"With The Beatles": A Weak Follow Up?

Released in the U.K. November 22nd, 1963—the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, many of the songs here weren't released in America until Capitol issued Meet The Beatles! in January of 1964 but a few bitter months after the assassination. America, particularly its youth needed an emotional pick me up and The Beatles provided it, though more on the Vee-Jay album than on this one.

Capitol proclaimed "The First Album By England's Phenomenal Pop Combo" on the cover of Meet The Beatles even though it was really a hacked up version of their second album and Vee-Jay had beaten Capitol to market by a ten days with Introducing The Beatles.

Capitol's version contained but twelve songs but it did include "I Want to Hold Your Hand," which was not on the Parlophone issue of With The Beatles since singles weren't included on UK albums.

The second Beatles album repeats the first's formula: a mix of originals and covers of American songs plus a corny show tune cover in addition to George's songwriting debut "Don't Bother Me." George was a writing curmudgeon!

It opens with a raver "It Won't Be Long," and even though Viagra hadn't yet been invented and we hardly knew what to do with our weenies, we made the obvious joke. "All I've Got to Do" had that interesting rhythm and Ringo's playing is a highlight. The tuneful "All My Loving" was the girls' favorite and George's C&W influenced break was notable.

George's debut features some interesting percussion to which you have to pay attention in order to appreciate. "Little Child" is another raver that sounds like a throw away saved by the raw, energetic performance. Ringo really digs in on the kick drum.

Out of originals for the side, the boys cover "Till There Was You" from the play "The Music Man" sung by Paul who never "sore" those birds ('til there was you)! He does a good and sincere job on the tune that apparently went down well even in the Cavern Club chaos. The acoustic guitars were then a novelty for the group as was Ringo's bongos being the solo percussion.

The side ends with a cover of The Marvelette's "Mr. Postman." It's interesting to note that The Beatles covered Motown while the Stones covered darker Chess blues tunes but it's also probably true that for most of white America these covers were the first time most had heard these songs.

Side two opens with another cover, this time Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," which the boys make their hand-clapping own. That's followed by "Hold Me Tight", another bit of filler-raver originally recorded for the debut album but dropped and then re-recorded for this one.

Then comes another cover, a Smokey Robinson classic "You Really Gotta Hold On Me" originally performed by his group The Miracles. Again the boys show themselves to be adept cover artists.

Following the cover is another raver-filler tune "I Wanna Be Your Man" sung with gusto by Ringo but not even he can make this one interesting. It was written for and pitched to The Rolling Stones who released it as a single just before this album version was issued.

Next up is yet another cover this one of The Donays' (yet another all girl American group) "She's Got The Devil In Her Heart." Before ending with another cover of another Motown song, this time Berry Gordy's classic "Money," the boys serve up a standout: "Not a Second Time" sung by Lennon double tracked and drama added by George Martin's piano.

In retrospect, a weak follow up to Please Please Me. It's easy to make the case here for Meet The Beatles being a much better album. It's got "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "This Boy" and wisely ends with "Not a Second Time."

Here the original UK is preferable. The reissue is consistently brighter, harder and grainier than the original. Handclaps that sound like handclaps on the original sound like sticks on the reissue and the overall picture is less dimensional.

In some ways the recording itself is more immediate and chunkier than the debut album, because it sounds more closely miked, but in other ways it's less inviting more aggressive and kind of hollow-sounding. It's definitely less charming.

As much as I loved Introducing The Beatles on Vee-Jay, I was always luke-warm about Meet The Beatles. It didn't help that it sounds as if Capitol larded on the reverb that wasn't on the tapes they got from Parlophone. That just added an unwelcome under-watery sound to what already was an unpleasant sounding Beatles album further exacerbated by the reissue's brittleness and grainy overlay.

Topping it all off, my particular copy was the worst pressed in the box. It had non-fill that produced a "tearing" sound in spots. Iconic cover art though!

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COMMENTS
homersoddishe's picture

Just so ya know.  :)  When I was young, my beat to death LP's of Introducing the Beatles* and Meet the Beatles, handed down from my mom, were my introduction to Beatlemania.  To this day, With the Beatles, even on '87 CD, can bring me out of a funk.  You might wanna check out a later solid state cut of With The Beatles on Parlophone for an alternative to the original and the new LP.

*already counterfeit, purchased in 1964.  I've never seen or heard an original VeeJay.

JC1957's picture

With The Beatles for me was a step up from Please Please Me. There's plenty of energy goin' on here.

Furthermore, there's finally some bass on the new reissue and the song Money (to my ears) has never sounded better.

Dpoggenburg's picture

What's interesting about your review is, intellectually, you make a convincing case for the album's "weakness," built principally around the fact that 1) the LP has so many covers and 2) some of the originals are not masterworks.

But emotionally, I part ways with you. For me, WTB absolutely rocks. While I spent a good portion of my youth focusing on the mid to late albums (from Rubber Soul on), for sheer exuberance I find this stands alone: I find it stronger (as a WHOLE, mind you, and particularly in terms of performance) than PPM, though obviously not even close in compositional strength to AHDN and from Help! onwards (Beatles for Sale is a little uneven, though I think even it gets slagged a bit more than is fair). But for a balls out good time from start to finish I return to this one unreservedly. It's a least a 9 for music.

Great reviews on all these lps and many thanks. Though I would also take a slight (very slight) issue with your dismissal of side 2 of Yellow Submarine. The first track, Pepperland, is absolutely charming, and certainly worthy of more than a single listen in a lifetime. However, I freely admit that I don't think I ever listened to the REST of side 2 more than once myself!

Alex's picture

Believe it or not, With The Beatles is one of my favourite Beatles albums. There's coherence from beginning to end, very much like Revolver or Pepper's, without it actually being a concept album. This album has a sound to it, and the songs off this album can only come from this album!

My only disappointment is that no one at EMI had caught (or didn't want to) the dropout near the end of It Won't be Long. They've fixed Day Tripper and a few others, but not this one. This dropout is also present on the mono cd's. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of a UK release of this album to compare, but if someone does (Michael?), is it also on that release, or was the tape perhaps damaged at a later date?

 

Thanks!

Billf's picture

I have to disagree with you on this one. I have the British original, and think the new vinyl smokes it. There's bass there, finally! For years, I thought that Paul had sat this one out instrumentally, leaving his bass packed up. I also like the classic cover better than that of PPM, which I find kind of before-they-were-famous dorky.

As for the quality of the material, weak follow-up? No way. I think that this trumps Please Please Me/Introducing/Early big time. Maybe it's because the first Beatles album that I had was Meet the Beatles, but, in comparison, Introducing (which I waited to buy until i could find a stereo one-crazy even then) always struck me as good, although very embryonic. On WTB, they came into their own as composers, meeting the quality of originals on PPM like There's A Place and I Saw Her Standing There. As for the covers on WTB, Ringo kicks like nobody's business on Devil in Her Heart and Roll Over Beethoven and You've Really Got A Hold beat their PPM counterparts like Anna and A Taste of Honey, which I see as bordering on lame. Money is terrific, although as a closer, it does fall a bit short of John's larynx-shredding (with a bad head cold, yet) PPM vocal on Twist and Shout.

Speaking of which, the Righteous Brothers (Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield) did not write the original. Phil Medley and Bert Russelll composed it in 1961. Entirely different organisms. Given the number of people that follow your reviews like the Old Testament (New one optional), get with it. Come on, Mikey, you're better than that! (I see you edited that out- thanks!)

firedog55's picture

The covers here are tremendous, as good or better than the originals. Not a weakness at all if you ask me.

The weak tunes here are some of the originals: "I wanna be your man"; Hold me Tight (sung off key); and Don't Bother Me (yes, interesting arrangement, but sort of a boring song).  Among the lightest early Beatle originals on disc.

mallard's picture

 

N.B. The first album released in North America was Beatlemania! With The Beatles in Canada (November 25, 1963), preceding both Vee-Jay’s Introducing the Beatles (January 10, 1964) and Capitol’s Meet The Bealtes (January 20, 1964).

luv74st's picture

For those who have a hard time finding a Canadian pressing of With The Beatles, Dr. Ebbetts does an excellent job needle dropping this LP. Apparently there were several versions of Bealtemania: With The Beatles released in Canada.

(Canadian Stereo LP-Capitol- Narrow Mix/Hybrid) The first seven songs appear to be good old fashioned true stereo. The last seven songs are in stereo, but the separation is much narrower – hence, the name. I have this on CD courtesy of Dr. Ebbetts. He claims that this is from an unopened copy of the LP.

(Canadian Stereo LP-Capitol- Wide Mix) Apparently many think that this mix is the best sounding versions of this LP, if not the best ...

(Canadian Stereo LP-Capitol- Narrow Mix) This version has the left and right channels panned somewhat toward the center, "narrowing" the stereo spectrum. Unlike the Narrow Mix/Hybrid this version actually has both sides mixed narrowly.

Then there's the Canadian "version" of Meet The Beatles LP. Aparrently it was released in 1976 in Canada on the purple label. "Don't Bother Me" on this LP is unique in that there is an extra "don't" sung by George at 2:07 into the track. Right after the words "...I'll let you know when she's come home until that day," on the down beat, George sings the word "don't." Otherwise, this LP is essentially identical to the American version.  

WTB was the first LP I listened too when I opened the box set. All I can say is I loved it.    

mallard's picture

 

The issue date (first pressing) for this «American» album in Canada was on or within a few days of Wednesday, February 1st, 1967, on the rainbow label.

 

Capitol T-2047 MONO

Capitol ST-2047 STEREO

 

The mono version (available to the members of Capitol Record Club of Canada) and also sold in little quantity is very hard to find.

 

Cheers!

JC1957's picture

Both of them wide stereo on both sides, I must say they both sounded very good but a bit on the grainy side and the Canadian Capitol vinyl wasn't always dead quiet.

Better yet (IMO) is the Dutch reissue from the early 1980's of WithThe Beatles (1A 062 04181) cut from Dutch stampers ending in 3Y or 2Y offers the top notch sound on Beatlemania! but sounds a lot smoother and the vinyl is quieter.  

Check out a copy if you ever get the chance.

Steelhead's picture

No problem with the reviews and really appreciate the nit-picking and attention to detail on the different pressings.

My only criticism is the music designation.  Pick whatever sound number you derive from listening but as for Music ALL beatles albums get an 11 in my opinion.

Cheers!

AnalogJ's picture

It's funny, Don't Bother Me is one of my favorite songs on the album, and it was from the moment it came out (though, as a 5 year old, I was listening to the Crapitol version), I think I tuned into the fact that it was a bit darker, and that it is in a minor key. That latter fact, itself, makes it unusual in The Beatles' early canon. Honestly, to me, this album is the equal of PPM. Yes, they both sound dated compared to the more sophisticated pop that you get even with the third album (No Reply, I'll Follow The Sun), but I don't get that PPM is "fresh" and WTB is "weak".

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