This is the one that turned the world upside-down. Released as its creators evolved from pop group to phenomenon, With The Beatles both affirmed promise and proclaimed genius. A slew of memorable Lennon/McCartney compositions embraced pop at its most multi-faceted, robust, melancholic, excited, and wistful. Their grasp of melody and harmony startled, yet for every unusual chord sequence employed, the Beatles' vigor and sense of purpose remained true. Influences and mentors were acknowledged by a handful of cover versions, but the strength of the album lies in the group's own creations. With The Beatles freed artists to record their own material, and the course of pop was irrevocably changed. EMI. 2005.
They still had plenty of covers to fill out the running time, but the Lennon-McCartney writing team was gathering steam and beginning to knock out pop classics as if they were pulling them out of thin air. "All My Loving" and "I Wanna Be your Man" come from this record, issued hurriedly to capitalise on Beatlemania. But even when they were laying into some classic Chuck Berry, by this time the Beatles had acquired a unique sound in the blend of John's and Paul's voices, while George was coming on by leaps and bounds as a guitar player. While not absolutely essential, as a snapshot of a band in a place and time, With the Beatles
is good for a smile. --Chris Nickson