If the Beatles had tried to record an album like their "The Beatles" (The White Album) release in 1964 instead of 1968, it would have sounded like this, The Beatles' "Live at the BBC."
Ok, I admit, that probably isn't true. But one of the strengths of "The White Album" was its variety, a strength that really shines on this archival release of selected Beatles materials from the 1963-1965 period.
I was given the "BBC" set as a birthday present when I turned 14, and it has remained a staple of my listening rotation. I listen to it at least three or four times a year, and I enjoy it immensely each time. Heck, I like it so much, I own three copies. I have two CD sets and I found a copy on vinyl (and it sounds FANTASTIC on vinyl).
I'm not the only one who dug the album, either. It got to No. 3 on Billboard's top 200. It sold about 8 million copies in its first year, according to Wikipedia. With 56 songs and 13 tracks of dialogue, you get a lot of content for your buck.
There are several reasons to love this collection.
Of course, there's the variety that I already named. You get tunes written by Chuck Berry, Phil Spector, Carl Perkins, Smokey Robinson and so many more. This collection exposed me to so much great music, and so many great artists ... it's a genuine "gateway" album, opening my eyes (and ears!) to songs and musicians that formed the foundation of modern music.
Rock and roll? Rhythm and blues? Country and western? Show tunes? The Beatles did them ALL and they loved them all.
There's also the charm of listening to the Beatles during their early stages, before they'd abandoned live performance completely to create their studio masterpieces. To listen to these men in their early 20s pushing themselves, proving themselves, and having such apparent love and fondness for the music of their heroes.
Finally, there's the inherent humor. The Beatles had a sense of humor that was much feted during news conferences and interviews, and you can experience it here. (Just give "Dear Wack!" a listen.)
The collection is in itself a highlight of their development, but key tracks include "Too Much Monkey Business," "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues," "Soldier of Love," "To Know Her is To Love Her," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Things We Said Today," "The Hippy Hippy Shake" and "Slow Down." Heck, almost every track either raises a smile or draws you into singing along! It's a "great music of the 1950s and 1960s" collection that rivals any Time-Life compilation.
The Beatles shine the best on this collection when they are covering the songs they loved and respected. While they were expert songwriters themselves, their own songs on this collection are slightly lackluster. They're not bad! Not by any stretch. But you already have their materials, and so it's hearing them tackle classic favorites and obscure rarities that make this collection a necessity.
If you love the Beatles, get this. If you love classic rock, classic country and the sounds of the 50s and 60s, get this. If you want to hear a young band as it develops into the world's greatest music group, get this.
And then listen to "The White Album" with all its variety and energy and the different styles it manages to envelope and tell me that I'm wrong!
Now, I'm gonna pop the album in and do a live blog kind of thing. I'll use the comments for a track-by-track (or impression-by-impression) listening experience. There's more than 2 hours of material on this album, so expect a lot of comments over a period of time tonight.
And, as always, I look forward to feedback/ideas/criticism/thoughts/whatever!