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The Beatles

With The Beatles


[EMI; 1963/2009]

By ; September 10, 2009 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The Beatles’ second record, With the Beatles, released on the same day Kennedy was assassinated and featuring the first Harrison composition (the anti-social, mid-tempo, half skiffle, half surf, “Don’t Bother Me”) is not only as good as its predecessor, but in some ways tops it.

Consider the highlights:

“It Won’t Be Long” is classic early Lennon. The wordplay which Kurt Cobain loved is already here (be long/belong is echoed years later by Cobain’s hello/how low) and The Beatles almost never sounded as eager and bombastic. Turn it up loud!

Beatles songs though, don’t get much more classic or loved than track three of With the Beatles, “All My Loving”. Not initially considered to be a single, “All My Loving” generated such a huge response it became not only a single, but the title track of a later EP. It was also an early Paul single; a song that probably alerted not only John, but the fans, that the bassist could write hits. This was one of the songs played on the infamous Ed Sullivan performance in 1964. Dig up the video on youtube. If you can hear it above the screams, it’s a great version.

Two of the best songs on the album are surprisingly covers. The first of these, “Til There Was You” is a cover from a musical, and what’s worse, the musical is The Music Man. But don’t let the put you off it. The guys loved this tune. It showcased their ability to do anything, at any point. They played this at The Star Club, they played this for the Queen of bloody England, they played it at their first failed Decca audition and it’s on the records Live at the BBC, Anthology 1, With the Beatles and the US compilation Meet The Beatles. In other words, few songs were as much a staple as this cover. And this version is a beautifully rendered take, featuring the genuinely heartfelt vocals of a very young McCartney. Class as class can be. The second brilliant cover on this record and one of their greatest ever non-original recordings is the Smokey Robinson classic, “You Really Got A Hold On Me”. The absolutely perfect song for last call in a pub, “You Really Got A Hold On Me” is alternately heartbreakingly passionate and startlingly melancholy. A real treat. And they loved it. This was re-recorded during the aborted Let It Be sessions and is on numerous releases. Simply amazing.

Also of note is “I Wanna Be Your Man”, probably the best ever Ringo song . Its got brilliant guitar soloing, and the harmonised descending riff into the chorus is worth stealing. Ahh if only Oasis hadn’t thrown in the towel.. they could’ve stolen this next. By the way, this split John/Paul composition was good enough for not only Ringo, but The Rolling Stones.

The last song on the record is the “Money”. It was obviously an attempt to recreate the vibe of “Twist and Shout”, but who cares? It’s instantly catchy and memorable, plus hedonistic and actually the complete opposite of their hippie anthem “All You Need Is Love”. Another early classic and a great great tune to end a great album.

Realistically you could ask why would anyone bother to write or care about this minor (at least in the Beatle universe) second record? Well, in my mind at least, this is an overlooked gem. Its high points are so numerous that the few low points are negligible. More importantly, it’s mostly undiscovered by today’s modern, young-ish Beatles fan. Hey you, reading this, do you have a band and are you looking for a cover? Dig into this record! Take the tradition forward. The Beatles showed at this early point that good bands were both inspired and inspiring.


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