Live At The BBC [2 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.
In the studios of the British Broadcasting Corporation, The Beatles performed music for a variety of radio shows. Live at the BBC 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.'
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!'
Newly remastered for reissue, The Beatles' first Live at the BBC album sounds and looks better than ever. This collection of the group's BBC sessions mixed versions of their hits with a treasure trove of 30 songs The Beatles performed on air but never released on record in the 1960s. The compelling track list ranged from a rare performance of the little known Lennon-McCartney original 'I'll Be On My Way' to covers of classic rock 'n' roll and contemporary rhythm and blues songs. At the time of its release, Live at the BBC was hailed by Rolling Stone as 'an exhilarating portrait of a band in the process of shaping its own voice and vision.'. It earned a GRAMMY Award nomination for Best Historical Album.
Live at the BBC was assembled by George Martin in 1994.
- 2 CDs packaged in soft pack
- 58 songs (plus 13 intros) recorded live by the Beatles in the BBC studios between 1962 and 1965
- 48 page booklet
Top customer reviews
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.
The quality of Live at the BBC was not altogether consistent, being somewhat grey and murky in parts due, no doubt, to falling back on those fan recordings where the BBC archives fell short.
On the plus side, 30 recordings were of songs not recorded by the Fabs for EMI presented in the best sound then available. So, all in all, a pretty good package.
I'm glad to say that the remaster of Live at the BBC is incomparably better, probably because the BBC now has access to producer reference tapes.
Formerly shoddy-sounding tracks like Keep Your Hands Off My Baby, I'll Be On My Way and I Forgot To Remember To Forget sound brighter and have more presence while, overall, the package has been given a sonic shot in the arm.
The speaking bits have been properly sliced off from the music, so if you want to cut and paste your own collection by mixing music tracks with others from Volume 2, the way is now clear.
I've always been leary of repackages but Apple and the Beeb have done a good job with these remasters. Your original The Beatles Live at the BBC can now be placed into honorable retirement while the new version can be played to death.
The first BBC collection was issued 30 years after the original recordings were made and a further 20 years have elapsed since we have been given a further wodge with Volume 2. Is it too much to hope that more recordings will be issued soon, rather than later?
I live in hope that the Beatles' early broadcasts with Pete Best and Ringo from 1962-63 will turn up in a quality good enough for commercial issue. If so, let's hope we won't have to wait until the year 2034 to hear them.