Friday, September 25, 2015

THE BEATLES: Hollywood Bowl (three complete shows)

One of the very first things I ever heard from them was this album, in the summer of 1979, when I was only three years old. Dad had been playing them, and I was amazed at everything I was hearing by them so far, although we were still playing just the earlier stuff for now. We had the "red album", which held a lot of favorites, but songs like "She Loves You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "It Won't Be Long" were major favorites of mine. While they were playing, nothing else in the world mattered.

The copy of the album we had disappeared, and we got it again in 1986 at Golden Oldies during one of the first times we ever went there. I fell in love with it all over again, and played it often. As the years went on, I waited to see if it would ever make its way onto CD when all of their other albums made it onto that format, but for some reason, it never did. In the meantime, I read different things about how the album was recorded with 3-track equipment, and how they didn't have to bother putting out any recording mikes to catch the sound of the was all captured perfectly!

There were plans to release the 1964 show as a live album not long after it happened, and acetates were pressed, but the recording quality was apparently not quite up to snuff, so it went unreleased (although transfers from the acetates made the rounds as bootlegs of the show for years to come). I've also read where Phil Spector was even tapped to perhaps do something with the recording (in 1971, after the band had broken up), but thankfully nothing happened in that department. He might have dubbed a 90-piece orchestra and choir on top of the music!

One of the things I looked for when I first got a computer at home was any live shows by the Beatles on YouTube. Not only was there a rip of the album on there, but the three concerts that comprised the album, in their entirety! I downloaded them, cut them onto CD's, then I put them on, and turned up the volume.

The first thing I noticed upon hearing these shows in their entirety is that they are raw stereo mixes, without any added echo to the vocals or instruments. Bass and drums in the left channel, guitars in the right, and the vocals in the center. They sound a lot clearer to me, and for some reason, the never-ending wall of screaming girls doesn't sound as gratingly loud on this as they do on the album.

The August 1964 show is excellent all the way through. There is a surprisingly good version of "You Can't Do That", which should have made the album, and they even do "Yes It Is" rather well. For not having any monitors or PA to hear themselves, let alone over all the screaming, they actually pulled off a really good show in the face of all that, and they actually sounded like they were having fun onstage.

A year later, they played two shows: August 28 and 30. The first show of the two was not used for the album at all, except for a few edit pieces. The vocals did not come through on the recording for some odd reason. Otherwise--again--we have the same simple rawness to the recordings and mixes that make them such a joy to hear. The August 30th show is a really good one. In fact, most of this show makes up the album, although we get to hear Ringo sing "I Wanna Be Your Man" on this one, and the show closes with "I'm Down".

Well worth giving a listen to, if you come across them on YouTube. As you listen to them, you realize just how good they were as a live band. If only they'd had really good PA and monitor systems back then, they might not have given up on touring quite so easily, but just imagine how different their story might have turned out!

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