Tuesday, 20 November 2018

The Beatles - With The Beatles (1963)

  



Released November 1963

Five cover versions in its fourteen tracks, this is an album of covers and short love songs, but its cultural effect was greater than the sum of its parts. For me, like "Beatles For Sale" it seems very much a Lennon album. He dominates the whole thing, let's be honest.

TRACK LISTING

1. It Won't Be Long
2. All I've Got To Do
3. All My Loving
4. Don't Bother Me
5. Little Child
6. Till There Was You
7. Please Mr. Postman
8. Roll Over Beethoven
9. Hold Me Tight
10. You Really Got A Hold On Me
11. I Wanna Be Your Man
12. Devil In Her Heart
13. Not A Second Time
14. Money

The first two songs are classic Lennon early sixties rockers - "It Won't Be Long" is excellent and "All I've Got To Do" not far behind. The sound is superb on both of them, either in stereo or mono. It is a McCartney song, however, that really gives you that typically Beatles sound, the irresistible, evocative "All My Loving". One of my first memories is having a "Beatles" toy guitar with their faces on, aged five-six around the turn of 1963-64 (pictured above). "Don't Bother Me" is one of those melancholic Harrison songs that sounds like a Lennon song, both lyrically and vocally. "Little Child" is rousing and harmonica-driven, with Lennon and McCartney sharing vocals. It has a huge bass sound on it too. Very typical early Beatles energetic, lively rock 'n' roll. "Till There Was You" is a cover of a country love song, sung by McCartney. Lennon takes vocals on The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman". They cope with this early Motown song pretty well. It is one of their more convincing, solid covers.

I still believe the guitar at the beginning of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" is messed up, although the rest of it rocks, big time, with a resonant bass line and a surprisingly good rock vocal from Harrison. "Hold Me Tight" is a McCartney sung Buddy Holly-esque number. Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got A Hold On Me" is given a harmonious vocal treatment from Lennon and McCartney. The song suits them. Lennon is particularly impressive. Neither is Robinson, of course, but it sounds ok. Ringo Starr takes vocals for the first time on "I Wanna Be Your Man", famously also covered by the Rolling Stones. As one who always preferred The Stones to The Beatles, I have to give credit to the lively punch of this one, after all it was The Beatles' song, anyway.

The country number, "Devil In Her Heart" is very much of its time. It sounds pretty dated now, but still has an entrancing, innocent appeal to it. "Not A Second Time" has a huge bass thud to it, a great sound quality and a similarly impressive Lennon vocal. The cover of Barrett Strong's "Money" also has Lennon raspingly rocking it up. It is not up to the original, but again, it is more than acceptable. Starr comes into his own on here.

The 2009 stereo remaster is one of the best stereo remasters of the early recordings, but the mono's delicious power simply cannot be beaten.

B-

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