The Beatles, ‘Live At The BBC Rarities – AI Stereo Remasters Edition’ (DAP DAPB075CD1/2)
Disk Two – From Us To You / Whit Monday To You / I Saw Her Standing There / Kansas City – Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! / Sure To Fall In Love With You / Matchbox / Honey Don’t (John) / From Us To You (From Us To You, 1st May, 1964) / Long Tall Sally / If I Fell / I’m Happy Just To Dance With You / Things We Said Today / I Should Have Known Better / Boys / Kansas City – Key! Hey! Hey! Hey! / Hard Days Night / From Us To You (From Us To You, 17th July, 1964) / From Us To You (Rehearsals 1) / From Us to you (Rehearsals 2) / I’m Happy Just to Dance With You (Backing Rehearsals) / I’m Happy Just To Dance With You (Vocal Rehearsals) / I Should have Known Better (Rehearsals 1) / I Should have Known Better (Rehearsals 2) / I Should have Known Better (Overdub Rehearsals) (From Us To You, 17th, July, ’64) / Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby / I’m A Loser / The Night Before / Honey Don’t / She’s A Woman (The Beatles Invite You To Take A Ticket To Ride, 26th May, 1965) / I Feel Fine (Rehearsals – False Start / breakdown) / I Feel Fine (Rehearsals / Outtake) / I Feel Fine (Rehearsals – False start) / I Feel Fine (Rehearsals / Overdubs) / She’s A Woman (Rehearsals) / She’s A Woman (Rehearsals – Aborted overdub) / Studio chat (Top Gear, 17th November, 1964) / Saturday Club Interview, 1966 (Saturday Club, 2nd May, 1966)* (77:05)
You return to your favourite record store not too long after payday. Having racked up some hours last month, lived on ramen for a while, you’ve now got a little disposable income to splash on some new CDs and by god, it’s been a while. Having listened to a few of your old boots, returned to ‘Ultra Rare Trax’ again just for the buzz and catalogued your Macca recordings, damn, you’ve got a lot of 2002 recordings. But he never changed! What was all that about?
You start to riff through the ‘Beatles’ section, that divider where the laminate has begun to split from the cardboard and bubble has seen some action through the years. Man, is that ‘Karaoke’? I haven’t thought about boot in years.
The bell above the door rings as you’re thumbing through the jewel cases, as someone else kicks through the entrance. The wooden floorboards pinch and squeak, as someone with a pair of solid heals scuffs through the racks. Paying no mind you run your fingers across the plastic bag that has that annoying Ringo Starr boot in that’s just sat for years here. “C’mon, 1992? Who’s gonna want that thing” you think as you let out a short snort of derision over the thought of it.
Out of the side of your eye you see the light darken as this new stranger stand next to you, no doubt eyeing that 3rd state butcher cover on the wall. It’s been on your wants list for a while but the owner wants far too much for it. If you’re feeling reckless one day you might toy with him and hit him up for a deal, maybe.
The stranger says, ‘Hey, so how’d it go?”. You wrinkle your nose, turn to say, “Whua?” When you recognise this dude from the last time. Before you get a chance he says, “The Valkyrie disk. How’d you like it?”. “Oh”, you pause, “Yeah, yeah, it was good. I actually read a good review of it on a site called Collectors Music Reviews, that guy seemed to like most of it, though he wasn’t quite convinced it was quite up to the mark then”. “Yeah”, drawls the stranger, “That guy from the site writes quite well. He’s really funny too.”
Ten minutes later when you both stop laughing and arch your jaws back to place to stop them aching, the stranger says, “You got this?” Pointing out a newer BBC set that you’d flicked past as you had thought you’d seen that cover before. No, it’s new to you, you add it to the pile as the stranger squeaks back towards the entrance, pulls open the sturdy door and exits. You stand checking out the tracklist on the back, shifting your eyes steadily around the titles and thinking, “I’m sure I have this already but, that guy was right last time, I guess.”
You look around the store to ascertain your position again. The clerk behind the counter locks eyes with you but then bows backwards, stretches and scratches his ass. He’s always been the same.
You get home with your mini stack of boots, feed the cat and flip the switch on your stereo. It illuminates and you press the button for the CD tray. Slipping in the first disk, you press the same button, grab the remote as you slump on the sofa and press the button for play.
Did they get it right this time? “It’s Getting Better All The Time ..”, the Beatles once sang. John Lennon’s retort of, “.. It Couldn’t Get Much Worse.” would be cruel to mention in this case. Thanks to the generosity of various fans, we seem to get more and better upgrades every year. DAP have used a brilliant collection of some of the best BBC tapes that are around in collectors circles but could AI care less? Not much.
These tapes are all turned over nicely by the finely tuned technology but, just like an excellent audience tape against a soundboard, what AI thinks we need to hear is EVERYTHING and any blemish that’s on frequency, tape-crumple or stretch is exacerbated to be more clear. I trust we’re all in understanding that, “Hey, it is what it is.” so maybe these little crinkles and creaks are essentially just little oddities that we’ll put up with. Ignoring them, the sound is generally brilliant!
Bright, poppy, very much as studio recordings themselves but doubled up from out of their mono dubs, they add a layer of extra fizz to the pop business. More life is brought to these than the more irregular ‘live’ (in concert) recordings and the influence that the AI pulls forward is more evident, that we’ve heard before on other remixes like this but on the BBC tapes, they sound splendid with a wide stereo spread, the vocals dead-centre. This works for MOST of the tapes – Some of the oddities and edits that never made it to being captured in full fidelity but they don’t suffer as much as you might expect – even these pieces sound shades better than they might unremixed.
The promo for the set mentions ‘unreleased’ tracks, of course, mainly tracks that were left off of Volumes 1 & 2 of the official releases but nothing from Lord Reith’s newly found tid-bits from his latest (2021) BBC archives. Though there are still interesting parts here – of most interest to me are the rehearsals for the show, ‘From Us To You’, recorded on the 17th July, ‘64 (Originally released on Ruthless Rhymes LP, ‘From Us To You – A Parlophone Rehearsal Session’, this session seems to have been edged out over time for the better recorded / higher fidelity 26th May, 1965 rehearsals instead. Both appear here but it’s nice to have the best, artificially sweetened, version of these rehearsals on a silver pressed disk alongside some of these great sounding tapes (Addendum: They’re still not ALL that). A little more attention could have been payed to speed correcting the tracks (‘I Should Have Known Better’ sounds like there‘s a helium leak in the studio.)
The second set of rehearsals are, of course, much better, AI gives a comparable distance between the instruments, the voices and the control room.
It’s still not QUITE there, among the thrilling brush-ups that the material receives, the material has to be better than it is sometimes and trying to wash the crap off of a bull still leaves you with a, well, quarter crap encrusted bull. I’d be happier to hear a collection that was chosen with a little more care than this in regards to the audio-spec. When it’s good, it’s very, very good, when it’s not, it’s lacking. This shouldn’t mean that you shouldn’t pick up this release but don’t throw out your other BBC releases just yet.