Review Summary: With some disappointment…
The Beatles second album (delivered under a staggering amount of different titles dependent upon the location in which it was released), sees the group taking one step forward and two steps back. To expand, it bore some fruits of optimism for the future of the quartet, but also dropped the ball somewhat.
Before one begins to form the impression that With The Beatles
is a poor album, it must be made clear that that is certainly not the case. For the most part, the LP offers similar delights to its predecessor – naive, 2 minute pop, capably handled by Liverpool’s finest. Tracks such as the restrained anger of ‘It Won’t Be Long’, the warmth of ‘All I Got To Do’ and the rambunctious cover of ‘Please Mister Postman’ offer the expected joys of perfect vocal harmonies and refreshingly simplistic tones in the vein of Please Please Me
It’s fair to claim that With The Beatles
is more of the same in most areas. It carries on the group’s influence of 50s motown, do-wop and rock n roll, also featuring the same covers-to-originals ratio. But where it attempts to take a few steps elsewhere, such as letting all the band members handle lead vocals at some point, or, more significantly, tweaking the composition process, a few problems begin to arise.
The issue which forces With The Beatles
to slip behind its predecessor ever so slightly is the lack of energy and urgency, which not only saved Please Please Me
but made it all the more enjoyable. With The Beatles
wasn’t the 1 day, studio blitzkrieg its older brother was, and it seems the more comfortable time in which the band had to record and play around with arrangements spoilt the album a tad. For the most part, there’s just not that same rough and ready sense of urgency or abandon, and it holds the record back enough to be noticeable.
Still, the album is a briefly enjoyable ride, and offers enough value, both historically and personally, to be worthwhile. It’s also pleasing to witness tighter, more mature arrangements, and some level of risk taking in letting each band member, particularly Harrison and Starr, attempt roles they hadn’t on Please Please Me
. Things weren’t quite there yet for The Beatles, but for the time being the world was left with a set of solid, mostly enjoyable pop music that influenced generations of artists to come.