THE BEATLES “ON AIR” LIVE AT THE BBC VOLUME 2. One of the reasons The Beatles stopped performing concerts in 1966 was because their frenzied fans made so much noise that the group could not hear what they were singing and playing.
In those days, they rarely had stage monitor speakers so they had to rely on just the sound from the venue, which is almost impossible for musicians to do.
Just listen to the Fab Four’s only official in-concert album Live at the Hollywood Bowl and you’ll discover that they were competing with decibel levels from audiences similar to those found on a jet runway.
For John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr that got old … and fast.
So it’s no wonder why The Beatles abandoned touring and became a band that practically lived in the recording studio at Abbey Road, which led to their epic releases beginning with Rubber Soul and concluding with Abbey Road. The only screaming during that time was the band arguing!
THERE’S A PLACE DEPT. In 1962, The Beatles were desperately trying to make the mammoth jump from Liverpool to London. Playing in small clubs and music halls throughout Great Britain helped somewhat, but the best way to reach the most people with their music was through the radio via the government-operated British Broadcasting Company, the BBC.
The BBC gave The Beatles a chance to perform numbers from their astounding live repertoire, many of which were never officially committed to disc.
Songs from their American musical heroes such as Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, and many early Motown artists were played live in the studio for broadcast over the hallowed BBC airwaves.
These BBC recordings, with Volume 1 released in 1994 and Volume 2 issued earlier this month, prove just how phenomenal The Beatles were playing live without all of the hooping and hollering from the masses.
ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN DEPT. Live at the BBC Volume 2 contains a musical smorgasbord that includes material from very unlikely sources. Please Mr. Postman (The Marvelettes), Boys (The Shirelles), Words of Love (Buddy Holly) and the Carole King-Gerry Goffin hit Chains are among the numerous standouts on this must-have two-disc set.
Most Beatles fans are aware that those songs were eventually recorded on various Beatles albums and singles, but to me it’s the songs that were never issued proper by the group on Live at the BBC Volume 2 that astound the most.
These gems – including Ray Charles’ I Got a Woman, Chuck Berry’s I’m Talking About You, Little Richard’s Lucille, and even the obscure Chan Romero hit The Hippy Hippy Shake – would not have sounded out of place on any of the first few albums.
MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT) DEPT. The Beatles were also able to include many Lennon-McCartney favorites on the BBC set. Many of these gems such as Ask Me Why; P.S. I Love You; Misery and the flip-side of the She Loves You single (remember those?) I’ll Get You were never performed in concert here in the States.
Original hit singles are also featured on the set. Do You Want to Know a Secret, Please Please Me, This Boy, I Saw Her Standing There and even a unique rendition of And I Love Her (performed with electric guitars rather than acoustic) are just stunning.
Both volumes of Live at the BBC are essential for any Beatles fan. The recordings show just what an incredible live band they were. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! indeed. It’s the Beatles!