The Beatles - Live at the Hollywood Bowl
The Beatles At the Hollywood Bowl
Album Comparisons: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
As the biggest selling musical act of all time, the Beatles need no introduction here. They are said to have sold over half a billion records, and as their bootleg discography attests, there has been a seemingly insatiable demand for previously unissued, unheard material. This demand culminated in the release of the Live at the BBC set in 1994 and the Anthology sets in 1995 and 1996. What has largely been missing from their catalog, however, is a high quality live recording. Although several have seen release through underground channels and as bootlegs, the only legitimate, officially sanctioned live album to date has been The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Originally released in 1977, the album compiles performances from two nights (apparently with a few snippets and/or dubs taken from a third night) at the venue, one on August 23, 1964 and the other on August 30, 1965. Despite doing fairly well on the charts at the time of its release, it would be nearly four decades before The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl would see any kind of official digital release, remixed and retitled in 2016 as Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Around ten or so years ago I made my own digital transfer of the LP. Now that a new, remastered CD version is finally available, how does it compare to the original?

Note: The LP transfer used here is from an original 1977 near-mint condition copy of the album in my own collection. The overall volume of the LP transfer has been normalized, with dynamics between songs retained.

Twist and Shout

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Twist and Shout

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Twist and Shout

She's a Woman

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

She's a Woman

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

She's a Woman

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Ticket to Ride

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Ticket to Ride

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Ticket to Ride

Can't Buy Me Love

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Can't Buy Me Love

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Can't Buy Me Love

Things We Said Today

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Things We Said Today

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Things We Said Today

Roll Over Beethoven

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Roll Over Beethoven

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Roll Over Beethoven

Boys

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Boys

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Boys

A Hard Day's Night

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

A Hard Day's Night

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

A Hard Day's Night

Help!

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Help!

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Help!

All My Loving

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

All My Loving

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

All My Loving

She Loves You

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

She Loves You

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

She Loves You

Long Tall Sally

Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

Long Tall Sally

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977)

Long Tall Sally
And the winner is: 2016 remix/remaster. I really must commend the engineers here. The new remix disc is light years ahead of the original version in every way possible. It's my understanding that a better copy of the original recordings was utilized for this new release, and it really shows here. The instruments, vocals, and even the screaming crowd resonate with a brightness and clarity that is simply unmatched on the original release from four decades ago, and the advances made in separating and enhancing different elements of pre-recorded tracks were put to utterly fantastic use here. There isn't a single track on this disc that doesn't shine, and it captures the height of Beatlemania better than any other live recording I've heard, legitimate or otherwise (and I've heard quite a few of them). Stereo separation doesn't feel as wide as on the original, which is definitely a good thing, though listeners expecting a mix that sounds like one of today's proper multi-track efforts need to remember that the original multi-track tapes had only three tracks, and the technology of the time wasn't up to the task of getting a reasonably clean recording of the performers sans the loud roar of the audience. Thus, the screaming crowd noise is still extremely loud relative to the performance, but the new mix succeeds in putting the music a bit more front and center. That being said, there's still only so much technology can do. The August 23rd recordings are still noticeably inferior in sound quality and suffer from a muddiness that no amount of digital tweaking could remove. The 1977 disc is muddier still, though, even on the recordings from the 1965 show, so the new CD still represents an essential upgrade. I'm also very pleased to find that the mastering job did not brickwall the sound and appears to have left dynamics mostly intact. With this compact disc release, my old digital transfer of my LP has now been officially retired.

A few notes: The introduction of the band at the very beginning of "Twist and Shout" is complete on the new CD, while it is shortened and faded in at a later point on the original 1977 LP. A tiny bit of the very beginning of Paul McCartney's introduction of "Boys" is edited out on the CD, where "Roll Over Beethoven" now segues into "Boys" (this was the division point between sides on the original vinyl release).