Released: 10 April 1964
John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, harmonica, handclaps
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass guitar, cowbell, handclaps
George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, cowbell, maracas, conga, handclaps
George Martin: piano
‘Roll Over Beethoven’
‘Thank You Girl’
‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’
‘Devil In Her Heart’
‘You Can’t Do That’
‘Long Tall Sally’
‘I Call Your Name’
‘Please Mister Postman’
‘I’ll Get You’
‘She Loves You’
The Beatles’ Second Album was the band’s second long player released in the USA by Capitol Records, and the follow-up to the bestselling Meet The Beatles!.
It came out just two months after The Beatles’ record-breaking first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and at a time when public appetites for Beatles products were at a frenzied peak.
The Beatles’ Second Album was, in fact, the band’s third US album. The Vee-Jay label had released Introducing The Beatles, containing songs from the Please Please Me LP, in January 1964. But Capitol were keen to assert themselves as The Beatles’ US label, and had taken legal action which meant Vee-Jay only had rights to release certain songs until October 1964, after which the songs would be Capitol’s.
On The Beatles’ Second Album, conversely, only five of the eleven songs were Lennon-McCartney originals, with cover versions making up the remaining six. There were also no ballads – this was a pure, uninterrupted slice of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B, lasting just 28 minutes but no less thrilling for its brevity.
Five of the songs had originally been released on the UK album With The Beatles. They were ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’, ‘Devil In Her Heart’, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, and ‘Please Mister Postman’.
Two songs – ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘I Call Your Name’ – had appeared on the standalone EP Long Tall Sally in the UK. EPs were a rarity in the US, giving Capitol extra choices from which to assemble new releases.
‘You Can’t Do That’ had been the b-side of the ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ single, released in the US on 16 March 1964, and four days later in the UK. ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ itself was part of the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack, and so was released on the United Artists album on 26 June 1964.
Of the remaining songs, ‘She Loves You’ had been released as a single by the Swan label in September 1963, with ‘I’ll Get You’ on the b-side. And ‘Thank You Girl’ had been the b-side of ‘From Me To You’ when Vee-Jay released it in May 1963.
The Beatles’ Second Album set a template for Beatles albums on Capitol, which thereafter almost always contained an oddly uneven eleven songs. Of the eleven music albums the label issued between 1964 and 1966, the only exceptions were Meet The Beatles! and the US Rubber Soul, each of which featured a dozen songs, and the documentary album The Beatles’ Story.
There was, however, an 8-track version of The Beatles’ Second Album released as Capitol 8XT-2080, which added ‘And I Love Her’ to even up the running order, to make twelve songs. It had ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘Thank You Girl’, and ‘Devil In Her Heart’ on program 1; ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, ‘You Can’t Do That’, and ‘Long Tall Sally’ on program 2; ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’, ‘I Call Your Name’, and ‘I’ll Get You’ on program 3; and ‘Please Mr Postman’, ‘She Loves You’, and ‘And I Love Her’ on program 4.
Capitol’s studio engineers, overseen by executive Dave Dexter, added reverb to the mono and stereo mixes supplied by EMI, to give the impression of a live recording. They also made fake stereo versions of ‘I’ll Get You’ and ‘She Loves You’, made by slashing the treble on one side of the stereo spectrum, and the bass from the other.
The mixes of ‘Thank You Girl’ are unique to The Beatles’ Second Album, containing additional harmonica by John Lennon during the bridge and ending. Capitol also created a fold-down mono mix from the stereo, rather than using EMI’s mono original, and did the same on ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’.
The mono version of ‘I Call Your Name’ is also notable for containing cowbell from the beginning of the song. On the stereo, the instrument begins with the vocals. George Harrison’s guitar introduction is also unique to the mono mix.
The Beatles’ Second Album was released by Capitol in America on 10 April 1964. Both front and back covers contained a montage of photographs taken by Joe Covello.
Unlike Meet The Beatles!, there were no liner notes on the back of The Beatles’ Second Album. It did, however, contain the heading text: “Never before has show business seen and heard anything like them… AND HERE THEY ARE!…THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR FOURSOME SINGING AND PLAYING THEIR NEW COLLECTION OF HITS”.
The Beatles’ Second Album entered the Billboard Top LPs chart at number 16 on 25 April 1964. The following week it was at number one, replacing Meet The Beatles!. It spent five weeks at the top, and remained in the top 200 until May 1965.
By the end of 1964, The Beatles’ Second Album had sold 1,668,435 copies, and 2,051,486 copies by the end of the 1960s. It was certified gold by the RIAA on 13 April 1964, and double platinum on 10 January 1997.
The Beatles’ Second Album was first released on compact disc in the 2004 box set The Capitol Albums, Volume 1. The disc contained both stereo and mono mixes.
It was reissued again in 2014, as a standalone release and as part of the box set The US Albums. That version contained both mono and stereo mixes, but were the standard EMI versions available elsewhere, rather than the Capitol mixes unique to the original release.