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By David Werther.

The Beatles, ‘On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2’ (Apple, 2013)

           Fifty years ago on February 9, 2014, Ed Sullivan introduced four “youngsters from Liverpool” to 73 million viewers. That night the Beatles began with “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” and “She Loves You.” Later in the show, they returned with “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” A week later, they were back on the Ed Sullivan Show playing “She Loves You,” “This Boy” and “All My Loving” in their first set, and then “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me to You,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in their second set. On February 23, the Ed Sullivan Show featured taped performances of “Twist and Shout,” “Please Please Me,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

           And so the Beatles conquered America in three weeks with seven songs, earning a grand total of $10,500 plus expenses.

           'On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2’ includes 37 performances from 1963 and 64, including renditions of most of the songs they played on the Ed Sullivan show — most notably, “She Loves You,” the song that perfectly captured their sound and appeal.

           “It wasn’t simply a commercial triumph. In just over two minutes, the Beatles distilled the essence of everything that made them fresh and exciting. There was the driving beat, the fine harmonizing, the girlish ‘woo’ sounds which had gone down so well on ‘From Me to You’, as well as the bursting enthusiasm of its pace. And, on the top of this, the distinctive ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ that became a gift to headline writers.” So writes Steve Turner in The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Write. The Stories Behind Every Song.

           ‘On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2’ is an occasion to hear fresh performances of Beatles’ originals (“Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “From Me to You,” “And I Love Her”), as well as songs they drew from other writers (“Please, Mister Postman,” “Anna (Go to Him)," ”Memphis Tennessee,” “Roll Over Beethoven”). Throughout, the Beatles deliver crisp, clear, captivating performances, a great gift for a golden anniversary.

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