Amid all the hoopla around the new "On Air - Live at the BBC Vol. 2" release, it may have gone unnoticed to the casual fan that along with this new album comes a revamped version of the original 1994 release of "Live at the BBC Vol. 1".
The first volume, like "Live At The Hollywood Bowl" before it, was no doubt issued to create a proper legitimate collection of these recordings that had been available to hard core collectors on the bootleg market for years. The recordings were cleaned up, edited and put out as a double CD set or vinyl LP, bearing the familiar Apple label. Collectors gobbled it all up: LP, CD, and both CD and vinyl EP's, along with all the various promo items that accompanied the release. Two years later Apple would take the same approach with the massive Anthology campaign, also, no doubt, aimed at rendering all previous bootleg versions of the material obsolete. Fast forward to 2014; 20 years on from the original BBC vol. 1 release, we have the new, improved, remastered version, available on it's own, or in a double slipcase pack along with the new Vol. 2 album. Is it any different? Here are some of the differences as I have observed.
The first and obvious thing one notices before even playing the album is the new packaging that conforms to all the new releases since 09-09-09, rather than the fat double jewel case that housed the original. NO plastic. That's a thumbs up, for me. It's slimmer, the booklet is of better quality and has a slightly different layout, but the liner notes and photos are essentially still the same.
The second thing one notices before listening, is the change from sepia tone to straight black and white on the monochrome images. I prefer it, but this is purely a matter of personal preference. To me, sepia tone is reminiscent of the Old West, not London in the swinging '60's.
Sonically. the sound on the new version has more "presence" than the original. The mids and highs are definitely more prominent, bringing the vocals, guitars, and Ringo's cymbals more to the fore. The downside of this is the audible presence of tape hiss on the new version. The original was much quieter, but sounded at times like it was recorded in a closet; very "dry".
With these recordings being in mono, these differences are subtle, and only noticeable when doing a back and forth simultaneous comparison, as I did. One would be hard pressed to hear any difference listening to one after the other in it's entirety. So you have to ask yourself, "do I need this?" (probably not, if you have the existing version); "do I want this?" (of course you do! It’s new Beatles product).
So now, since 09-09-09, we have had repackaged versions of the entire core catalogue, both red and blue compilation collections, the Beatles 1 collection, Yellow Submarine Songtrack, and now Live At The BBC. That leaves the three Anthology volumes, "Let It Be - Naked", and both versions of "Love" that have yet to receive the CD repackaging treatment, so start saving, collectors.