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With The Beatles

Categories: Beatles albums

Beatles With The Beatles album cover art
A scant eight months separated the release of With The Beatles from their debut effort, but — boy oh boy — how things had changed! The smash success of the singles "From Me To You" and "She Loves You" had firmly established them as Britain's Toppermost of the Poppermost, and the unprecedented phenomena dubbed Beatlemania had begun to manifest itself during their concert tours during the interim.

The first LP, according to John Lennon, had been knocked off in twelve hours. "The second", said George Harrison, "Took even longer!" All of them were by then living in London, but the amount time and money spent is also a good indication of the increasing confidence which Parlophone was gaining in them. The recording sessions were actually spread out between July and September, fitted in as-and-when alongside their hectic performance schedule.

George Martin's production is notably richer than that of its predecessor. With his background in classical and comedy recording and, given the fact that pop music was being defined right there and then, deciding how it should sound was very much a case of following his instincts, playing things by his highly-tuned ear. Lennon would later recall that the band were also starting to take ay least a little interest in the magical world of studio trickery and, subsequently, "double-tracked ourselves off the album".

As a collection of songs, it's not too different from Please Please Me, but it's certainly no simple rehash or sophomore slump either. There's the same balance of covers and originals; some of them tried and tested stage chestnuts: "Postman", "Beethoven", "Hold On Me" and "Money"; others ("All I've Got To Do", "All My Loving") more recently written on the road. Lennon's "Not A Second Time" warranted mention from the classical music critic of The London Times, and we also get our first taste of a 'Harrisong' with "Don't Bother Me": as well as the only track to be written by The Beatles for The Rolling Stones, "I Wanna Be Your Man".

Equally influential, there's that mean, moody and magnificent cover: the half-shadowed faces which launched a thousand rip-offs: and the beginning of the band's association with photographer Robert Freeman.

With The Beatles was released in Britain on the same day as JFK was shot in Dallas, just a few weeks after their jewellery rattling appearance at The London Palladium, 'By Royal Command'. The unprecedented advance orders for an estimated half-million copies clearly demonstrated the spiralling popularity which they were gaining at home, and it went on to become one of the UK's first million-selling long-players.

The non-album 45 "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was issued a week later.

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