The Beatles

Liverpool 63 + Washington 64

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There's no label on this bootleg of early live Beatles' shows, which even by bootleg standards isn't too easy to find, though it does have a catalog number and not-bad artwork. It combines a couple of notable concerts on one CD; the first of those being their performance at the Empire Theater in Liverpool on December 7, 1963; the other their show at Washington Coliseum on February 11, 1964: their first American concert, although they had performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York just prior to going to Washington D.C.. You can't fault the performances here -- they might be slightly raw (understandable given the primitive stage conditions and audience pandemonium), but the Beatles are in great energetic form, doing much of their best pre-1964 material. What you can fault this on is the sound quality, which isn't very good, and it's often overwhelmed by screaming kids. What's worse, when Ringo Starr sings "Boys" in the Liverpool set, his mike seems to be off and you can barely hear him at all; you can hardly hear him any better when he sings "I Wanna Be Your Man," in Washington. All that said, you can make out the music, pretty much, and were this the only audio document of early Beatlemania, the group's in-concert majesty would be evident. It's far from the only audio document of that live period, alas, and far inferior to, naming just a few examples, the live Stockholm October 1963 show that's been booted; the live material from late '63-early '64 that surfaced legitimately on Anthology 1; and the bootlegs of the Ed Sullivan shows. It's nonetheless not a bad document for the hardcore Beatlemaniac, and there are more than a few such fanatics out there. The set list for each show, incidentally, is nearly identical, though "Twist and Shout" and "Long Tall Sally" had replaced "Boys" and "Money" by the time of the Washington gig. Incidentally, there's a strange instrumental reprise of "From Me to You" closing the Liverpool portion, in which the group vamps on the main riff over and over, while there's only a partial version of "Twist and Shout" on the Washington half, though otherwise that show is fully represented.