Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Beatles capsules: live bootlegs

The surviving recordings of the Beatles on stage -- including TV performances -- are a hit and miss crop, but have been dutifully compiled over the decades so that there's considerable representation in bootleg form of all of their major tours from mid-1963 onward. Said recordings vary as much in quality as the performances themselves. Famously, the overenthusiasm of audiences eventually took its toll on the band and their work suffered in this context; that said, they played together brilliantly at the start and, even if there's precious little variance between shows in the post-fame era, there are often interesting little things to hear for hardcore fans in the shows that were captured.

***

The only legally released Beatles concerts, apart from extracts on the Anthology series, are the two (or three) Hollywood Bowl shows -- first issued in condensed form in 1977 -- and the Star-Club tape most extensively described elsewhere; only the former was a band-sanctioned, proper "official" album. (The Budokan, Shea Stadium and Washington DC shows were filmed and have been variously issued in that form but aren't readily available through normal channels at this writing.)

The Beatles: Live: Star-Club Hamburg, Germany - December 1962 (Purple Chick bootleg [2CD] 1962) [r]
As noted in my full review of the Live at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany album, this free download is the definitive edition of the Beatles' most unfiltered live performances that survive, with what sounds like the entire source tape apart from the missing second version of "To Know Her Is to Love Her," presented in what seems to be the correct running order and is definitely the correct speed. It does add a bit of intrigue with a rather slapdash version of "Money" that no one seems able to agree is even the Beatles; it's certainly none of them singing. And in a possibly unnecessary twist, PC adds five "bonus tracks," in this case the songs from the tape that various cash-hungry labels over the years misidentified (accidentally or maliciously) as the Beatles, the thought being presumably that since many fans have come to think of these as "part of" the story, but it seems a little silly when I Hope We Passed the Audition didn't bother with all those Beat Brothers tracks, or Magical Mystery Year with the George Martin orchestrations, etc.; but who am I to carp about so splendidly complete a realization of this vital, unfairly stigmatized part of the Beatles' music and history.

The Beatles: Purple Chick deluxe- The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (bootleg [2CD] 1964-65)
Purple Chick's "deluxe edition" of The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl is probably the most pointless item in their bootleg series, though it wasn't always thus; for decades, the Beatles' lone official live album was out of print in all formats, and it left a gaping hole in their discography filled by counterfeits and downloads like this. Disc one is just the original album with the subsequently released b-side "Baby's in Black" (and John Lennon's hilarious introduction of it), first heard officially in 1996 on the "Real Love" single, edited in at the halfway point. The LP sequence is followed by some barely distinguishable alt mixes: the '64 "Twist and Shout" as heard in mono and stereo on The Beatles Story, and the Anthology DVD mix of "All My Loving." This half of the package is made redundant by the widespread rerelease of the album itself in 2016. Disc two, meanwhile, is made redundant by PC's own live series (see below) which offers complete recordings of all of the band's Hollywood Bowl concerts. Still, the presentation of Capitol's vintage mono mix of the 1964 concert has a certain interest going for it, with more banter and a few songs that didn't make the final cut ("If I Fell" most significantly); it pretty much proves that the problem with the record at the time wasn't the performances or even really the audience but the haphazard method of recording it. The August 30th, 1965 show, on the other hand, is offered here in a crudely duplicated stereo mix that may or may not be vintage, and on the whole doesn't seem to me like an essential addition to the canon. There are simply better, more comprehensive ways to hear the band's Hollywood Bowl shows; and holding the LP up as some important fetish object no longer makes much sense. I was thrilled to have this when I first located it, though, so hats off.

***

There exists at least partial tape of a little under ninety live shows and live TV performances by the Beatles recorded between 1963 and 1966, though a large number of these -- indeed, speaking technically, the majority of them -- are incomplete, and quite a few are mere fragments. Tackling this less rewarding segment of the band's legacy is a bit tricky in terms of rating or reviewing. Apart from the December 1962 Star-Club performances, the band's live tapes don't tend to be revelatory in terms of volume in the way we might expect from any given one of our favorites from the late '60s onward, because the more generous traditions of rock concerts weren't in place yet and Beatles shows tended to be barely half an hour in length and to shirk any deviations from a carefully arranged setlist that lasted all across each tour. Add to that the well-known qualifiers of the Beatles' loud, frantic audiences and the absence of proper monitor equipment and you get a sense of why they're not exactly Hendrix or the Dead.

That said, one rumor that does need to be put to rest is the notion that the Beatles were not "good" live; even official releases like the Anthologies plus Hollywood Bowl and Live at the BBC are a challenge to such assertions. It was not until 1966 that the malaise of coping with the massive stresses of Beatlemania and its many attendant inconveniences and crises seems to overtake them. Up to then, in the right conditions, the Beatles were as extraordinary on stage as they were in the studio. Purple Chick has graciously gathered all of the band's non-BBC live or broadcast material together on their Live series, which supersedes previous collections of individual shows, though its strict chronology does make for a less than cohesive listening experience since you can quickly move from a well-recorded corker of a show to thirty seconds of a poor rendition of one of their hits on a TV show to a dire audience recording.

Nonetheless, if you're not interested in following this page and slogging through the entirety of the band's official and booted live tapes, I suggest that you use these files or Youtube to make a sort of best-of compilation. First of all, if you have time for just one Beatles show and you already know all the official stuff (most of their very best live recording, Stockholm '63, is on Anthology 1), then make it their 1965 Atlanta performance, at which they first encountered monitor speakers, could actually hear themselves, and tore through blistering versions of many classics; I sent the closing rendition of "I'm Down" to Greil Marcus and even he was impressed! But if you're more interested in a full-on highlights reel of mostly complete concerts, I suggest (in chronological order):
1. Stockholm '63 (partially released on Anthology 1; there's also a superb TV gig from the next day)
2. Washington '64 (officially released on film)
3. Adelaide '64 (no Ringo)
4. Melbourne '64 (afternoon show)
5. Blackpool Night Out '64 (partially released on Anthology 2)
6. Los Angeles '64 (partially released on The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl)
7. Philadelphia '64
8. Indianapolis '64
9. Shindig '64
10. NME Poll Winners' Concert '65
11. Paris '65 (afternoon show)
12. Shea Stadium '65 (partially released on film, though with overdubs)
13. Atlanta '65
14. Los Angeles '65 (second night; partially released on The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl)
15. San Francisco '66

Other historically significant shows, like the Sullivan performances and the 1963 Royal Variety gig, are worth consideration but are best experienced with the visuals, which are readily available -- in color, in the latter case.

But if you're interested in hearing more about these and the rest of the Beatles' live tapes, what follows are the informal notes I took this spring while listening to each and every one of the shows that exist. I've provided dates, venues and setlists and have given each show a letter grade where applicable, in {braces}, with judgment of the quality of the Beatles' performance followed by the quality of the tape itself. Because I'm using the PC sets to rate these, I've also averaged out a rating for each of their individual two-disc sets and have divided the shows accordingly. Also, if you want to hear any of these tapes, you almost invariably can type the year and venue along with "Beatles" into Youtube and listen (and sometimes see) the show without having to seek out these sets. Enjoy!

The Beatles: Live: Before America (bootleg [2CD] 1963-64) [r]
As you can also tell from the Anthology documentary, before the U.S. gigs began, the Beatles actually played before a lot of reasonably well-behaved and respectful audiences... though not always, with the second Palladium show particularly maddening and chaotic.

1963-05-16 "Pops & Lenny" TV series (BBC - Television Theatre, London): From Me to You [fragment, intrusive voiceover] {A-/C-}
- 39-second tidbit from a children's BBC show called Pops & Lenny

1963-08-27 "The Mersey Sound" TV documentary (BBC - Little Theatre, Southport): Twist and Shout [portions missing, voiceover]/I Saw Her Standing There [fragment]/She Loves You {A-/B+}
- from the Mersey Sound documentary produced for BBC by Don Haworth
- the Beatles played at a theater in Southport with audience dubbed in later
- a real pounding version of "She Loves You"

1963-10-13 "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" TV series (ITV - Palladium, London): From Me to You/I'll Get You/She Loves You/Twist and Shout {B+/D+ exc I'll Get You, B+/B-}
- Beatlemania day 1.
- the famous Sunday Night at the London Palladium, a watershed moment, which is funny because it's (mostly) not a spectacular performance; still, this established them as an actual phenomenon and you can hear it happening
- dreadful quality except the song that's been officially released on Anthology 1
- surely the only band that would announce on national television that the next song is "in E"
- the screaming is infectious, real sublime joy in this moment on "I'll Get You"
- ... though John tells them to shut up

1963-10-24 "Pop 63" radio series (Swedish National Radio - Karlaplansstudion, Stockholm): I Saw Her Standing There/From Me to You/Money/Roll Over Beethoven/You Really Got a Hold on Me/She Loves You/Twist and Shout {A/A}
- as noted above, this is partially on Anthology 1, which only misses the last two songs and reverses the order on the two prior
- at a Stockholm studio in front of an audience, well-miked
- one of the best Beatles live shows ever recorded; and if you require better than decent recording quality, surely the best, certainly making the strongest case for how vicious and hungry they could still be as of the early Mania period
- Ringo's really laying into the drums on "From Me to You"
- the heavy distortion makes the performance sound extremely immediate
- "You Really Got a Hold on Me" is truly stunning here
- fierce guitars on "She Loves You" too, and John is endearingly sloppy on "Twist and Shout"
- note that the With the Beatles songs weren't actually released yet

1963-10-30 "Drop In" TV series (Sveriges - Arenateatern, Stockholm): She Loves You/Twist and Shout/I Saw Her Standing There/Long Tall Sally {A-/B+}
- the recording is very clear but the vocals are miked heavily over instruments; George is really hard to hear
- John sounds a little listless on "I Saw Her Standing There," probably exhaustion from the prior song!
- the last two songs weren't planned; host Klas Burling persuades them to keep going
- this "Long Tall Sally" is pre-EMI and the solo is sloppy but forgivable because the performance overall is so thunderous and manic!

1963-11-04 Royal Command Performance - Prince of Wales Theatre, London: From Me to You/She Loves You/Till There Was You/Twist and Shout {A-/B+}
- 3/4 of this is on Anthology 1
- considering their nerves, they do quite well here, and really charge at the rockers
- some real emphasis on the "woos" on "She Loves You"
- Paul's "Sophie Tucker" bit goes over well but not as well as John's "rattle your jewelry" line
- George actually murders the solo on "Till There Was You"
- what an optimistic, pure moment for the band, you can hear how thrilling it was -- and things just kept getting more intense after this
- slower version of "Twist and Shout" but it still rocks, has kind of a dramatic lumbering quality
- listen to Ringo's drumming on "Twist and Shout"!
- they go over tremendously with a much older/more "dignified" audience

1963-11-09 Granada Cinema, London: I Saw Her Standing There [fragment] {?/D}
- all you can hear is count-in and bass, and very faint singing; it's almost all screams, a situation that will become more familiar as we press on

1963-11-16 Winter Gardens Theatre, Bournemouth: From Me to You [fragment] {?/D-}
- just the cacophonous hissing of the crowd and someone talking: "these guys have these crazy hairdos" and some sexist stuff about female fans
- there were several camera crews from U.S. networks there, which was presumably the source

1963-11-20 ABC Cinema, Manchester: She Loves You/Twist and Shout [fragment]/From Me to You [fragment] {B/B-}
- some screams are very loud ("JOOOHNNN!") but the band is quite audible; the source is the film of a Pathe newsreel
- "From Me to You" sounds awful, like something's actually wrong -- the guitar seems to fall apart

1963-12-02 "The Morecambe and Wise Show" TV series (ATV - Elstree Studio Centre, Borehamwood): This Boy/All My Loving/I Want to Hold Your Hand {B+/B+}
- all of this except "All My Loving" is on Anthology 1, as is the "Moonlight Bay" comedy bit
- the mikes are popping badly
- John can't quite make the bridge of "This Boy" here
- "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is very tight

1963-12-07 "It's the Beatles" TV special (BBC - Empire Theatre, Liverpool): From Me to You/I Saw Her Standing There/All My Loving/Roll Over Beethoven/Boys/Till There Was You/She Loves You/This Boy/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Money/Twist and Shout/From Me to You [reprise] {A/C-}
- a Liverpool show, which makes it a a very important and atypical homecoming
- muffled and washed-out, very badly balanced/recorded by the BBC, a lot of buzzing; but the band is outstanding
- "From Me to You" starts with a long drum-only bit
- great "WOWWW YEAH" from Paul on "I Saw Her Standing There," also boasting a good solo by George
- a looser than usual "Roll Over Beethoven"
- Ringo "was gonna learn the new number but he hasn't learned it"; his vocals are mixed too low to hear well... Paul's bass drowns out everything, the engineer seems to be trying to fix it in real time; the solo sounds ridiculous from what we can hear
- "a song from the musical The Muscle Man, sung by Peggy Leg; you'll probably remember it from the Cavern"
- interesting effect with half the vocals missing from "This Boy"!?!? the audience screams on "CRYYHIHIHIIII" are something else, though
- the tape wavers badly near end of "This Boy"
- the reprise of "From Me to You" is instrumental and... weird, with a little touch of "Third Man Theme"!?

1964-01-12 "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" TV series (ITV - Palladium, London): I Want to Hold Your Hand/This Boy/All My Loving/Money/Twist and Shout {B/D}
- how can this be such dreadful quality? the tape is godawful
- hard to tell how the performance is... it sounds a little draggy
- "This Boy" sounds like old-ass men singing
- banter: "shut up!!!"... "at this point we normally have a joke"
- the screaming is insane, almost insufferable

1964-01-15 Cinema Cyrano, Versailles: From Me to You [fragment] {?/B+}
- quite clear actually! but incomplete, cuts all around the song

1964-01-16 [afternoon] Olympia Theatre, Paris: From Me to You/I Saw Her Standing There/This Boy [fragment]/Twist and Shout/From Me to You [reprise fragment]/Long Tall Sally/From Me to You [reprise? fragment] {A-/B+}
- only a partial show, "This Boy" is only the spoken intro
- "Long Tall Sally" is pre-EMI, and possibly an actual encore?
- French guys chanting "BEATLES" at the close

1964-01-16 Olympia Theatre, Paris evening: From Me to You/She Loves You/This Boy/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Twist and Shout/From Me to You [reprise fragment]/Long Tall Sally [fragment]/From Me to You [reprise? fragment] {B+/B}
- slightly distant, echo-filled recording, but very clear
- "From Me to You" has something like a "Pretty Vacant" riff in the midsection
- noticeably quiet crowd (older), which means they actually can hear themselves on "This Boy"
- sharp guitar sound on "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

The Beatles: Live: Conquering America (bootleg [2CD] 1964) [r]
Historically, probably the most significant of these sets and also one of the most consistently listenable... though again, the Sullivan material is better experienced in its original context; however, the Washington show is a great enough listen even without the accompanying footage, though I recommend watching the whole package, which I really wish Apple would properly release on DVD or something.

1964-02-09 "Ed Sullivan Show" TV series (CBS - Studio 50, New York): Twist and Shout/Please Please Me/I Want to Hold Your Hand {B+/A-}
- broadcast as their third appearance, not live on air

1964-02-09 "Ed Sullivan Show" TV series (CBS - Studio 50, New York): All My Loving/Till There Was You/She Loves You/I Saw Her Standing There/I Want to Hold Your Hand {A-/A}
- the iconic first Sullivan appearance, "Till There Was You" is a weird choice but the rest cooks, and you know it by heart
- the Mania has fully translated to these shores; I like Paul's reflective vocal on "I Want to Hold Your Hand" -- he changes the melody a bit, even

1964-02-11 Washington Coliseum, Washington: Roll Over Beethoven/From Me to You/I Saw Her Standing There/This Boy/All My Loving/I Wanna Be Your Man/Please Please Me/Till There Was You/She Loves You/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Twist and Shout [fragment]/Long Tall Sally {A/B}
- badly recorded, at least initially; screams prominent but guitars are great when you can hear them
- George's microphone cuts out a lot on "Roll Over Beethoven"
- frenzied version of "I Saw Her Standing There," terrific solo
- John and Ringo ruin the whole building on the bridge of "This Boy"
- you can really hear the backing vox on "All My Loving," which incidentally takes flight on the instrumental break
- Ringo can't catch his breath at all on "I Wanna Be Your Man" which is total chaos
- "it's doing something, you know" - Paul on "Please Please Me" and its U.S. chart performance upon rerelease
- excellent version of "Please Please Me"
- Paul can't quite nail "Till There Was You" in this environment, it sounds kind of peculiar with screaming all over it
- no intro or setup to "She Loves You," which is effective; they should've done that more
- John is 100% saying "I get high" on "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
- Paul shouts out the Isley Brothers before "Twist and Shout"!
- once again, "Long Tall Sally" is pre-EMI (they recorded it there a few weeks later); Paul kills it as usual

1964-02-16 "Ed Sullivan Show" rehearsal (CBS - Deauville Hotel, Miami): She Loves You/This Boy/All My Loving/I Saw Her Standing There/From Me to You/I Want to Hold Your Hand {B+/B-}
- full audience present
- soundcheck so the microphones do lots of weird stuff
- it sounds like John and Paul are trading off lead vocal lines on SLY here!? George is also super prominent on vocals
- Paul's vocal inaudible on "I Saw Her Standing THere"

1964-02-16 "Ed Sullivan Show" TV series (CBS - Deauville Hotel, Miami): She Loves You/This Boy/All My Loving/I Saw Her Standing There/From Me to You/I Want to Hold Your Hand {A-/A-}
- Ed mentions the Beatles gathering the largest TV audience ever the previous week
- clearer sound on band/instruments! almost no screaming!
- "This Boy" is a nice performance
- Ed talking to Sonny Liston???
- Paul still isn't miked properly on "I Saw Her Standing There"!
- the Sophie Tucker joke is here again, and makes no sense
- really cool shuffling rhythm on "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

1964-04-26 [NME Poll Winners' Concert] Empire Pool, London: She Loves You/You Can't Do That/Twist and Shout/Long Tall Sally/Can't Buy Me Love {B+/B+)
- really great Murray the K intro
- band sounds a little under-rehearsed; they'd just wrapped filming on A Hard Day's Night
- close-miked on vocals, instruments harder to hear; clarity is fine
- John gets verses mixed up on "She Loves You"
- early performances of "You Can't Do That" (kind of awkward and poorly timed) and "Can't Buy Me Love"; they'd done both at the BBC
- Paul has no idea what to say before "Twist and Shout": "we made it as a record a few months ago"!?
- triumphant, fraying vocal on "Twist and Shout" from John
- giving love to Little Richard before "Long Tall Sally," also a tour de force lead vocal, here Paul's of course, though the rhythm guitar is very... clinky??

1964-04-28 "Around the Beatles" TV special (ITV - Wembley Studios, London): Twist and Shout/Roll Over Beethoven/I Wanna Be Your Man/Long Tall Sally/[A Midsummer Night's Dream skit]/Medley/Can't Buy Me Love/Shout {A-/B+}
- the band recorded new versions of the songs live in a studio, then lip-synced those versions before the audience; fairly sound technique actually!
- a very rare live-with-audience performance (rare, period, in 1964 and after) of an unrecorded song, namely the Isleys' "Shout"
- these recordings sound totally natural with audience reaction; Anthology 1 presented a few of them unadorned and in awful stereo mix
- George gets the lyrics right on "Roll Over Beethoven"; they're even wrong on the record!
- excellent performances, if only dubiously "live"
- the Shakespeare skit is totally worthless but whatever; it is funny when Ringo shows up
- the hits medley is an odd choice, clearly carefully put together but... why? and a major chronological outlier when it comes to the Beatles playing "Love Me Do," which they never trotted out on stage after '62 and hadn't played at the BBC since October

1964-06-04 KB Hallen, Copenhagen: I Saw Her Standing There/I Want to Hold Your Hand/All My Loving/She Loves You/Till There Was You/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/This Boy/Twist and Shout {A-/F}
- barely audible
- distant recording, probably from within the crowd, and tape degraded
- Jimmie Nicol is here on drums; this was their first show of several on this tour without Ringo, who was absent because of a tonsilectomy
- you can tell they're on fire still despite the personnel shakeup

The Beatles: Live: Adelaide Reaction (bootleg [2CD] 1964) [r]
Runs through the famous 1964 world tour -- including the largest-scale gig of all in Adelaide -- during the first portion of which Ringo was replaced by temporary Beatle Jimmie Nicol, who experienced the biggest short-lived whirlwind, and biggest cruel comedown, of probably anyone's life.

1964-06-05 TV special (Netherlands VARA-TV, Treslong, Hillegom): She Loves You/All My Loving/Twist and Shout/Roll Over Beethoven/Long Tall Sally/Can't Buy Me Love {C-/A-}
- in an interview, we meet "John Leopard"
- "it's like a football match"
- quite a weird one; it sounds like they are singing along to a record
- ... because they are; confusingly, it's a mimed performance for TV but with live sound!

1964-06-06 [afternoon] Veilinghal Op Hoop Van Zegen, Blokken: I Saw Her Standing There/I Want to Hold Your Hand/All My Loving/She Loves You/Twist and Shout [with voiceover interfering]/Long Tall Sally {A/B}
- still with Nicol in tow; "Jimmie, John, Paul and George"
- a bad audience recording but it's really fun to hear the audience singing along with enormous gusto to the songs, kinda brings home what it was all about
- I actually love this for some reason, though it's incomplete and some of it has irritating radio voiceover

1964-06-06 [evening] Veilinghal Op Hoop Van Zegen, Blokken: I Saw Her Standing There/I Want to Hold Your Hand [fragment]/All My Loving [fragment] {A-/B+}
- very incomplete show, obviously sounds a lot more clear (on the band) than the afternoon show... but less fun!

1964-06-12 Centennial Hall, Adelaide: I Saw Her Standing There/I Want to Hold Your Hand/All My Loving/She Loves You/Till There Was You/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/This Boy/Twist and Shout/Long Tall Sally {A/A-}
- the largest audience they ever played to (I think)... but alas, no Ringo
- the emcee demands "complete silence"!
- Paul loves saying that they recorded "All My Loving" "not so long ago"; why!?
- aside from George's vocal, "Roll Over Beethoven" sounds a little tepid; just the tape?
- John: "CRYYYHIHIHIIII" = that's a moment defined

1964-06-17 [afternoon] Festival Hall, Melbourne: I Saw Her Standing There/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Till There Was You/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/This Boy/Twist and Shout/Long Tall Sally [intro only] {A-/B}
- tape is wobbly but not a terrible mix, kind of vocal-heavy
- "if i have to tell you bout that boy again"
- pretty jaunty version of "Till There Was You" (but bad solo); surprised how huge a response this song alwayss gets
- great backing vocals on "Roll Over Beethoven"
- "I think it's our latest record here. It is in England, anyway." - John, sounding tired, on "Can't Buy Me Love"
- they're having fun in a half-assed way on "This Boy"
- Ringo gets reintroduced!
- nice shout-out from Paul to the fan club presidents

1964-06-17 [evening] Festival Hall, Melbourne: I Saw Her Standing There/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Till There Was You/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/This Boy/Twist and Shout/Long Tall Sally {A-/A-}
- alternate mix of this also included ("video mix" from The Beatles Sing for Shell), kind of pointless (and incomplete in places) but PC is nothing if not thorough
- they sound a tad fatigued but give it a lot of gusto, and it's a good sound mix
- reintroduction of Ringo is repeated here
- terrific versions of "Long Tall Sally," "You Can't Do That" and "All My Loving"

1964-06-19: Sydney Stadium, Sydney: I Saw Her Standing There [fragment]/You Can't Do That [fragment] {?/F}
- almost inaudible, with voiceover distorting it further

The Beatles: Live: Seattle Down (bootleg [2CD] 1964)
Two good shows -- Blackpool Night Out and Hollywood Bowl -- and a lot of garbage in between, with the usual added problem of repetitive setlists making it a difficult listening experience. General advice for all of the Beatles' live performances: if you choose to go through all these, take it a show at the time.

1964-07-19 "Blackpool Night Out" TV series (ITV - ABC Theatre, Blackpool): A Hard Day's Night/Things We Said Today/You Can't Do That/If I Fell/Long Tall Sally {A/B+}
- a fine gritty, raw performance, premier live Beatles
- a lot of hiss and some distortion on the tape, otherwise fine
- "Things We Said Today" is rollicking!

1964-07-28 Johanneshovs Isstadion, Stockholm: [intro only] {?/?}
- John and Paul both shocked by microphones at this show

1964-08-19 Cow Palace, San Francisco: Twist and Shout/She Loves You/A Hard Day's Night/Can't Buy Me Love [fragment]/You Can't Do That [fragment] {?/D-}
- band is almost inaudible; so is the tape, generally, it seems to have been recorded from some distance
- you do get a clear shot of the sheer insanity of peak Beatlemania at least
- some girl yells "OH BABY!"

1964-08-20 Convention Center, Las Vegas: Twist and Shout [fragment] {?/F}
- almost nothing here except the most horrendous hissing sound you've heard in your fucking life and the very faint opening strains of "Twist and Shout"

1964-08-21 Coliseum, Seattle: Twist and Shout/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Things We Said Today/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/If I Fell/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Boys/A Hard Day's Night/Long Tall Sally {?/F}
- even more faint than the last two, a very very distant audience tape
- ...but an actual complete show at least; still pretty much worthless as a listening experience

1964-08-22 Empire Stadium, Vancouver: Twist and Shout/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Things We Said Today/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/If I Fell/Boys/A Hard Day's Night/Long Tall Sally {B/C-}
- wildly overdriven guitar sound on "Twist and Shout"
- severe distortion on tape, but you can actually hear the band
- the band is OK, not at their most professional, but this would be unlistenable if not for the fact that the prior two shows sound so awful
- John busts out laughing during "She Loves You"
- Paul screws up "Things We Said Today" lyrics: "be my one and only / if you say you're mine"... they're gettin' sloppy, man!
- George's voice cracks badly on "Roll Over Beethoven"
- "two kids crushed already"; the emcee asks people to back up: "the Beatles want to perform for you but they can't do it if you don't sit down"
- John: "we gotta hang on a minute while George changes a guitar... mmm mmmmm mmm mmm"
- they're cracking up again on "If I Fell," they just can't hold it together!
- Paul sings the word "pain" in country accent, then they totally wreck the harmonies, seemingly on purpose, which, okay, is pretty funny
- "we'd like to feature somebody who doesn't sing very often... BUT HE'S GONNA SING NOW!"
- someone comes onstage and warns the crowd again about moving back
- Larry Kane said this was a very rough night in terms of crowd control; show was cut short as a result

1964-08-23 Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles: Twist and Shout/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Things We Said Today/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/If I Fell/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Boys/A Hard Day's Night/Long Tall Sally {A-/A}
- stereo sound! siren.gif
- pro recorded show, and they sound a lot better than they did last night
- golly these concerts are short (29 minutes!)
- "it's an oldie some of you older people might remember; it's from last year" - John on "She Loves You"
- vocals go out of sync briefly on "Things We Said Today," but the sudden acceleration on that song makes the crowd go crazy
- Paul says joining in for "Can't Buy Me Love" is "dead easy"
- John does the same "George changing his guitar" bit again, and will repeat it a lot from here on out
- crowd chants "WE WANT THE BEATLES" for some time after they leave the stage

The Beatles: Live: Convention Hall Wisdom (bootleg [2CD] 1964-65)
Another scattershot collection thanks to varying tape quality, but the actual complete shows and the TV appearances are nice.

1964-09-02 Convention Hall, Philadelphia: Twist and Shout/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Things We Said Today/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/If I Fell/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Boys/A Hard Day's Night/Long Tall Sally {A-/B+}
- John at the start, in what will become a calling card: "hello?"
- some tape drag but overall pretty clear, and the band is extremely loud and tight here (except on "Things We Said Today" and "If I Fell")
- excessive rhythm guitar sound on "All My Loving"
- "Things We Said Today" gets screwed up vocally, and is a bit listless except the bridge which really kicks into gear again
- they really cannot nail the words to "If I Fell"
- splendidly wild "Long Tall Sally"

1964-09-03 State Fair Coliseum, Indianapolis: Twist and Shout/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Things We Said Today/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/If I Fell/I Want to Hold Your Hand/Boys/A Hard Day's Night/Long Tall Sally [fragment] {A-/A-}
- unusually well-balanced recording for a bootleg
- John's sounding a little tired by this point; of course, was he ever really into playing for these huge crowds? could also just be vocal strain
- the banter is getting repetitive, it's nice when the cracks show ("the song is called... [off-mic] ready?... 'All My Loving'")
- "Things We Said Today" is far better than last night
- very strong, forceful drumming on "If I Fell"
- "thank you Ringo" "thank you John" "thank you Ringo"
- timing is fucked at the beginning of "A Hard Day's Night"
- bad tape flaws (digital transfer issues?) during "A Hard Day's Night"
- cuts off near the end of "Long Tall Sally"

1964-09-05 International Amphitheatre, Chicago: Twist and Shout [fragment]/You Can't Do That [fragment] {?/F}
- voiceover is an annoying Wolfman Jack-like freakshow
- band is basically inaudible, and only for nine seconds anyway

1964-09-06 Olympia Stadium, Detroit: Can't Buy Me Love [fragment] {?/F}
- radio news show voiceover
- also pretty much impossible to hear, like a homeopathic hint of them playing

1964-09-07 Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto: You Can't Do That [fragment]/All My Loving/She Loves You [fragment] {?/F}
- just tiny and very distant, boomy bits and pieces
- "All My Loving" is the whole song, but you can scarcely make it out; mostly crowd noise, recorded some distance from the stage

1964-09-08 Forum, Montreal: Twist and Shout/You Can't Do That/All My Loving/She Loves You/Things We Said Today/Roll Over Beethoven/Can't Buy Me Love/If I Fell/Boys/A Hard Day's Night [fragment] {B+/D-}
- pretty much miserable to listen to because of bad tape
- ... though it seems like it was recorded close to stage (very clear vocals), problem is mostly the reproduction quality
- super muffled banter
- doesn't seem like a bad show but the quality is so so tinny and abrasive
- cuts off midway thru "A Hard Day's Night"

1964-09-12 Boston Garden, Boston: Twist and Shout [fragment] {?/F}
- mostly 30 seconds of screaming with irksome voiceover

1964-09-16 City Park Stadium, New Orleans: All My Loving [intro only]/She Loves You [intro only]/Things We Said Today [intro only]/Can't Buy Me Love [intro only]/If I Fell [intro only]/Boys [intro only]/A Hard Day's Night [intro only]/Long Tall Sally [intro only] {?/D}
- the banter alone, effectively pointless and difficult to hear under static-like sound (multiple generations?)

UNKNOWN: She Loves You [fragment] {?/F}
- a mess of bass and very faint singing and a crowd belting/screaming along

1964-10-03 "Shindig!" TV series (ABC - Granville Studio, London): Kansas City/I'm a Loser/Boys {A-/A-}
- finally something interesting...
- "Kansas City" and "I'm a Loser" hadn't been released yet at this point
- considerable clarity on these versions, which are simple, scaled-back and impressive
- one of the last handful of really excellent Beatles live performances
- "Kansas City" first heard w/o (most of the) audience interaction
- "I'm a Loser" is stunning here, a calm and reflective and appropriate performance... and the audience respects it! (maybe because they don't know it)
- a bold song for them to premiere on a big TV show, too
- "Boys" is kind of an antique here, weird choice, but enthused as always

1964-10-29 ABC Cinema, Plymouth: Twist and Shout [fragment] {?/F}
- 16 seconds, nothing to it

1965-04-11 [NME Poll Winners' Concert] Empire Pool, London: I Feel Fine/She's a Woman/Baby's in Black/Ticket to Ride/Long Tall Sally {A/A-}
- pretty much all new material except "Long Tall Sally," a relief to hear the band start to develop new stuff, and they sound relieved too
- "I Feel Fine" is a bit of a mess at this point vocally, otherwise terrific, and interestingly low-key
- obvious renewed enthusiasm on the part of the band in the banter
- "the song's called Baby's in Blackpool"
- extremely spirited version of "Ticket to Ride"
- Paul's wrecking the microphone on "Long Tall Sally" and there's an unusually improvisatory solo by George; one of the best versions of this they recorded

1965-04-28 Grammy Award presented by Peter Sellers on the set of Help! - Twickenham Studios, London: It's a Long Way to Tipperary {?/B+}
- "present them with their grandma that they have won from America"
- not much of a performance, not sure why it's here

The Beatles: Live: Les Beatles en Europe (bootleg [2CD] 1965) [r]
Documenting yet another long hot summer for the Beatles, their European tour and then the post-Help! publicity rounds in the runup to their most iconic live show ever, at Shea.

1965-06-20 afternoon Palais des Sport, Paris: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I'm a Loser/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Rock and Roll Music/I Feel Fine/Ticket to Ride/Long Tall Sally {A/A-}
- a lot of screaming but decent clarity on the band, who really pound thru "Twist and Shout" and "She's a Woman" to start out
- a surprisingly polished performance, and a slightly more respectful than usual audience (only slightly); this would've been a great show to see
- Paul speaks French: "un chanson qui s'appelle 'I'm a Loser'"
- "I'm a Loser" sounds... angry here! and killer harmonica solo
- "merci beaucoup, everybody"
- "Baby's in Black" and "I'm a Loser" are such weird choices to join the regular setlist, were the Beatles havin' a laff?
- impressively assured version of "Baby's in Black" too.
- "a haaard dayyy's NOIGHT"
- great band interplay and vocal on "Rock and Roll Music"
- John flubs the lyrics to "I Feel Fine", and Paul exhausts himself on "Long Tall Sally," but it's fun

1965-06-20 evening Palais des Sport, Paris: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I'm a Loser/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Rock and Roll Music/I Feel Fine/Ticket to Ride/Long Tall Sally {B/A-}
- the announcer only mentions Paul and Ringo, a premonition!?!?!?!
- audience singalong on "Twist and Shout"
- Paul wrecks the first verse of "She's a Woman" and they extend it
- they're a little weaker but it's forgivable on the second show on the same day
- John's voice is a bit worn out and doesn't seem to know where he is: "our new LP, Beatles '65 or something" [note: as it turns out, this isn't a reference to the Capitol LP; Beatles for Sale was called 1965 in France, and George mentions it as well]
- "Baby's in Black" is still pretty good though
- "A Hard Day's Night" has a cool, slightly slowed-down, almost bluesy vibe
- John forgets the second verse of "Ticket to Ride" and is off-key
- "Long Tall Sally" seems to be an encore, which is not something the Beatles typically did

1965-06-27 afternoon Teatro Adriano, Rome: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I'm a Loser/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Rock and Roll Music/I Feel Fine/Ticket to Ride/Long Tall Sally {B/D}
- the band is a muffled mess underneath crowd noise and hobnobbing, though you do get a feel for the atmosphere I guess
- the timing is really fucked on "She's a Woman," is this the band or a tape glitch?
- some girl yelling in Italian starting just before "Can't Buy Me Love" is the most amusing element of the tape
- severe tape problems on "A Hard Day's Night"
- ... and finally, tape hiss overtakes during "I Feel Fine"
- the tape gets severely bad again during "Ticket to Ride," stops and starts and drags, a terrible transfer of an already poor quality recording

1965-06-27 evening Teatro Adriano, Rome: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I'm a Loser [fragment] {B+/B-}
- "Twist and Shout" sounds fantastic and is a wonderful performance (though still the abbreviated version), would love this level of clarity on the afternoon show
- sadly, the tape gets muffled again after that, though stronger than the afternoon show, and of course most of this one is missing anyway

1965-08-01 "Blackpool Night Out" TV series (ITV - ABC Theatre, Blackpool): I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside/I Feel Fine/I'm Down/Act Naturally/Ticket to Ride/Yesterday/Help! {B+/A}
- starts out with a weird comedy sketch, the usual contrived goofiness
- this is partly released on Anthology 2; it's a middling performance at times (great intro on "I Feel Fine") but has excellent moments and the tape quality is terrific
- "I'm Down" would eventually be so sloppy live but it's still fresh here and sounds pretty close to the studio version
- Ringo introduces himself in Paul's usual language ("someone who doesn't normally sing"). a very sweet moment.
- ...and he pokes fun at himself for being out of key but actually sings "Act Naturally" better than on the record.
- quite surprised "Act Naturally" wasn't included on Anth2
- the famous premiere performance of "Yesterday"; George: "so for Paul McCartney of Liverpool, opportunity knocks"; and after the song finishes, John's best-ever joke, which again won't be spoiled here
- anyway, it's a totally acoustic solo performance of "Yesterday" with canned strings and occasional insane screams
- John gets very exasperated at the screams
- an audibly bored or pissed off John: "our latest record, or our latest electronic noise depending on whose side you're on"

1965-08-14 "Ed Sullivan Show" TV series (CBS - Studio 50, New York): I Feel Fine/I'm Down/Act Naturally/Ticket to Ride/Yesterday/Help! {B-/A}
- a fairly workmanlike performance but not bad, without the flashes of inspiration in Blackpool -- and with an identical setlist
- far from a triumphant return to Ed's studio
- Paul does an Ed Sullivan "shoe" then starts I'm Down with "man buys ring woman throws it away" for some reason; John is already fucking off on the electric organ
- the song has clearly devolved in just 13 days, and Paul keeps cutting up and laughing, on coast to coast TV!
- Ringo's self-intro is virtually the same as at Blackpool, but a lot less affectionate and more rushed
- Ed, ending the first half: "now be quiet!"
- it sounds like John misses his cue at the start of "Ticket to Ride" but this is actually because the series producers wanted the band to vamp for a few bars for a video effect they were doing; you can see this on the Sullivan DVD
- George's intro of Paul for "Yesterday" has far less flavor than in England, but the performance is almost exactly the same; same stupid strings that wreck it
- John completely loses it on the lyrics to "Help!", and there's really no excuse cause he could probably hear himself here; also, didn't they rehearse!?
- Ed takes time out to speak to the band: "... just want to congratulate the four of you on the way you've handled yourselves"... !?!?

The Beatles: Live: Sheaken, Not Stirred (bootleg [2CD] 1965) [r]

1965-08-15 Shea Stadium, New York: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/Act Naturally/A Hard Day's Night/Help!/I'm Down {A-/A-}
- obviously, one of the most famous shows the Beatles ever played, with highest attendance (55,000) recorded for a single-headliner rock concert in the U.S. until 1973
- Ed Sullivan introduces, just a day after their return to his series
- this was filmed for a TV film so we get a professional recording, with screams muted, but there are surprisingly a lot of minor screwups on the band's part
- perhaps because of the outsized and unusual nature of the event, there's a lot of tuning on stage here; they all yell out "HELLOS" and then start greeting each other
- whatever the flaws of their performance, it is a pretty singular fucking moment in time
- "our album, Beatles VI I think"; "the album before last"... the Beatles sucked at banter by this point
- a rollicking "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"; though John's (amazing) vocal is a tiny bit out of sync, he seems to be having a better time today than he has in a while
- "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" is on Anthology 2 but this is a different mix
- pretty nice bass sound on this tape
- some odd pseudo-jazz phrasing by Paul on "Can't Buy Me Love"
- "it's also off Beatles VI or something. I don't really know what it's off. I haven't got it."
- fucking hell "Baby's in Black" is a weird song, so macabre!
- interesting that "Act Naturally" got 86'd after this, though it seems to come off well enough here
- John's in such a weird state here but he's fun to listen to, especially on "A Hard Day's Night"
- some confused chat from John just before "I'm Down"; there is famous footage of him playing the keyboard with his elbows while cracking up
- we are treated to the sound of someone dicking around with the microphone or recorder at the end

1965-08-18 Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/Help!/I'm Down {A/B}
- intro: "make all the noise that you like, wave all the banners you have, but please take good care of yourself"
- "how you doin' there, Mal?"
- although this is perhaps the best Beatles performance we have aside from Stockholm and tape is very listenable and loud, it is a bit distorted/degraded, and there's some dropout during "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and hiss during "Baby's in Black"
- George's guitar is a little sloppy on the "Twist and Shout" opener
- this was the Beatles' first show with monitors, and you start to hear the difference right away with "She's a Woman," which sounds actually good here; the Beatles -- or rather, Brian Epstein -- tried to hire the sound engineer!
- quotes from the band about the situation: "ooh, it's loud isn't it? great" - Paul; "it's great, you can hear it!" - John
- maybe the best-ever performance of "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," especially in terms of George's vocal
- they're really very clearly enjoying themselves on this show
- "we bring this song to you at great expense" re: "I Wanna Be Your Man" (something to do with the discarding of "Act Naturally" maybe?), an extremely raucous performance
- Paul breaks a string and John has to cover for him but says he can't think of anything to say
- did they play "A Hard Day's Night" and it's missing? can't tell, but before "Help!" John says "another song from a film"
- man they are ferocious and messy at this show!
- best "I'm Down" ever by far too. actually it's incredible, you can barely catch your breath when it's finished
- things could have been so different if every show was this well orchestrated

1965-08-19 afternoon Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Help!/I'm Down {B/B+}
- there's an opening announcement that Help! will open in Houston a week later
- emcee has bad crowd control skills
- you can tell John's frustrated that he can't hear himself anymore when he steps to the microphone a day after Atlanta
- very bass-heavy tape
- John's voice sounds shredded on "Twist and Shout"
- some serious feedback emanating from somewhere during "She's a Woman"
- did we mention the outro from "She's a Woman" that was lopped off the master always shows up in live versions? groovin'
- Paul says "howdy, y'all"
- the backing vocals sound dreadful on "I Feel Fine," like an old-man chorus or something
- more banter about LPs: "Beatles 5 or '65 or '98 or something"
- George breaks up several times during "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby"; vive la difference when unable to hear oneself
- "though it's only a whim, I think of him"... this kind of sloppiness permeates
- John wonders if anyone's listening and scats
- "our last single but one single but one single but one single"
- the tape starts to fray during "A Hard Day's Night"

1965-08-19 evening Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Help!/I'm Down {D+/B+}
- announcement of safety concerns at outset; interesting!
- John's voice is 100% shot
- two shows in one day not good for John... he sounds awful (and Paul doesn't sound great either)
- solid guitar sound on "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" anyway
- John gets confused on the "Lizzy" lyric and they don't know when to end the song
- "my baby don't care" with miserable strain from both John and Paul / afterward, Paul: "ahem. Thank you, sorry about that"
- George's amp is barely miked?
- "Baby's in Black" comes off a llittle better, but even on the banter you can tell John is hoarse and miserable
- re: Ringo -- "someone who doesn't sing often, drunk much... etc."
- Ringo is totally silent vocally after the halfway point of "I Wanna Be Your Man" (not microphone dropout because you can hear him on the chorus)
- "Help!" is a train wreck, "I'm Down" actually isn't nearly as bad as I'd expect in this context
- the worst they've sounded, as a band, on any bootlegged show up to this point; there were no dressing rooms and it was hot, which probably aggravated the problems

The Beatles: Live: Bowled Over (bootleg [2CD] 1965-66) [r]

1965-08-21 Metropolitan Stadium, Minneapolis: She's a Woman/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Help!/I'm Down {B+/D}
- they skipped "Twist and Shout" due to John's voice still having problems
- this stadium was located in the spot where the Mall of America now stands
- this is an audience tape recorded from seemingly quite far away; you can hear the band a bit but you can hear the crowd chattering a lot more; still, there's a certain sociological appeal to this
- the band seemed to really cut loose on "She's a Woman" around this stage
- can't make out the banter but the crowd seems to really love it
- the screams are somewhat sporadic but enormous when they arrive, and it's usually hard to tell what prompts each big uproar
- a chunk of "Ticket to Ride" is missing
- some dad in the crowd is asking his kid to "pick ONE" of something
- at some point a girl near the recorder just says "BEATLES!"
- George prompts hysteria at the end of the Perkins cover
- "clap your hands! stamp your feet!... not now." gets a big laugh
- "Can't Buy Me Love" (the oldest single they're still playing at these shows) gets a thunderous reaction; there are tape glitches during the song
- "we'd like to do a song with that helicopter"... which you can hear on the tape

1965-08-29 Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Help!/I'm Down {B+/B+}
- a complete three-track recording in stereo; since it's official, it's obviously much better quality and closer up with the band than usual
- only John is miked at first (on the tape), kind of interesting to only hear his harmonies... so "She's a Woman" is essentially instrumental until the chorus (which John sings on), you can just faintly hear Paul echoing
- John: "we can't really see you down here, you know"
- John's sardonic "Baby's in Black" intro is here and grafted onto the next night's performance, which is why it's not on the Giles remix, a source of consternation from yours truly when the reconstructed Hollywood Bowl album came out in 2016 -- whatever, I still miss it!
- despite the problems, one of the better "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" performances
- "we'd like to carry on with a song from our Beatles '93 album" - George
- George's timing gets all wacked out on the Perkins cover
- Paul's audio is finally fixed roundabout "Ticket to Ride"
- John says "nice boy, Ringo. we get on well with Ringo"

1965-08-30 Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/I Wanna Be Your Man/A Hard Day's Night/Help!/I'm Down {A-/A-}
- source for a lot of the official live album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (and if they'd just offered this night and the 1964 show in complete form, it would've been a better record)
- mostly impeccable sound quality (some tape wavering here and there) and a really solid performance
- nice, rough John vocal on "Ticket to Ride"
- banter: "a little bit of trouble with the amplifier"; "thank you Paul, it was great working with you"; "featuring somebody who doesn't normally sing, except every night"
- John seems to be having serious trouble with his microphone (he says "hello?" about 40 times toward the end), but we can hear him fine

1965-08-31 afternoon Cow Palace, San Francisco: Twist and Shout/Dizzy Miss Lizzy [fragment]/Can't Buy Me Love [fragment]/I Wanna Be Your Man [fragment]/A Hard Day's Night [fragment] {?/D-}
- just bits and pieces, and very bad quality
- Greil Marcus was at one of these shows, as he mentioned when I wrote him about the Atlanta gig; he recalled "I'm Down," which doesn't survive, as the highlight

1965-08-31 evening Cow Palace, San Francisco: Twist and Shout/She's a Woman {?/C-}
- only the beginning of the show is preserved

Jan 1966 - sweetening for Shea Stadium TV special: Twist and Shout/I Feel Fine/Dizzy Miss Lizzy/Ticket to Ride/Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby/Can't Buy Me Love/Baby's in Black/A Hard Day's Night/Help!/I'm Down {B/B+}
- doesn't sound like they did much to improve this, and of course it removes some of the spontaneity/authenticity
- "A Hard Day's Night" is interrupted by interviews from the TV show (lots of Brian Epstein)

The Beatles: Live: Far East Men (bootleg [2CD] 1966) [c]
Things start to go south here; if you care, you'll want to hear this anyway, but don't say we didn't warn you. Whether because of tape quality or (largely) lackluster performances there's nothing here a non-hardcore fan needs to hear, and even obsessives can stop with Budokan, which is best experienced with the visuals anyway.

1966-06-24 afternoon Circus-Krone-Bau, Munich: Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/I'm Down {C/B}
- a bit under-rehearsed perhaps? they sound super ragged and disorganized
- on "Baby's in Black" they sound like old-ass men, and it's draggy
- kind of cool guitar sound in this setup, a bit more abrasive than usual
- "I Feel Fine" is wildly out of tune but it's kind of punk?
- George claims "Yesterday" is from Beatles for Sale
- extremely strange version of "Yesterday" with Paul straining to stay in key and a Paul Westerberg-like overdriven guitar!
- "I Wanna Be Your Man" is just a (highly aggressive and chaotic) clip preceded by radio voiceover
- "I'm Down" is mostly audience screams but Paul does his best, the rest of the band sounds tired

1966-06-24 evening Circus-Krone-Bau, Munich: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/Nowhere Man/I'm Down {D+/C-}
- tuning for a while, then it does not a bit of good as "Rock and Roll Music" starts in insane disarray
- I think John sings "I'm tired of playing that rock and roll music"
- "She's a Woman" is just a fragment of wildly out of tune guitar
- they're really not together on the "Nowhere Man" harmonies, who thought this would be a good live number? it gets worse as it goes along, sounding like an intentionally warped My Bloody Valentine tape by the bridge
- this is the show at which the band intensely discusses how "I'm Down" starts then Paul completely fucks up every verse; John can barely hide his amusement
- the "I'm Down" guitar solo makes no sense, it's two steps from being a Dave Davies thing but of course not quite good enough!

1966-06-25 afternoon Grugahalle, Essen: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/If I Needed Someone/Day Tripper/Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer/I'm Down {?/F}
- band is only faintly audible behind a wall of screams, and indeed it's impossible to determine whether they're any good here; it's quite a pity since this is actually a complete show
- note that they've started playing two songs from Rubber Soul plus recent singles "Paperback Writer" and "Day Tripper," and that "Twist and Shout" has finally been retired
- despite the claims including from yours truly that the setlists totally stagnated, this tour incorporates nothing older than Beatles for Sale except Ringo's sole centerpiece number
- synergy: the terrible harmonies on "If I Needed Someone" kind of resemble the fade of "I Want to Tell You"
- audience singalong to "Day Tripper" is kind of fun

1966-06-25 evening Grugahalle, Essen: Paperback Writer {?/F}
- band just faintly heard in background underneath German conversation

1966-06-26 afternoon Ernst Merck Halle, Hamburg: Day Tripper {?/D-}
1966-06-26 evening Ernst Merck Halle, Hamburg: Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer {?/D-}
- also: alternate sources with voiceover for "Nowhere Man" and "Paperback Writer"
- really disappointing you can't hear either of the Hamburg shows at all, as they'd be fascinating to hear
- some truly freaky acoustics in this place; random audience members' individual shouts are louder than the band
- what we can make out of "Paperback Writer" sounds like... rockabilly!? mach shau!

1966-06-30 Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/If I Needed Someone/Day Tripper/Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer/I'm Down {C-/A-}
- these were the shows that sparked controversy in Japan because staging a rock show at this venue was widely considered disrespectful; maybe, maybe not, but playing this badly in it certainly was
- raw and unkempt but sort of interesting in its fashion -- Paul wrings soul out of the situation, John is a bit listless
- audience sounds much more excitable than oft reported, though they do stay quiet for brief stretches unlike American crowds
- "our guitarist George"; his vocal is terrible on "If I Needed Someone"
- "Day Tripper" is an ungodly mess
- they were so exhausted of touring at this point and it's readily apparent, but they did take it to heart enough to try harder the next night
- okay but I really like "Yesterday" with drums
- "Paperback Writer" also sounds like shambolic trash though
- that this was pro-shot and recorded (and years later, officially released) makes it more distressing how rough-hewn they are

1966-07-01 Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/If I Needed Someone/Day Tripper/Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer/I'm Down {B+/B+}
- right out of the gate the band's a lot tighter; sadly the sound isn't quite as good
- this is an excellent representative stage show for this Beatles era but of course they are still sort of imprisoned in their live concerts
- George is still off-key here on "If I Needed Someone"; no wonder I saw this clip in Compleat Beatles and came to feel like "live" recordings sucked
- they still can't hack "Day Tripper" live either, though hellish menacing guitar sound
- one of the better live versions of "I Feel Fine," oddly; John sounds actually passionate on it
- this also is my favorite version of "Yesterday" pretty much anywhere, Paul is frayed in a nice way and the full band arrangement is cool
- Ringo's a little more relaxed on "I Wanna Be Your Man" too
- lyric problems on "Nowhere Man," otherwise a nice version
- ... and nice guitar stuff on "I'm Down"

The Beatles: Live: The Last Tour (bootleg [2CD] 1966) [NO]
Probably the worst Beatles disc you can listen to; pretty much nothing redeemable to hear till the very end, reflecting the misery among the band during the period in which these recordings were made. Useful only as a very convincing argument that they were right to cease touring when they did. That said, whatever method you must use to hear the Candlestick Park show is worth it -- though I must confess, it's more interesting if you are aware of how listless they are on the other shows that circulate from the tour.

1966-08-14 Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland: Day Tripper [fragment]/I Feel Fine [fragment] {?/D}
- the show has to stop because the crowd broke through the barrier; this is a bad, distant audience tape of just some bits but there's also a radio annoucement
- "some of the equipment has been broken"; this was the show where Mal had to save the instruments from the crowd at the end
- there was a 30 minute break before the Beatles returned to the stage
- "it was just an emotional show of Beatlemania, which proves the fans still love the Beatles!"

1966-08-17 afternoon Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto: If I Needed Someone {?/F}
- can barely hear them, mostly audience noise, which you can hear in better detail than the music!

1966-08-17 evening Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/If I Needed Someone/Day Tripper/Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer/Long Tall Sally {?/F}
- even more crowd chatter, even further from stage! it's like the homeopathy-style impression of a Beatles show.. though you can make out the bass well!
- would only mean anything to someone who was there
- person who's making the tape says something about a camera flash, and the intrigue of wondering what's being said outweighs the musical value here
- from what little we can hear it sounds like a blistering version of "Day Tripper"!
- "PAAAAAAAAAAAAAUL!"
- the crowd is very very into "Yesterday"
- "remarkable, isn't it?" some guy says

1966-08-18 Suffolk Downs Racetrack, Boston: She's a Woman [fragment]/Long Tall Sally [fragment] {?/F}
- a panicked sounding announcer: "the Beatles are continuing to play while the police try to restore order"

1966-08-19 afternoon Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/If I Needed Someone/Day Tripper/Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer/Long Tall Sally [fragment] {?/F}
- girl close to recorder keeps repeating that the Beatles are "beautiful" and then proceeds to freak out on a continual basis
- already bad tape starts to wow/flutter badly during "If I Needed Someone"
- the screaming is really annoying, one of the worst tapes for that

1966-08-19 evening Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/If I Needed Someone/Day Tripper/Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer/Long Tall Sally {?/F}
- one of the most nightmarish shows, and one of the most nightmarish recordings, in the Beatles (non-)canon
- it's basically another audience tape, but this one is exceptionally distorted (like the Italian one from '65) and idle chatter far from the stage overtakes
- vocals are very hard to make out except during quiet instrumental moments; and again, what we mostly get is bass
- because of the breathless reporting of John's supposedly anti-Christian remarks, the KKK was picketing outside the venue
- there's something fascinatingly hellish about the whole situation, and then the explosion happens
- this is the show (during "If I Needed Someone") at which some idiot set off a firecracker and each Beatle thought one of the others had been shot
- given what happened later, it's a chilling moment, which you can hear very clearly here; you can tell they're shaken by how frenzied the rest of the song sounds and by the comments afterward
- the tape starts to waver badly during "Yesterday" and it sounds fucking insane

1966-08-21 Busch Stadium, Boston: Rock and Roll Music [fragment]/She's a Woman [fragment] {?/F}
- barely anything here, just the segue between the two songs, bad watered-down MP3 quality

1966-08-23 Shea Stadium, New York: She's a Woman [fragment]/If I Needed Someone [fragment]/I Feel Fine [fragment]/Yesterday [fragment]/Paperback Writer [fragment] {?/D}
- opens with massive chorus of "We Love You Beatles"; radio announcer mentions "Yellow Submarine" which of course they never played
- all we hear is a radio news piece and a woman freaking the fuck out: "oh they're so great I love them" and "how can you just sit there when they're in our atmosphere?"
- some guy says the girls are screaming less this year; "they're not as popular as they were before"
- it's kind of a fun listen in a way but nothing musical
- typical sexist shit when radio announcer is talking to female fans about Beethoven and such
- someone talks to a "38 year-old Beatle fan"
- "we didn't pay $5.75 for nothing"
- a girl wishes they played longer, hear u sweetie

1966-08-29 Candlestick Park, San Francisco: Rock and Roll Music/She's a Woman/If I Needed Someone/Day Tripper/Baby's in Black/I Feel Fine/Yesterday/I Wanna Be Your Man/Nowhere Man/Paperback Writer/Long Tall Sally {A-/B+}
- last-ever Beatles concert, recorded by Tony Barrow; relatively low attendance
- they knew it was the end, hence the tape, and hence the photos they took
- George is having a lot more fun with guitar fills than usual during "Rock and Roll Music"
- Paul gives a rough-hewn, reflective vocal on "She's a Woman" as though he won't ever sing it again
- Paul typically refers to "If I Needed Someone" as a Rubber Soul track though of course it wasn't in America; a better than usual live take on that song, sort of mournful
- "this one's about the naughty lady called Day Tripper" - John
- "Day Tripper' has an interestingly lumbering, heavy classic rock quality on this tour, and this is the only tape where you can really hear it, with huge guitar and screams; more "what could have been" in re: their live presence
- the end of "Day Tripper" is a dirge, with a little guitar improv... great version; "Baby's in Black" is jarring afterward and suffers from tape distortion
- you can't really hear the screaming on this tape, apparently because of where Barrow was standing
- Paul says "oh very good" during "Baby's in Black" solo
- George sounds elated, announces "I Feel Fine" as being from "about 1959"
- drums aren't audible on "Yesterday"; Paul's vocal is excellent, more pained and less overly controlled than studio version, nice electric guitar too
- "it's a bit chilly" and it was, Candlestick Park was freezing at night
- a nostalgic "all right, George" during "I Wanna Be Your Man"
- John and Ringo thank each other several times; "lovely working with you, Ringo"
- "from our BBC album" ???
- the harmonies are weird on "Nowhere Man," is the microphone just not catching them? it sounds so out of place in a stadium anyway
- "we'd like to carry on... I think.. not really sure yet"
- "we'd like to say that it's been wonderful being here... sorry about the weather" then the craziest Paul intro to "Long Tall Sally" ever then it cuts off abruptly, and that's it, it's all over

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The New Pornographers: Electric Version (2003)


(Matador)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

This week Ric Ocasek died, so the Cars have been on my mind lately; they were such a curious, genuinely odd entity, and yet their appeal -- which stretched far beyond that of any other new wave band -- was so obvious you'd have to be a dunce not to get it. They were the noise of eternal youth with a barbed, detached sense of anti-nostalgia, which went in hand with an unmistakable empathy for the adolescent heart that an outsider could misunderstand as snottiness. (You could hear the roots of this on Big Star's Radio City: "I know what you lack, and I can't go back to that now.") Right in the middle of the Cars' career, they released an album called Panorama which was no less hook-driven, hedonistic and teenage than the others but dialed up on paranoia to such an extent that it sounded chilly and dead-eyed, and the consequence was a truly remarkable album that didn't sell as briskly as those prior: you got the impression that the Cars and Ocasek in particular were robots doomed to project a simulation of pop ecstasy for eternity even as the passage of time and some sort of unspeakable doom loomed over them. They became, essentially, broken machines, and although they reverted to skating-rink yearning that more precisely imitated their early hits on their next two albums (which are nevertheless fine), that element of the bizarre made them far more interesting than the crowd-pleasing pop-rock unit that's typically remembered.

A.C. Newman was born a broken robot; it doesn't seem as if he decided to be one. All of his solo work and much of his songwriting in general sounds like an old IBM machine was given the sum total of pop songcraft from 1955 to present and spat out a series of punchcards in response; there is no evidence that this is anything but the way he naturally thinks. And whereas the Cars' legendarily stilted, lifeless live performances (was it deliberate?) seemed like a four-person engineering of Ocasek's dark impulses that came about their popularity almost incidentally because his fetishes were so often ours, Newman's band the New Pornographers enact, on record and on stage, a war against the coldness of something like Panorama at the same time as they celebrate the same kind of infallible cleverness and steely precision that wrought it. On their second album Electric Version, however, they come closest to committing to the same kind of concept the Cars did on their third; in some ways it is a stark record, Newman's soul laid bare not as an exorcism but as an exercise, and I specifically brought up Panorama because I want to emphasize that in this case, that isn't a criticism.

If you listen to Newman's solo records, you get the real idea of where his impulses naturally take him, and even though he is the chief arbiter of what happens on Pornographers albums (though Dan Bejar contributes three of his poppiest ever songs to this one), his records serve as the control group for what happens when he brings even the mere voices and instruments, but also the hearts and minds, of his bandmates into the room. On the previous album's "Mass Romantic" and "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism" among others, Neko Case, Kurt Dahle and John Collins overwhelmed Newman's arch, wiry songwriting by sheer will and manpower; it is difficult to imagine those songs before they were made to tower. On the next one, "Sing Me Spanish Techno" and "The Bleeding Heart Show" marked the point when Newman signalled defeat at last, with his own chords and melodies leaving plentiful space for the swooning of Case et al. like a barista. But Electric Version is the point at which Newman's writing is most unchecked, the subversion most subdued, the sound most uniform, the band's corruption of the songs more obviously than ever an external force. That makes its drama subtler, but it also makes the recordings almost deliriously strange and lively: feverishly thrilling pop music you can't help noticing is deeply conflicted and weird.

A writer once compared the Cars' 1985 greatest hits album to riding too long on a roller-coaster. For neither the first nor the last time, Newman intentionally courts that feeling here with Bejar's help. The core belief being expressed here is strictly an insular (and musical) one, that one can generate blissful, driven, direct music whether one should or not, whether one has "something to say" or is willing to say anything or not. The title cut -- albums one through three all open with one -- is surf-rock alternapalooza, with a wild active beach sound and a chorus of harsh, compressed voices, all elements destined to be revised and reversed and reversed again for the next three quarters of an hour. The production is credited to the whole band, but someone, presumably Newman, orchestrates the band to swirl in moderation around the compositions. You can still hear them reaching out of the void, you can still sense a longing and the usual stirring unison, but the human element is buried underneath a strict adherence to song, melody, hook, and to even such material concerns as airwave, speaker, room. Making music that's about nothing more than the act of listening to itself sounds silly and radical until you consider that it's the most participation-friendly conceit available to you in this context.

The specific articulation of all that comes in the album's biggest classic "From Blown Speakers," which starts out by deceptively slowing the pace before swimming right into pop-manic mode. Newman gets to enjoy all of the formal climaxes here, joined only sparingly by backup vocals from (at least) Dahle and Case. It's on "The Laws Have Changed," amidst Newman's affected, hypnotized singing and plugging away at the pump organ, that Neko Case has a moment at last to appear from the great unknown. And she dutifully leans forward to articulate one of the band's thesis statements in "All for Swinging You Around," the kind of song with a million hooks in its first line alone, yet Case's vocal is almost exclusively responsible for the song's sense of exuberance as opposed to mere sardonic flaunting of record-collector chops. What makes is different from her bigger showpieces to come is that Newman is so strict about limiting her presence; for all his obvious focus upon listener thrills, he's also pretty obsessive about the punk conceit that less is more, never more than on this record. What's more, he seems to be intrigued by the idea, accidentally promoted by everyone from Paul McCartney to the Elephant 6 collective, of songs so infectious that they become annoying, and teeters playfully on that line throughout the record (crossing it many times on his solo work).

The mania returns with "The End of Medicine" (an older song that bursts in and fades abruptly, as though it doesn't belong but couldn't resist) and "Loose Translation," which hark back as much as "Electric Version" to '60s niches, though "Translation" leans closer to glam rock with its vocal filter and massive drum sound. And Newman specifically offers a microcosm of this whole madly paced thrill ride with the strangely neglected "The New Face of Zero and One," which slows down slightly then lifts to the heavens again and generally leaves no doubt that an unseen hand is in control of your feelings here. After all, why are you feeling anything -- which you are -- about such an obtuse sentiment? There's tension there, specifically in what Newman is avoiding, the things he is refusing to say and would keep refusing to say, at least verbally, for four more years and on and off thereafter.

All three of "secret member" Dan Bejar's songs are good, but two are particularly telling and seem to have been designed more adroitly than ever to fit well with Newman's own equally eccentric sensibility. Bejar's tracks tend normally to stand out in one way or another -- "Jackie" unmistakably a different performer's work, "Myriad Harbor" unmistakably more imaginative than the lion's share of what Newman was writing around the same time, "If You Can't See My Mirrors" unmistakably a Destroyer throwaway, etc. -- but he blends into the walls like magic here. "Chump Change" is kind of haunting with its overdriven "hoo-hoos" and is one of the most joyous, triumphant songs he's ever written (with very Bejar bon mots like "flew into a lesbian rage" tossed off as afterthoughts, maybe because as always his lyrical ideas are more distinctive and compelling than Newman's). However, "Testament to Youth in Verse" could be his best contribution to the first three albums by the band; like Newman, he is completely on his own tip here, surrounded by bells, but the band operates at his pleasure and is consumed by his song. It's as much a signature of their classic sound as "From Blown Speakers."

Electric Version gets slightly more reflective on the back end, but only by a hair; like all of the New Pornographers' albums except the much later Brill Bruisers, it's probably too lengthy by a song or two, with a half-hour generally the ideal length of this kind of power pop-derived exercise. With so much talk about composition -- and don't blame me, the band actively courts that -- we've said too little about Newman's guitar playing, which is harder and more furious here than anywhere else in their discography, occasionally courting Bob Stinson varieties of filth and speed in carefully sectioned-off moments, and in fact despite the well-designed compression, a close listen reveals this to be the hardest rocking album in this particular catalog, but like every other element from the sweetness of Case's vocals to the briefly celebratory choruses, it is all processed into the glorious, immaculately controlled morass. There is a reactionary air about the New Pornographers' output taken as a whole and especially here -- fully accepting of neither the uncoolness of pop tunecrafting or the inherent joy of singing and playing good songs together, defiantly confused about their confusion -- that lends them the necessary tension and contradiction to be a great and singular band. You can criticize this album even as you enjoy every moment, but it's important to remember that the heartfelt peaks of Twin Cinema and the better parts of Challengers are exciting and impressive in large part because of the breaking of the mold that's set up here and (to a lesser extent) on Mass Romantic, in the same way that "Bye Bye Love" means so much less without "I'm in Touch with Your World."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

I'm sick of this brave new world: August 2019 music diary

I've got a migraine, bear with me.

Ty Segall: First Taste (Drag City)
You have to use song titles to tell Segall's records apart, and I think I've worked harder to try to distinguish them than he or his fans have. This is the one with "I Worship the Dog" and "When I Met My Parents (Parts I & III)." Secret tip: when each song starts, the little timeline bar on your computer goes back to the beginning.

Florist: Emily Alone (Double Double Whammy)
Not awful indie folk group from Brooklyn, led by singer-songwriter Emily Sprague; some of the guitar playing (solid riffs on "Celebration") and singing recalls Big Thief and/or White Album-era Lennon-McCartney with far less interesting songs and considerably more grim humorlessness ("death will come in a cloud of love," etc.). There's some intimacy, some pleasing double-tracking, some word-salad poetry slamming. Fave lyric: "I also have eyes."

Burna Boy: African Giant (Atlantic)
Nigerian singer pushes pop with West African flavor, but the record takes too damn long to go not much of anywhere; it's easily at its most compelling when it focuses on history and legacy, but musically it's just too ordinary, going out of its way to blend in with bland Hot 100 ambient noize, though it's not without its pleasant, even soothing throwback qualities.

Bon Iver: I, I (Jagjaguwar) [c]
Not that it's a shocker, but fuck this chopped-up insubstantial AM radio crybababy wank and fuck the system that continues to reward him for releasing the same ludicrous album every three years.

Marika Hackman: Any Human Friend (Sub Pop) [r]
London-based singer-songwriter sets herself apart; she has chops, plays the drums, writes serious stuff and understands her own talents. She kicks this off with a pleasing acoustic trifle but launches into the flawlessly constructed melodic pop "The One" with considerable fanfare because she knows it deserves it. "Blow" has a nice nocturnal beat and handclaps. "I'm Not Here You Are" is catchy '80s pop in the MGMT sort-of-ironic-but-not-really fashion with good guitar. There's a little Tori Amos and a little St. Vincent but it's all more human and direct than any obvious reference points, and kissing and fucking all night, sure, please.

Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop)
Speak of the devil: you know, Annie Clark will turn us all into fucking boring formalist robots if we let her. Pete Quaife left the Kinks because of "Tin Soldier Man"; Janet Weiss is a bigger loss for a better reason, and a far more significant element to this band's longtime appeal. This stuffiness, this lack of personality (from a band of so much personality), it's suffocating. Those who are showering this with praise, I wonder if they're actually hearing the record itself or just hearing what they want to hear. Greil Marcus is completely correct to state that St. Vincent, whose self-constructed image has never been as profound as her fans think, is a fraud and that the record is an act of theft, and I say that without having anything like the investment in Sleater-Kinney that he does. Inspirational Sentiment, from Amber Morris the first time I played the record on the office speakers: "I hate this. I fucking hate this."

Oso Oso: Basking in the Glow (Triple Crown)
Do not adjust your set -- this band formed in 2014 in Long Beach, NY and is now getting absurd amounts of credit for ticking all the emo boxes and doing literally nothing else. Innovation abounds.

Taylor McFerrin: Love's Last Chance (From Here)
Bobby's son, jazz-R&B fusion with a feather touch of relationship-oriented angst but mostly NPR-friendly lite entertainment; the sort of thing you'd hear at a hotel bar that hosts live music three nights a week and you're like "Man these guys are bringin' it." That's not a criticism.

ALSO RECOMMENDED:
Pere Ubu: Long Goodbye (Cherry Red) [the tweens are gonna love it]

FOR THE AMBIENT FILES:
Andre Bratten: Pax Americana (Smalltown Supersound)
Felicia Atkinson: The Flower and the Vessel (Shelter Press)

FURTHER INVESTIGATION TO COME:
* Ride: This Is Not a Safe Place
Sarathy Korwar: More Arriving
Nerija: Blume
Shura: Forevher

REJECTS:
Night Moves: Can You Really Find Me
Trash Kit: Horizon
Ada Lea: What We Say in Private [NYIM]
Beyonce: The Lion King- The Gift
Clark: Kiri Variations [NYIM]
B Boys: Dudu [NYIM]
Angie McMahon: Salt
Clairo: Immunity [I knew what this would sound like before I played it because of the cover]
Of Monsters and Men: Fever Dream
Chance the Rapper: The Big Day [lol jesus]
Strange Ranger: Remembering the Rockets
The Regrettes: How Do You Love?
Eilen Jewell: Gypsy
Lillie Mae: Other Girls
Oh Sees: Face Stabber
Uniform: Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back [NYIM]
The Murder Capital: When I Have Fears
Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild
Fionn Regan: Cala
The Hold Steady: Thrashing Through the Passion

ORPHAN TUNES:
Ada Lea "Easy" [What We Say in Private]

ARCHIVAL GRADE CHANGES:
Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (Interscope 2012) = [hr] -> [A+]
Saint Etienne: Words and Music (Heavenly 2012) = [hr] -> [A+]
Kelela: Hallucinogen (Warp EP 2015) = [hr] -> [A+]

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Beatles: Complete BBC Sessions (1962-68)


(bootleg [10CD])

RECOMMENDED

If not the most cohesive listening experience among the Beatles' still-unissued recordings (though spacing it out sufficiently does give it that grace), this is surely the most essential and comprehensive bootleg that retains its value as an enormous chunk of professionally performed, well-recorded (and usually well-preserved) Beatles music that even casual fans will at least enjoy and that hardcore fans will find fascinating. There are several varying versions of this ten-disc collection out and about but the one I'm reviewing is the 2004 compilation by Purple Chick; my understanding is that slightly superior editions exist on the unauthorized internet marketplace, usually as free downloads, but the content across all variations should be more or less the same.

Basically, as you probably know if you're reading this, this eleven and a half hours of material is comprised of every surviving performance by the Beatles that was recorded for broadcast on the BBC, where they played dedicated sessions over fifty times from 1962 to 1965, though the overwhelming majority date from 1963, the defining year of their hectic career in Great Britain. As fans of this material well know, this was long an untapped goldmine for Beatles fans because not only are these unique and tight but also quite raw performances, they have the added benefit of mostly (though not always, and not entirely) being live Beatles recordings that usually don't have the distraction of an audience filled with screaming teenagers. Moreover, the Beatles varied their setlist considerably from the constraints of their stage show at the time, especially when they got their own series called Pop Go the Beatles for a season, allowing them to take deep dives on a great number of old Hamburg and Cavern Club favorites and some oddball new selections that were never recorded by the group at EMI. In total, the Beatles recorded 36 songs for the BBC that they never otherwise laid down professionally in a studio; all together, they played 88 different songs for the radio corporation in 275 distinct performances on 52 different broadcasts (often of established series like Saturday Club but sometimes dedicated specials for the Beatles).

So why on earth wasn't this wealth of material mined well before bootleggers began to have their way with it in the 1970s? The problem was the BBC's truly dire archival practices in the '60s, which meant that the masters of these invaluable performances were wiped, usually just after broadcast. As a result, most of the early bootlegs were created from home tapes that happened to be kept and located, and some such recordings still are the primary preservation method for a number of these shows, though thankfully several BBC backup tapes for network distribution were tracked down in the '80s and are the source for many of the official releases; Purple Chick has updated their copies accordingly (though you'll note that Apple's releases put out since 2004 tend to sound better than these) and maintain this mammoth set to be as consistent as can reasonably be expected; though the quality, especially early on, is sometimes lacking, the number of established BBC dates that the collection is actually missing is pleasingly scant.

Its value has been slightly diminished over the decades by the existence of a few official releases that have chipped away at its uniqueness, namely the nearly transcendent Live at the BBC, plus its sequel On Air and the enjoyable archive dump Bootleg Recordings 1963, as well as some fragments in Anthology 1 and the now-obscure 7" EP and promotional CD single for "Baby It's You." But that still leaves a number of gaps, some of which are unlikely ever to be approved for release for various reasons, and moreover, the official versions don't give you the full experience of sitting and listening to a full show with all of its songs and banter presented in their correct original sequence. Although the bootlegs are still missing some content from the broadcasts (namely, the performances of other artists that were originally interspersed, and the occasional playing of a record), the proper organization has a surprisingly modernist application now -- if you put on a Beatles BBC broadcast once a week you can pretend you're privy to this terrific band's regular podcast, and it's essentially the truth.

As noted, the bulk of Complete BBC Sessions -- really, the majority of the first seven discs -- dates from 1963, which is also the most extensively mined year of Beatles BBC music for official release; that's mostly because it's the only year for which Apple prepared a dedicated copyright extension release, and you can assume that the various scraps from '63 that remain unissued are nearly certain to stay that way forever. Before and after that date there's a greater proportion of intriguing material you can only hear "illegally," and some of it is fascinating, though in fairness it should be stated that most of the best BBC recordings are now available for anyone to hear quite easily from above-board sources. The Beatles' earliest BBC work predates their EMI contract and in fact predates Ringo Starr's replacement of Pete Best, while their presence at the Beeb was far more sporadic -- and, sadly, less cozy -- after they became a global act in 1964.

To review the contents of these ten discs, I'm going to quickly go over each of the surviving Beatles BBC programs and a listing of the (extant) broadcast songs. I'll have some general notes on each show overall and specific comments on performances that have not been released by Apple on any of the official CDs or downloads. On those instances when a song has been released, I will give the source. The date given is the date of recording, not the date of broadcast (which was usually days and sometimes weeks later). When possible I've tried to include a few details about the DJ or "compere," who in some cases (Brian Matthew, most famously) have a wonderful rapport with the band that comes through clearly in their interactions.

A general note on this set as a listening experience. At the very least, I suggest spreading it out disc by disc, but ideally you should hear the individual programs as each a distinct piece unto itself; I believe you'll get more out of the experience that way, and if you do so and you like the Beatles' early rock & roll material, going through this collection is a wonderful experience with a real sense of journey. There's great intrigue to hearing the band's early career in what amounts to "real time," as you witness the chit-chat around each single's rise to prominence and the band's increasing dominance of the national, then international, charts, as well as their considerable development as artists. There's a lot to learn from these discs, and a great deal to enjoy.

***

1962-03-07 Teenager's Turn: Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Memphis - Chuck Berry cover, never recorded at EMI. The recording is faint, Pete's drums are rough, but John's vocal is powerful.
2. Dream Baby - Roy Orbison cover, never recorded at EMI and no version officially released by the Beatles. A rudimentary stomp, Paul doing an Elvis impression, with Beatles "Big Beat" inappropriately applied perhaps but fascinating to hear.
3. Please Mr. Postman - Marvelettes cover, later recorded for With the Beatles; relatively unenthused, but it's crazy to hear this over a year before they recorded it for EMI. Lewisohn's book points out that this would have been the first time a Tamla-Motown song was played on the BBC.
- Notes: The Beatles' first national radio performance, arranged through the ingenious machinations of Brian Epstein and recorded before a very enthusiastic live audience in Manchester; incredibly, said audience wouldn't have been familiar with them prior to this, but the girls are already screaming. It's crucial to note the chronology here: this is two months past the infamous Decca audition and predates the first EMI session by three months, which means Pete Best still has nearly half a year left in the band. (In fact, this is so early that, while he's no longer in the band, Stuart Sutcliffe is still alive as it's being recorded.)
- This and the next BBC showcase are the only live-on-stage recordings of the band with Pete. It's overall a very promising performance with lots of personality, infinitely better than the Decca tape, and Best remembered its broadcast as a watershed moment of happiness for the group.
- One additional song, "Hello Little Girl," was played but not aired, so it very nearly would have been the first Lennon-McCartney song ever heard on the radio.

1962-06-11 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Ask Me Why - Eventually (November 1962) recorded as the b-side to the Beatles' second single, "Please Please Me," and then included on their debut LP. First BBC broadcast of a Beatles original, John coos but they don't sound like they're clicking with the song yet.
2. Besame Mucho - Famous 1940 song by Consuelo Velázquez, recorded by numerous artists with the Beatles' version inspired by the Coasters' novelty record, played by them at both Decca and EMI recording tests, the latter officially released in the '90s. More incoherent Pete rumbling, still a weird cover choice to which the band was curiously attached (not the last example we'd get of that).
3. A Picture of You - Joe Brown cover, big British hit. George vocal, audience handclaps; it swings a little but it's indistinct, with some unexpected stop-starts and a Paul scream or two.
- Notes: Though the audience for the second BBC show (still with Pete, also in Manchester) included a large number of Beatles fan club members, they sound less enamored on the recording we have, at least to me. It sounds like someone boos when Joe Brown's name is mentioned!? The performance isn't particularly interesting except vocally, and "Ask Me Why" is an excellent song but doesn't quite push over the top like it eventually would. There's still a touch of that Decca-level, suit-wearing tentativeness.

1962-10-25 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. A Taste of Honey - 1960 instrumental pop standard, based on the lyric version sung by Lenny Welch, later recorded for the Please Please Me LP. This is only a fragment, can't tell much.
- Notes: The first BBC broadcast with Ringo in the band. Three songs were broadcast (four played) but this is all that still exists.

1963-01-16 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Chains - Cover of a song by the rather obscure girl group the Cookies, of whom the Raelettes were a subsequent offshoot, recorded by the Beatles for Please Please Me a month after this. Very hard to hear the band, sounds like a club performance; Paul's bass is very prominent for some reason. They're clearly a lot tighter.
2. Please Please Me - The band's first huge hit, which had been released five days before this recording was made. John overdoes it on the falsetto a bit here, sounds like shit on the tape! But they're all in on this song and he's otherwise pretty vicious.
3. Ask Me Why - The second extant BBC performance of the b-side to "Please Please Me," first with Ringo. A big improvement from last year, John is over-miked but shows a lot of passion.
- Notes: The recording quality and the fact that 2/3 songs are incomplete keeps this from being as valuable as it would be otherwise, especially because we have a much better record of them playing just a week later.

1963-01-22 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Some Other Guy [released on Bootleg '63]
2. Love Me Do [Bootleg '63]
3. Please Please Me - Second BBC performance of this song. Just a fragment, with a jarring cut in the middle of the song, unfortunate because from what we can tell it's a good performance.
4. Keep Your Hands Off My Baby [Live at the BBC]
5. Beautiful Dreamer [On Air]
- Notes: One of three programs the band recorded at the BBC on this day; only a fraction of the work overall survives but this show is complete. It's tinny but quite clear, a huge improvement on all previous selections sonically; "Love Me Do" is preceded by a statement that Beatles fans are now mostly in Liverpool but "soon" will be all over the country. They sound great here overall, bluesy and loose except "Please Please Me" which sounds very well-oiled. "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" is a tad longer than on the official CD here, with a nice coda. This performance overall is particularly interesting because it catches them on a good night just before they recorded their first album. "Some Other Guy" has considerable punk swagger here.
- Three songs never recorded for EMI: "Some Other Guy," "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" and a very strange arrangement of "Beautiful Dreamer."

1963-01-22 The Talent Spot [live audience; host: Gary Marshall]
1. Ask Me Why - Third extant BBC version of the b-side to "Please Please Me," released just over a week before this. Very distorted (especially vocals), can't tell much; sounds like the song is a little quickened, or maybe the recording is the wrong speed. George never misses a bit with that closing guitar.
- Notes: Two other songs -- "Some Other Guy" and "Please Please Me" -- were broadcast but don't survive.

1963-03-06 Here We Go [live audience; host: Ray Peters]
1. Misery [On Air]
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret [Bootleg '63]
3. Please Please Me [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: This entire broadcast has been officially released (they also performed "I Saw Her Standing There" but it wasn't broadcast); the emcee notes that the songs are from the band's forthcoming first LP, soon to be released (on March 22nd, having been recorded in early February). This has the only live (with audience) versions of "Misery" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on tape anywhere.

1963-03-16 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There [Bootleg '63]
2. Misery - Second BBC tape of this song. EMI version released a week afterward on the Please Please Me album; introduced as a song written for Kenny Everett, and an excuse for promoting the LP here. Lots of echo and a slightly slower, "jauntier" tempo.
3. Too Much Monkey Business - Chuck Berry cover, never recorded at EMI. Guitar is a little high in the mix but John's vocal on this is brutal and relentless, at least in the verse. Pretty elaborate George solo too; I still can't figure out what John is saying instead of "for me to be involved in" on his performances of this song.
4. I'm Talking About You [On Air]
5. Please Please Me - Fourth BBC tape of this song. George is having guitar troubles.
6. The Hippy Hippy Shake - Chan Romero cover, long a stage staple and one of the Beatles' live signatures in the pre-EMI days along with "Some Other Guy." This take is an oddly intimate arrangement heavy on guitar interplay (drums are buried) but kind of cool.
- Notes: One of the messier, thus more intriguing 1963 shows, dating from just after John was out with sore throat, as directly noted -- he just rejoined last night. Kind of funny that they play "I Saw Her Standing There" shortly before "I'm Talking About You," blatant source of the former's bassline.
- "I'm beginning to see why nobody could exist on the same stage as this act" says the DJ, and not incorrectly. The band was in the middle of slowly coming to dominate a tour on which they were opening for Chris Montez and Tommy Roe.

1963-04-03 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. From Me to You - Very early performance of this eventual #1 single, eight days out from release (it was recorded at EMI a month earlier) and still "hoping" it will be a hit. It sounds a little stilted and boring, rather like the record. There's a Gerry Marsden intro for some reason, hamming it up and self-promoting.
- Notes: Versions of "Please Please Me" and "Misery" don't survive, nor does a sequence in which John and Paul reviewed new records.

1963-04-18 Swinging Sound '63 [live audience; hosts: George Melly & Rolf Harris]
1. Twist and Shout - Isley Brothers cover and the climax of the Please Please Me LP. A lively performance; it's surprising that it's not officially released, maybe because George hits a bum note on the bridge.
2. From Me to You - Third BBC tape of this song. The first of many examples of performances of this being better than the single, if only slightly here; it's just more enthusiastic... some tape glitches though.
- Notes: Recorded at the Royal Albert Hall. Paul met Jane Asher during the aftermath of this performance.

1963-04-01 Side by Side [Purple Chick breaks chronology here to keep discs even; host: John Dunn]
1. Long Tall Sally [Bootleg '63]
2. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
3. Chains [Bootleg '63]
4. Thank You Girl - B-side of the Beatles' third single, "From Me to You," which was ten days from release. Tape glitches are probably the main reason this is the only cut that hasn't been released from this show; it's a serviceable rendition, and the only original at the session. Also, John sings "that's the kind of love that seems too good to be true" here -- a touch of optimism??
5. Boys [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: This is well before the canon recording of "Long Tall Sally," which wouldn't see release until June 1964.
- John tells the Flaming Pie story in a stupid voice. Paul says "A Taste of Honey" is "a great favorite of me Auntie Gin's."
- Overall a jaunty, spirited performance; John and George don't even sound bored on "A Taste of Honey." Nice skit when Dunn asks who does arranging, composing, etc. and they all say they did. They play the Side by Side theme song too but there's only a fragment.

1963-05-21 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Second BBC tape of this song, first track on the first LP. Muffled but propulsive. Afterward George reads a letter in which Peggy Lucas of Matlock asks the Beatles to play "anything."
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret [Bootleg '63]
3. Boys - Third BBC tape of this Shirelles cover recorded for EMI on Please Please Me; a pretty loose version, sounds like the rhythm guitar isn't miked until the bridge? And Ringo is off-tempo vocally!
4. Long Tall Sally - Second BBC tape of this Little Richard cover, which would be recorded for EMI a year later. A quick, extremely fast (over-fast) version; Paul says "bald headed Sally" (the correct line) here. Atypically terrible drums from Ringo.
5. From Me to You [Bootleg '63]
6. Money - Barrett Strong cover, recorded at EMI starting two months later for With the Beatles. A very early take on this, already much improved from the performance at Decca in January 1962, and edging gradually toward the master version; mediocre recording quality is probably the only reason it didn't make any of the official releases.
- Notes: That fast version of "Do You Want to Know a Secret" is quite strong, with George really getting into singing the hell out of it. "Long Tall Sally" and "Money" at the time were non-EMI songs but of course would later be recorded at Abbey Road.

1963-05-21 Steppin' Out [live audience; host: Diz Disley]
1. Please Please Me - Fifth BBC tape of this song. Terrible quality, badly distorted, but it's a very enthusiastic performance if you can hear under all that.
2. I Saw Her Standing There - Third BBC tape of this song. The problems continue here; apart from the weak solo, a good performance too.
- Notes: This is a dreadful recording but seems like they were in a groove, and just 45 minutes after laying down the previous BBC program!

1963-05-24 Pop Go the Beatles #1 [host: Lee Peters]
1. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Pre-EMI take on this Carl Perkins song eventually (Oct. 1964) recorded for Beatles for Sale at EMI. This tape is heavily distorted and distant, but actually more "countrified" than the master.
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret - Third BBC tape of this Please Please Me track. This song gets faster and more rollicking every time; it's not even a ballad anymore at this point. Also, two George songs in a row!?
3. You Really Got a Hold on Me [Bootleg '63]
4. The Hippy Hippy Shake [Bootleg '63]
5. Misery - Third BBC tape of this song; a pretty bouncy version, hey did you ever notice the irony of this jolly number being called "Misery"!?!?!
- Notes: First in a 15-episode BBC series conceived by corporation employee Vernon Lawrence that was devoted exclusively to the Beatles and guests, and this is where their song choices and arrangements get really interesting; this debut episode starts the tradition of "deep cuts" with just two songs that were then offered on the Beatles' EMI releases.
- They recorded a Big Beat-styled "Pop Go the Weasel" theme tune that's pretty dumb, but hey, it's kind of a lost song. "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" is a pre-EMI version (the song would be laid down at Abbey Road in July) and subtly electrifying.

1963-06-01 Pop Go the Beatles #2 [host: Lee Peters]
1. Too Much Monkey Business [Bootleg '63]
2. I Got to Find My Baby [Live at the BBC]
3. Young Blood [Live at the BBC]
4. Till There Was You [Bootleg '63]
5. Baby, It's You [Live at the BBC/Baby It's You EP]
6. Love Me Do - This had lost its status as a live staple -- to the extent it ever was -- by this point, and they sound rusty on it! Paul almost cracks up at one point. Lots of guitar.
- Notes: It was always the Beatles' aim to use Pop Go to bring back their eclectic, rock & roll-oriented setlists from the pre-EMI days and this is a great example of them immediately starting to fulfill that promise.
- Almost all of this has been released; it was apparently a hell of a great day, with even more distinct songs recorded than at the Please Please Me session (see also next show).
- "Young Blood" has a flub from George after "better leave my daughter alone."
- John just feels every bit of "Baby It's You," and it gets a perfect solo and ending; it's too bad they didn't play it more.

1963-06-01 Pop Go the Beatles #3 [host: Lee Peters]
1. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues [Bootleg '63]
2. Memphis - Second BBC tape of this Chuck Berry cover, unrecorded at EMI, the previous one having been from the Beatles' very first BBC performance with Pete Best on drums. There seems to be a bit of echo on John's voice. The influence of Lonnie Mack's cover version is obvious in the guitars. There's a lot of rumbling, the good kind, from Ringo. Unfortunately we have weird issues here with the tape source; the song changes tone completely during the bridge.
3. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
4. Sure to Fall [Live at the BBC]
5. Money [Bootleg '63]
6. From Me to You - Fifth BBC tape of the then-most recent Beatles single. A fairly rudimentary performance but not bad, not sure why it's unreleased.
- Notes: The bulk of this has also been released over the years though most of it is on the archival record rather than either of the commercial BBC discs.
- No repeat songs across the first 3 Pop Go the Beatles episodes.
- Across several programs, there are comments on the mountain of requests from fans for "From Me to You."
- "Money" was still almost two months away from being laid down at EMI.
- There's a long-lived mystery of why the Beatles played "A Taste of Honey" so much at the BBC. Nothing else to say, really, I just had to mention it.

1963-06-19 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. Some Other Guy [Live at the BBC]
2. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
3. Thank You Girl [Live at the BBC]
4. From Me to You - Sixth BBC tape of this song. The official release compilers apparently were as cool on this selection as I am; this is actually a pretty good version, tight and fast, and John's practically shouting through it.
- Notes: Aside from the Cavern performances from 1962, a good chance to hear onetime Beatles signature "Some Other Guy" in high quality. Also, the only live (with an audience) version of "Thank You Girl" that exists on tape.
- Recorded the day after John beat the living shit out of Bob Wooler, allegedly because Wooler implied John and Brian Epstein were having an affair. Perhaps this is some clue why Lennon sounds so oddly aggressive on "From Me to You"?

1963-04-04 Side by Side [another chronological break from Purple Chick; host: John Dunn]
1. Too Much Monkey Business - Second BBC tape of this song has John killing it once again, the band a little quieter, and a great scream before the solo.
2. Boys - Second BBC tape of "Ringo's one and only song." A slightly lackluster performance, the solo cuts out and flails, though Ringo sounds good.
3. I'll Be on My Way [Live at the BBC]
4. From Me to You - Second BBC tape of this brand new song, restrained but rocking pretty hard; they're very tight on a cut that was once demanding a lot of them.
- Notes: They sing the Side by Side theme song again, and here it's complete.
- This precedes Billy J. Kramer's release of "I'll Be on My Way" -- the only Lennon-McCartney original the Beatles recorded at the BBC but not EMI -- by a couple of weeks. George is too hoarse to sing and demonstrates by trying to sing "From Me to You" before "I'll Be on My Way," which incidentally is ever so slightly shorter on this bootleg than on the official release, resulting in two extra seconds total.

1963-06-17 Pop Go the Beatles #4 [host: Lee Peters]
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Fourth BBC tape of this song. The tape is badly degraded and hissing, though the performance is very audible and solid.
2. Anna (Go to Him) [Bootleg '63]
3. Boys [Baby It's You EP/On Air]
4. Chains [On Air]
5. P.S. I Love You [On Air]
6. Twist and Shout - Second BBC tape of this song and a rawer than usual performance, John really working the vocal; he finds a new bit of soulful melody on "twist it little girl." There's also prominent bass, which is pleasing. I'm surprised this one isn't officially out there.
- Notes: Strange jazz chord at the end of "P.S. I Love You." A lot of letters get read out in this episode which are kind of funny, especially if you have Google Maps handy; I assume Lewisohn has looked up all these people?

1963-06-24 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Got to Find My Baby [Bootleg '63]
2. Memphis - Third BBC tape of this song, has a distant transistor-radio sound that's weirdly appealing. First of many inexplicable mentions of "Harry and His Box" on Beatles BBC programs, and to this day I don't think anyone knows what that means.
3. Money - Third BBC tape of this song, still a month ahead of its EMI recording. Dreadful quality on this one though, probably not releasable, but you can make out a good performance.
4. Till There Was You - Second BBC tape of this song from The Music Man, popularized by Peggy Lee, which the Beatles had been playing for some time (it was trotted out at Decca and is audible on the Star Club tape) and would bring to EMI for With the Beatles a month after this. Paul is doing some jazz phrasing shit on the vocal here. Poor tape quality continues but this sounds better than "Money."
5. From Me to You - Seventh BBC tape of this song, pretty much the average performance of what was then The Hit.
6. Roll Over Beethoven [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: Not a bad show but not very memorable either. The first track (finally released in 2013) is by far the best; the "Roll Over Beethoven" sounds pretty rough, though I like the barroom vocals at the end.

1963-07-03 The Beat Show [live audience; host: Gay Byrne]
1. A Taste of Honey - Fifth BBC tape of this song, in awful quality, with wow and flutter etc.
2. Twist and Shout - Third BBC tape of this song. A pity the sound quality is so bad because this sounds like a downright thunderous performance.
- Notes: The growing frenzy of the audience compared to the last time they did a live recorded performance is very obvious.
- A performance of "From Me to You" has been lost.
- Bernard Herrmann served as conductor on this program!

1963-07-02 Pop Go the Beatles #5 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. That's All Right [Live at the BBC]
2. There's a Place - Highlight of the Please Please Me LP. This sounds rough because of the tape but what an enthuiastic vocal performance! We don't have any non-BBC "live" versions of this, which is why they sound a bit loose here presumably (though one of the BBC takes has an audience) so it's great to hear the broadcast versions.
3. Carol [Live at the BBC]
4. Soldier of Love [Live at the BBC]
5. Lend Me Your Comb [Anthology 1/On Air]
6. Clarabella [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: this was heavily DNR'd on the Apple release, so you can hear lots of distortion on the boot, but it's one of the Beatles' most spectacular live performances regardless. As would soon be tradition for Pop, only one EMI Beatles song is played here.

1963-07-17 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Fifth BBC tape of this song. The recording quality is pretty bad again, but they sound fine of course. Really good solo from George.
2. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues - Second BBC tape of this Arthur Alexander song, never recorded for EMI. It's very interesting to hear a track like this in front of an audience!
3. There's a Place - Second BBC tape of this song and the only "live" (with audience) performance of it of which we have recorded evidence. John hits a couple of bum notes.
4. Twist and Shout - Fourth BBC tape of this song. Stabbing guitar lines during the instrumental break!
- Notes: A solid enough band performance, maybe a little uneasy, but the tape quality wrecks it for anyone except hardcore fans.

1963-07-10 Pop Go the Beatles #6 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Sweet Little Sixteen [Live at the BBC]
2. A Taste of Honey [Live at the BBC]
3. Nothin' Shakin' [Live at the BBC]
4. Love Me Do [Live at the BBC]
5. Lonesome Tears in My Eyes [Live at the BBC]
6. So How Come (No One Loves Me) [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: One of several extraordinary episodes of this recorded within the same week, and little wonder it was issued in its entirety (save banter) in 1994. "Sweet Little Sixteen" sounds better here than on the official release but don't ask me why. This whole disc (disc 4) of the PC set is fabulous.
- The Beatles seem to have had the time of their lives making the setlists for these performances. Goodness gracious they were a thundering raucous band.

1963-07-10 Pop Go the Beatles #7 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Memphis [Live at the BBC]
2. Do You Want to Know a Secret [On Air]
3. Till There Was You [On Air]
4. Matchbox [Live at the BBC]
5. Please Mr. Postman [On Air]
6. The Hippy Hippy Shake [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: "Memphis" was either slowed down for the 1994 CD or is sped up here. "Do You Want to Know a Secret" is so fast here (but is on the CD too), as if they are breaking their necks to get through it, which is how the song usually came off at these shows!
- Pre-EMI "Till There Was You" (laid down at Abbey Road a week later), "Please Mr. Postman" (three weeks later) and "Matchbox" (a full year later).
- Only one then-canon Beatles song here.
- I just realized they used maybe the worst version of "Hippy Hippy Shake" for the Apple release (and it's still terrific).

1963-07-16 Pop Go the Beatles #8 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You) [Live at the BBC]
2. Crying, Waiting, Hoping [Live at the BBC]
3. Kansas City [Live at the BBC]
4. To Know Her Is to Love Her [Live at the BBC]
5. The Honeymoon Song [Live at the BBC]
6. Twist and Shout [On Air]
- Notes: The Beatles recording an astonishing three programs on this same day. This is another with an intriguing, wildly unorthodox setlist; only "Twist and Shout" among these songs was then an EMI cut, which is quite a bold choice. ("Kansas City" would be added to the canon almost a year and a half later.) "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry," "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" and "To Know Her Is to Love Her" are three of the greatest Beatles performances not on their actual records, and "The Honeymoon Song" is one of the oddest.

1963-07-16 Pop Go The Beatles #9 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Long Tall Sally [Live at the BBC]
2. Please Please Me [On Air]
3. She Loves You - The Beatles had just recorded this at EMI on July 1st and it wouldn't be released as their fourth single until the 23rd of August. Uneven volume and tempo on this and a vocal flub (John and Paul go flat a lot); a slightly clunky performance, maybe to be expected.
4. You Really Got a Hold on Me - Second BBC tape of this transcendent Miracles cover, which they began recording at EMI two days later. Someone writes in a death threat ("a package that ticks, and it won't be a clock")! George's vocal is miked heavily here. It's a lovely version as usual. Notice heavy echo on "tighter."
5. I'll Get You - The b-side to "She Loves You," poised for release soon. An especially enthusiastic version, surprisingly unreleased unless it's because of too much level on Lennon's guitar (but I actually like that).
6. I Got a Woman [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: The audience (?) is becoming self-aware with such vicious bon mots directed at Burke as "We believe you write all of the requests. We believe you wrote this!"

1963-07-16 Pop Go the Beatles #10 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. She Loves You - repeat of the preformance from episode #9.
2. Words of Love [On Air]
3. Glad All Over [Live at the BBC]
4. I Just Don't Understand [Live at the BBC]
5. Devil in Her Heart [Baby It's You EP]
6. Slow Down [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: At time of broadcast, "She Loves You" was just released and on the verge of charting explosively. "Words of Love" (in poor quality compared to the eventual official release of that performance) and "Slow Down" are well ahead of EMI versions, both by a year or more. The requests pour in, sometimes for non-Beatles songs bizarrely. "Slow Down" has an almost Pete Best-like rumbling rhythm!

1963-07-30 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Long Tall Sally - Fourth BBC tape of this song, still pre-EMI but they knew this one back to front regardless. Horrendous quality, barely even audible.
2. She Loves You - Second BBC tape of this song is also washed out, can scarcely be heard; it's multiple generations away from whatever source exists, and apparently Apple doesn't have a good one either. My wife Amber says it sounds like they're "gargling blood" on this tape.
3. Glad All Over [On Air]
4. Twist and Shout - Sixth BBC tape of this song preceded by another Harry & His Box reference: "is this the box? We must remember to ask Harry." The tape improves here. Not sure why this isn't out unless it's because John sounds listless and like his voice is torn to pieces.
5. You Really Got a Hold on Me [Live at the BBC]
6. I'll Get You - Second BBC tape of this song is actually a sweet, full-throated version that takes the slight characteristic of a barroom singalong.
- Notes: The first part of this program is terrible quality; the rest is apparently sourced from an archival BBC telecast in the '90s.

1963-08-01 Pop Go the Beatles #11 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Ooh! My Soul [Live at the BBC]
2. Don't Ever Change [Live at the BBC]
3. Twist and Shout - Seventh BBC tape of this song. Weird guitar arrangement, sounds like chiming acoustic here, and John still sounds totally fucked.
4. She Loves You - Third BBC tape of this song but just a fragment. Afterward, Burke reads a letter addressed to him: "We hate you, you never crack a joke and you pay them to laugh at you."
5. Anna (Go to Him) [On Air]
6. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: First of two programs recorded this day. Paul destroys the Little Richard song ("Ooh! My Soul"). Overall one of the weaker episodes though, not least because a chunk of it is missing and another bit of it sounds awful here. ("Anna" improves on official release.)

1963-08-01 Pop Go the Beatles #12 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. From Me to You - Eighth BBC tape of this song is washed out and hard to hear, thanks to both bad broadcast and bad tape quality.
2. I'll Get You - Ditto with the third BBC tape of this song, although it does have a nice loud bass sound!
3. Money - Fourth BBC tape of this song just days after it was recorded at EMI, oddly enough requested... in a letter from "two John lovers." The sound quality is pretty bad still and the arrangement isn't totally polished just yet.
4. There's a Place [On Air]
5. Honey Don't [Live at the BBC]
6. Roll Over Beethoven [On Air]
- Notes: "Honey Don't" of course heard here well over a year before the EMI version, with John's lead vocal rather than Ringo. Others are good once the thing gets going. "Roll Over Beethoven," which they'd just recorded at EMI, is a request from "Shep the Sheepdog!"

1963-09-03 Pop Go the Beatles #13 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Too Much Monkey Business [Live at the BBC]
2. Love Me Do [Bootleg '63]
3. She Loves You [Bootleg '63]
4. I'll Get You [Bootleg '63]
5. A Taste of Honey [Bootleg '63]
6. The Hippy Hippy Shake [On Air]
- Notes: First of three Pop episodes (the last three) recorded this day. Heavily mined of course, and highly slick versions of all these songs. Fall 1963 was the peak of their tightness/professionalism as a live act. A version of "Till There Was You" is set up but is apparently missing. John's freakout when reading letters is fun.

1963-09-03 Pop Go the Beatles #14 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. Chains [Bootleg '63]
2. You Really Got a Hold on Me [Bootleg '63]
3. Misery - Fourth BBC tape of this song; slightly mediocre quality tape, sounds a little distant but I like how lively the band seems to be here.
4. Lucille [On Air]
5. From Me to You - Ninth BBC tape of this song, requested in the midst of an apology for the "mean fans" who complained last week. A pretty typical performance, vocals mixed way above the instruments; it actually sounds a lot like the record. Also: people want George to say "brackets."
6. Boys [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: Wildly bizarre guitar solo on "Lucille" here, plus some of Ringo's most incredible drumming and a perfect vocal from Paul.

1963-09-03 Pop Go the Beatles #15 [host: Rodney Burke]
1. She Loves You - repeat of the performance from episode #13
2. Ask Me Why [On Air]
3. Devil in Her Heart [On Air]
4. I Saw Her Standing There [Bootleg '63]
5. Sure to Fall [On Air]
6. Twist and Shout [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: The last episode of the series with a lot of manufactured dismay at this fact, when really it was only ending because the band were going to be too busy to continue. It's startling to consider it was all over before JFK was shot, and of course before they had an inkling of forthcoming popularity in America.
- What a sweet, lovely performance of "Ask Me Why."
- They thank "Rodney, for being a good help throughout the 49 weeks." They sing to each other at the conclusion and it's goofy.

1963-09-07 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There [On Air]
2. Memphis [On Air]
3. Happy Birthday Dear Saturday Club [On Air]
4. I'll Get You [On Air]
5. She Loves You [On Air]
6. Lucille [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: Saturday Club's fifth birthday show. The comment "paying tribute to the Everlys," which made it to the intro of "Lucille" -- a Little Richard song, though the Everly Brothers did cover it -- on Live at the BBC finally makes sense! (They were guests on this episode.) "She Loves You" has an excellent "woo!" toward the end.

1963-10-16 Easy Beat [live audience; host: Brian Matthew]
1. I Saw Her Standing There [Live at the BBC]
2. Love Me Do [Bootleg '63]
3. Please Please Me [Bootleg '63]
4. From Me to You [On Air]
5. She Loves You [Bootleg '63]
- Notes: The final BBC show before an audience, apparently because of safety concerns (the crowd here is positively manic).
- The concept, as explained by Brian Matthew, is a runthrough (after the intro) of all the Beatles' big hits of "the past twelve months" since they hit "the show business jackpot" so there's an interesting linear quality to the performance.
- "Love Me Do" already sounds... old! This is the last time the Beatles would ever play it, aside from a goofing off at the Get Back sessions.
- The Royal Variety Performance is announced.
- Matthew, in response to the shrill crowd reaction: "All I can say is Alfred Hitchcock's Birds have got nothing on you lot." That was a very contemporary reference at the time! (The Birds had premiered in London a month earlier, after an American release earlier in 1963.)

1963-10-09 The Ken Dodd Show [live audience; PC chronology broken again]
1. She Loves You - Super distorted and hard to hear. You can tell they were extremely tight on this cut though.
- Notes: The only song they played on this night, as this was primarily a sketch comedy show starring fellow Liverpool favorite son Dodd.

1963-12-17 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. This Boy [On Air]
2. I Want to Hold Your Hand [Bootleg '63]
3. Till There Was You [Bootleg '63]
4. Roll Over Beethoven [Bootleg '63]
5. She Loves You - repeat of the 9/7/63 performance
- Notes: "All My Loving" is listed but is just a clip of the studio version.
- Obviously winding down on their once-breathless BBC schedule (by necessity); it was two months since their last appearance. Interestingly, perhaps as a result of this hiatus George feels a need to re-explain the concept that the Beatles are going to be actually playing in the studio... though the trotting out of the master of "All My Loving" probably has something to do with that.
- There's some additional singing/performing here of "All I Want for Christmas" and something called "Crimble Medley" of their hits plus "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," which was probably put together for the then-forthcoming Christmas stage show. They also change the novelty "All I Want for Christmas Is a Beatle" to "All I Want for Christmas Is a Bottle," predating a bad Comedy Central pun (referring to Joel Hodgson as "the fifth bot-tle" for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 promo) by three decades.
- The Christmas-related goofing around is quite charming. It's strange to hear them in the brief window between the release of With the Beatles (and the JFK assassination) and their explosion in America, which was about ten days away from kicking off.
- Overall a solid performance; what a long way they'd come in two years. Or one year, even.

1963-12-18 From Us to You #1 [host: Rolf Harris (!)]
[From Us to You theme] - this version interrupted by Rolf Harris chatting
1. She Loves You [Bootleg '63]
2. All My Loving [Bootleg '63]
3. Roll Over Beethoven [Bootleg '63]
4. Till There Was You [Bootleg '63]
5. Boys - Sixth BBC tape of this song. Nice swinging performance here, with Ringo really into it; not sure why this wasn't released unless it's the deviation from the usual structure of his vocal.
6. Money [On Air]
7. I Saw Her Standing There - Eighth BBC tape of this song; also a perfectly good, raucous, nicely loose performance.
8. Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport - Cover of a novelty number by host Rolf Harris, with his own contributions. As a result of his child sexual abuse allegations uncovered in the 2010s, this will never be released. Also it sucks. And blatant self promotion from Rolf.
9. I Want to Hold Your Hand [On Air]
[From Us to You theme]
- Notes: Instead of another weekly series like Pop Go the Beatles, the band's next close collaboration with the BBC was an irregular run of specials starting with this one, broadcast on Boxing Day.
- It's now unreleaseable due to the hosting duties of Rolf Harris! Harris and Jimmy Savile, both of whom participated in the Christmas shows, are going to have to be wiped totally clean from the Beatles' early history. Harris is insufferable, too, and terribly unfunny. "All my love in" wtf.
- God Paul sings like an ass sometimes.
- George sounds sloppy as hell on "Roll Over Beethoven," but it's a lot more spirited than it was just one day earlier.
- On "Till There Was You" Paul loses a little of the remarkable swagger from yesterday (which may or may not be the best thing for the song) while George finally nails the goddamn solo that's been giving him trouble since Decca.

1964-01-07 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. All My Loving - Second BBC tape of what's been called the Beatles' first "standard," from With the Beatles. Note the arrangement change after the bridge on every live performance of this. This performance is nice, and would likely have been released if it weren't from 1964; that goes for a lot of stuff from here on out, where we finally encounter some excellent performances that haven't been put out officially.
2. Money - Sixth BBC tape of this song; nice pounding beat here.
3. The Hippy Hippy Shake - Fifth BBC tape of this song is a less bass-heavy and rollicking version, kind of minimal/punkish; afterward, there's nice discussion about the filming coming up.
4. I Want to Hold Your Hand - repeat of 12/17/63 performance
5. Roll Over Beethoven - Fifth BBC tape of this Chuck Berry number included on With the Beatles; there's unfortunate voiceover over the intro. George sounds rough and under-rehearsed, John's rhythm guitar line is chk-chk-chk weirdness. Glad they don't do the weird rumbling under the "glow-worm/spinning-top" lines anymore. This is the finalized arrangement I reckon.
6. Johnny B. Goode [Live at the BBC]
7. I Wanna Be Your Man - Ringo-centric rocker, finally replacing "Boys" as his usual staple, from With the Beatles; the intro mentions the Stones' version, which was that band's first single. Someone's sister Pam requested it!! Ringo sounds breathless: "tell me / thatcha / love me / baby!!" In the outro, he closes us out by sarcastically muttering "that's fine."
- Notes: I never actually liked this performance of "Johnny B. Goode"; it sounds so listless... otherwise this is a nice moment of the Beatles in the absolute eye of the storm, on the verge of the biggest year of their lives, while the residency of Christmas shows was still in the midst of happening!

1964-02-28 From Us to You #2 [host: Alan Freeman]
[From Us to You] [Live at the BBC]
1. You Can't Do That - The b-side of "Can't Buy Me Love," which had just been recorded a few days earlier but would be released by the time this program was actually broadcast. It's a really interesting version, a tad listless, with John's timing slightly off -- but it's still cool to hear them play this so soon after it was laid down; and George does pretty well on the solo (one of his best in the studio) actually.
2. Roll Over Beethoven [Live at the BBC]
3. Till There Was You [Live at the BBC]
4. I Wanna Be Your Man [Live at the BBC]
5. Please Mr. Postman - Third BBC tape of this Marvelettes classic included on With the Beatles, which was something of a live rarity. John's vocal is pretty wonderful. The denouement is soulful in a very different way from the master.
6. All My Loving [Live at the BBC]
7. This Boy - Second BBC tape of the b-side of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Closer, more unified harmonies on this version, more of a "wall of sound" vibe. It's quite terrific and is one of the best unreleased performances in the vaults; holy shit, does John soar on the bridge. This is a keeper.
8. Can't Buy Me Love [Live at the BBC]
[From Us to You] - rocks.
- Notes: The Beatles return to British radio after a transformative month in which they had all but literally conquered the U.S.
- "Can't Buy Me Love" b/w "You Can't Do That" wasn't released yet as of the recording date, was #1 by the time of telecast.
- Freeman is... playful! Lot of annoying dad jokes but also some good chemistry with the lads. John, re writing career: "well, I'm not blooming." They talk about how many songs will be in the film, with "Can't Buy Me Love" already planned for it.
- Someone asks for "Young Blood" but the Beatles refuse to play it!
- General note: the Beatles pretty much permanently changed the arrangement of "All My Loving" immediately after recording it, it seems.

1964-03-31 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Second BBC tape of this song, still half a year away from being recorded at EMI, and here is heard in an even more slowed-down country version! It's a slightly better, more playful (but also more Perkins-like) arrangement.
2. I Call Your Name - A song that had been sent to America for release but wouldn't be issued in Britain till the summer. Heard here with a double tracked vocal in a skeletal, bass-heavy version. It's really interesting to hear such an approach to the song despite bad reproduction quality. The weird reggae bridge makes it too, and a pretty nice transition out of it.
3. I Got a Woman [On Air]
4. You Can't Do That - Second BBC tape of this song, pushing the flipside of the hit. The overdubbing is very obvious -- which kind of gives it an interesting, time delayed vibe -- but they've gotten pretty tight on this one.
5. Can't Buy Me Love - Second BBC tape of this song, with awkward double track at beginning. Otherwise this is pretty much the single except really maxed-out and distorted by poor tape quality!
6. Sure to Fall - Second BBC tape of this cover of one of Carl Perkins' best songs, never recorded by the band at EMI. A more gentle, acoustic-driven version than the Live at the BBC take; I like the singing better on this one but I hate Ringo's weird skipping beat on the bridge. George fucks up the solo too.
7. Long Tall Sally - Fifth BBC tape of this classic that had finally been recorded at EMI at the beginning of the month and would be issued first in America, then on an EP in the UK in the summer. Furious Paul vocal here, as good as he ever sounded on this track.
- Notes: The Beatles were in the middle of filming A Hard Day's Night and hadn't played live in over a month. There's a bit of distortion on this, especially early on, but the performances are very tight and strong, though they're a lot more worked over than the older strictly live BBC recordings. It's cool that they're still doing exclusive non-EMI cuts at this point too.
- Brian Matthew thanks them for not forgetting the BBC while they were in America. You can sense how different things are now with this being a more infrequent affair, and it's really quite weird to hear them dedicating songs to individual people after becoming a global phenomenon.
- Paul describes the plot of the film. "It sounds dull, but I don't think it is."

1964-05-01 From Us to You #3 [host: Alan Freeman]
[From Us to You] - repeat of the performance from the previous edition
1. I Saw Her Standing There - Ninth BBC tape of this song; a nice, rocking version.
2. Kansas City - Second BBC tape of their cover of Little Richard's variant of this song. Also a very strong, rollicking performance; is the master the laziest version of this they ever recorded? (And i even like it!)
3. I Forgot to Remember to Forget [Live at the BBC]
4. You Can't Do That - Third BBC tape of this song; slightly rawer than the studio version, but basically identical otherwise.
5. Sure to Fall - Third BBC tape of the song is a marginally more muscular, John-dominant approach. Still with the stupid stuttering off-beat on the bridge though. Afterward: "I think you're disgusting" - Paul to DJ who asks him to send a "big juicy kiss" to a fan.
6. Can't Buy Me Love - Third BBC tape of the song, emphasis on slamming beat.
7. Matchbox - Second BBC tape of another Carl Perkins song, which they would record at EMI a month later; fun as usual, at last breaking the monotony of Ringo always singing "Boys."
8. Honey Don't - Second BBC tape of still another Carl Perkins song, still with John singing lead, which would be taken over by Ringo at the end of the year on Beatles for Sale. It's still fun to hear Lennon take it on even though it's so well suited to Ringo.
[From Us to You] - this disc of the PC set closes with the complete version from the official BBC CD.
- Notes: They also sing "Whit Monday to You," a stupid off the cuff song to the tune of Happy Birthday.
- No less than three Carl Perkins covers, and they'd done another at the last BBC session!

1964-07-14 Top Gear [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Long Tall Sally [On Air]
2. Things We Said Today [Live at the BBC]
3. A Hard Day's Night [Live at the BBC]
4. And I Love Her [On Air]
5. If I Fell [On Air]
6. You Can't Do That [On Air]
- Notes: "I Should Have Known Better" is listed but is just a fragment of the studio master. The bootleg has bad distortion on "You Can't Do That," improved on the official CD.
- Carl Perkins was a guest on this. There's a great promo in which the Beatles assail Brian Matthew for having a "posh voice."
- Weird crunchy guitar effect on "Long Tall Sally."
- Also contains one of the best bits of dialogue from Live at the BBC, in which Matthew discusses how "they used to have actors in films" and demonstrates his agility with Beatle banter.
- The solo from the recorded version of "A Hard Day's Night" is very awkwardly spliced in; and for more BBC wizardry, there's a double-tracking error on "And I Love Her."
- "Don't Pass Me By" is mentioned as the song Ringo is working on writing four full years before the White Album.

1964-07-17 From Us to You #4 [host: Don Wardell]
[From Us to You] - same as it ever was
1. Long Tall Sally - Seventh BBC tape of this song -- a more bare/skeletal version, which I kind of enjoy. It comes off as a tad raucous!
2. If I Fell - Second BBC tape of this song from the album and film, A Hard Day's Night; actually looser than it was just a few days earlier! Downright infectious in this guise.
3. I'm Happy Just to Dance with You - The only live version of any kind of this A Hard Day's Night selection that we have (though sessions reveal the vocal was recorded separately). It won't win any converts to the song (the romance of which I always loved), but the vocals sound great even though George flubs a couple lines.
4. Things We Said Today - Second BBC tape of the b-side from "A Hard Day's Night" sounds a bit distant -- super loud handclaps! -- but I like the double-track sound on Paul.
5. I Should Have Known Better - The only live performance of this AHDN selection too (but not really live, vocal/harmonica overdubbed). It's a very basic arrangement but lovely and John sings the hell out of it. Strange that this is the only time the Beatles played it outside Abbey Road.
6. Boys - Seventh BBC tape of this song; surprisingly, this was still in their regular repertoire at this late stage. Obviously they know it backwards and frontwards... which doesn't prevent George from playing a really odd (not bad) solo.
7. Kansas City - Third BBC tape of this which would've been the only non-EMI song at this session, though of course they were soon to record it for Beatles for Sale... so clearly this is a different arrangement than on the eventual recording, with a jauntier, more Perkins-like solo and a general resemblance more to Wilbert Harrison's record, though it does have Little Richard's new bridge. Paul gets kind of lost on the last minute but he's soulfully lost.
8. A Hard Day's Night - Second BBC tape of the new single and title song from the concurrent LP and film. Faster than the Top Gear version... and clearly better, especially because it has an actual (and quite competent) solo. Inexplicable that Apple went for the earlier version on the 1994 compact disc.
[From Us to You] - still bashing it out
- Notes: PC's disc includes recording sessions for this program.
- The Beatles probably aren't fond of this set because it's so unusually relaxed and messy (and heavily doctored), but this makes it one of the most fascinating Beatles performances of the period (they were somewhat out of practice, just out to promote LP/film).
- Cilla Black's "It's for You" is included for some reason (maybe just because it was a Lennon-McCartney song?).
- Wardell has a damned awful voice.

1964-11-17 Top Gear [host: Brian Matthew]
1. I'm a Loser [Live at the BBC]
2. Honey Don't [On Air]
3. She's a Woman [Live at the BBC]
4. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby [Live at the BBC]
5. I'll Follow the Sun [Baby It's You EP/On Air]
6. I Feel Fine [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" sounds almost exactly like the EMI master, about to be released.
- On Air also has outtake version of "I Feel Fine," rumored to be substituted at the last second for "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport."
- This program has the "Riding on a Bus" bit which is poignant in time context (with a few more jokes about Americans edited on the official release). There's also a lot of behind the scenes talk about Beatles for Sale.
- On "Honey Don't," we've got Ringo now!
- Weird skittering beat on the BBC version of "She's a Woman." "I Feel Fine" complete with feedback.
- As already noted, "I'll Follow the Sun" is lovely and better than the EMI version (but speed seems off here).
- Banter that's funny in context about "the b-side's better than the A-side" and "the people in Australia gave me a ring" and "when are you gonna get married, George?"
- Promotion of the Beatles Christmas Show (with Jimmy Savile).

1964-11-25 Saturday Club [host: Brian Matthew]
1. Rock and Roll Music [Live at the BBC]
2. I'm a Loser - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
3. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
4. I Feel Fine - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
5. Kansas City [On Air]
6. She's a Woman - repeat of 11/17/64 performance
^ "Rock and Roll Music" swings a little here, with an interesting varying drum pattern. But it and "Kansas City" seem to be the only actual new performances for this episode of Saturday Club.
- The new film's going to be in color; "great choice," says Matthew.
- The performances are still good but the BBC stuff has really lost its excitement by this point. Recording session work on "I Feel Fine" is supplemented to the end here as well as a bit of the "single track vocal" version. Lennon calls the sound "crap."

1965-05-26 Ticket to Ride Special [host: Denny Piercy]
1. Ticket to Ride (short introductory version)
2. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Fourth BBC tape of this song; it's distorted but George is seemingly having fun.
3. I'm a Loser - Second BBC tape of this melancholic Beatles for Sale selection. "Beneath this wig I am wearing a tie": this is how John amuses himself. A fine version as usual despite bad tape quality.
4. The Night Before - The only outside-EMI version of this Help! track. Piercy talks over the beginning and the tape is bad still. John sounds exhausted on the backing vocal. There is an electric piano though!
5. Honey Don't - Fourth BBC tape of this song; Ringo's usual freeform approach.
6. Dizzy Miss Lizzy [Live at the BBC]
7. She's a Woman - Second BBC tape of the "I Feel Fine" b-side; "my love don't buy me presents," Paul sings, so John's not the only one who's over this.
8. Ticket to Ride [Live at the BBC]
- Notes: the last of the Bank Holiday specials, no longer labeled From Us to You at the band's insistence. Also the very last Beatles BBC program, and while "Ticket to Ride" sounds all right, it's really time.
- "One big question right now, the film." "That's not a question..."
- My question: why THESE songs? Some fairly rudimentary covers, a fairly musty b-side and only two Help! selections. Also, even the announcements are half-assed by this point. Weird to think this chapter of the story was ending when it's still early days in terms of their legacy.

Supplements:
The last disc of the PC set has a bit of extra interview material; 1965 brings a few notes of mild disharmony when Brian Matthew asks John and Paul twenty questions about songwriting and George chimes in with "Ringo and I are painting Buckingham Palace." A similar bitterness permeates when Matthew asks about a potential musical that John and Paul are thinking of writing and Lennon says "Paul's thinking of it, I'm doing it." They also rather openly chide him for labeling "Ticket to Ride" as "folk."
- You also get Apple's edit of "Honey Don't," and a version of "Ticket to Ride" that the compilers call "unfettered." Finally some later '60s material that was used for interstital purposes: the mysterious "All Together on the Wireless Machine," and John's half-assed version of "Cotton Fields" for Kenny Everett... which I like to pretend was thrown on the end of Abbey Road instead of "Her Majesty."

***

In sum total, everything after the end of 1964 here is pretty pedestrian, but there are few more immersive ways to experience the Beatlemania years from the British perspective than this often wondrous collection of music and chatter.