Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Here they are in all their cheeky, Mop Top glory, the early Beatles, charming England.  The BBC and the Fabs were made for each other from 1962-65, as the Beeb was the only radio station in the country, and The Beatles were drawing millions of youngsters to their programs.  The group recorded dozens and dozens of numbers, and the first batch of Beatles at the BBC only cracked the door open.  Here are two more CD's worth of cuts, from such programs as Saturday Club and Pop Go The Beatles, plus delightful snippets of the four kibitzing with the staid announcers.

Because they recorded so often for the radio shows, the band didn't have enough material from their albums and singles, so they went back to their club days, digging into the Cavern and Hamburg repertoire from the days when they had to do several sets and hours a night.  They loved to find obscure U.S. pop and R&B numbers, especially from their heroes:  Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and the stars of Motown.  Most of these cuts were unknown in England, so there was little difference to the audience between, say, Honey Don't and Please Please Me.  The best finds included here are numbers covered but never recorded by the band, including Berry's I'm Talking About You, Perkins' Sure To Fall, and Chan Romero's The Hippy Hippy Shake.  Lots of the other covers The Beatles made famous on record are here as well, such as Roll Over Beethoven, Twist and Shout, and Honey Don't.

They had to play the hits too, and some of them were recorded up to 16 times (From Me to You).  So now we have Please Please Me, I Want To Hold Your Hand, She Loves You and I Saw Her Standing There yet again.  If there's a gripe with this set, it's the repetition with the first one.  There are songs repeated, only slightly different from the other BBC collection, and there are even some actual repeats; cuts from the CD EP Baby It's You that was issued at the same time as Volume 1, and a cut also included on Beatles Anthology 1.  With so many Beeb numbers available, this seems a little cheap for those many collectors out there.

You can however pick up a couple of better versions than the ones you've had before.  This is probably the best vocal Paul McCartney did on the Broadway number Till There Was You, less schmaltzy than usual.  And his rip through Little Richard's Lucille beats the take included on BBC Volume 1, recorded just four days later in '63.  The big win though, same as the first set, is hearing the band virtually live, recording direct to mono tape at the BBC's studio, the way they would have sounded on stage, without all those screaming fans.  If there's enough left for a Volume 3, I'm in.

No comments:

Post a Comment