19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Portrait of the Artists as Young Men,
This review is from: Live At The BBC (Audio CD)
When this album was first released in the mid-90's I'll admit I bought it largely as merely a companion to the original fabs lps of this period('62-'65 approx.),a collection-filler which I doubted I would find the desire to actually listen to very much-but I was wrong! Despite a few complaints(don't worry we will come to those in a moment)this album is, in its own way, just as good as the official Beatles releases from this period(Please Please Me thru to Help!)and should not be ignored.
Many of these tracks were live favorites during their early days playing the Star-Club, the Cavern and so on, but, by the height of Beatlemania, when all their scream-tastic audiences required of them was to turn up, look pretty and run through half-arsed, barely audible versions of the hits, these live-in-the-studio BBC sessions gave them their only chance to perform them, and the group's enthusiasm at being given this opportunity to be able to please themselves and be musicians again for a change, rather than simply "pop stars", is both obvious and highly infectious.
This is the Beatles at the height of their fame, "in the eye of the hurricane" as John Lennon later called it, relaxing and playing the music they'd loved as teenagers, without worrying about record sales or commercial appeal. Hearing tracks such as I Got A Woman, Lucille or the blueswailing I Got to Find My Baby(as good as anything similar The Stones were recording at the time), or to listen to them in the speech tracks, gently taking the piss out of "your pal" DJ Brain Matthews, is to hear the group when they really were just "four lads from Liverpool",before the appeal of fame wore off and the Studio became the only place they could really be themselves, free from the bullsht "celebrity" attracts.
I like to view Live at the BBC as almost a mirror image of 1968's White Album. Just as that record saw the group's three main songwriters working often individually on tracks that clearly displayed their influences at the time(Lennon-Yoko Ono and the avant garde, McCartney-Pet Sounds and The Who, Harrison-Indian music and Bob Dylan),the BBC album shows them doing the same thing 5 years before-each in turn taking a chance to front the band and attempt to emualate the heroes and inspirations of the day(Lennon-Arthur Alexander and Chess R'n'B, McCartney-Little Richard and Broadway musicals, Harrison-Carl Perkins and Sun rockabilly,prior to the point where they equalled then eventually outgrew these early influences and went on to the next chapter of their career.
As such this album is a fascinating insight into the Beatles at their rawest and most naive(musically speaking, that is).Its not a perfect collection-even to a Pavement fan like myself the sound quality on a few tracks, such as Keep Your Hands Off My Baby and Thats Alright, sounds not so much lo-fi as no-fi. The record is also too long-the alternate versions of Lennon-McCartney songs already available elsewhere are inferior to the originals and are unnecessary.
Despite these (very minor) grumbles however this remains a great album and essential listening to any of fan of the Beatles music of this period(if you're a newcomer try A Hard Day's Night or Past Master One first)and is highly recommened.