Live At The Hollywood Bowl

The Beatles

Apple, 2016

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


It took a very long time to make it work, but the Beatles finally have a reasonable live album.

Prior to this, there were snippets of live tracks on the Anthology 1 and 2 collections, both BBC recordings (which were not in front of a live audience) and the 1977 album of this show, which has never been released on compact disc simply because the audience screams drown out the band. Enter producer Giles Martin (George’s son) and technological advances, and suddenly we can hear the band again.

As any Beatles fan knows, the band started life playing endless shows in Germany and, later, the Cavern Club. Over these gigs the quartet developed into a tight rock-and-roll unit, all meat, all energy, swinging with glee but hitting hard where needed. Over time, I think, this side of the band has been subsumed in favor of their studio albums from Rubber Soul onward, but those classics would not have been possible without the honing provided by life on the road and in front of drunken, rowdy rock crowds (be they screaming girls or pissed German youths).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So Martin’s efforts render this album, at last, a necessary addition to any Beatles fan’s catalog, particularly those partial to the band’s earlier efforts. The disc contains the original 13 songs selected and edited by George Martin and Geoff Emerick in 1977, along with four bonus tracks, and they pull pretty equally from the four studio albums up to that point plus the huge hit singles. This means that “She Loves You,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” are here, of course, but lesser-known cuts like “Things We Said Today,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzie,” “She’s A Woman” and “You Can’t Do That” make the cut, all played with verve and intensity.

There’s really no weak spot on the disc; if you don’t like “Boys,” perhaps, just wait two minutes and “A Hard Day’s Night” charges into view. The 17 songs whiz by in a colorful blur and, most striking, no one member stands out, in keeping with the philosophy of a true band that knew they were better together, at least for a while. Ringo’s drumming is energetic and steady, driving the songs forward, while both John and Paul sing separately or in harmony, feeding off each other and the crowd. Perhaps George Harrison’s brief guitar contributions aren’t as immediately appreciated, but perhaps familiarity with these songs has blunted the impact of how they sounded on first listen.

About the only down side to this disc is the crowd, for as much as Martin tries to reduce their noise and raise up the band, the fact is that the girls scream pretty much nonstop for all 40 minutes, and it gets a little tiresome after a while. I’d imagine the band fed off that energy and imbued it in their performance, or that they were able to drown it out after a while, but it’s both a blessing and a curse to listen to. Still, the punk energy of “Twist and Shout,” the clear harmonies and new direction of “Ticket To Ride,” the raucous cover of “Long Tall Sally” and even the slower “Baby’s In Black” are highlights, as is the ultimate crowd pleaser “All My Loving.”

For many fans, closing their eyes and putting this on will give the feeling of being in the front row at the show in 1964 or ’65, for better or worse, and it’s a document many Beatles fans will be happy to own.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2016 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Apple, and is used for informational purposes only.