Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Beatles 2: Second Album

After most of With The Beatles was used for the first album, the rest would turn up on The Beatles’ Second Album, one of the most bonehead titles of its or any day. While Meet The Beatles! showcased the songwriting talents of the Lennon-McCartney team, the leftovers available for Second Album were mostly covers lumped together. They’re all good, of course, but the end result was a less than stellar follow-up.
Here’s where Capitol’s selections start to seem really arbitrary: they included “She Loves You” (a current hit on the tiny Swan label), two B-sides from 1963 (“I’ll Get You” and “Thank You Girl”), “You Can’t Do That” (the B-side of “Can’t Buy Me Love”, the current #1 single not included here) and half of the current British Long Tall Sally EP. It’s an odd set of all uptempo rockers, with sepia-toned photos from the first US visit on the cover—some of which are merely close-ups of hair-covered foreheads. (In fact, many cash-in collections purporting to have Beatle music sometimes sported drawings of hair on the covers to entice the unsuspecting youth.) Still, Capitol can be commended for collecting songs that would otherwise have stayed buried on singles and EPs, even if there wasn’t anything to please the grownups this time.
Ringo doesn’t get a song to sing, but George gets two, on covers of “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Devil In Her Heart”. Paul’s featured doing his best Little Richard on “Long Tall Sally”, but it’s John who gets to really shine on this album. “Money”, “You Really Got A Hold On Me” and “Please Mr. Postman” demonstrate why his is one of the best rock voices ever. And on his own compositions he adds some clever instrumental touches—the ska middle-eight in “I Call Your Name” and the clenched-fist guitar solo in “You Can’t Do That”.
Mathematically, it’s still a good album, but it doesn’t surpass the excellence of the debut. Luckily for everyone concerned, there was plenty more to come, and besides, at this point budding Beatlemaniacs were glad to have anything they could get their hands on. Some of them (not least Dave Marsh, who wrote a whole book “about” the album) positively adored Second Album, reverb and all, and would gladly shell out the bucks for The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1 in 2004 to get it on CD, and maybe even again in 2014 as part of the “U.S. Albums” releases.

The Beatles The Beatles’ Second Album (1964)—4
UK CD equivalent: With The Beatles/A Hard Day’s Night/Past Masters

1 comment:

  1. My understanding is if you get the 2014 U.S. Releases set, you won't get the reverb. They reconstructed the albums using audio from the 2009 remasters (the dry UK versions of the songs). By contrast, the 2004 set was actually cut from the U.S. (reverb added) masters.