Review: ‘The Beatles: Live at the Hollywood Bowl’ Offers Raw Frenzy
The first thing you hear are the screams, which may be the most famous screams in history: fans losing their assembled minds for the Beatles, a frenzy that celebrates and feeds itself. Against that roar, it barely matters if the band makes a noise – which is part of the reason the Beatles would retire from the road a year after the last of the shows captured on this live recording. But they do, and the way the screams and music dance across these 17 songs — recorded during three nights in 1964 and 1965 and spliced into a seamless rush of manic love — is what makes Live at the Hollywood Bowl such a thrill. You can find live Beatles tracks on the Anthology compilations with sharper sound, but not with this kind of adrenaline jolt. Four newly discovered songs have been added to the original 1977 release, which has been buffed with digital shine. Though not so you'd notice — the Beatles sometimes seem to be fighting for their survival in a chaos of their own making ("Can you hear me?" Paul McCartney asks before "Ticket to Ride," and he might as well be talking to John Lennon as the crowd), but since that was the point of songs like "Help!" it only charges the explosive joy. The band sounds raw and light at the same time, the sting and snap of George Harrison's lead guitar reveling in the space cleared by the clenched-fist punch of Lennon's rhythm guitar and McCartney's bass on "She's a Woman" and "Everybody Wants to Be My Baby." And for 45 minutes, the frenzy never lets up, a direct line into the sexualized hysteria at the heart of early rock & roll.