The Beatles' Second Album

The Second of the US Capitol Albums

The Beatles' Second Album
Legendary front cover of the much-loved Beatles' Second Album. Apple Corps Ltd.

For many a US fan this album personifies The Beatles, and the particular "sound" of this record is beloved and firmly etched into memories of growing up listening to The Beatles.

As the title plainly indicates, this was the second Beatle LP to be released in America by Capitol Records. Even so, the title is a little misleading because this is actually the third album available to US audiences at the time.

Due to Capitol's initial disinterest in the band, the small Vee Jay Records which operated out of Chicago, also had Introducing...The Beatles in the marketplace. The Beatles' Second Album was issued on April 10, 1964, less than three months after the first US Capitol release, Meet the Beatles! 

Based on the huge success of Meet the Beatles!, and the general hysteria of what was fast becoming known as "Beatlemania" sweeping the nation, Capitol scrambled to assemble another album - even though The Beatles hadn't yet finished a new LP. The Beatles Second Album was therefore a compilation, a mishmash of songs pulled from previous UK and US releases that were available to the record company (and had not already been used on the similarly hasty Meet the Beatles! release). Subsequently it ended up being a blast of rock'n'roll from beginning to end, and that's precisely why so many people love it.

There's an energy to this record that is unique and sees it take flight.

Some facts and figures: The album runs for just 27 minutes and 41 seconds. It was the second of no less than four Beatle albums issued by Capitol in 1964. Only five of its eleven tracks are Lennon/McCartney originals. It spent five weeks at the number one spot on the Billboard Top LPs chart, and sold over 2 million copies.

The "sound" of this particular LP is a sound that many US fans also find special and unique. The stereo release of The Beatles' Second Album in particular is awash in echo and reverb - effects added by the American engineers. This has become known as the album being "Dexterized", a term taken from a man named Dave Dexter Jnr., the Capitol executive who supervised the mastering process. He deemed the masters he got from Britain to be inferior and wanted their US records to have the sound of a "live" performance. And so he changed them, without reference to The Beatles or their producer George Martin. Dexter also altered the mixes for some songs and so the US releases contain some interesting variations. For an example, compare the original US "Thank You Girl" from the The Beatles' Second Album to the UK version (found on Past Masters - Volume One). There's  much more reverb, and quite different harmonica flourishes mid way through the song and at the end with the Dexter treatments applied. 

The Beatles' Second Album opens with George Harrison's explosive rendition of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven", and it never lets up from there. John Lennon's version of Barrett Strong's "Money" has become definitive, and Paul McCartney absolutely rips through Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally".

There are also covers of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles ("You Really Got a Hold On Me"), The Marvelettes ("Please Mr Postman"), and the more obscure "Devil in Her Heart" by The Donays. The album closes with a strong Beatle original, "She Loves You", proving that Lennon and McCartney were able to cut it with the best when it came to writing catchy pop melodies.

One side-effect of Capitol's song selection process being done the way it was is that Paul McCartney is decidedly under-represented on The Beatles' Second Album. He only gets two lead vocals. So too is Ringo Starr - who doesn't get to sing at all. The record is pretty much all John Lennon leads, with George Harrison getting two songs as well. 

If you want to indulge in an in-depth study, get hold of Dave Marsh's excellent book - simply called The Beatles' Second Album.

It's a fascinating read.

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Rasmussen, Anthony. "The Beatles' Second Album." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/the-beatles-second-album-3219907. Rasmussen, Anthony. (2016, August 22). The Beatles' Second Album. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-beatles-second-album-3219907 Rasmussen, Anthony. "The Beatles' Second Album." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-beatles-second-album-3219907 (accessed November 24, 2017).