Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Beatles and the Great Concert at Shea

The Beatles and the Great Concert at SheaLabel: His Master's Choice, HMC 001

Line recordings of the famous 1965 show!
No overdubs or re-recordings and complete for the first time.
Including the original 1966 BBC soundtrack.
Plus... The Beatles Live at Shea described by erupting fans.

1. Introduction (2:29)
2. Twist and Shout (1:19)
3. Shes a Woman (3:02)
4. I Feel Fine (2:39)
5. Dizzy Miss Lizzy (3:23)
6. Ticket To Ride (2:44)
7. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (2:47)
8. Can't Buy Me Love (2:48)
9. Baby's in Black (2:56)
10. Act Naturally (2:55)
11. A Hard Day's Night (3:30)
12. Help! (3:09)
13. I'm Down (3:22)

King Curtis
14. National Anthem (2:10)
15. Intermezzo (2:26)

Discotech Dancers
16. Medley (3:52)

King Curtis
17. What'd I Say (3:54)
18. The Branch (2:13)
19. Soul Twist (1:57)
20. Intermezzo (2:10)

Cannibal & Headhunters
21. Out of Sight (2:05)
22. Now Lady Now (2:38)
23. The Way You Do The Things You Do (1:21)
24. Land of 1000 Dances (4:39)

Brenda Holloway
25. Shake/Satisfaction (3:23)
26. I Can't Help Myself (2:45)
27. You Can Cry on My Shoulder (3:26)
28. When I'm Gone (2:42)

1. Intermezzo (3:57)

Sounds Incorporated
2. America/Fingertips (3:21)
3. William Tell Overture (2:07)
4. Instrumental (3:44)
5. In The Hall of The Mountain Kings (2:30)

Original 1966 BBC Soundtrack
6. Introduction (1:49)
7. Twist and Shout (1:31)
8. I Feel Fine (2:10)
9. Dizzy Miss Lizzy (3:21)
10. Ticket To Ride (2:13)
11. Act Naturally (2:41)
12. Can't Buy Me Love (2:32)
13. Baby's in Black (2:32)
14. A Hard Day's Night (3:04)
15. Help! (2:29)
16. I'm Down (3:26)

The Beatles Live at Shea Described by Erupting Fans
17. Part 1 (12:39)
18. Part 2 (11:11)

Liner Notes:
We are excited to be able to offer this piece de resistance of Shea Stadium memorabilia... the never before nor circulated, professionally recorded audio tape of the internal line feed from the public address system as it all happened, minute by minute on the evening of August 15, 1965. In laymen's terms, this is the "warts and all" version of the most famous rock concert in history.

No remixing, no re-recording, and no overdubs. And when we say minute by minute, we mean just that... from the playing and singing of our National Anthem by King Curtis and thousands in attendance... to Cousin Brucie and Murray the K... to the complete performances by all of the support acts... to the singing of the Beatles/WMCA jingle by the "Good Guys"... to Sid Bernstein's introduction of Ed Sullivan, and on to the last crescendo of "I'm Down" and, finally the Beatles departure from the stage! Except, of course, for The Beatles themselves and their inner circle, this writer was assured that he would be only the second person in the world to hear this historic recording that has been stored away since 1965. In a word... or, maybe phrase... this is one for the time capsule! It is not generally known how much "doctoring" was done to prepare "The Beatles At Shea Stadium" for television. Until the publication of Mark Lewisohn's "Complete Beatles Chronicles", in 1992, even the most ardent Beatles experts, were under the impression that, other than the fact that several songs were cut from the television special due to time constraints, the only such "doctoring" was the substitution of the recorded single version of "Act Naturally" for Ringo's live vocal. Lewisohn's chronicle of the Beatles activities on January 5, 1966, however, reveals in detail the extent of remixing, re-recording, and overdubbing. For it was on this day that the group entered CTS Studios in Kensington Gardens Square, London, to do just that. CTS (Cine Tele Sound) was the UK's state of the art audio-to-film dubbing studio at the time. Since the advent of sound motion pictures, such dubbing has been an integral pat of movie-making. The practice has been common in live music film just as long. What artist doesn't want to release the best possible performance? The reasons The Beatles, Brian Epstein, and producer George Martin, elected to facilitate a makeover, was two-fold. First, even though state of the art technology, by 1965 standards, was utilised for the film and audio recording of the event, a myriad of complications with the audio feed arose (eg. drop-outs, missing bass tracks, microphone malfunctions, equalisation problems... etc.) The filming of the Shea Stadium concert for television was the first even of any kind (live or in the studio) to utilise eight cameras. Boy, would we love to get a look at that from eight camera angles and zooms! The bottom line: technical difficulties necessitated re-recording and overdubbing on certain tracks. Second, the conditions at Shea Stadium were electrifying from the audiences standpoint. After all, it was the largest audience in history to ever attend a concert, and the high-decibel screaming was to be expected. From the Beatles standpoint, between the sheer immensity of it all with 55,600 in the seats, they had a hard time hearing themselves. Under such conditions, the performance itself is bound to suffer somewhat. But there is no need to make excuses because from this listener's standpoint, this Beatles "warts and all" performance was just fine. Sure, there were some strained vocals, a few mangled lyrics, and the like, but overall, nothing avid listeners to the abundance of Beatles concerts haven't become accustomed to from other '65 shows. It's too bad that some of the banter was cut, and Ringo's lyric could have made the cut as well. Lewisohn relates that the re-recording and overdubbing that took place at CTS Studios that day was taken very seriously, as the group wanted to adhere to the live-concert sound and be careful in matching the singing and playing to the on-screen images... a tough task. The most striking aspect of listening to the Beatles performance particularly, was the fact that the screaming, while constant throughout, on this line feed is relegated to the background on this mix. Lewsiohn confirms that screaming from the unreleased Hollywood Bowl performance of August 30, 1965 was extensively incorporated into the Shea Stadium film. Interesting, eh? We urge you read Lewsiohn's full account in "The Beatles Chronicles." And now... on to the show!

Tape #1 (28 minutes) crowd sounds and King Curtis tuning up Introduction of the King Curtis Band... King Curtis "National Anthem" with unknown vocalist and audience participation... WABC's Cousin Bruce Morrow welcomes the audience and introduces Murray the K... Murray the K introduces the Discotech Dancers medley of songs... It's Not Unusual, Downtown, Can't Buy Me Love, I'm Telling You Now, A Hard Day's Night... Cousin Brucie introduces Scott Ross of WBIZ, Long Island... Ross introduces the King Curtis Band... What I'd Say, The Branch, Soul Twist... Cousin Brucie addresses the audience and introduces WMCA's Frank Stickle... Stickle introduces the WMCA "Good Guys"... Each "Good Guy" introduces himself, then they harmonise on a Beatles/WMCA jingle (quite well, actually)... and they introduce Cannibal & the Headhunters... Out of Sight, No Lady Now.

Tape #2 (32 minutes) Cannibal & the Headhunters continued... The Way You Do The Things You Do, Land Of 1000 Dances... Cousin Brucie introduces DJ Hal Jackson... Jackson introduces Marvin Gaye... Cousin Brucie introduces Brenda Holloway... Shake, Satisfaction, I Can't Help Myself, You Can Cry On My Shoulder, When I'm Gone... Cousin Brucie introduces WABC DJ Charlie Greer... Cousin Brucie introduces Sounds, Inc.... America (from West Side Story), Fingertips, William Tell Overture, Instrumental, In The Hall Of The Mountain Kings.

Tape #3 (37 minutes) Sid Bernstein introduces Ed Sullivan... Ed Sullivan introduces The Beatles... Beatles tuning up and cutting up TWIST & SHOUT... unreleased... the version heard in the TV special was taken from the Hollywood Bowl recording of August 30, 1965. SHE'S A WOMAN... unreleased... this song was cut from the TV special. I FEEL FINE... unreleased... the version heard in the TV special was recorded on 1/5/66 at CTS Studios, London. DIZZY MISS LIZZY... Paul overdubbed a new bass track on 1/5/66 at CTS Studios, London. TICKET TO RIDE... Some instrumental overdubbing was added on 1/5/66 at CTS Studios, London. EVERYBODY'S TRYING TO BE MY BABY... this song was cut from the TV special. CAN'T BUY ME LOVE... Paul overdubbed a new bass track on 1/5/66 at CTS Studios, London. BABY'S IN BLACK... unreleased... the version heard on the TV special was recorded 1/5/66 at CTS Studios, London. ACT NATURALLY... unreleased... the version heard in the TV special was dubbed from the commercially released single recorded on 6/17/65. A HARD DAY'S NIGHT... this version is not obscured by the voice-overs heard in the TV special. HELP!... unreleased... the version heard in the TV special was recorded on 1/5/66 at CTS Studios, London. I'M DOWN... Paul and John overdubbed new bass and organ tracks, respectively, on 1/5/66 at CTS Studios, London. Beatles leave The Stage.

"At Shea Stadium, I saw the top of the mountain."
John Lennon, 1970

The Beatles' performance at Shea Stadium in August 1965 probably remains the greatest and craziest live moment of their career.

The third U.S. tour started on August 13 when the band took off from Heathrow, London to JFK, New York City, the same day the U.S. version of "Help!" was released. The tour would last until the end of the month and include shows in New York, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The next day, August 14, The Beatles went to the CBS studio to rehearse and record The Ed Sullivan Show for that evening.

But the tour really opened on August 15 with a show at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets baseball team. It was the first time in the history of popular music that a stadium was used for a pop concert! Seen by 55,600 fans, it created a new world record in terms of attendance and gross revenue. The Beatles' share of the $304,000 box office takings was also a record: $160,000.

No less than a dozen camera teams were ready to follow the Beatles' journey from the hotel to the stadium. They travelled both by car and by helicopter. The police feared that fans would jam the tunnels in and out of Manhattan, so they were first escorted by limousine to the Manhattan East River Heliport and from there they flew over New York City to the roof of the World's Fair building in Queens. There they switched to a Wells Fargo armoured van and given a Wells Fargo badge.

As usual for those days, there was a full bill, and the 55,600 fans sat through the King Curtis Band, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Brenda Holloway, The Young Rascals and Sounds Incorporated before Ed Sullivan walked on stage to announce The Beatles:

Now, ladies and gentlemen, honoured by their country, decorated by their Queen, loved here in America, here are The Beatles!

Rushing out from the Wells Fargo van, The Beatles ran through a tunnel, out into a deafening wall of screams and onto the stage positioned at second base. The band did their standard 30-minute set of a dozen numbers and then, ran straight back to the Wells Fargo van to leave the stadium. The intense excitement of this record-breaking concert, mixed with a high degree of fan hysteria, resulted in a fantastic atmosphere!

Vox had prepared new amplifiers for the Beatles' tour. The usual power for tour amplifiers was 30 Watt; now they were able to deliver 100 Watt! But this was still insufficient, the screaming of the crowd was much louder... Fans couldn't hear the Beatles' performance... which didn't really matter because they only came to see the band.

But it was a huge problem for The Beatles who couldn't hear what they were playing! They had to look at each other to check whether they were still synchronised, unable to rely on Ringo's beat or on anyone else for that matter. This was particularly hard for Ringo who was behind the others and could neither see nor hear them. When Paul started to perform "I'm Down," John totally flipped out. He stopped playing seriously and went into a hilarious performance, playing on the harmonium using his elbows. This affected George who cracked up as well and was soon unable to play the right chords, but who cared?

Together with the helicopter ride and backstage sequences, the show was filmed by Sullivan Productions (Ed Sullivan's company) in association with NEMS Enterprises (Brian Epstein's), and released as a documentary film called "The Beatles At Shea Stadium". Its world premiere was on March 1, 1966 (BBC1).

Not all of the Beatles' Shea set is in the film - "She's A Woman" and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby" are both omitted - and what is included was subjected to audio sweetening back in London. Additionally, throughout the film, the Beatles are heard via voice-overs, recorded by U.S. broadcaster Larry Kane.

Just as it would be naive to believe that the sound on live albums is truly live and undoctored, the same is true for live concert films. In this case, the audio tapes specifically revealed not only musical flaws on the Beatles' part but also technical imperfections caused by the sheer size of the venue, the high-decibel screaming and the less than state-of-the-art mobile recording equipment in 1965. To have screened unaltered such a high-profile film on peak-time television would have done the group a disservice.

So it was that, amid some secrecy, the Beatles came to CTS Studios in central London on January 5, 1966, to 'sweeten' the soundtrack, by whatever means necessary, of their in-production television film "The Beatles At Shea Stadium". The session began with Paul only, overdubbing new bass tracks onto "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Baby's In Black" and "I'm Down" (on which John also overdubbed a new organ track). More drastic repair work was then effected by the group as a whole, with entirely new recordings of "I Feel Fine" (done at George Martin's specific request) and "Help!".

The Beatles strove to re-create a live-concert sound with these recordings rather than their more typical EMI studio feel, and they also had to match carefully their singing and playing with the on-screen images, hence the use of CTS, the premier audio-to-film dubbing studio in London.

To fix "Act Naturally" the Beatles did nothing: the film's post-production team merely replaced the Shea recording with the Beatles' disc version (recorded June 17, 1965), syncing it to the picture by means of audience cutaways and even, in places, cuts in the music (intentionally or otherwise, one moment - where Ringo's vocal is evidence but his mouth is closed - was left in the film uncorrected).

Documentation also suggests that John wished to record a new version of "Ticket To Ride", and that it was done during this CTS session, but close study of the film indicates that the original Shea version was used (although perhaps a little instrumental overdubbing was effected).

Additionally, George Martin desired a new recording of "Twist And Shout", but there wasn't time to do this. Instead, the post-production team used the unreleased August 30, 1965 Hollywood Bowl concert recording to bolster the sound, causing - in one place - John's live vocal to be double-tracked. In fact, the Bowl recording was used extensively during the film's post-production processes for recordings of the screaming audience, especially on the two all-new London recordings.

No doctoring appears to have been done to either "She's A Woman" or "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", suggesting that, by this time, they had already been excluded from the film. They were, however, included in an early print which Epstein received from Sullivan Productions around November 5, 1965, which then ran to 54 minutes. By January, as it would be for the transmission, the film's duration had been cut to just under 48 minutes.

Fans Themselves Describe Action While It's Happening

Religion, Mass Hysteria, Other Groups, Sinatra, Presley, John, Paul, Ringo, George, Beethoven, Fence-Leaping, Hair-Pulling are Talked About, Howled About, Screamed About, Scowled About & Commented On by Boy-Fans, Girl-Fans, Parents, Teachers, Cops & Others - Before, During & After Concert.

NEW YORK, August 24, 1965--Last night, The Beatles came to Shea Stadium and 55,000 fans came to their feet en masse to welcome the world's top rock 'n roll group in what may be their last-ever appearance anywhere as a group (Strong rumor has it that The Beatles will only appear on records and in films from now on).

The millions of fans unable to attend this historic performance can now share with the fans who were there, the sounds, the build-up of excitement, the surging expectation and the wild enthusiasm that greets the Beatles as they come on stage.

Hears fans as they board subway cars at Broadway and 42nd Street, headed for the Stadium. As the train starts up, girls talk about John Lennon and Jesus Christ. They talk straight, but certain giggles tell part of the story.

Then you're at the stadium. Barkers are selling binoculars, "Get up tight with The Beatles tonight." Two girls tell why "they make me so happy." You begin to feel the excitement building up.

Preliminary groups come on, but are all but drowned out by the constant groundswell of sound pouring from the stands. The kids know good rock 'n roll from something else: "They act stupid on the stage," says one boy.

The M.C. leads the whole stadium in singing "We love you Beatles." It's a big sound. The Beatles come on and there is a stupendous roar from the crowd.

As you turn the disc, you hear individual close up comments from girls as they react to their heroes. Boys describe how kids are leaping the fence, trying to get at The Beatles. Several hundred of N.Y.'s finest cops take up positions in the infield and brace for the possible onslaught.

As the Beatles start to perform, the unending roar swells to new highs and few in the stands can hear their favorites. But that's not what they're here for. This is an occasion, a happening, to tell one's children about. As one girl says, "We didn't pay $5.75 for nothing". A night to remember.

Suddenly it's over. Now you get the fans rehashing it as they leave the stadium--how it felt, what it meant. This includes a girl who tells exactly what she would have done to one of the Beatles if the cops had not prevented her from running out there and getting her hands on him. A cop also gives his viewpoint in like circumstances. A good time was had by all and is now yours to share.

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