Though Apple have already extensively plundered the vaults of the Fabs’ landmark US small screen appearances for the Anthology DVD box set, the acts with whom they shared the bill on these four shows in 1964 and ’65 also make for interesting viewing. The likes of vaudeville jazz legend Cab Calloway or the Broadway cast of the recently-opened Oliver! may be breadand- butter to variety television, but it’s the other Brits that raise an eyebrow.
Morecambe & Wise remain comedy royalty in the UK, but their intermittent visits across the Atlantic were not so triumphant, as their slapstick sketch in front of a somewhat muted audience testifies. There’s a warmer reception for Cilla Black (possibly added to the bill as part of a deal struck by her manager Brian Epstein when The Beatles were invited back), who reminds us of what a great singer she once was with September In The Rain.
As for the obvious stars of the shows, the excitement of their first appearances, on three consecutive Sundays in 1964, is palpable throughout rushed versions of All My Loving, This Boy and Please Please Me. They’re even better, though, the following year, brimming with ever-increasing confidence and delivering career best performances of I Feel Fine and Ticket To Ride.