"The Beatles' Second Album" was my first real record album (records having to do with television shows like "Mr. Ed" and "Top Cat" do not count). I actually managed to avoid buying another Beatles' album until "Abbey Road," although I did pick up "The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits" and my father made copies of "Sgt. Pepper" and "Magical Mystery Tour" at the reel-to-reel tape club at the base. So when the Beatles albums came out on CD and they went with the original British albums rather than the ones that Capitol started cobbling together on this side of the pond, I had to put together a play list of the album that I knew so well. "A Hard Day's Night" is still my favorite Beatles album, all things considered, but this is the Beatles album that makes me wax nostalgic. My cousin Donna, who got to see the Beatles in concert, had "The Beatles First Album," but all I really did was listen to "I Want to Hold Your Hand" a couple dozen times in a row, which is why that song but not that album play a larger role in my memories of the Fab Four.
The tracks for this 1964 album, which hit #1 on the "Billboard" album chart, are as follows:
1. "Roll Over Beethoven"
2. "Thank You Girl"
3. "You've Really Got a Hold on Me"
4. "Devil in Her Heart"
5. "Money (That's What I Want)"
6. "You Can't Do That"
7. "Long Tall Sally"
8. "I Call Your Name"
9. "Please Mr. Postman"
10. "I'll Get You"
11. "She Loves You"
"She Loves You" is the #1 hit single that was most associated with this album, although "Roll Over Beethoven" also charted (#68). Those two songs define this album, which offers a mix of rock & roll with rhythm & blue, and original songs as well as covers. Actually, there are only five Lennon & McCartney tunes on the album, but except for "I Call Your Name" (written by John back in the Quarry Men days), they were all songs really co-written by the pair. "Thank You Girl" was originally intended to be the B-side for "From Me to You" but ended up being the A-side. "I'll Get You" was the B-side to "She Loves You," and John and Paul actually thought it was the better song. But "She Loves You" would prove to be the best-selling single in the U.K. for the entire decade and represented everything that the early Beatles were all about musically ("Yeah, yeah, yeah"), although it is different their previous singles by being about other people rather than the singer (cf., "Love Me Do," "Please, Please Me" and "From Me to You"). The song was actually covered by Peter Sellers on three different versions representing three different accents (the Irish one is my favorite), but I digress.
What really makes this "second" album stand out from the other early Fab Four efforts is that it has so many covers of songs by black American artists and songwriters, from Chuck Berry ("Roll Over Beethoven") and Little Richard ("Long Tall Sally") to Smokey Robinson ("You Really Got a Hold on Me") and Barrett Strong ("Money"), not to mention "Please Mr. Postman" originally done by the Marvelettes. This was the first album that Capitol Records put together for the American market, pieced together from "With the Beatles" (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 9), and assorted singles. If you want to recreate the album from your current collection of Beatles CDs, then in addition to the aforementioned you want tracks 2, 7, 8, 10, and 11 from "Past Masters, Vol. 1" and track 6 from "A Hard Day's Night." Those of us who had the original vinyl album will be most inspired to do this, but even those of you born after 1964 might be curious to hear the album you would have been listening to if you had been around way back when. You might not be able to totally appeciate the nostalgia that makes me round up on this one, but you will have a much better idea of why I still of think of "The Beatles' Second Album" as number one.