Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Ultimate Ed Sullivan DVD Collection - a review

TMOQ Gazette Volume 20: The Ultimate Ed Sullivan DVD Collection 
This offering from the underground label HMC collects all the Beatles appearances on the famous Ed Sullivan Shows in USA, both when they appeared in person, as well as when they sent greetings in the form of promotional music videos to be shown.
The image and sound of the first appearance on February 9 in New York City is crisp and clean, some video artifact lines are visible here and there, but these are also present on the official releases.
Ed Sullivan was used as a way to tie together the Anthology TV series narration in the mid nineties, every so often he would pop up and introduce the Beatles throughout the series.

Next up is the rehearsal (audience present) for the appearance on the 16th of February at the Deauville Hotel in Miami. The quality is not quite as crisp as the former, but it's still more than good enough and wouldn't look out of place on a commercial release. In general, the audio has been remastered for this release. For the second part of the rehearsal performance, Paul's microphone is not switched on for half the opening number, I Saw Her Standing There, and he can mainly be heard by John's microphone catching some of his vocals.
John does his cripple routine, something that was dropped for the performance that was actually broadcast. The sound disappears for a while during Ed's outro of the group.

Third show, but actually the first.
Next up is the third appearance on February 23, which was actually pre-recorded on February 9, before their first live appearance. Great quality.

Ed interviews The Beatles for the May 1964 show.
The next item is from 24 May, 1964 and features a short interview Ed conducted with the boys on the set of "A Hard Day's Night" in London, as well as an outtake from the film of The Beatles miming to You Can't Do That. An original cigarette advert for Kent is included, in a bit worse quality than the rest of the item. Ed's interview with the Beatles is crisp and clean, although the sound is a bit muffled. This is probably what it originally sounded like, and is just how Ed's single microphone captured the talk. "You Can't Do That" is decidedly better here than the version included with last year's remastered release of the "A Hard Day's Night" film.

The 1965 show.
Pre-recorded the night before The Beatles were to play Shea Stadium, the next appearance was broadcast on 12 September, 1965. Still in black and white, the show switched to colour just after the Beatles had been guesting. The black and white images are crisp and clean and rendered great on my modern day flat screen LED TV, surely much better than what the TV audience saw in 1965.

Next up is something we haven't seen before: some rehearsal footage from the 1965 show. It starts with Ed introducing the upcoming show, The Beatles start performing Help! under the credits, some rewinding of the tape, Ed comes on again for another take of his speech, Lipton and Kent commercials while The Beatles are playing Help! and Dick Van Dyke interrupts to announce his own show. This appears to be another take of Help! where John doesn't mess up his lyrics as much as on the released take. It fades before it is finished. The quality is quite okay, but the interruptions by commercials are making this a not so entertaining tidbit as it could have been. DVD 1 ends here.

DVD 2 start with the actual broadcast of the Miami 1964 show, on DVD1 we just saw the rehearsal. The show is presented complete and uncut, which means we get to see all the other acts too, as well as the commercials, Lipton and Kent included. The image quality is as good as it gets, but the sound is a bit less crisp than on the previous DVD. some audio improvement can be detected during the Beatles' performances.

In 1966, the Beatles recorded an introduction for the Ed Sullivan Show of their recent promotional videos for Paperback Writer and Rain. The colour Abbey Road studio videos were especially filmed with the Ed Sullivan Show in mind, since Britain had yet to commence broadcasting in colour. This introduction was also included in the Anthology TV series, followed by a mixture of Paperback Writer videos. For the video cassette, laser disc and DVD versions of Anthology, the videos were substituted for the newly discovered Chiswick Park colour videos for these songs. On this DVD, we get to see the videos that were actually broadcast on the Ed Sullivan Show. These were also recently posted on DailyMotion.

The 1966 show.
In 1967, the Beatles just sent in one of their videos for Hello Goodbye and left the introduction to Ed. It was the "Pepper suits" video that was broadcast on the show, and it's presented here without the faux black-and-white-goes-into-colour version that was used on Anthology. The 1966 and 1967 shows in colour are not as crisp as the earlier black and white shows, but the Hello Goodbye promo film seems to be from another source and is of a much better quality than Ed's intro, probably as good as we have ever seen it. However, the quality drops noticably for the Maori finale, which is shown as it was in the Ed Sullivan Show, complete with audience reaction.

The Pepper suits version of Hello Goodbye
The 24 pages gazette is all about the Ed Sullivan Shows and includes a bio on Ed himself. Illustrated with photos throughout, we can only question the inclusion of a Top of The Pops 1966 rehearsal photo, which seems out of place in this context. Also included are some ads for the McCartney fronted "Meat free Monday" concept, a "War Is Over" slogan and a one page ad for the Imagine No Hunger charity, which is supported by the estate of John Lennon. Transcriptions from the Beatles' interview after having arrived back in London after their first U.S. visit, a second interview for BBC's "Grandstand" and their press conference at JFK airport on February 7 are also included.

All in all, all you need from the Ed Sullivan shows in the best quality to date.

6 comments:

Mark said...

Excellent reviews of these two new HMC titles! Really nice to see these two finally liberated after such a long wait. I hope these are big sellers so HMC can acquire more rare tapes and continue their so far fantastic run of titles.

Vinz said...

I think its a disgrace that bootleggers are obviously able to present better quality material than the official rightsholders. This happens a bit to often the last twenty years. One wonders if this is a lack of knowledge on the rightsholders side or on purpose so they can 'remaster' it and release it again in better quality. A Hard Days Night on DVD is a good example. The bootlegs have a way better picture quality than the official release.

LonglivetheBeatles said...

Mirror Spock vs HMC for the title of Best Ultimate Ed Sullivan DVD, Starring The Beatles... , Now that the HMC version is out , I am waiting for a knowledgeable review of a comparison between the aforementioned two versions, quite frankly the HMC version has to be extraordinary to be better or equal to the Mirror Spock version , which is certainly better than the official Ed Sullivan Beatles DVD . I hope that Roger does just that...

joey anthony said...

i wonder why the ed sullivan company didn't keep a copy of the beatles at shea stadium film.they filmed it.what did they do with their copy?with the negatives?they sent one copy to the beatles.but where is there copy?they had like 15 cameras that filmed it yet they ran out of film between she's a woman and everybody's trying to be my baby?i doubt that.and if they did then they shouldnt have filmed the opening acts and just the beatles.either that or they just cut up those 2 songs and left them on the cutting room floor which is a crime itself.

LonglivetheBeatles said...

It has been reported that Brian Epstein had the only known copy that contained the entire concert including "She's A Woman and " Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby " . When Mr. Epstein passed away in 1967, it was rumored that Paul McCartney gained possession of his copy, so if the reports are correct it would certainly be a coup for Mr. McCartney . Now , just maybe we might see that footage when Ron Howard's Beatles Live Project is completed..

joey anthony said...

i would think after brian's death his brother clive would have had it or brian's mother.either way i don't think paul has it or it would have surfaced during the anthology project.