REVIEW: PARIS LEFT BREATHLESS - (Misterclaudel) 3CDs (mccd 158/159/160)/2DVDs (mccd-161/162)
By Beatle Bob
Earlier this summer, a much awaited mega-set from Misterclaudel was finally issued containing every conceivable version of the Beatles' afternoon and evening live shows from the Palais De Sports venue in Paris, from June 20, 1965.
All of the Beatles' material has been commonly available from different labels over the years and the best we can hope for is either a better source for the video-tape ("Station Archive" - but I'll get to that later) or a remastering of the "on line audio" from both the afternoon show and evening show. This set brings them all together in one set that I can best describe as over-kill. This could have been have been pared down to make it a more affordable set. I don't understand the purpose of including inferior older sources if the superior sources are included? On CD 1--for the evening performance--it's unnecessary to include a full "off air" source for the afternoon show when you're taking the best unused bits and including it in a restoration version (CD 2 "Source A-B-C") that includes all three sources (including "radio program" source from CD 2). I'll stick to the "on line" version and the "radio program." The "Source A-B-C" (3rd version!) is something I can do without. If I can avoid it, listening to tapes using varying degrees of quality is something I don't find much interest in personally, especially here where it's not making the tapes any more enlightening. There is no reason to listen to the full "off air" version. The "Radio Program" includes opening acts that I never had. In fact, I had no idea they existed until now. Maybe they've been available before? Maybe I'm just behind the times? Of note, it includes one track from the Yardbirds, which is a very nice addition to the CD portion of the set. Remember, this is all for the first two CDs!
The 3rd disc contains a remastering of the evening show. It's as good or better than the any previous issue I've heard to date, including the City of Light release from Darthdisc. More than likely a remastering of this source. The audio is rich and clear; sounds great when you pump up the volume. For old times sake I went back to the old Swingin' Pig disc. Anyone want a coaster? The weakest audio on the 3rd disc comes from the "Station Archive" video sound track. Once again, unnecessary due to its inferior audio. I was coming close to losing my patience with this set.
The DVDs contained in the mega-set had me going bonkers. On DVD 1, between the "Digital Remaster," "Digital Remaster In Order" and "Broadcast Version" I got to the point that I could really care less. They all look very similar except the audio is superior on both "Remastered" versions. Visually, these aren't anywhere near the first generation master video and still suffer from the transfer converting to NTSC. The "Working Clip #1" is take from the Anthology DVD set and shows what the evening show from the master video could look like. Suddenly my eyes didn't feel like they were straining. I was able to put the Ibuprofen away. "Working Clip #2" is crap and includes time codes. Skip it. Not necessary.
The BIG news (and I mean that a bit sarcastically) is the offering (on the 2nd DVD) of the Les Beatles ("Station Archive Version") that purports to be a superior version of the video. To be frank, visually it is better, but it's hindered by compression and artifacts and what I call "digital washing" (cleaning up rough spots), though the contrast is decent. Unfortunately it also suffers from inferior audio. It's a missed opportunity. You can skip the "Re-Broadcast Kineco Version." Another unnecessary inclusion due to it's inferior quality. Redundant.
There are a few more tidbits included on the DVD and CD that fill out the Paris 1965 Beatles stay in France.
Honestly, this was one of the hardest reviews to sit down and figure out. So much contained in this set without much new being offered. A big disappointment from Misterclaudel. They could have condensed this set into something more palatable and affordable for the collector.