Here is a tip on a good place to start when you listen to The Beatles at Hollywood Bowl on vinyl, which has just been issued by Apple, Capitol Records and Universal Music.
In the world of all things Beatle, its always exciting to hear something fresh!
This is a detail I didn’t notice on the generally fine sounding CD version of the album which was put out earlier this year (which was good as CDs go). I reviewed the CD here on Audiophilereview which you can read at this link here. (https://audiophilereview.com/audiophile-music/after-fifty-years-live-beatles-hollywood-bowl-shows-still-thrill.html)
For this review update, I again went back to my original 1977 pressing of the album to refresh my ears and do a little bit of crude comparison and contrasting. While that earlier release sounds good for its time, it doesn’t offer the detail and presence these new recordings display. In comparison, the old recording sounds kinda murky and muddy.
Now I understand why George Martin and The Beatles never really liked this album (and thus why it remained out of print on any format since 1977!).
On the old version of the Hollywood Bowl concerts, that solo in “Roll Over Beethoven” sounds flat , more like a monitor or raw soundboard mix. And, in essence, it kind of was as they were limited to the instruments being trapped in the two- or three-track recordings that the show was captured on.
With the aid of new computer technologies, producer Giles Martin — son of the legendary Beatles producer, George Martin — has been able to extract individual instruments and give the guitar solo on that song incredible presence. Unless they artificially sweetened the tracks when mixing this in the studio, I think I can now make out more of the guitar and amplifier tone.
The 12-string guitar really shines on the Ringo-sung rocker “Boys.”
The four bonus tracks included on this new version (on the CD too) also rock pretty sweetly. The version of “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” smokes, especially when you turn up the volume.
And there in lies one big difference between the vinyl and the CD. I can turn up the volume on the LP and the music does not fall apart nor make my ears bleed — it all hangs together.
Ringo’s kick drums launches “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” with a monstrous bite and the guitar solo slashes on the LP without burning the listener. On the CD, when playing “Ticket to Ride,” the high harmonies get a bit lost in the digital crunch, but on the vinyl you hear Paul McCartney’s perfect complement to John’s lead in a lovely balance.
All the more remarkable knowing they couldn’t hear most of what they were playing on stage as there were no monitors back in the day.
Even the crowd sounds better on this vinyl edition. And there is plenty of girls screaming in the mix so don’t be surprised about that. But unlike the 1977 version, the new version of The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl keeps the music in perspective relative to the music.
The deep black 180-gram vinyl pressing on The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl is wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised putting on the disc to hear a completely dead quiet lead in to the grooves. Universal / Capitol confirmed for me that it was pressed at Optimal in Germany. The copy I have is pretty much perfectly centered so there are no issues with warbled notes on this pressing (unlike my 1977 LP which was a bit off center, impacting the music negatively).
The packaging on The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl is first class with a high quality glossy printing job and a gatefold sleeve with copious liner notes and a lovely sturdy inner sleeve featuring now iconic images of The Beatles on stage at The Hollywood Bowl.
Its a classy package.
So… really, there is not much else to say at this point but: Go get it! And then, shout out loud Yeah! Yeahh!! Yeahhh!!!
One last parting thought: given the success of this restoration, I can’t wait to see what other archival gems Giles Martin and The Beatles may release. Shea Stadium? Paris? Washington DC? Toyko? The Let it Be “rooftop concerts”?
Time’s a-tickin’… so, hopefully they’ll open the flood gates of the archives soon!