The Beatles released their second album, With the Beatles, in the UK on November 22, 1963. The album features seven compositions by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, one composition by George Harrison, and six cover songs. Most of the songs on With the Beatles were released in the United States on the Meet the Beatles! album in 1964; the songs not included on that album were included on their next US album, The Beatles’ Second Album.
With the Beatles opens with “It Won’t Be Long,” which was primarily written by John Lennon. Sonically, the song features call-and-response yeah-yeahs that the band was known for in their earlier material. It’s an upbeat and fun song to listen to. This is followed by “All I’ve Got to Do,” which was also written by John Lennon. Sonically, you can hear the influence of the Motown sound.
“All My Loving” was written by Paul McCartney, and it’s become one of the classic songs in the Beatles’ catalog. Sonically, the song is very simple and has an innocent sound to it. This is one of my personal favorites on the album. This is followed by “Don’t Bother Me,” which was the first song written by George Harrison to appear on an album by The Beatles. Compared to other songs by the Beatles at that time, “Don’t Bother Me” has more of a sullen mood and desolate lyrics.
“Little Child” was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and a harmonica can be heard rather predominantly in the music. While it’s not a bad song, it’s not one of the stronger songs in the Beatles’ catalog. “Till There Was You” is a cover of a song from The Music Man, and it’s the only Broadway song that the band ever recorded during their career.
The next song on With the Beatles is “Please Mister Postman,” which is a cover of a song by The Marvelettes. “Roll Over Beethoven” is a cover of the Chuck Berry song. These covers aren’t bad, but to me, they aren’t as strong as the Beatles’ original material.
“Hold Me Tight” was written primarily by Paul McCartney. It’s another fun and upbeat song by the band, and it’s one that I personally enjoy listening to. “You Really Got a Hold on Me” is a cover of a song originally recorded by The Miracles. This song slows the tempo of the album down, but it is a decent cover song.
This is followed by “I Wanna Be Your Man,” which was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and features Ringo Starr on lead vocals. “Devil in Her Heart” is a cover of a song by Ricky Dee, and it’s another slower song on the album. Compared to the other songs on the album, I think this is one of the weakest ones included.
“Not a Second Time” is another Beatles’ original, and you can hear the Motown influence in its composition. With the Beatles closes with “Money,” which is a cover of a song by Barrett Strong. Of the covers that appear on this album, I personally think that this one is the best.
Overall, With the Beatles is a decent album for what it is. However, you can hear that the band is still a “diamond in the rough,” and that they’re trying to find their musical direction. Music fans would be rewarded just a few short years later when the Beatles began experimenting with new sounds and production techniques.