The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl CD instantly defines what professional musicians have always known, The Beatles could play. History has always portrayed the Beatles as the greatest musical group of all time based on their studio recordings. While that is definitely true, The Beatles in large part on a mass scale have never really been give their due credit as musicians. Any musician who has made a living playing nightclubs will testify on the importance of being able to play in tune and in time. If you can’t do that, you wont last a night in a club. The Beatles began their career as a club band.
The Live At The Hollywood Bowl album which was just recently released on September 9th 2016. The music was actually recorded in 1964 and 1965. The songs on the CD stem from two separate concerts the Beatles performed at The Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California. The album was originally released in 1977 and entitled The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. The reissue of the album contains bonus tracks not released on the first issue. The new remastered version has also been released to serve as a companion piece to the new Beatles film Eight Days A Week. Ron Howard directed the new film.
The musical skills The Beatles developed playing nightclubs are clearly evident on their Live At the Hollywood Bowl CD.The rowdy crowds musicians face in nightclubs would soon pale in comparison to the thousands of screaming girls the Beatles would have to play through on the concert stage. However, no band could have survived the onslaught of insanity the Beatles faced in 1964 without prior battle tested performance experience. The Beatles have said in multiple interviews that they could never hear themselves playing or singing on stage. So how in the world could they perform without hearing? Well it was simply the years spent playing off each other in clubs, the development of muscle memory in the songs and of course, their unworldly talent.
Some critics in the 1970’s such as the Village Voice’s Robert Christgau dismissed the Beatles performances on The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl as raw. Well if Christgau was a musician, he never would have made such a statement.All it takes is one listen to the performance to hear a band of musicians playing tight, in time and incredibly in tune amidst the deafening screams of love bitten female teenagers. Yes, the tempos may have been faster than the recordings, but that’s the excitement and energy of the concert stage. It’s called performing!
The importance of Ringo Starr is clearly presented on The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl album. Early in the Ron Howard documentary, Paul McCartney argues that it was the addition of Ringo Starr that was the defining early moment in the band’s career. In an interview with CBS’s Anthony Mason while promoting the new film, Paul McCartney stated “When Ringo joined, then it was like a real rocketship Then it was like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute. This it!’” One listen to the CD provides ample evidence behind McCartney’s statement. Ringo’s playing delivered an incredible energy to the band. On the record you can hear how Ringo plays ever so slightly on top of the beat punching the energy level of the band. There is no virtuoso fills, it’s all snare, bass drum and hi hat played with a pulsating rock and roll groove that has inspired drummers for years.
A great rock band needs a great drummer, but the best live bands need a bass player that locks in with that great drummer. It’s easy to forget the accomplished skills Paul McCartney possessed as a bass player in light of his phenomenal out of this world compositional achievements. The bond is evident throughout the recording, but it shines the most on the track “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.” Its one great achievement to play rock and roll bass in a tight time infused groove, but to be able to sing counter melodic lines and harmonies while playing defines the meaning of talent and hard work. McCartney’s performance on “All My Loving,” is breathtaking. While McCartney plays a walking bass line, he sings a counter melody perfectly in tune and with such retaliative ease. It could be easily argued that his live performances easily inspired bass players/singer types such as Sting, Geddy Lee, Roger Waters, Glen Hughes and countless others to follow in McCartney’s footsteps.
Listening to the opening guitar line of “Ticket To Ride,” is a clear reminder of the importance of George Harrison on the concert stage. We all know Harrison’s work in the studio, but the lack of any official live Beatles concert releases besides the Live At The Hollywood Bowl CD has left a sad void in discovering Harrison’s talent as a guitar player in a live situation during his Beatles years.
In the mid 1970’s, John Lennon recorded an album called Rock and Roll. The album was a tribute to Lennon’s heroes of rock. It was a definite statement on Lennon’s behalf of the music that resonated most dear to his heart. On the Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl CD, Lennon’s vocals display in the most earnest fashion that he was the heaviest of the four in terms of deep-rooted rock and roll spirit. It’s completely evident in the hard-edged vocals he performed on songs like “Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Twist and Shout,” and the Beatles classic “Help.” Lennon was always viewed as the explosive element in the Beatles due to many of his public statements. However, that same explosiveness Reverberates in his performances on stage with the Beatles Live at The Hollywood Bowl. Lennon defines the essence of rock and roll and with that the purity of the Beatles and the influences that guided the early part of their career.
In the original album notes, George Martin argued against those who at the time were still calling for a Beatles reunion. Martin has explained that in 1977, the Beatles had found their own unique voices in their solo careers. Martin explained that a Beatles reunion could never recapture the original energy and spirit of the Beatles in 1964 and 1965. What he didn’t realize was how time would soon quickly take care of the reunion rumors itself. However, The Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl is a distinct reminder of how spectacular the Beatles were as musicians and to this point still stands as the only official live Beatles album.