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With the Beatles

This post is slightly delayed due to the sheer madness of the past week, but I did, in fact, listen to "With the Beatles" for a total of 9 straight days (so you don't have to!). My three Naik fellas really could only withstand approximately 1.7 songs from this album at a time, so this was primarily a solo endeavor. Probably the best thing about this album is the iconic photo on the cover:
But maybe you're thinking to yourself, what the heck is "With the Beatles?" Don't you mean "Meet the Beatles?" What trick are you trying to pull, lady? So it's probably a good time to point out that the Beatles Box Set includes all of the studio albums that were released in the UK. So, if you were in the US in 1964, you instead would have seen these songs split between "Meet the Beatles" and the cleverly titled "The Beatles' Second Album." But you would have heard them way after your British hipster counterparts, kinda like how we had to annoyingly wait for "Downton Abbey" to be broadcast on PBS approximately 300 years after it aired on the BBC.

It is actually pretty hard to accurately listen to Beatles songs in a relatively chronological manner due to the various albums, singles, b-sides, and different order that they were released, depending on the country. The Past Masters (also in the box set) are intended to fill in the gaps on the singles that never made it onto an album. Way back in the late 90's, after I started using the internet, but before Napster (RIP, Napster), I would sometimes seek out CD singles with the coveted IMPORT sticker on them. These often had singles or b-sides not available on albums, but probably heard in live performances. Sometimes they were "enhanced" in some way, with a music video or something. Most of my IMPORT stash didn't survive the Ewing/Naik music collection merge of 2009 (my CDs constituted my entire dowry), but I was able to dig up these gems.
 Holy shit, one of these contains previously unused BONUS STICKERS!
Will my kids every truly understand how much time and effort their mother put into seeking out sub-par British pop songs when they can simply download/stream anything instantly?

Long story short, here's a bunch of songs our allies in the UK were probably jamming in 1963 while Americans waited for their turn.

1. "It Won't Be Long"

This song is pretty peppy and features some quintessentially Beatles-y chords, but it's also pretty annoying. I suppose all the "yeah! yeah! yeah! yeahs!" are also quintessential, but on this particular track, they are just too much to take.

2. "All I've Got To Do"

Here's a John song that is perfectly pleasant, and a welcome respite from all the previously mentioned yeah yeah yeahs. It's not terribly memorable, though.

3. "All My Loving"

To my ears, this is the only truly essential track on the album. I'm actually pretty surprised this was never released as a single, because it is really catchy and accessible. I think the first time I heard it was in the night club scene in "A Hard Day's Night." I won't go on and on about my love for that film here, since the soundtrack is a standalone album, but that scene does feature some adorable dancing by Ringo and several "With the Beatles" tracks playing in the background. If you listen to this album for 9 straight days this is one of the maybe three tracks that you are unlikely to skip.

4. "Don't Bother Me"

I love that George's first songwriting credit is this song about leaving him alone and not bothering him. Oh, George! Of course this only makes me want to hang out with him more. According to this writeup on my Myers-Briggs personality type, I just can't help myself and try to win over Georges at any given opportunity. If you know me, you know this is 100% accurate.

"More outgoing types will naturally gravitate towards them, but ENFPs will also go to great lengths and be surprisingly persistent in their efforts to get to know more reserved personalities. Their ability to tune into others and speak their language with that characteristic infectious enthusiasm helps them in this endeavor, and the allure of mystery that reserved types, especially Introverted Intuitives, bring to the table will keep ENFPs intrigued for years. These personality types may never be able to reciprocate the breadth of human interest that ENFPs present, but they do appreciate ENFPs’ efforts."

5. "Little Child"

Gah, this song is the worst. John himself apparently considered it "album filler." Just skip it.

6. "Till There Was You"

The first (and maybe only?) time I've seen "The Music Man" was on a random day in 6th grade band class. I was one of maybe 10 kids who actually sat down in front of the tv and watched it (nerd alert!). Anyway, this song is originally from the musical, but I think it's now considered a "standard." This version is a syrupy sweet arrangement sung by Paul. It is darling. I got curious about what is required for a song to be considered a "standard" but it's just a subjective label applied to songs that were quite popular and have been covered by a large number of artists. I think a safe bet is to use my personal rule of thumb, which simply involves checking to see if Rod Stewart ever covered it for one of his many, many, many American songbook albums. Lo and behold, he covered this song (of course).

7. "Please Mister Postman"

The Beatles liked performing covers of girl group songs, including this one. This gender swapping trick has also been used to many contestants' advantage on shows like American Idol.

8. "Roll Over Beethoven"

Am I the only loser who hears any version of any Chuck Berry song and immediately thinks of his cousin, Marvin Berry?

9. "Hold Me Tight"

I wasn't very familiar with this one, but it is definitely worthy of a sing/dance along. In fact, it was charmingly employed in a dance sequence in "Across the Universe" (a movie that I simultaneously admire yet can't help rolling my eyes at...I'll note that in 10th grade creative writing class I wrote a really lame story using names of Beatles songs, and it was uncannily similar).

10. "You Really Got a Hold on Me"

I mean, the Beatles obviously admired Smokey Robinson, so it's perfectly fine for them to cover this song, but I would choose to listen to Smokey's version eight days a week.

11. "I Wanna Be Your Man"

Doing lots of research on Beatles songs reveals that John was a big jerk most of the time. So maybe it wasn't really Yoko that was the problem after all, gang. At any rate, they basically gave this song away to the Rolling Stones, but then recorded it themselves, having Ringo take lead vocal because apparently John thought it was a throwaway song, so why not just let Ringo do it? See? He's a jerk. Otherwise this song is only notable for the insanely cute George dancing in "A Hard Day's Night."

12. "Devil in Her Heart"

Just kidding, THIS song is actually the worst. Sorry about that, "Little Child."

13. "Not a Second Time"

I had never heard this song before! It is actually worth a listen, as you get a double-tracked John on lead vocals, some interesting chord progressions, and the specter of lots of different 1960's musical influences (including maybe some Smokey). Plus, I wonder if the Zombies liked this song, because the last couple of "Not a Second Ti-i-i-i-imes" also sound identical to The Zombies singing "Tell it to me slowly" in this far superior 1968 song:

14. "Money (That's What I Want)"

The album closer is another cover that the Beatles performed at live shows, and is a notable early Motown song. But if I'm being honest, I keep confusing it in my mind with Spinal Tap's "Gimme Some Money."

That's it! If you're keeping track at home, "With the Beatles" was totally just okay, and definitely not as good as "Please Please Me." I suspect that future listening to the Past Masters will reveal that some of the better early Beatles material was released as non-album singles. I'm currently on a mini Beatles cleanse, listening to a 1960's pop-inspired album by Austin band Star Parks, but "A Hard Day's Night" is up next, which I'm pretty sure will require me to rewatch the movie at least a couple of times this week.


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