Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Beatles' Second Album

Most chroniclers of the Beatles' works key on the British releases, for some reason they consider them to be definitive. For that reason alone I have chose to focus on the American releases! Why? Because I can, and will. Plus, I like the covers.

The Beatles' Second Album is The Beatles' second Capitol Records album, and their third album released in the United States including Introducing... The Beatles released three months earlier on Vee-Jay Records.

The Beatles' Second Album went to number one on the album charts in the US, knocking off Meet the Beatles!, the first time an artist replaced itself at number one on the US album charts.

In 2004 this album was re-released for the first time on Compact Disc (catalogue number CDP 7243 8 66877 2 2), (CDP 7243 8 66878 2 1) as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 box set and was issued in a miniature cardboard replica of the original album sleeve. This album was also released in the US on 8-track cartridge in 1967, and reel to reel tape and cassette in 1969.


Unlike the contemporaneous British Beatles albums, The Beatles' Second Album is composed exclusively of uptempo numbers, and for this reason is a favourite of some Beatles aficionados and rock critics. "The Beatles' Second Album stands as probably best pure rock & roll album ever issued of the group's music" [sic], wrote Allmusic.

Songs for this album were compiled from four different UK releases. Included were the five remaining tracks from the group's second British LP With the Beatles. Those songs were left off the previous Capitol album Meet the Beatles!. Also included were "Thank You Girl" (the B-side to the British single "From Me to You"), the single "She Loves You" / "I'll Get You", "You Can't Do That" from the A Hard Day's Night soundtrack in the UK, and two new songs, "Long Tall Sally" and "I Call Your Name," both released a month later in the UK on the Long Tall Sally EP. Also, the Capitol Records engineers, headed by record executive Dave Dexter, Jr, added a lot of echo and reverb to the stereo versions to give the music more of a "live" feel. This is much more noticeable on the "With the Beatles" tracks, as they were recorded in two-track stereo.

Worth noting is the inclusion of the stereo version of "Thank You Girl," as The Beatles' Second Album featured the only "true" stereo version of the song released on any US or UK album for over 40 years, until another stereo version of the song was released on the 2009 remastered edition of Past Masters (The Beatles Second Album stereo version of "Thank You Girl" was also included on The Beatles Beat, a German release). Since some echo was added, this version remains a bit of a rarity.

The Capitol album mix is also unique in that its version contains three additional harmonica riffs, two during the bridge and one at the very end of the song. For its American-album debut, Capitol took this stereo version and transferred it into a two-to-one stereo-to-mono mixdown for the mono album release, thus creating an alternative mono mix of the song. The stereo version of "Money" also underwent the same two-to-one stereo-to-mono mixdown for this album, thus creating another alternative mono mix. In the mono version of "I Call Your Name", the cowbell comes in at the very beginning of the song, whereas in the stereo version it comes in after the beginning of the vocal. Harrison's opening 12-string guitar phrase is also different between the mono and stereo versions. In "Long Tall Sally", the stereo version has echo while the mono version is lacking it. The mono version of "You Can't Do That" is different to the one released on the British album "A Hard Day's Night" for unknown reasons.

Track listing

All tracks written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, except where noted. See also: Lennon–McCartney.
Side one
  1. "Roll Over Beethoven" (Chuck Berry)
  2. "Thank You Girl"
  3. "You Really Got a Hold on Me" (Smokey Robinson)
  4. "Devil in Her Heart" (Richard Drapkin)
  5. "Money (That's What I Want)" (Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy, Jr.)
  6. "You Can't Do That"
Side two
  1. "Long Tall Sally" (Robert Blackwell, Enotris Johnson, Little Richard)
  2. "I Call Your Name"
  3. "Please Mister Postman" (Robert Bateman, Georgia Dobbins, Garrett, Fred Gorman, Brian Holland)
  4. "I'll Get You"
  5. "She Loves You"
In the 21st century we have access to many facts about common rock albums that we might not have had in decades past. Songwriting credits now see the light of day, names that were associated but omitted for whatever reason are now included, and generally speaking, details that were previously glossed over are brought to the fore, in the ever-widening info age we currently live in. As time goes on, there will be no minutiae left unfurled for us to ponder whether there is any significant use for revealing it... Every detail will be revealed. I like it.

Next in the series of Beatles' LP reviews comes one for "A Hard Days Night", the "original motion picture soundtrack" album of the movie of the same name. It was the one that broke the Beatles worldwide in a really big way. The charm of the black and white footage is particularly endearing.

Tomorrow we return to the minutiae that surrounds me, and believe you me, there are tons of it. There's a lot of inertia to go with it, so watch out! You may get sprayed with minutiae and inertia... So, until then, keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

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