These are the punk Beatles. Raw and relentless playing fast and furious. The Beatles before the world was paying attention to them. This was recorded on an old reel to reel recorder on the slowest speed to conserve tape. It was not meant to be an album or anything commercial. A friend named Ted “King Sized” Taylor the leader of a band called the Dominoes, put a microphone near the stage to record them. The quality is poor, to say the least.
It was released in 1977 and the record company sunk 100,000 dollars just to make the audio listenable.
The Beatles were playing to an audience of sailors, prostitutes, drunks and gangsters. They would rip through songs at such a speed that only 2 songs on this double album are over 3 minutes long.
They are a great band here. You catch them with their guard down and acting completely natural.
The Beatles were in their last club dates at Hamburg. They had already recorded Love Me Do and it was on the charts. They did not want to be back in Hamburg but they honored a previous agreement and was there. They didn’t mail the performances in but they were loose and relaxed.
It contains mostly cover songs with very few originals. The track listing is at the bottom of the post. This is close to what Brian Epstein heard when he first saw them, this is why they took over Liverpool and this is why they got signed.
Casual fans will not want this album but serious Beatles fans will love it. This is more than a low fidelity album…it is history. John Lennon always said that the world didn’t hear the best of the Beatles live…I agree.
After they became THE Beatles…they could not hear themselves play because of the long constant
jet taking off screaming. On this album you hear them as they were before the screams.
I was 11 when I bought this and I didn’t get the importance to a few years later.
This is out of the book Tune In… Without a doubt the best book out on the Beatles. It’s the first of three volumes.
Their playing is adept and hyper-energetic, and the microphone catches many important moments. The tape’s value has been downplayed on the basis that the Beatles are musically sloppy and perhaps even lazy, knowing they’ve one foot out of the door, but this is to ignore its virtues. The Beatles did hate being in Hamburg this last time … but the recording shows them still cutting the mustard on stage. They’re sloppy because, here, they can be, but they’re not lazy, and they’re not playing with extra care because they’re being recorded: this is an authentic eavesdrop on their club act, not something fizzed-up for the tape machine.
At least three sets were recorded, and because the Beatles rarely repeated themselves in Hamburg, there are only five duplicates among the thirty-seven songs. The repertoire is a real surprise. The only self-written pieces are “Ask Me Why” and “I Saw Her Standing There” (twice), so there’s no “Love Me Do,” “PS I Love You,” “Please Please Me,” “One After 909” or any of several other possibilities, and there are few of the songs from the spine of their all-conquering 1962 stage sets—no “Some Other Guy,” “Soldier of Love,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Don’t Ever Change,” “A Shot of Rhythm and Blues,” “Devil in Her Heart,” “Baby It’s You,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody,” “Hey! Baby, A Picture of You,” and so on. What’s here is an idiosyncratic selection of old rock numbers all played at breakneck speed—Prellies pace. The nights of half-hour “What’d I Say” marathons are past: everything is high velocity, only three numbers tipping into three minutes.
- Side one
- Introduction/”I Saw Her Standing There” (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 0:34/2:22
- “Roll Over Beethoven” (Chuck Berry) – 2:15
- “Hippy Hippy Shake” (Chan Romero) – 1:42
- “Sweet Little Sixteen” (Berry) – 2:45
- “Lend Me Your Comb” (Kay Twomey, Fred Wise, Ben Weisman) – 1:44
- “Your Feet’s Too Big” (Ada Benson, Fred Fisher) – 2:18
- Side two
- “Twist and Shout” (Phil Medley, Bert Russell) – 2:03
- “Mr. Moonlight” (Roy Lee Johnson) – 2:06
- “A Taste of Honey” (Bobby Scott, Ric Marlow) – 1:45
- “Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velázquez, Sunny Skylar) – 2:36
- “Reminiscing” (King Curtis) – 1:41
- “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey” (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Richard Penniman) – 2:09
- Side three
- “Nothin’ Shakin’ (But the Leaves on the Trees)” (Eddie Fontaine, Cirino Colacrai, Diane Lampert, John Gluck) – 1:15
- “To Know Her Is to Love Her” (Phil Spector) – 3:02
- “Little Queenie” (Berry) – 3:51
- “Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It)” (Frederick Hollander, Sammy Lerner) – 1:57
- “Ask Me Why” (Lennon, McCartney) – 2:26
- “Be-Bop-A-Lula” (Gene Vincent, Bill Davis) – 2:29
- Guest lead vocal by Fred Fascher, Star-Club waiter
- “Hallelujah I Love Her So” (Ray Charles) – 2:10
- Guest lead vocal by Horst Fascher, Star-Club manager
- Side four
- “Red Sails in the Sunset” (Jimmy Kennedy, Hugh Williams) – 2:00
- “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” (Carl Perkins) – 2:25
- “Matchbox” (Carl Perkins) – 2:35
- “I’m Talking About You” (Berry) – 1:48
- “Shimmy Like Kate” (Armand Piron, Fred Smith, Cliff Goldsmith) – 2:17
- Based on The Olympics’ arrangement of “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate”; sometimes misidentified as “Shimmy Shimmy” or “Shimmy Shake”
- “Long Tall Sally” (Enotris Johnson, Robert Blackwell, Penniman) – 1:45
- “I Remember You” (Johnny Mercer, Victor Schertzinger) – 1:54