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The Beatles: Live at the Hollywood Bowl

Album Notes

This is the official record of Beatlemania in full cry, a composite of two concerts recorded a year apart in Los Angeles' vast concrete amphitheater, the Hollywood Bowl, only about a mile away from the Capitol Records tower. It nearly didn't get out at all. Producer George Martin had misgivings from the start about recording the band live, and those doubts were borne out by the results, an outgunned rock quartet without stage monitors trying to play over the sheer noise of 17,000-plus kids screaming their lungs out. By 1977, Martin had been cajoled into making something out of these tapes, but there was only so much a brilliant producer could do with three-track tapes recorded under conditions that were, well, unprecedented. The band sounds muffled, tentative in spots, trying to crank out the songs by rote as best they can over the constant screaming. The album opens with five songs from the 1965 concert, then picks up the 1964 concert for three numbers, bounces back to 1965 for two more, and concludes with three from 1964. In general, the 1965 performances are better the 1964 ones, and a bit more together and less prone to lapses of concentration. Perhaps the experience of playing in such chaotic conditions in 1964 proved useful in 1965; indeed, somehow, John, Paul, and George even manage to follow Ringo's tricky rhythm on "Ticket to Ride" amidst all of the madness. In fact, Ringo was the unsung hero of these wild events, always laying down a solid beat come hell or what may. In his stage announcements, John seems to be talking only to himself, while Paul the showman does make an attempt to connect with the crowd. Though a bit late for the rush of flashback Beatlemania that accompanied the release of the Red and Blue albums in 1973, Live at the Hollywood Bowl still managed to rocket up to number two on the album charts, thus knocking the bootleggers temporarily off their axis. ~ Richard S. Ginell


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