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HistoryEditInitially, Capitol Records considered recording The Beatles' February 1964 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York, but it could not obtain the necessary approval from the Musicians Union to record the performance. Six months later, Bob Eubanks booked The Beatles' 23 August 1964 performance at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles where Capitol recorded their performance with the intent of releasing a live album in America. The sound quality of the tapes proved to be inadequate for commercial release; and, when The Beatles returned to the Hollywood Bowl a year later during their 1965 American tour, Capitol recorded two performances by the group at the same venue. The sound quality of the 1965 recordings was equally disappointing. Capitol did, however, utilize a 48-second excerpt of "Twist and Shout" from the 1964 Hollywood Bowl concert on the 1964 documentary album, The Beatles' Story.
The Beatles were among the few major recording artists of the 1960s to not have issued a live album. Consequently, among Beatles fans, pent-up demand for a concert album continued to build. In fact, John Lennon set off a minor frenzy when, in a 1971 Rolling Stone interview, he incorrectly identified an obscure Italian compilation album, The Beatles in Italy, as a live recording ("There's one in Italy apparently, that somebody recorded there"). Despite the obvious demand for a live album, however, the tapes from the three Hollywood Bowl performances continued to sit untouched in a Capitol vault for more than five years. In 1971, following his salvage project of the "Get Back" sessions, which was released as the group's Let It Be album, the Hollywood Bowl tapes were given to famed American record producer Phil Spector to see if he could fashion an album out of the material. Either Spector did not complete the job or his production was unsatisfactory, and the tapes continued to sit unreleased for another half a decade. Finally, with a rival record label's impending release of the Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962 album consisting of a fifteen-year-old, poor-quality concert recording of the group performing in the Star Club in Hamburg, Capitol Record's parent company, EMI, decided to revisit the Hollywood Bowl recordings. Beatles' producer George Martin was handed the tapes and asked to compile a listenable "official" live album.
When Martin was asked by Capitol Records president Bhaskar Menon to hear the tapes in the mid-1970s, he was impressed with the performances, but disappointed in the sound quality. In working on the three-track Hollywood Bowl concert tapes, Martin discovered quite a challenge. The first difficulty was finding a working three-track machine with which to play back the master tapes. Once he found one, he discovered that the machine overheated when it was running. Martin and recording engineer Geoff Emerick came up with the solution of blowing cold air from a vacuum cleaner to keep the tape deck cool whilst the recordings were transferred to 16-track tape for filtering, equalization, editing, and mixing. Martin found the August 29, 1965 recording virtually useless, and, except for a few dubs taken from the August 29 performance to augment other performances, the album compiled by Martin consisted entirely of songs recorded on August 23, 1964 and August 30, 1965. (The album cover somewhat blundered by showing the almost completely unused August 29 as the second date used.) In editing together the two performances, Martin successfully captured the excitement of a live Beatles concert with 17,000 screaming fans in this album.
Even though the recordings on The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl were between twelve and thirteen years old, the album reached number one on the New Musical Express chart in the United Kingdom and number two on the Billboard chart in the United States. As of 2009, however, the album has yet to be released on compact disc in either country. Bootleggers do circulate needle drop transfers of the LP across the internet.
Because The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl included songs from two shows recorded a year apart, a number of songs performed at the two concerts were not included on the album. Songs from the 1964 show not included on the album are: "Twist and Shout", "You Can't Do That", "Can't Buy Me Love", "If I Fell", "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and "A Hard Day's Night". Songs from the 1965 show not included on the album are: "I Feel Fine", "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby", "Baby's in Black", "I Wanna Be Your Man", and "I'm Down". "Baby's in Black", from the 1965 Hollywood Bowl concert, however, was issued as the B-Side of the 1996 reunion "Real Love" single.
One unintended consequence of the mixing of dates is the inconsistent dialogue between songs, in which band members recorded a year apart refer to both A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965) as their latest album.
Even though the album sleeve says that the recordings were all made on 23 August 1964 or 30 August 1965, "Ticket to Ride" and "Help!" were recorded on 29 August 1965, and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" is a composite using parts from both nights in 1965.
Midnight Beat, a bootleg label, has issued a 2-CD set of all the material recorded on August 23, 1964, and August 29 and 30, 1965. This is now obsolete as an official CD release was made in 2016.
All tracks written by Lennon/McCartney, except where noted.
- Side one
- "Twist and Shout" (Phil Medley and Bert Russell) (30 August 1965) – 1:32
- "She's a Woman" (30 August 1965) – 2:53
- "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams) (29/30 August 1965) – 3:37
- "Ticket to Ride" (29 August 1965) – 2:51
- "Can't Buy Me Love" (30 August 1965) – 2:16
- "Things We Said Today" (23 August 1964) – 2:20
- "Roll Over Beethoven" (Chuck Berry) (23 August 1964) – 2:28
- Side two
- "Boys" (Luther Dixon and Wes Farrell) (23 August 1964) – 2:12
- "A Hard Day's Night" (30 August 1965) – 3:15
- "Help!" (29 August 1965) – 2:46
- "All My Loving" (23 August 1964) – 2:14
- "She Loves You" (23 August 1964) – 2:31
- "Long Tall Sally" (Enotris Johnson, Richard Penniman, and Robert Blackwell) (23 August 1964) – 2:53
- 2016 CD
- "You Can't Do That"
- "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
- "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby"
- "Baby's in Black"