It was four months since their last one was released, and look how far they’ve come! It’s absolutely staggering! Naturally, I’ve known this for years, but just coming off of reviewing ‘Please Please Me’ it still get a chill coming down my neck. Their sound is much, much cleaner. Their singing is much better, and incredibly soulful at times. The originals songwriting is better! EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!! … If they were able to make these leaps and bounds of improvements from an album that was pretty darn good to begin with, they might just go places!
The album opens with a song more unique and original than anything in that debut. “It Won’t Be Long” not only has that insanely catchy melody, but it has that call-and-response style singing. It won’t be the last time they’ll do that of course, but they combine it with this incredibly interesting rhythm and it becomes something the world has never quite heard before. If you had any doubts about The Beatles uncanny abilities to innovate, all you need to do is listen to that song. (And remember we’re only talking about early Beatles albums. Later on, the innovation gets crazy.)
That’s followed up with a pleasant love ballad “All I’ve Got to Do.” Apart from the evolving rhythms (thanks to Ringo), this one tends to be slightly more derivative than the others. “All My Loving” is one of the Beatles’ early hallmarks, and it’s completely rules … Paul always had that gift to write these beautiful, happy songs that make you want to keep them fondly lingering on in your mind … and of course, this is one of his better ones. The melody is infectious, of course! Those ultra clean guitars lend it that crisp feeling, which was of course incredibly important to that immortal Beatles sound. Moving onwards, ‘Little Child’ makes good use of the harmonica, although it manages to be easily the worst song on the album so far. Paul’s ‘Til There Was You’ is a lovely lilting Spanish flavoured song and then we get some inevitable, and unimaginative, cover versions.
‘Please Mister Postman’ I guess was an interesting choice being a girl group song and all, and yes indeed, The Beatles do try to replicate those girl group harmonies. John’s double-tracked lead vocal is reasonably strong, for example. It seems silly and ludicrous of me to say next though that I’ve never been very fond of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’. The Beatles version here is hardly transcendental either. It’s not very likely to send to you ‘some other place’. ‘Hold Me Tight’ following two covers, even if at least one of them was good, really does start to try your patience. Still, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ is a good original Beatles song – a decent energetic Ringo vocal, this time out. ‘Devil In Her Heart’ is fairly interesting and ‘Not A Second Time’ benefits from Piano in the mix. The closing ‘Money’ is slightly bizarre with its jazzy parts and all but once John lets his vocals loose, you’re slightly pinned back to the wall. So overall, some of the covers are genuinely interesting, others less so of course but the album seems more rounded overall than ‘Please Please Me’. The Beatles weren’t yet writing too many classic songs but that would come later.