"With The Beatles": A Weak Follow Up?
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!