Between March 1962 and June 1965 The Beatles performed a total of 52 BBC sessions. Some 275 performances were taped, comprising 88 unique songs (as some songs were repeated at various sessions).
Out of these 88 songs, 36 were never recorded for the Beatles' studio albums, so therefore it wasn't surprising that the majority of these were included on the first release, Live At The BBC, originally issued in 1994 and now available as a 2013 remaster.
Whilst this does mean that this second collection is slightly less essential than Volume 1, On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2 does contain a couple of songs never previously officially released - Chuck Berry's "I'm Talking About You" and the evergreen "Beautiful Dreamer", a favourite from their Hamburg days. There are also a number of alternative versions of songs released on Volume 1, such as "Memphis, Tennessee", "The Hippy Hippy Shake" and "Lucille" but most of the songs on this CD are BBC versions of tracks from the Beatles albums and singles of the period.
The BBC's recording facilities at the time were quite primitive, so whilst the BBC recordings lack the polish of the Beatles own album versions they're not without interest, as it's fascinating to hear these essentially "live" performances.
In addition to the 40 songs, there's 25 or so speech tracks, interspersed between the music. They capture the heady, early days of Beatlemania very well, as the fabs banter with the various DJ's hosting the shows, such as Brian Matthew, Alan Freeman, Lee Peters and Rodney Burke.
There are also four interviews each lasting about eight minutes (one per Beatle) recorded by Brian Matthew in 1965 and 1966 for the series Pop Profile. Two are at the end of the first CD and the other two are the last tracks on CD Two. These one-on-one interviews find the boys in more serious mode and although widely bootlegged, they make their official début here.
Sound quality is pretty good considering the source material, although it's fair to say that nothing is going to sound quite as clear and crisp as the album remasters. There are a few songs which are quite lo-fidelity though, particularly the rarer tracks like "I'm Talking About You" and "Beautiful Dreamer".
An essential purchase for Beatles fans then, but for the more casual listener the 2013 remaster of Volume 1 might be of more interest as it contains more unique material. And whilst one day it would be good to have a boxset containing all 275 tracks, for now On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2 is a solid addition to the Beatles' catalogue.
on 11 November 2013
This is a review of the Live At The BBC - The Collection but contains specific reference to On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2, hope people find it useful.
When Live At The BBC was released in 1994 it kicked off a major archival excavation that culminated in the Beatles Anthology Project but to my mind the Live At The BBC was the most interesting of these archival releases and the one that I have listened to the most over the years. It wasn't without it's flaws though and with the bootleg releases that included most of their complete shows, a volume 2 seemed like a no brainer. So it's a surprise that it's taken nearly 20 years for that to happen, especially as volume 1 shifted something like 5 million units.
Anyway, with regards to volume 1 the question is whether its worth purchasing the remaster if you already have the original from 1994. I would certainly say yes, if you don't have volume one then its essential and the stronger of the 2 volumes as it contains the most unreleased tracks. Although there isn't any new music or major upgrades in sources to what you would already have, the use of noise reduction is a lot better and less heavy handed than the previous issue and the key thing is the completely unnecessary cross fading between tracks have been removed, meaning you can compile both volumes chronologically without cutting of the start or end of tracks. There are also a few more snippets of dialogue like the inclusion of the amusing introduction from George to Soldier of Love, wish they'd also included the equally amusing intro to the Honeymoon Song or the `Honeyboot Song' as George calls it because of his `terrible nose'.
As for `On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2' this is long overdue. I really didn't think we would see any further official releases of the BBC recordings so this is hugely welcome. There aren't many sound upgrades from the bootlegs but on first listen Words of Love, Ask Me Why and Anna are considerable upgrades from the latest bootleg sources. Of the 36 unique songs the Beatles recorded for the BBC only the tracks from their very first session are still to be officially released. Those are Dream Baby, Besame Mucho (the EMI recording was released on Anthology One) and Pictures of You, all with Pete Best on drums. Not sure why those haven't been included because sound quality wise they are no worse than `I'm Talking About You' or Keep Your Hands of My Baby. Volume 2 also contains the tracks from the Baby It's You CD single but contains a different version of Devil In Her Heart, so need hang on to those singles, Lend Me Your Comb which was missing from volume 1 is also included here. The only frustration for me is we still don't have at least 1 performance of every song performed for the BBC! Of the 88 different songs recorded for the BBC we are still missing, I Call Your Name, I Should Have Known Better, The Night Before and I'm Happy Just to Dance With You as well as the 3 tracks I mentioned above from the first BBC sessions. All of these tracks are available on the boots but in poor quality so I suspect the compilers wanted to keep the poor quality off air recordings to a minimum on a mainstream release.
So all in all, Volume 2 is a very worthy addition to the Beatles catalogue and a excellent reissue of Volume 1. The studio outtake of I Feel Fine especially is a highlight. The booklets are excellent with essay's from Kevin Howlett (author of the excellent The Beatles: The BBC Archives: 1962-1970) as well as a track by track analysis. I never tire of these performances and would happily sit through every one of their 275 performances (and have done on many occasions). Performances like Soldier of Love, Some Other Guy and To Know Her is To Love Her are every bit as good as the covers they recorded for EMI. It never ceases to amaze me that 2 of the greatest rock and roll singers of all time ended up in the same band!
So is there enough material left for a Volume 3, damn right there is. We are still missing those 3 unique tracks as mentioned earlier but there are sufficiently interesting versions of the already released tracks to justify another volume. The version of I'm a Loser with John substituted lyrics `Beneath This Wig I'm Wearing a Tie' immediately springs to mind, as well as superior performances of Misery from Pop Go The Beatles 14 and There's a Place from Pop Go The Beatles 5 also I can't believe they kept that version of A Hard Day's Night on volume one with the solo flown in from the EMI recording when they played it live on another performance. Hopefully as new sources are discovered this will happen.
*Edit 16/12/13. 41 more BBC tracks are being released on iTunes on the 17/12 along with studio outtakes and demo's in an effort to prevent them from becoming public domain![...]
on 16 November 2013
I try and buy music on the old black stuff whenever I can. This 3-LP set is obviously priced at a premium compared to the CD but it's worth the extra money. The triple gatefold packaging is superb (although the lack on inner bags is a bit of a niggle), beautifully printed with informative notes from Kevin Howlett and an interesting intro from Macca; plus, of course notes on each individual track. The great advantage of the LP format is of course the fact that you don't get eyestrain reading the sleevenotes!
The records themselves are beautifully pressed, and devoid of surface noise. Sound quality, given the age and origin of much of this material, is very good indeed.
As for the music, well I think it's better than that on Volume 1. Granted, I won't be listening to the interviews on the third LP (interesting as they are) THAT much but as a whole I think this collection is of more musical interest than the first.
I have to admit, it's not easy for me to listen to this album and equate what I'm hearing with the massively enthusiastic reviews for these two discs. It's difficult to treat this album as any more than it is - a collection of archive live performances The Beatles made for the BBC in the early sixties, some of which isn't of the best sound quality. I'm not stating for a minute that it isn't enjoyable or of great interest to a fan of The Beatles (any serious fan will want to own it), but for anyone who has owned Volume One for the past couple of decades, this album simply adds another volume of curios, asides and performances of songs we have all (mostly) heard before. There are the old rock 'n' roll classics The Beatles hammered out in Hamburg as live versions of singles and album tracks from their first few years of recorded output (1962 to 1965), plus a few "profile" interviews tagged onto the end. These are all good to have, it's a really lovely, quality package (featuring an interview with Paul McCartney from July 2013 in the beautifully detailed booklet) and made me smile many times throughout listening to it, but I can't see myself getting this album out to play very often now I have it... probably about the same frequency that I have Volume One, maybe once every three or four years.
I'm not criticising any aspect of this collection, far from it, it does exactly what it says on the tin, however there really is a lack of a "wow" factor on Volume Two. There was huge excitement listening to and watching the Anthology project and there were certain tracks on Volume One that really got the hairs on the back of the neck tingling. Unfortunately, there just isn't that kind of material on this album - they're not exactly scraping the bottom of the barrel, either, but I have to say that there is very little here that has increased my love or appreciation of The Beatles (if, indeed, that is possible). Simply put, it's just a very pleasant, decent listen that is more interesting for the interviews and hearing the four of them chat than listening to the music itself, as nice as it all is. Apart from one or two tracks outstanding, it seems like this is probably going to be the last "original" material that we will hear from the Fab Four, so that, in itself, makes it something to treasure, but for the songs, live performances and sound quality, I have to, objectively, say that it isn't exactly the toppermost of the poppermost. Wouldn't it have been great to have been there, eagerly listening to this emanating from the wireless at that point in time, though...?
on 22 February 2014
As a lifelong Beatles fan I was pleased to see the appearance of "On Air". However, if "Live at the BBC" is the A side "On air" is most certainly the B side. It's not that it's bad; it's just not as good. "Live at the Beeb" brought us not only live versions of many of the numbers from their first four albums and contemporary singles but also dozens of covers. It was like listening to "Live at the Star Club" except that it was much better recorded. "On Air" though has few of those and almost none that we haven't already now heard. On the other hand if you are a diehard like me you have to have it, don't you? and it will get the occasional playing. Highlights: "Money" and "Twist and Shout" and (wierdly - not their best single) "From Me To You".
Between March 1962 and June 1965, The Beatles performed 90 songs for the BBC (two were never broadcast and no longer exist) and seven jingles/oddities. Sixty of those were released back in 1994/95 and many fans wondered whether that was it as far as BBC recordings went. If it wasn't released then, would it ever be? Obviously surprised by the critical and commercial success of `Live at the BBC', a companion two CD set, `On Air-Live at the BBC Vol. 2', has been rush released... nineteen years later. (Moreover, Volume 1 has been remastered, repackaged and has two tracks added.)
Fortunately, Apple has managed to fill this double CD with 22 songs not heard on Volume 1 or anything else (23 if you count the one sung by a different Beatle), along with `Happy Birthday' in celebration of `Saturday Club's' fifth birthday. It's very brief (30 seconds) but cute all the same. Of those 22 songs, just two went unrecorded by the group. (Of the 40 musical tracks on this, two were previously released on a single and another, `Lend Me Your Comb' was somewhat lost on `Anthology 1')
With Paul's intermittent screaming and the charmingly sloppy solo and wordless backing vocals, `Beautiful Dreamer' (missing the instrumental introduction, as DJ Brian Matthews talked over it) is no longer the lullaby you might expect, whilst `I'm Talking About You', though being the worst sounding thing here in terms of quality, has an aggressive John vocal and a no-nonsense solo. As Volume 1 concentrated on those covers never committed to tape at EMI, it's not unexpected that the other songs debuted here are mostly from the Lennon/McCartney catalogue.
Surprisingly, considering its popularity, an electrified `And I Love Her' is performed for the only time anywhere outside of EMI and Ringo says it's "one of my favourites", and `Anna' has a very prominent bass and is taken at a slightly slower pace with John rushing the words. Meanwhile, they get most of the words right this time round on `Devil in Her Heart' and, minus the harmonica, both 'Chains' and `I'll Get You' have crisp sounding guitars brought to the fore. I think they sound better for that. 'Honey Don't' has Ringo on vocals and a couple of country phrases from George. On the other hand, `Words of Love' is a virtual identikit performance as the record. Others such as `She Loves You' are also too similar to their recorded counterpart, but you do get to hear those songs live with no screaming. 'Roll Over Beethoven' has a motorboating backing whilst 'From Me To You' is an exciting version in front of an audience with an "OK" shouted before the instrumental break.
The remaining dozen songs are found on that first volume but are appreciably distinct here. `Lucille' has a great tremeloed solo, `I Got a Woman' is taken at a faster, somewhat heavier pace and has a rockabilly solo from George but, sadly, `Glad All Over' has a voiceover that obscures the instrumental intro. The final song is something of a peculiarity; it`s a rehearsal of `I Feel Fine' that has never been heard and John has trouble getting the feedback intro right.
Notwithstanding the studio outtake and the three previously issued, whilst it may seem wasteful to include 12 songs already heard on `Live at the BBC' and elsewhere, die-hard fans will observe that it's George, whether deliberate or by happenstance, having fun with his solos that make them dissimilar, and some endings (of fade-out songs) follow that pattern being full closures; these things may go unnoticed by the casual listener but they are all audibly different, which is something that makes it worthwhile. The enclosed booklet (48 pages) has plenty to read to keep you interested and there are some great photos - including one of McCartney looking about 15 - and copies of official BBC documentation to peruse.
The between song dialogue is quaint and the introductions are of their time. That dialogue also shows them as being `normal' and making fun of themselves, something the listening public found rather endearing. John: "I went to college just near there you know." Ringo: "...well you're posh." The individual `Pop Profiles' are on a more thoughtful note.
Aside from those two unbroadcast songs, `Sheila' and `Three Cool Cats' (twice), seven songs, alongside five more oddities, remain unreleased. It would have been better to replace a few of the duplicated songs of which we're all familiar with those instead. It can't be because Apple think the quality is suspect, as Beatle collectors know this isn't the case on at least three of these, and does sound quality really matter on a collection such as this? (Could it really be down to two of those songs not featuring Ringo?)
Some of the tracks here are a bit below par in the sound department, but you're not buying this expecting studio quality. As with `Live at the BBC`, for some reason known only to the compilers the running order is all over the place. Apple and EMI obviously didn't learn last time around. Due to most of the unusual tracks being used on the previous volume, as welcome as this is - and better versions of the songs were broadcast, the attraction value is a notch lower.
Be that as it may, you're still going to buy this.
Any new release from the vaults is worthy of anticipation and this double album doesn't disappoint. With a huge number of recordings to choose from amongst the BBC archives here you get 40 music tracks, 23 linking tracks and 4 individual interviews. There are some repeats of songs from the first volume but in different versions, but many appear for the first time. Of particular note is a barnstorming performance of "I'm talking about you", worth the cost almost on its own.
The sound is largely the standard BBC mono of the time, well presented and crisp, with just the occasional deviation into what could most kindly be described as historic sound quality as tracks are recovered from sources other than the original master tape. But this does not detract from the joy of hearing these wonderful artifacts capturing a unique period in time of a band clearly enjoying themselves. Marvelous stuff.
on 6 April 2015
The second installment of The Beatles' appearances at the BBC between 1962 and 1965 - when they no longer had the time or interest - scrapes (to some degree) the bottom of the barrel after the truly great Vol 1 - which everyone should get. So are these only bad left-overs? No, not entirely. Here is the only place to hear "I'm Talking About You" (Chuck Berry) and the standard "Beautiful Dreamer", and the studio banter is always very interesting, and may in fact be the discs' best reward. The lads were indeed witty and full of playfulness, and it shines through gloriously even on this second installment. There never were anyone group greater than them, indeed.
on 25 November 2013
live at the bbc volume 2 - you want it , but do you need it ? theres ''recordings'' you havent got, but only 2 ''songs '' you dont have by them. it costs £31 on vinyl ( thats 5 hours work in mcdonalds ), £5 of that goes to David Cameron and his merry men. and the third disc is nothing but interviews. look at the track listing - how many times do you have the beatles doing 'long tall sally ' etc..already ? 4 ? maybe 5? so i think we have established you dont need it ! which means a lot of the finer points will be important , sound , images. you already know the performances will be great.
so... 1))the sound - is great -2) the sleeve and photos - are beautiful.the discs are really heavy slabs of wax. 3) the song intros are funny as in volume 1...i think EMI have really made the best of this compilation, my only moan is that having paid £10 for each disc , i would rather have no disc 3 and pay £10 less.or have some music on it !
if you buy this im sure you will play it for hours and cherish it, its just you wanted it to be . 'talking bout you ' is fantastic , although i can see why ''beautiful dreamer '' was overlooked the first time around . sorry Paul !!!!!
on 20 November 2013
Whilst the sublime melodies and harmonies knock you out on this record, there are times when the guitars and drums sound positively amateurish! But this is the sound of The Beatles honing the craft and at times the magic on record is down right awe-inspiring. As others have mentioned, it isn't quite as interesting to listen to as the first BBC cd, but none-the-less, it's a feast not to be missed for the real Beatles fan. The extended interviews are very interesting to listen to as well and John particularly sounds very guarded at times and you can definitely detect more than a hint of bitterness towards some of his critics. Compare his interview for example, to Ringo's which is much more relaxed and unguarded. But then Ringo's main ambition in life had been just to run his own hair-dressing salon.....
The magic is clearly here to see why The Beatles legacy endures. Whilst this cd is not going to challenge their classic released stuff, it is still a 'must-listen'. But why did we have to wait nearly twenty years for the follow up?