The historical interest of this album is considerable: The Beatles, on the precipice of fame, playing their last Hamburg club show on December 31, 1962 (contrary to the 1961 date given on some liner notes). The problem, from a latter-day perspective, was that the Beatles didn't play all that well, and, more importantly, the sound is not up to par in the least, as it was captured on a primitive portable recorder. That said, it's interesting to hear the Beatles as they were in their club days, with a set list (almost exclusively covers) of early rock & roll tunes, several of which never made their way onto any official Beatle release. Their primal energy does come through, despite the missed notes and faint vocals. The U.S. and European versions of this double album differ slightly, and the album has been reissued, in its entirety and in piecemeal excerpts, numerous times since it first appeared.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger