alternate takes and re-mastered but one may have to listen very carefully to identify the difference. Nevertheless, what makes this release enticing to listen to is the sheer pleasure of listening to the live versions of the “hits,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Twist and Shout,” and “Please Please Me.” No matter how many times one listens to these songs, they never wear the listener out. In addition to the familiar songs, there are the gems of cover songs that the band played during their early set lists at the Cavern Club and in Hamburg that shows how diverse their interest in musical taste expanded, “The Hippy Hippy Shake,” “I Got a Woman,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” and even “Happy Birthday.” Another part about the CD is the interviews of the members of the band, which are the bonus tracks at the end of disc one and two, that shows once again, the bright, fresh-faced, innocent, and living in the moment personalities that John, Paul, George, and Ringo possessed before Beatlemania and at the height – 1962 to 1965.
The Beatles tend to have a knack of capturing every fan’s heart when it comes to their music. And for fans and listeners alike, no matter how many times one listens to “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” studio version, the Ed Sullivan Show performances, or the live version on this CD, it is the sound that began it all for the band – absolutely fabulous or for The Beatles FAB and timeless.
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