Released in 1977 on vinyl and cassette but never put out on CD, Hollywood Bowl has always been, for many Beatles fans, the great lost album. The Beatles themselves disliked it for the very reasons fans love it – the screams (human feedback!), the bum notes and the chaos, so different from the studio perfection of, say, Abbey Road.
But Hollywood Bowl, put together brilliantly at the time by George Martin from two different shows, lets us hear The Beatles at the peak of their fame – exciting, harassed, fan-battered and, frankly, superb. Every song is hurtled at (Hollywood Bowl came out at the peak of punk and didn’t sound lonely) and the Fabs, beleaguered and sometimes out of tune, don’t rest on their laurels.
Some of us treasured every second, from Lennon’s between-song comments (“Away with that light!”) to moments when songs like Things We Said Today and the weak-on-vinyl Roll Over Beethoven were energized by live performance.
And now, 40 years on, thanks to a Ron Howard live movie (Eight Days A Week), Live At The Hollywood Bowl is back, with new mixes by Giles Martin that sharpen the sound but don’t ditch the screams, plus extra tracks, including a wonderful I Want To Hold Your Hand. The great lost Beatles album just became the essential new Beatles album.