The Beatles – Tokyo 1966 (His Masters Choice HMC-037)

TMOQ 25 Cover2

The Beatles, “Tokyo 1966” (His Masters Choice HMC-037)

DVD – The Light Suits Show, July 1, 1966 – Announcer / 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 / I’m Down
The Dark Suits Show, June 30, 1966 – Announcer / 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 / I’m Down
Support Acts – June 30, 1966 – ‘Welcome Beatles’ Yuya Uchida, Isao Bito, Jackey Yoshikawa and hid blue comets and blue jeans. ‘Long Tall Sally’ – Drifters, ‘Dynamite’ Isao Bito & Jackey Yoshikawa and his blue comets, ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’ – Yuya Uchida & blue jeans, ‘Kiminishibirete’ – Hiroshi Motizuki, ‘Caravan’ – Jackey Yoshikawa and his blue comets and blue jeans.

Audio CD -The Light Suits Show, July 1, 1966 – Announcer / 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 / I’m Down
The Dark Suits Show, June 30, 1966 – Announcer / 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 / I’m Down / 28 years later, The Beatles look back on their Japanese tour.

The last definitive version of the Beatles only Japanese shows seems to span back to 2012 and Archive Master Series’ Blu-Ray ‘Five Nights In A Judo Arena’, though there are differences between that last release and this one – Firstly, the Japanese release featured elements pertaining to the Beatles initial arrival to Japan, the journey towards the Budokan and the press junkets that preceded the show – all of this previously unreleased material, the latest HMC / TMOQ release however features a different take on these famous shows by presenting a source much closer to the original master tapes, it does away with the actual travel parts and features both shows that were played in a brilliant quality – that’s to say that these are better than even the quality from the Blu-ray but they still feature a few residual lines and while the announcer wanders on to the stage to give the Beatles their introduction, the tape has still to settle down. Also we have the premier of the Japanese support acts – Likely you’ll watch these about half as much as you might the Beatles jostling about in a period airport while disgruntledly waving to all and sundry, however, my manic efforts to try watch all kinds of weird and wonderful artefacts from a decade I never lived in had me smile more than once – you certainly can’t deny that this is a rather secular era for as much diversity as you could fit in to the pan and Japan was no different, their own style of gentle, almost self parodying, J-pop is kind of endearing in a way. The bands are trying to emulate Western pop stars while trying to sing quickly in English – and not always getting it right – Of particular interest is Isao Bito and Jackey Yoshikawa and his Blue Comets. A Cliff Richards impersonator in bright pink sweater and rigid denim jacket – His attempt at ‘Dynamite’ is well attempted and he puts on a brilliant show but it’s true that he’s not singing his native language, he attempts to moody this out however and does a great job. It’s worth noting that this segment features some out of sorts tracking though and it isn’t an uninterrupted watch.

The Beatles own sets, as you may know by now, were excellently filmed but lack a little bit of the special energy. It doesn’t take a Ron Howard movie to tell you that the Fabs were mightily pissed off by this point (Ringo is though to also be fighting a bit of the flu and might be pharmaceutically dosed) and despite derivations to attempt to gloss over the moods, there really was a little discord between them and their playing.

That’s not to say that it’s a horrible show – it’s quite the standard for 1966 by that point, the main difference would have been Candlestick Park or maybe Shea – that’s an assumption of course as the only other sources we have generally sound like they’ve been chewed by the dog after the show so sound, quite simply, like shit.

The TMOQ gazettes all feature two disks of course and it’s the CD which is important for the commuters who would prefer to listen to this show in the car for whom the audio is key. As a comparison between the latest transfer of these shows I own before this piece appeared then I pulled out my copy of the Walrus Labels ‘Live In Japan 1966’ (The only release I needed for this source previously as they did quite a brilliant job with it) and ran it along side – The HMC recording is a marked difference – Much, much clearer in sound, it sounds like a very nicely polished soundboard, almost like the heads from the tapes have been cleaned. The over saturated bass sound, louder audience and slightly muted vocals still remain on the ‘Light Suits’ show (July 1st), the first show ‘Dark Suits’ is more streamlined and an easier listen – More for the mix as opposed to the performance really.

The audio is topped off with recollections by Paul, George and Ringo and a little more audio of the first concert taken from the Anthology film. I think the point of this segment was mainly to fill space.

The gazette itself features pages packed with information about these shows – An introduction piece, a six page overview of these shows, a story taken from Facebook by someone who’s mother, Kawasaki Satoko, was a steward on the Beatles flights to Japan along with a press interview with Mrs. Satoko, a short interview with the Beatles upon their arrival, the Fabs live schedule from their visit and the regular ‘go vegetarian’ adverts.

A great upgrade by the HMC bunch once again – Honestly, it’s not earth shattering but you will notice a difference between your old releases – the only thing you are missing is the press conferences and broadcast paraphernalia which you’ll doubtless have on other releases regardless.

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  1. The Beatles two Tokyo 1966 shows have never looked or sounded better. HMC has come through with a beautiful upgrade to previous releases.

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  2. Here is my two pence worth about this fabulous release. You’ll get to learn about those incidental lines on some of the shots.

    Had the opportunity to watch the new TMOQ Gazzette of The Beatles Tokyo show from their last tour a couple of nights ago.
    Audio was better than video on both shows. Whatever 2 inch quad tape that was used for the dub that this came from, the video heads weren’t aligned properly. Hence the four thin horizontal lines more visible in the straight on shots. Also camera tune burn in on the straight on shots. Small blue blob in lower center of frame and lower left of frame as well. First time The Beatles come to Tokyo and you don’t change the camera tubes?
    At some point a time base corrector was used to try to add more clarity to the darker portions of the tapes. This was generally done with 2 inch to 3/4 inch transfers or any other analog tape transfer. Best example is during the light suits show when you see any of the Fabs in a one shot. The darker backgrounds of the scene look noisy or solarized due to over processing the video gain or black levels on the TBC. Without seeing this on a vectorscope, this is an educated guess in my part.
    Having said all this, we need to keep in mind that we are watching a videotape that is 50 years old. Compared to today’s video technology, we can’t expect much better quality than what HMC/TMOQ was able to create with what they had. We’ll only see improvement if NHK or Apple release the original videotape and its transferred straight into an Avid editing system for clean up before a master disc is sent to the duplicator.

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    • “Camera tune” should be “camera tube.” Sorry about that. Video head alignment on quad VTRs was a common struggle during the Fifties and Sixties. When one inch VTRs came on the scene in the late Seventies, head alignment was no longer an issue. And when video went digital in the mid-90s, it became a non-issue.

      The little blue spots I mentioned as camera tune burnin was generally caused by pointing older video cameras of the Sixties generation at bright camera lights for prolonged periods of time. The spots could also be caused by moisture on the lens prism. In 1982 I had a similar problem while on a ten day documentary video shoot in England. Not much we could do back then to correct those spots in post -production.

      Sorry for any typos this time. This British Invasion fan had his second cataract surgery this morning so my right eye is running at 33 1/3 instead of the normal 45rpm.

      Thanks to Stuart and the crew for keeping this great resource up and running!
      Cheers mate!

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      • Thanks for the interesting tech history regarding the recording of The Beatles Japanese performances. I’m just glad they exist and we
        can enjoy them 50 years on.

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