Jan 092013

I guess no artist is picked over more than The Beatles. I still cycle through their works a few times a year. Well beyond my teenybopper years I’ve done things like sit on the floor with Beatles albums and books spread around me, pouring over them for new meaning, new connections—both to the band’s inner workings and my own wiring. We even talk about them here once in a while.

For all the time I’ve spent contemplating the actual riches of “Honey Pie” and “Your Mother Should Know,” for instance, two songs I hated throughout my childhood, I haven’t spent a 10th as much time digging into the 1994 release of the band’s BBC recordings. Do you know this stuff? Anytime I do plop that CD onto a tray and push PLAY I’m astounded at how much character the early Beatles give off on any tossed-off cover they perform. They were naturals. Any young musician who dreams of someday attaining something special through music should first listen to these recordings and then take a good look in the mirror. It’s not that the songs or the performances are necessarily fantastic, but all that’s special about them, from their influences to their comfort in their performing skin, is right there on the table.

At the risk of sounding any more like Captain Obvious, I’m going to continue digging this CD, which I’m usually too much of an Early Beatles-phobe to spin. I’m telling you, though, next time you feel the impulse to give John’s Somewhere in New York City or Paul’s Wild Life another try, pull out this release instead.


  11 Responses to “Overlooked Gems of The Beatles…Really?!?!”

  1. that’s great stuff! They really had a great sense of humour as well. “Hey Ringo, have a banana!” or “Krinsk De Night” immediately come to mind as examples of this.

    thanks for the reminder to listen to this set, it’s been too long!

  2. misterioso

    Right, I will try to go light on the “where you been, man?” rhetoric, but, still…

    I got hooked on this stuff back in the early 80s when a bunch of it aired on the radio as part of some syndicated package. I taped quite a bit which I listened to for years and later got some of the bootlegs of additional stuff. There is a crazy comprehensive 10-disc collection of everything known to exist, which of course I have. It falls in the category of too much of a good thing, since they did a ton of BBC shows in 1963 and there is a tremendous amount of repetition (“Twist and Shout,” version 10 zillion, coming up!) and varying sound quality. For the most part, the 2-disc official release is a respectable cross section of this material. But half the pleasure, actually, more than half, is hearing them goof around, and there is a lot more of that, needless to say, spread across 10 discs.

    Anyway, enjoy!

  3. misterioso

    Mod, listen to the version of “A Hard Day’s Night” in the collection. It’s always bugged me–in a get-a-life Beatles geek sort of a way, that is–that the solo (actually guitar and piano) section is so obviously grafted on from the studio recording and that (perhaps precisely for that reasaon) they went to such lengths to have a conspicuously “live” ending. I remember when this aired in the early 80s the commentator stressed how this “proved” that the Beatles were, indeed, playing live in the studio. Ok, back to real-life concerns.

  4. Great stuff — and I have not dug this one out for awhile. My brothers and I used to listen to that Live at the Holllywood Bowl album that came out in the late 70s, which led me to buy that Beatles Featuring Tony Sheridan thing for three bucks in the cutouts. That’s an album that had nine lives and about nine different covers, as I recall.

  5. Scott (the other one)

    Couldn’t agree more. I was blown away by just how much fun their version of “Young Blood” was.

  6. I always thought their version of Soldier of Love on the BBC CD was top shelf. You hear how many songs could have easily been on any of those early albums rather than some of the covers they chose. Why Mr. Moonlight?? Why!

  7. I listened to it a lot when it came out because my kids liked it. This stuff had also been on a lot of bootlegs

  8. I think you gave me my copy – you had 2 copies, if memory serves. Thanks.

  9. alexmagic

    Agreed. Lennon’s vocal on the BBC “Soldier Of Love” is a good reminder that Young John Lennon had maybe the greatest rock voice of all time.

    How crazy is it that they chose not to officially released Solider of Love or “Leave My Kitten Alone” at the time? Who had the confidence to have your lead singer put down two amazing vocals like that and then sit on them?

  10. alexmagic

    The best comedy linking bit on Live At The BBC is probably the one where the host is attempting to interview a partially engaged Paul as John continues to stand off mic plugging his book. “WHAT ABOUT MY BOOK, THEN!”

    That or “1822!”

  11. diskojoe

    I also have & enjoy this CD, which got me started on finding BBC sessions CDs from other artists including Marianne Faithfull, the Move, the Hollies and of course, the Kinks. The Hollies one is a bit of a disappointment in that they edited out all of the patter between the DJs & the musicians. Speaking of DJs, the one you hear the most of on these CDs is Brian Matthew, who was the host of the Saturday Club & currently is host of BBC Radio 2’s Sound of the Sixties, which you can hear online & is interesting to hear.

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