Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Beatles Live! At the Star Club in Humburg, Germany; 1962.

The second live 2-LP set released in 1977 (the first set being the Hollywood Bowl). This quasi-legit release was released firstly in Germany on April 08 1977 (this release pre-dating the eventual world wide release of the Hollywood Bowl tapes). The catalogue number for this German release is Bellaphon BLS 5560. The next release date for these particular recordings was in the UK, once again as a 2-LP set with the same ugly cover: White type on a black background. This time is was released on the Lingasong Label via RCA. The catalogue number is LNL 1. Finally, on June 13 1977 the 2-LP set was released in North America and was also on the Lingasong label. The catalogue number being Lingasong LS-2-7001. The above catalogue numbers are all for the original vinyl 2-LP release. This material (along with the Hollywood Bowl material) has never been officially and legally released on compact disc.

The songs on these recordings date back to the end of 1962 when the Beatles were booked in Hambug Germany between December 18 and December 31 (New Year's Eve). To pinpoint the exact nights are hard to do, but probably between boxing day (December 26) and New Year's Eve (December 31) were when the actual recordings were made. The Beatles were recorded along with Ted Taylor and the Dominoes on a reel-to-reel capacity in mono mainly to test the equipment installed by Adrian Barber at the Star Club where these bands were performing. Mr. Barber gave the tapes to Ted Taylor for his listening pleasure before Beatlemania.

Mr Taylor saw potential in the live tapes after Beatlemania hit the UK and offered the tapes to Brian Epstein. Mr. Epstein saw no value in the tapes and since the recording was horrific, Mr. Epstien offered Mr. Taylor twenty pounds. Naturally, this was turned down and the tapes remained with Mr. Taylor.

In the mid to late 60s, the tapes were brought to a small London recording studio owned by an engineer with the name John Seddon. The tapes were brought to the studio in order to try and clean them up a bit and to try and improve the sound. The tapes were basically left at the studio until the studio literally shut down and stopped operation.

In 1971, both Ted Taylor and the Beatles early booking agent Allan Williams, went back to the closed studio, got it opened and took the Hamburg tapes out of the studio. Williams and Taylor both tried to pursuade major record companies to release the material (including Apple) but was mainly turned down due to the fact that the sound was (and is still) horrendous as well as the fact that the material on the tapes should have legally be owned by EMI since the Beatles were under contract with EMI at the time of the recordings - this is why the liner notes try to get around this by claiming that the performances were recorded earlier in the year before August and that Ringo was simply "sitting in " for Pete Best. Misleading at say the least.

Enter Paul Murphy. Mr. Murphy was once an engineer for the Polydor company in Germany and had remixed the Hamburg studio recordings for Bert Kaempfert in 1964. Mr. Murphy, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Williams set up a company called "Lingasong Ltd." in September 1975. Eventually, Mr. Murphy bought out Mr. Taylor and Mr. Williams and kept the tapes with the attempt to finance a clean up of the mixes with EQ and a host of other things. Lingasong teamed up with the Double H Licensing Corporation from New York City with the intent of distribution. When the impending release was announced, Apple tried to sue but the case was dismissed due to the fact that the tapes were of "historic interest" (according to Lingasong) and that Apple had delayed the court action when they had known that the tapes existed.

There are differences between the European release of this LP set and the North American release. Most of these differences stem from the fact that the North American version had purposely tried to NOT include that would suggest (correctly, I might add) that these tunes were only written and/or performed live at the end of 1962 during the EMI era. For instance, the first song on side one of the European LP is "I Saw Her Standing There" which was removed from the North American line up and replaced with "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry Over You". On side two, the first song on the European LP is "Twist and Shout" while the replacement song on the North American LP is "Where Have You Been All My Life". Track five "Reminising" from the European LP is replaced by "Till There Was You" on the North American pressing. On side three "Ask Me Why", the fifth track from the European release is replaced with "Sheila" on the North American version. Side Four is left untouched.

The front and back covers are similar for both territories (apart from the back track listing and fact that Europe states that the LPs contain 13 never before released Beatles tracks, the North American version states that the LPs contain 15 never before released tracks). The inner gatefold of my German copy has the misleading liner notes in English on one side and in German on the other side. The North American version contains more photos of the German-era Beatles and the English liner notes with a baby blue background. The other side contains the track listing and credits.

Although the sound is still horrible, one get a sense that the Beatles were not really "giving" thier all as their debut single "Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You" had been released not two months earlier and this gig in Hamburg was probably the last place they would want to be instead of being in their homeland promoting the single.


  1. sounds like a bootleg.

  2. i'm glad i found this copy.

  3. "Don't Ever Change," was supposed to be featured
    In the list of songs they performed on stage;
    As I read it in the biography by Bob Splitz.