Meet the Beatles


 I turned 14 six days before The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan show. I watched the show. The next day my mother took me to the closest music store and bought me "Meet the Beatles." My life was changed forever. I had bought some 45s (a small 7” vinyl platter with one song on each side that played at 45 rpms, for those of you too young to remember such things) by such artists as Rick Nelson and the Four Seasons. But this was my first album (a 12” vinyl platter plainy at 33 rpms with multiple songs on one side. Hopefully you know what vinyl is).

Though they had a similar lineup to what I saw on “Ozzie and Harriet” each week when Ricky would sing a song at the end of the show each week, that is two guitars, bass, and drums, it was different. Here were some guys who were not from Hollywood; they were just four guys who got together and learned to play instruments and sing. On top of that they were writing their own songs as well as playing other people’s. For the first time it entered my mind that a regular kid had a chance to become a musician and play in public and maybe, someday, even make records. I don’t know where I though musicians came from. Maybe they were hatched out of special eggs grown only in Hollywood or New York. I don’t know, but now it occurred to me that perhaps you didn't have to be someone special to begin with.

The songs on this album were:
Side One:
I Want To Hold Your Hand
I Saw Her Standing There
This Boy
It Won’t Be Long
All I’ve Got To Do
All My Loving
Side Two:
Don’t Bother Me
Little Child
Till There Was You
Hold Me Tight
I Wanna Be Your Man
Not A Second Time
 
It would be some years before I learned this wasn’t the album The Beatles originally recorded. The original, called “With The Beatles” in England had 14 songs not 12. And some of the songs that were on the original weren’t on this one. Later I learned that Capital records was taking 14 song LPs and butchering them up and leaving off songs and giving us Americans shorter albums so they could take the left off songs along with the singles (which The Beatles thought should not be on albums as they didn’t think fans should have to pay for the same song twice) and compile them into “new” albums. This way they could make more money off the recordings. Oh, so clever.

But I digress. I had never heard music like this before. It was not polished and highly produced like the music I was hearing on the radio. I think the last big hit I remember being on the radio before The Beatles invaded our shores was “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton. I would never have to listen to schmaltz again. Yes! It’s very hard today for anyone who wasn’t around at the time to realize what a revolution this was. I can’t even think of a way to explain it. It changed everything. Very few of the contemporary American pop artists of the time survived. There were some; The Four Seasons and The Beach Boys come to mind. The Beach Boys also became favorites of mine. It turned out that The Beach Boys were three brothers, a cousin, and a friend from high school. But I had never know that before. It took me a full year of begging, pleading, and insisting that I needed an electric guitar before my folks finally acquiesced on my 15th birthday.

There’s probably no need to do anything like a “review” of this album so let me just make a few comments. Here was a predominately guitar driven form of rock and roll based on American music I had mostly never heard. It was crudely done by today’s standards but I see very few bands today who could even copy this music let alone create it. Four singers among the four members, though admittedly Ringo wasn’t nearly as strong vocally as the other three. Here were arranging and playing there ow instruments. And I had no idea at the time how strong the songs they were writing. I guess I though anybody could do it. As it turns out, not so.

If you want to hear the music that put me over the edge pick up a copy of “With the Beatles.” I don’t think that “Meet the Beatles” is available on CD; it may be in some box-set somewhere but I’m not sure. But you can still hear the music that changed it all. A perpetual reminder of the roosts of modern rock music.

[To break down the differences between "With" and "Meet" it gooes like this:

Both Albums have these songs:
It Won’t Be Long
All I’ve Got To Do
All My Loving
Don’t Bother Me
Little Child
Till There Was You
Hold Me Tight
I Wanna Be Your Man
Not A Second Time

"Meet" has these and "With" doesn't:
I Want To Hold Your Hand (Not on an original British LP - a single)
I Saw Her Standing There (From their first British LP, "Pleae, Please Me," known as "Introducing the Beatles" in Amaerica, recorded and released before "Wtih the Beatles" in England)
This Boy (From "A Hard Day's Night" in England, part of which was released in America on the United Artist label while this and other songs showed up elswhere.)

"Wtih" has these and "Meet" doesn't:
Please Mister Postman
Roll Over Beethoven
You Really Got A Hold On Me
Devil In Her Heart
Money (That's What I Want)
(These all found their way onto an American album called "The Beatles Second Album," which of course, in reality it wasn't; "With the Beatles" was. Are you thoroughly confusued yet?) See how quickly Capital Records figured out how to squeeze more dollars of of the record buying public.

Either way it's a 5 Monkey album.

5 Monkeys


Jim

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