The Beatles, Live at Shea Stadium

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on January 6th, 2012 by Willie

On August 15th, 1965, the Beatles arrived in New York City, to play a massive sold out show at Shea Stadium, the former home of the New York Mets.  The concert was a big deal for many reasons.  First off, it was the largest rock concert to date, setting the stage for Woodstock, Altamont, and all the mega stadium rock tours that would follow.  At the time, it was the highest grossing live event in the history of show business, raking in 304,000 dollars from 55,000 plus crazed fans.  Lastly, it was the apex of the “Beatlemania” phenomenon.  The Beatles were live, in New York City, playing to the largest live audience then imaginable, a live audience frenzied beyond comprehension.  Girls were fainting, screaming, rushing the field, and peeing themselves.  Police Officers were deafened by the noise, and outside the screaming girls, everyone else was stunned into hysterics by the absurdity of the event.  The Beatles, loaded up with fresh 100 watt Vox amplifiers, couldn’t hear themselves or each other, and the concert itself was broadcast to the crowd over the tinny Shea Stadium PA system.  The Beatles did the best they could to just plug away and hope they were playing together.  They did somehow manage to pull off a coherent performance, considering the circumstances, bashing through their most raucous rockers in the middle of a sustained chaos.  The videos capturing the event have been highly edited and bootlegged over the years.  The Beatles manager Brian Epstein, in concert with Ed Sullivan’s production team, filmed a documentary of the event that has never seen an official release, outside of a TV broadcast in 1967. The documentary itself was overdubbed with vocal retakes on some songs, some more jarringly out of place then others.  The entire concert, in documentary form, does exist on youtube, but its incomplete and the quality isn’t great. What I have below is first a rare HD look at the part of the documentary showing the Beatles getting ready for the show, selected scenes from the Beatles Anthology, and documentary footage I found stitched together as concisely as possible. While edited and incomplete, they represent the best image and sound quality of the show available on youtube.  It’s still a lot of fun, and I’m waiting for the day to get my hands on the final HD remaster of the show in full.  Until then, enjoy one of the greatest events in the history of live musical performance…

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The Beatles, Entire Ed Sullivan Performance, Remastered

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on December 13th, 2011 by Willie

When the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on a Sunday night in February of 1964, 73 million Americans tuned in.  Originally Ed offered the Beatles Manager Brian Epstein a top dollar billing for a single show, but Brian turned it down and negotiated a 3 consecutive Sunday appearance for practically no payment.  The exposure the Beatles received on those 3 Sundays ended up being worth billions in future revenue; one of Brian’s more savvy deals.   When the Beatles took the stage that winter night, they dominated the top 10 of American pop charts, breaking records before the public could even see them.  Beatlemania was surging, and their nationally televised performance turned the phenomenon nuclear.  In this clip, you get to see John, Paul, George, and Ringo give one of the most iconic and singular performances in the history of music.  They look incredibly young and cool, giving one of their better live performances of their career, if not the best, considering what was on the line.  Even though they were just rocking a small live TV audience of screaming girls, you can tell they know that countless millions of eyeballs are on them.  They’re never actually sweating, but John and Paul are clearly the most nervous.  Paul’s nervousness comes out in the small quiver in his voice and with exaggerated stage movements like extra head wobbling.  John looks confident, but stiff in his defiant pose.  You can tell he feels a bit naked and alone up there too, being positioned prominently on the stage, with George joining Paul on the backing vocals.  George for that matter comes off incredibly, pulling off complicated and flawless solos in “Till There Was You,”  and “I Saw Her Standing There” in particular.  He also looks fantastic standing in the middle anchoring Paul and John.  The real star is Ringo.  Every time the camera glides on him, he shows a natural full range of emotions scaling from goofy enthusiasm , jokey smiles and grins, all highlighted by his dramatic and awesome drumming.  Ringo was always the best and most natural guy in the group when it came to charming the cameras, a skill that he is criminally overlooked for in figuring the group’s colossal success.  When the Beatles finally finish, they still seem nervous, sensing that their perfect performance is just the start of a whole new wave of outrageous reality heading their way.  Anyone, if you’ve never seen this, give it a watch, and soak in all the mad greatness.  Enjoy.

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The Jackson 5, The Love You Save

Posted in Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Youtube Favs on July 29th, 2011 by Willie

This was the third killer single (I Want You Back, ABC) from the Jackson 5 after they made their killer debut on Motown.  It’s a song with a crazy soaring melody and complex vocal arrangement that came from the hit making geniuses “The Corporation,” the Los Angeles wing of Motown’s machine.  This performance, from Ed Sullivan, is lip-synced, but who cares, the recorded version is so insanely good that its still thrilling to see the boys go all out performing it.  For my money, this is young Michael Jackson’s greatest vocal achievement.  It’s the most exciting and challenging lead vocal he ever did, and he absolutely owns it, breathlessly showcasing his unlimited talent and potential.  It’s spellbinding to see how relaxed and confident Michael is on that stage.  He just exudes cool, even at 11 years old. I really think it’s almost impossible how god-like young Michael was.  He is simply one of the greatest child prodigies in music history, and that includes the likes of Mozart.  Unreal.

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