Complete North American Tour 1966: Last Live Moment Of Their Career (Misterclaudel mccd–74 & Mcdvd-03/04)
CD: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA – August 29th, 1966: Rock And Roll Music, She’s A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby’s In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer, Long Tall Sally. Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH – August 14th, 1966: I Feel Fine. Suffolk Downs Racecourse, Boston, MA – August 18th, 1966: She’s A Woman, Long Tall Sally. Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, TN – August 19th, 1966: Rock And Roll Music, Baby’s In Black, Long Tall Sally, I Wanna Be Your Man, Paperback Writer, Long Tall Sally. Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO – August 21st, 1966: Rock And Roll Music / She’s A Woman. Shea Stadium, New York, NY – August 29rd, 1966: She’s A Woman, If I Needed Someone, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, Paperback Writer. Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA – August 29th, 1966: She’s A Woman, Baby’s In Black, Nowhere Man
DVD Disc 1: Before The Tour 1966: Maureen Cleave on Brian and The Beatles, New York City press conference August 6th, 1966, Blandford Street, London August 10th, 1966, London Airport August 11th, 1966, Logan Airport Boston August 11th, 1966, Chicago August 12th, 1966: O’Hare Airport Chicago, Chicago press conference, International Amphitheater Chicago, Detroit August 13th: Detroit Airport, Cleveland August 14th: Cleveland, Municipal Stadium, Washington DC August 15th: Washington DC press conference, Banging Beatles documentary, Tommy Charles and Rallies, Philadelphia August 16th: JFK Stadium, Toronto August 17th: Toronto press conference, Boston August 18th: Suffolk Downs Racecourse, KKK & police in Memphis, Memphis August 19th: Memphis airport interviews, Memphis Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis Union Mission Rally, Cincinnati August 21st: Cincinnati airport, Crosley Field, St. Louis August 21st: St. Louis airport, Busch Stadium, New York August 2snd & 23rd: New York City press conference, junior press conference, interviews at Shea Stadium, Shea Stadium
DVD Disc 2: Los Angeles August 24th: Los Angeles airport arrival, TV newscast in color, Los Angeles press conference #1, Los Angeles press conference #2, Los Angeles press conference #3, photo op & Where The Action Is interview, Seattle August 25th: Seattle WA airport & concert clips, Los Angeles August 28th: Dodger Stadium, San Francisco August 29th: Candlestick Park #1, Candlestick #2, London August 31st: back to England the airport after the tour, Brian Epstein interview September 5th, John Lennon in Spain for film September 1966, Melody Maker Awards September 13th, Paul & Mal in Europe #1 Nov 1966, Paul & Mal in Europe #2 Nov 1966, Paul & Mal in Europe #3 Nov 1966, “Not Only But Also” Introduction November 27th, 1966, “Not Only But Also” John As The Doorman November 27th, 1966, Reporting 1966 December 28th, 1966
Complete North American Tour 1966 on Misterclaudel is the most comprehensive collection from The Beatles’ final tour ever assembled. Spread out over one audio disc and two DVD’s, the label collects and presents in the best possible quality an excellent chronicle. This era is known for the band performing under a cloud due to John Lennon’s statement to journalist Maureen Cleave in the London Evening Standard, March 4th, 1966 when he was quoted as saying, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Although largely ignored in England, it was reprinted on July 29th in the teen magazine Datebook before the Beatles came over and caused a massive reaction in the Bible belt causing concern and stress with the band and management. Manager Brian Epstein flew over just before the tour to do damage control, and at every stop the usual pre-show press tour seemed to have some mention of it. Trying to understand Lennon’s comments at the time was quite difficult because the original article, a typical “lifestyle” piece that appears in the newspapers, is written such that there is no context. Those who protested the quote took it to mean that faith in Christ no longer holds any relevance at this point and the Beatles’ celebrity filled the void. To understand the motivations of conservative Christianity, it is instructive to place Lennon’s comments in a wider context.
The church (meaning the greater Christian community) was undergoing a theological shift due to the influence of what is called the “Historical-critical” method of interpreting scripture. This hermeneutic views scripture as a product of human imagination and while it contains divine revelation, it is cluttered with human limitation and cultural elaboration. This stands in opposition to the traditional view which is called “Historical-grammatical” where the truth claims of scripture are taken at face value and the inerrancy of the Bible is taught.
The “Historical-critical” philosophy can be traced back to the philosopher Baruch Spinoza in his work A Theologico-Political Treatise in 1670, but achieved greater credence in the nineteenth century with such German theologians as Alfred Harnack and David Strauss and further development in the twentieth century with theologians Karl Barth, Paul Tillich and Rudolph Bultman. By the 1950s both seminaries and episcopates were being filled by those who taught from this position and challenged the assumed teachings of the church. Conservative Christianity then and today still hold to inerrancy. 1966 saw two important events that shaped the religious consciousness of the country. The first, on-going controversy centered upon Episcopal Bishop James Pike came to an end.
Serving the diocese of California, he was an early proponent for woman’s ordination, civil rights, and the acceptance of LGBT. After heresy trials in 1962, 1964, 1965, and 1966 he was finally censured by the conference of bishops and he resigned his call. Another famous event, several months before The Beatles’ tour, was the publication of the April 8th, 1966 issue of Time magazine with the front cover asking “Is God Dead?” This article focuses upon the thought of theologian Thomas J.J. Altizer.
Although his thought states that “God’s death is a process that began at the world’s creation and came to an end through Jesus Christ, whose crucifixion in reality poured out God’s full spirit into this world,” it was misinterpreted to mean that God doesn’t exist and that church has no relevance. The three months between the publication of Altizer’s comments in Time magazine and Lennon’s in Datebook were enough to let anger and paranoia set in and produce the reaction when The Beatles arrived. Whatever one’s religious convictions (or lack of) are, understanding the context in the country at the time helps to comprehend why the reaction was as swift and severe as it was.
Lennon’s statement that he was quoted out of context is not convincing because in the actual article there is no context and without knowing the entire conversation it is difficult to determine. His statement about the apostles “twisting it” is rather vague since it isn’t clear what the pronoun is referring to. At face value he is echoing the teachings of the liberal theologians who claim that Jesus’ divinity is an orthodoxy which the early church invented and placed into scripture to validate their beliefs, a theology which is very much accepted today. However the common interpretation of Lennon’s statements is that he wasn’t attacking Christ and the church per se, but is criticizing Beatlemania itself and the inexplicable popularity they enjoyed.
The statement they are more popular than Jesus is itself debatable, and it is true the four musicians were in a position of being spokesmen for the generation. It is a habit of journalists to ask musicians their opinions on world events which is hard to understand. It is most likely out of trying to find good copy for their newspapers or an attempt to find new spokesmen driven by cynicism for respected authorities. The result is the reaction is understandable. But by the same token it doesn’t excuse the KKK from making threats on Memphis television. No matter how much they consider themselves to be a Christian organization, they are clearly not since the church doesn’t wield the power of the sword according to Romans 13, but the state does.
The single compact disc contains all known audio documents at the time of its release. Misterclaudel’s latest From Beatles In Memphis 1966 (Misterclaudel mccd-075) adds more, but we’ll review that next week. The bulk of the disc contains the recording of their final performance, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29th, 1966. Knowing this would be their last show, press secretary Tony Barrow taped this show on a recorded at Paul McCartney’s request. It is a slightly distant and distorted but clear recording which, for the time, captures the live feel of the event very well.
The set list is the same as all of the shows on the tour (the didn’t alter the set once on the road), and is complete except that the tape runs out thirty-five seconds into “Long Tall Sally.” Since this tape surfaced it has appeared on several titles including San Francisco August 29, 1966 (Bulldog Records BGCD 016) and The Beatles – U.S.A. Vol. 3 Live Anthology: Tour Of America 1965/1966 (Master Of Beatles Essentials MBE–010-0021/2). Compared to MBE, the Misterclaudel is slightly louder, but hardly a massive upgrade. It is a good tape to have if it isn’t in your collection already. The concert itself is good for a final live date. But the band’s concern about not hearing themselves and playing poorly applies mostly to their harmonies.
The instruments are in tune and they play very well, but McCartney in particular sounds out of tune singing with the others. Hearing this is interesting because it is the only time tunes from the middle period of their career like “Nowhere Man” were ever played live by the four. The rest of the disc contains snippets from various shows and audio from newsreel with nothing being complete nor very interesting.
The two DVDs present almost three hours of footage. Some of the clips are common, being taped off of the television, but the virtue of these discs is the inclusion of some amateur 8mm footage that has not been issued on a commercial release. The clips are presented in chronological order beginning with news reports from before the actual tour. The first is a short interview of Maureen Cleave, the journalist who wrote the original London Evening Standard newspaper article that started all of the controversy in the first place. The two minute long clip is interesting since she doesn’t mention the controversy at all, but rather speaks about how The Beatles admire Brian Epstein’s wealth and class.
Following this is footage from Epstein’s pre-tour press conference in New York on August 6th, 1966 where he wants to clarify Lennon’s statement. This comes from several sources, one of which has a time code at the bottom of the screen. Here he reads a statement from Lennon which says, “the quote which john Lennon made three months ago to a London journalist was quoted out of context. What I meant is that he is astonished that over the past fifty years the Church of England, and therefore Christ, has suffered a declined in interest.”
He goes on to say that there has been no effect upon ticket sales including the Memphis concert, which is closest to where the controversy is. The next four clips, Blandford Street London, London Airport, Logan Airport, and O’Hare Chicago airport are stitched together from a French documentary and footage from the Discovery-Times and A&E channel. Most of it is in good quality and includes some sound bites from McCartney saying he expects the upcoming American tour to be good.
The “Chicago press conference” is also edited from various different sources in good to great quality. This dates from August 11th, the day before their first show of the tour at the International Amphitheater. This is the famous press conference that is always used in documentaries about the event, where Lennon says, “If I had said television is more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it. You know, but as I just happened to be talking to a friend, I used the word ‘Beatles’ as a remote thing– not as what ‘I’ think as Beatles– as those other Beatles like other people see us. I just said ‘they’ are having more influence on kids and things than anything else, including Jesus. But I said it in that way which is the wrong way. Yap yap” and “Well, originally I was pointing out that fact in reference to England– that we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion, at that time. I wasn’t knocking it or putting it down, I was just saying it as a fact. And it’s sort of… It is true, ‘specially more for England than here. I’m not saying that we’re better, or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is, you know. I just said what I said and it was wrong, or was taken wrong. And now it’s all this.”
This has as much of the press conference that is available including George saying he agrees with John and Paul speaking about the advancement of their music with “Eleanor Rigby.” This is followed by 8mm footage from the August 12th show in Chicago. The film runs too fast and is difficult to see at first. Halfway through it changes from black and white into color and becomes reasonably clear. The band are wearing their dark suits and the recording from San Francisco is dubbed over the visuals to give some idea of what we’re watching, although it is difficult to tell what they are playing. Next is a short, ten-second clip of the band landing in Detroit.
Next are two tracks devoted to the Cleveland performance on August 14th. The first Cleveland track is in black and white and consists of a crowd milling around and entering Municipal Stadium to “I’m Only Sleeping” on the soundtrack. The second track is a professionally shot film in black and white with original sound. The visual quality is very good and enjoyable and contains “Rock And Roll Music” in full, the beginning of “She’s A Woman,” three snippets of “Day Tripper,” and a pause in the music. Police officers fill the stage, the band run into their trailer and the promoter comes on stage to calm the riot that has broken out.
A voice over from a local reporter describes the riot as the audience break the barriers to get closer to the stage. One can see the police guiding the kids back to the seats before the band come back onstage to complete the show. When the band return the film is in color and has several nice close ups of the action. The reporter continues to describe the action on stage and fragments of “I Feel Fine” and “Yesterday” from the show are audible. The next clip is from the following day in Washington DC on August 15th. The color footage shows the band debarking from the airplane and switches to the press conference. Lennon and McCartney answer questions about the decline in their popularity and again address the Jesus comment, with Lennon saying it was not a “publicity stunt.” What follows is a British news documentary about WAQY, Birmingham Alabama DJ Tommy Charles, who refused to play Beatles records on his show and called for boycotts. His stance was the impetus for other stations to likewise ban Beatle records and organizing demonstrations.
After a short interview with Charles, where he explains that Lennon needs to show some maturity, the reporter interviews some youths in a Birmingham record store. The general consensus with the interviewees is shock at Lennon’s comments. He interviews a woman who is the owner of the store and she says she too is shocked, but won’t ban the sale of Beatles records because they sell and are good for business! Next the reporter interviews Rev. Allan Montgomery of Canterbury Methodist Church in Birmingham. This LBJ look-alike says that nobody is more popular than Jesus. The pastor speaks about a phone conversation with Brian Epstein, where Epstein tried to convince him that Lennon is a religious man and was referring only to England.
When asked about the rest of the phone call, Rev. Montgomery goes on to say that Epstein implied that he was a hypocrite, since Birmingham is also known for segregation against the Negro. The pastor reports that he felt the issues weren’t related and this was a “defensive mechanism” to avoid the real issue. The interview with the pastor concludes with him saying he has four daughters, all Beatle fans, and has no plans to forbid them from listening to their records. The report continues with an interview with Robert Shelton, the Imperial Wizard of the KKK where he explains that the Klan are a Christian organization and have the right to protest Lennon and The Beatles. Shelton doesn’t know what their view is of civil rights or weather the “mop heads” are themselves black or white. The documentary returns to Tommy Charles speaking on the radio organizing a public bonfire to burn Beatles records for their anti-Christian and anti-American comments on August 19th in Memphis. The second half of this track contains various clips of kids ripping and throwing into the trash their Beatle albums to the soundtrack of “I Want To Tell You.”
The following track has 8mm footage of the August 16th show in Philadelphia from stage right. It lasts only several seconds and has the San Francisco tape of “I Feel Fine” dubbed over the visuals. The next track is color footage of the August 17th press conference in Toronto. Again this lasts several seconds and there is no sound except for some music as a soundtrack. Next is the audio from the Suffolk Downes, Boston radio broadcast of a fan leaping onstage. This appears on numerous releases and is accompanied by various random crowd and limo shots. What follows are various newscasts from before their performance in Memphis, the focal point of concern. First is a short interview with a Klansman outside the Mid-South Coliseum saying they will use all means necessary to stop the show and to expect surprises when they play. (No wonder the cherry bomb freaked them out!)
Following this is footage of a conference of the Memphis police, where the chief gives the officers on duty that night instructions on where to bring rowdy fans and where to get earplugs. The nineteenth track has a British newscast produced by the same guy who narrated the Tommy Charles documentary above in excellent quality. It shows footage of the band leaving the plane and getting on the bus, crying fans who missed seeing them, protests outside of the Mid-South Coliseum, and an interview with the band in the dressing room before the show. When asked if the row has affected the tour, Paul replies: “I don’t think it’s made much. It’s made it more hectic. It’s made all the press conferences mean a bit more. People said to us last time we came that our answers were a bit flippant, and they said ‘Why isn’t it this time?’ And the thing is the questions are a bit more serious this time. It hasn’t affected any of the bookings. The people coming to the concerts have been the same, except for the first show in Memphis which was a bit down, you know. But, uhh, so what.”
When John is asked about why showbiz people are asked about current events, he replies, “It seems a bit silly to be in America and for none of them to mention Vietnam as if nothing was happening…because Americans always ask showbiz people what they think, and so do the British. (comically) Showbiz… you know how it is! But I mean you just gotta… You can’t keep quiet about anything that’s going on in the world, unless you’re a monk. (jokingly, with dramatic arm gestures) Sorry, monks! I didn’t mean it! I meant actually….”
The interview is followed by the band walking onstage before the afternoon show (wearing their pinstriped suites), and footage of them onstage during the evening show (wearing the dark suites). The live portion is edited between black and white newsreel and amateur 8mm color film and has many shots of the screaming audience. For the musical portions, there are fragments of “Rock And Roll Music,” “She’s A Woman,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Day Tripper,” “Baby’s In Black,” “I Feel Fine,” “Yesterday,” “I Wanna Be Your Man.” The last track has extremely poor audio. The last Memphis track is devoted to the Memphis Union Mission Rally, showing various preachers preaching, a musical number by well-dressed youths, an altar call, and the assembly singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” A narrator comes on to say how well the turn out was but still not as many people who went to the Beatles concert that evening.
The following track documents the next stop of the tour, the August 21st show at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, their second stop in Ohio on this tour. The color footage has a brief glimpse of the band at the airport confronted by screaming fans. This is followed by silent color footage of the band taking the stage in the bright afternoon sun with “Yellow Submarine” playing on the soundtrack. The video quality is excellent for these brief clips. Amended to this is a short color clip in fair to good quality of the band playing “Rock And Roll Music” and “Nowhere Man” at this show, where they played before 12,000. After the Cincinnati show in the afternoon the band flew directly to St. Louis where they played a concert at Busch Memorial Stadium the same evening, meaning they played two show on the same day in different states.
The St. Louis clips have footage of their arrival at the airport with “Here, There, And Everywhere” playing on the soundtrack. The concert footage is very close to the stage and in color but very dark and it is difficult to make out much detail. There is a clip of the opening act, Boston’s The Remains playing their last hit single “Don’t Look Back.” (The Remains still tour and play that song.) The Beatles are then introduced as “the world’s greatest act” by the KOLA DJ before the band comes out. The audio is poorly dubbed from another source, but helps to flesh out what is going on onstage. There are clips from “Rock And Roll Music,” “She’s A Woman,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Baby’s In Black,” “Paperback Writer,” and “Long Tall Sally” dubbed with the San Francisco tape.
The rest of the first DVD is devoted to the Shea appearance beginning with the press conference at the Warwick hotel on August 22nd. The press conference is a collection from various different sources, in black and white, with sound and without. The New York press is less interested in the Lennon controversy and focus more upon the perceived lack of popularity since the show at Shea wasn’t a sell-out. On the whole this track is a bit disappointing since it doesn’t have the complete conference. What follows is raw outtake footage of a CBS news report with reporter Leonard Harris interviewing some fans before the show at Shea.
Most of the footage is fuzzy with the time counter on screen, but the excellent quality footage that was used in the original CBS broadcast, and can be found on the Anthology, is edited in at the appropriate parts. This is a good portion of the DVD since we can hear more complete statements from Kathy Bartlett from East Meadow, Suzane from Wantagh, Karen from North Bellmore, Fran from Coney Island and Sheryl from New Hyde Park. The footage ends with Harris practicing several snappy endings to his report, determined to say that the Beatles are declining in popularity because Shea wasn’t a sellout. The final track on the DVD documents the actual performance and begins with the band coming out of the Mets dugout, the same footage found in the documentary.
There are some clips from a color 8mm camera from front of the stage, but most of the footage is a blurry color 8mm camera in the upper deck in left field (and I am very familiar with that section!) There really isn’t much to see since it is so far away, but the camera does pan right to show the empty sections of Shea. At the end of the section the person trains the camera towards the left field bullpen to show a long line of police walking towards the stage at the end of the show. The San Francisco tape is used as a soundtrack but it is anyone’s guess whether it actually matches what is happening on the stage.
The second DVD begins with the events on the west coast at the tour’s finale. The first six tracks cover their arrival in Los Angeles. Misterclaudel date this press conference on August 24th before the Seattle show, but other sources date this on August 28th before their concert at Dodger Stadium. The first track shows a very short, two-second clip of the band arriving at LAX in black and white. This is followed by a color newscast showing a limo driving away. The next three tracks cover the press conference from different black and white sources. It contains exchanges such as: “I’d like to direct this question to messrs. Lennon and McCartney.
In a recent article, Time magazine put down pop music. And they referred to ‘Day Tripper’ as being about a prostitute…”…and ‘Norwegian Wood’ as being about a lesbian. I just wanted to know what your intent was when you wrote it, and what your feeling is about the Time magazine criticism of the music that is being written today.” Paul replies, “We were just trying to write songs about prostitutes and lesbians, that’s all.” And when someone asks, May I ask about the song ‘Eleanor Rigby?’ What was the motivation or inspiration for that?” John replies, “Two queers.” The shows the band more upbeat and displaying a wit and charm that has been absent from the others on this tour. But John does get a bit testy when asked again about the London Evening Standard comment.
When one reporter asks him to clarify the statement, Lennon responds by saying, “you tell me what you think I meant and I’ll tell you whether I agree or not…I’ve clarified it about eight-hundred times.” A young David Crosby can be seen standing behind the Beatles throughout the interviews, proving he didn’t always look like a bloated, pasty walrus. The final LA segment are is raw footage of interviews in excellent quality they did for “Where The Action Is,” Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” spin off on ABC.
The Seattle track is black and white footage of the band arriving at the airport, a short on-the-run interview with Ringo and black and white 8mm film segments from the show. The clips are from very far away from the stage and the San Francisco tape plays over it. There was a press conference in Seattle on August 25th but nothing from that event is included. Following this is a track with color 8mm film from the penultimate show of the tour at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The camera is in the upper deck on the first base side but is able to capture very clear images of the stage. Of all the amateur footage in this collection, this is perhaps the most clear and enjoyable.
Again the footage is silent and the San Francisco audience recording is dubbed over the pictures in a reasonable dub job. It is fascinating to see al the people in the outfield behind the stage while the band are playing. The next five tracks cover the final show of the tour, and The Beatles final concert, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The first track is black and white news footage of the band’s arrival at the airport, showing fans chasing their limo, with “Got To Get You Into My Life” playing on the soundtrack. There are some shots of the stadium, a protest outside the venue, and more shots of the stage set up before the stands begin to fill up with spectators.
The live footage begins with the opening act The Remains from the same color 8mm film interspersed with black and white newsreel interviews with fans in the stands. The amateur film was made by fifteen-year-old Barry Hood and has been released on a limited bases. There are two tracks devoted to the live footage of The Beatles’ set, which is edited from both the color 8mm and black and white news footage from WRON-TV channel 4 in San Francisco with the audience recording from this show used for the soundtrack. It is a shame that Candlestick Park only drew 25,000 of the 42,000 capacity.
The disc closes with tracks from after the tour beginning with their arrival at Heathrow Airport in London. Brian Epstein is interviewed on September 5th saying the Beatles are not breaking up and discusses their plans for the next album. There follows black and white home movies of Lennon on the set of How I Won The War set to the soundtrack of an early “Strawberry Fields Forever” demo. The Melody Maker Awards on September 13th is a very short clip of the band holding their trophies, and is followed by three tracks of home movies made by Paul and Mal Evans on holiday in Europe set to the soundtrack of various Beatles tunes and classical music pieces.
These home movies fetched a lot of money in the early nineties at auction and are available on other DVDs, but they really are not that interesting. “Not Only But Also” was a popular comedy show that ran on the BBC from 1965 to 1970 staring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Misterclaudel include the November 27th broadcast which has Cook playing an American reporter seeing the sights of “swinging London.” John Lennon makes a cameo appearance as a doorman at a club Cook visits in the middle of the show. The final track on the second DVD has an interview with Ringo from December 28th where he talks about the Beatles’ plans for the new year.
The rest of the track includes a television commentator stating that the band are out of date and wondering where the band will go in the future. Overall Last Live Moment is a breathtaking and at times overwhelming tour-de-force covering the last five months of 1966, giving a detailed and fascinating look at the waning days of the band as a touring group. The diversity of the sources means that not everything is of top quality, but it is all watchable, entertaining, and is a must have for the collection.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)