Friday, August 26, 2011

The Beatles: Rare Beatles

Review # 38
Artist: The Beatles
Title: Rare Beatles
Format: LP
Label: Phoenix Records
Songs: 10

Never heard of this record? Neither had I until a few months ago when I was perusing the clearance bins at Jive Time Records. This is one of several available bootlegs of the Beatles from the days when they were an unsigned band from Liverpool that traveled to Hamburg to play the seedy clubs along the Reeperbahn in hopes of making a little money. Specifically, this was recorded at live show during the Beatles' second stint in Germany. Having shed their original bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe, on their first trip to Hamburg, the band's lineup in 1961 (or 1962? I'm finding conflicting information about this) when this recording was made was John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and drummer Pete Best.

But not on the night this record was recorded.

According to the sleeve, on the night Ted Taylor decided to bring his tape recorder to a Beatles show, Pete Best was out for the night. Sitting in for him was the drummer for band called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. His name was Richard Starkey, or as the world would come to know him, Ringo Starr. This recording, then, is of the first performance of what would become the most famous band ever.

So, you may be thinking (especially if you aren't a hardcore Beatles fan), "that's cool I guess, but how is the music?" Well, it's a live recording of very early Beatles material. It has all the strengths and weaknesses of such recordings you may have heard before--the energy is great, the performance is spot on, the recording quality leaves something to be desired. However, compared to other non-professional live recordings of the Beatles I've heard before, this one is at least as good and maybe slightly better in terms of recording quality. Later, in the cd section, I'll be reviewing the more widely known 1962 Live At the Star Club disc, and while it's been a little while since I've listened to that, I'm pretty sure Rare Beatles sounds a little better. The production is a little rough, but you could do worse.

What's cool about this disc though, aside from the historical value, is that some of the songs on here are tunes I've never heard the Beatles perform on any other release. The record includes Fats Waller's novelty tune "Your Feets Too Big" and Tommy Roe's "Sheila," as well as better known tunes that would remain in the Beatles' repertoire, such as "'Till There Was You," which would appear on the bands second LP a few years later.

There's also some fun banter between band members, and occasionally the sounds of an enthusiastic crowd, both of which make it easier to imagine that you are there watching the Beatles play this historic show.

If your a big fan of the Beatles, and you can find this record, I recommend it. The first show with Ringo is pretty cool to have on record. For casual fans, this probably isn't worth the time and cost of seeking out.
Total songs listened: 485

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