Essentials: ‘Meet The Beatles!’ Album Review

It’s the 50th anniversary of the classic ‘Meet The Beatles’ album: what a dynamic, explosive and groundbreaking recording it was, and is!

January, 1964. America was clamoring for an album release by The Beatles, who were officially signed to EMI Records (affiliated with Capitol). Vee-Jay Records of Chicago beat Capitol to the punch with the release of Introducing …The Beatles, which prompted a hurried issue on January 20, 1964 by Capitol of Meet The Beatles! The album consisted of tracks recorded between February 1963 and October 1963 at EMI Studios in London. Rolling Stone has ranked this work as no. 59 on the 500 greatest albums of all time. We concur, as have 5 million other rabid Beatles fans who have purchased the record over the years.

The album went to number 1 and stayed there for eleven weeks. It lost its top spot to … The Beatles Second Album. Never before had an artist or a group replaced itself with another hit record. But this was Beatlemania, a term not to be taken lightly. Not since the early days of Elvis had a pop act galvanized an audience so intensively with their on-stage electrifying presence. What is truly amazing is how well their high-voltage excitement was transmitted onto wax in the studio.

Two factors become abundantly clear in present day auditions of this classic recording. One, the energy and dynamics of The Beatles are positively explosive, especially when listened to in mono. Second, these guys were amazing songwriters from the very beginning, in quality and in quantity. At one point in 1964 The Beatles occupied 6 positions in the Top Ten Billboard hit singles chart. Never before, and never again has such an astonishing feat happened.

Here are the tracks from Meet The Beatles!

Side One
1. “I Want To Hold Your Hand”
2. “I Saw Her Standing There”
3. “This Boy”
4. “It Won’t Be Long”
5. “All I’ve Got To Do”

Side Two
1. “Don’t Bother Me”
2. “Little Child”
3. “Till There Was You”
4. “I Wanna Be Your Man”
6. “Not A Second Time”

Lennon-McCartney wrote 9 of the 11 tracks, with George Harrison writing “Don’t Bother Me” and Meredith Wilson composing “Till There Was You.” Yes, this is a pop album for the most part, but the unforgettable rockers “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Wanna Be Your Man” put the lie to the old saw that The Beatles were nothing but a girlie group. It’s a commonplace that real hipsters prefer the music of The Stones because they were a cooler group, they were into blues, they were rebels with a cause (that cause being the promotion of Jagger above all else). I have to confess I counted myself as a Stones guy for years, but then… I gained access to The Beatles in mono and was blown away by their early stuff. It’s easily the equivalent of Elvis on Sun Records.

So if you can find the vinyl in mono, take a listen to this and don’t forget to turn it up… loud.

“Well, she was just seventeen, you know what I mean
And the way she looked was way beyond compare”

Lennon-McCartney were so far superior in songwriting ability when compared to other pop acts, past and present that they set standards that were met perhaps only by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. That’s a comparison that’s often been made, and I will add my own analogy:

Lennon-McCartney were playing chess while all other pop writers were playing checkers.

Maybe it’s time you arranged to Meet The Beatles! one more time. That is, if you have vinyl facilities.