About With the Beatles:
”This is the one that turned the world upside-down. Released as its creators evolved from pop group to phenomenon, With the Beatles both affirmed promise and proclaimed genius.” CDU While it shares “several similarities with its predecessor – there is an equal ratio of covers-to-originals, a familiar blend of girl group, Motown, R&B, pop, and rock, and a show tune that interrupts the flow of the album,” STE the album “is a sequel of the highest order – one that betters the original by developing its own tone and adding depth.” STE This time around, The Beatles demonstrated a “growing toughness,” SP With the Beatles “not only rocks harder, it's considerably more sophisticated.” STE
“The heart of [the album] lies…in…the originals” STE which “are well-crafted and tuneful.” DBW “No band in the history of rock music can boast…sing[ing] harmony like these guys…Those nasal, working-class accents just manage to melt into some of the most beautiful combinations of notes ever.” DC ”The Lennon-McCartney writing team was gathering steam and beginning to knock out pop classics as if they were pulling them out of thin air.” AZ “A slew of memorable…compositions embraced pop at its most multi-faceted, robust, melancholic, excited, and wistful.” CDU The group “had acquired a unique sound in the blend of John's and Paul's voices, while George was coming on by leaps and bounds as a guitar player.” AZ “It was clear that, even at this early stage, the Beatles were rapidly maturing and changing, turning into expert craftsmen and musical innovators.” STE
“They could deliver rock & roll straight [such as on] I Wanna Be Your Man,” STE which “is a good original Beatles’ song [with] a decent energetic Ringo vocal.” AD After “observing the tremendous audience response that Ringo [got] whenever he [sang] ‘Boys’, John and Paul…pen[ned this] new number” TB with Ringo in mind. It was also a song “which Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham had coaxed from the band earlier.” DC
It Won't Be Long is one of the album’s “propulsive rockers.” STE It “is a Beatle-mania crowd-pleaser” AD “with it's yeah yeah yeah's” GA and is “unremarkable musically but fairly remarkable vocally, especially the swoon-some harmony at the end.” AD
They could also “twist it around with a little Latin lilt [such as on]Little Child, one of their most underrated early rockers” STE that “makes good use of the harmonica.” AD
All My Loving, a “sprightly pop/rocker,” STE “is about as good a song as the Beatles have ever released. It has one of those Beatlesque melodies that is sure to stick in your head for a long time.” GA “The little country guitar break in the middle is delightful. It shows The Beatles beginning to think a little more about their songs, even at this early stage.” AD
There were also “richly melodic…slower songs [such as] Not a Second Time,” STE which “benefits from piano in the mix.” AD
That song and “sweet ballads [like] the achingly gorgeous All I've Got to Do,” STE showcased “great Lennon vocals.” DBW This is “a semi-successful attempt at rewriting the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song ‘Baby It's You’ which they covered on Please Please Me.” GA It “has a nice structure about it [and] it's a good song that shows practice makes, if not perfect, then at least a little better than before.” AD
”The midtempo pop number Don't Bother Me,” GA which is George Harrison’s first contribution, ”is a standout, with its wonderfully foreboding minor-key melody.” STE
Since the Beatles covered so much ground with their originals, their covers pale slightly in comparison, particularly since they rely on familiar hits.” STE Only Devil in Her Heart by American all-girl group The Donays TB “qualifies as a forgotten gem.” STE Still, “the band was always remarkably competent even when covering the most vapid material” JA and, after all, “the group always turns in thoroughly enjoyable performances.” STE
There are a couple of “high-energy 50s rock 'n' rollers” JA like Roll Over Beethoven, “a surprisingly stiff reading,” STE in which “Harrison does a dead-on Chuck Berry guitar lick,” GA and Money (That's What I Want), which “is slightly bizarre with its jazzy parts and all, but once John lets his vocals loose, you're slightly pinned back to the wall.” AD
The Beatles also cover a couple of modern R&B hits “such as Lennon's soaring interpretation” STE of You Really Got a Hold on Me, originally recorded by The Miracles. “The guitars are less to the fore varying the sound of the album when it needed a little sonic variation. Piano comes in (played by George Martin apparently)” AD and ”with able backup singing by McCartney and Harrison [the song is] out of the stratosphere.” GA
The Beatles complete a trilogy of Motown covers (“Money” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” being the other two), with their “playful” GA version of The Marvelettes’ Please Mister Postman. They “try to replicate those girl group harmonies, and actually do an ok job. John's double-tracked lead vocal is pretty strong.” AD
Paul does a “respectable job” GA on the “endearing” cover of Till There Was You, “the near-standard hit from the show The Music Man.” TB It “is a lovely lilting Spanish flavoured song” AD that demonstrates how the Beatles “listened to a lot of different kinds of music to come up with their unique sound.” GA
“With the Beatles freed artists to record their own material, and the course of pop was irrevocably changed.” CDU “This album successfully shows a band with plenty of talent and charisma. It is a testament to the Beatles that one of their lesser albums is this good.” GA “This is probably the best document of the Beatles as high-energy, three-guitar rock and roll band.” DBW
About Meet the Beatles:
Vee-Jay Records had released Introducing the Beatles, its version of the Beatles’ UK debut Please Please Me, and went largely unnoticed until Beatlemania hit American shores in the beginning of 1964. That meant that Meet the Beatles, Capitol Records’ version of With the Beatles, was the true introduction to the Beatles for most Americans.
While it was common practice in the UK to treat singles and albums as separate entities, American audiences wanted the hits on the albums. Most notably that meant adding I Want to Hold Your Hand, the song that launched Beatlemania in the United States. That also meant adding This Boy, the original B-side of the UK single, and I Saw Her Standing There, the B-side in the U.S. and a cut from Please Please Me.
To meet demand for shorter running times for albums, that also meant excising five cover songs from the original UK album – “Please Mr. Postman,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Devil in Her Heart,” and “Money (That’s What I Want).”
About The Beatles’ Second Album:
Those five songs found their way on to the next American release, The Beatles’ Second Album, which also gathered the She Loves You / I’ll Get You single and two cuts from the Long Tall Sally EP – the title song and I Call Your Name.
Chopping up the original UK album actually made for two more unified albums. Meet the Beatles focused more on original material while The Beatles’ Second Album was centered around covers which had largely already become rock-n-roll standards.
In 2004, the Capitol Records Vol. 1 box set gathered the U.S. albums Meet the Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New, and Beatles ‘65 on CD for the first time.