Monday, June 9, 2008

CD Review: With The Beatles

1) It Won't Be Long
2) All I've Got to Do
3) All My Loving
4) Don't Bother Me
5) Little Child
6) Till There Was You
7) Please Mister Postman
8) Roll Over Beethoven
9) Hold Me Tight
10) You Really Got a Hold On Me
11) I Wanna Be Your Man
12) Devil in Her Heart
13) Not a Second Time
14) Money
Before the Beatles became the faces of psychedelia, and long before they were classic rock gods, they were the first garage band to hit it big. In this disc, one can hear the roots of Beatlemania. The sounds are youthful and rocking, but capture the band in an immature state, before they had enough experience to make truly great music.
John was the band's de facto leader - he sings lead on half of the tracks. The other members' time in the spotlight - even Paul's - is sparse by comparison. To some extent, Paul didn't break out until "Yesterday", and George was certainly "the quiet one" until Revolver.
In fact, "Don't Bother Me" was the first of George's compositions to make a Beatles track listing, but it only reaffirms the "quiet" label, not standing out much from the other songs. Ringo's showcase, "I Wanna Be Your Man", is a simple, blunt celebration of lust. Paul shines in a Latin take on The Music Man's ballad, "Till There Was You", but his shaky vocals on "All My Loving" and "Hold Me Tight" make those tracks two of the album's lower points.
The album literally begins and ends with John. He kicks things off with the rocking "It Won't Be Long", setting the tone for the rest of the album, and his soundtrack to a romance gets even more intense with the second track, "All I've Got to Do". "Not a Second Time" is a song for the broken hearted that shows John's cynical side, and the disc closes with "Money", a cover that features Lennon vocals as good as the rest of the album's - the savior of a shaky take.
But even with all its flaws, With The Beatles still has plenty of charm. One can hear the influence of the Beatles' early recordings in everyone from the Stones to R.E.M. to Nirvana. Before they were the best band in the world, the Beatles were the finest garage band in Liverpool.
***3/4 out of five

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