'Beatlemania' Lives Again With New Beatles Live Recordings
    • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2016

    • Posted by: Robert Steiner


    Well...sorta. Okay, technically it isn't new, but it's still a rarity for the four lads from Liverpool: In preparation for the new Ron Howard documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, the band will be releasing a remastered version of their 1964 and 1965 shows at the Hollywood Bowl in LA, and they recently gave a preview of the upcoming album with a live versions of "Twist and Shout" and "A Hard Day's Night." Believe it or not, the three performances at the Hollywood Bowl are the only professional live concert recordings of the Beatles that were ever done. There are some bootlegs floating around among record collectors, but they aren't exactly the best quality. Think of that concert you recorded on your phone, and then bring the quality back half a century; that's pretty much how the Beatles bootlegs sound. A few live recordings showed up on the Anthology albums in the 90s, but they were mostly handfuls of songs rather than entire shows, and though original Beatles producer George Martin actually oversaw the release of the Hollywood Bowl recordings back in 1977, the technology of the day could only improve the sound quality so much. These remastered versions, led by Martins son Giles, hope to make the live Beatles sound better than they ever have before.

    It's surprising to think that the Beatles have such amazing studio albums, and could clearly play their instruments, and yet have almost no live albums to speak of. But you have to think about it in context of the time period: During these touring years, the band traveled with two or three roadies, they never micd their amps, and PAs pretty much didnt exist at this point in time. Any live recordings made, including the Hollywood Bowl shows, were done with a three-track tape, and thats it. In other words, the sound quality sucked, even on professional recordings, simply because the amplification and technology weren't good enough to capture concerts of that size in the 60s.

    When it comes to old recordings, you usually can forgive the quality limitations and enjoy the track anyway, which you could very well do with the Beatles' live tracks, if it weren't for one unique problem the band faced: The screaming. Jesus Christ, did anyone in that audience stop to breathe, or did the sound just keep coming out like a broken sustain pedal on a synthesizer? In their pubescent passion, the young, mostly female fans of Beatlemania are ultimately the main reason why you don't see many live Beatles records. The already limited technology couldn't compete with the nonstop shrill of girls simultaneously finding their womanhood. Even with the cleaned up mix, I occasionally winced slightly from the screeching, which is amazing considering that the screams have been turned down on these new mixes. Still, the band sounds great as always, especially for likely not being able to hear themselves, and it's a lot of fun to hear the energy of a live show you just can't get out of a studio album. Even though the band's studio work will probably remain the definitive Beatles records, these new live tracks offer a really cool glimpse into what a Beatles concert was like, and now you won't get a headache from the screaming. The touring years have been a part of the band's history that, for the most part, has only been documented through memory and TV, but with these new songs and the upcoming documentary, we'll finally get to see- and hear -what it was like to be the on tour as the biggest band in the world. Check out the live versions of "Twist and Shout" and "A Hard Day's Night" above, plus the trailer for Eight Days A Week, in theaters September 16.

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