The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- An incredible sounding copy, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
- Superb space and immediacy, rich and (relatively) smooth and oh-so-Tubey Magical lead and harmony vocals - this is exactly the right sound for With The Beatles
- So many great songs: All My Loving, Please Mr. Postman, Til There Was You, You've Really Got A Hold On Me, Devil In Her Heart... fourteen in all
- 5 star: "It was clear that, even at this early stage, the Beatles were rapidly maturing and changing, turning into expert craftsmen and musical innovators."
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This is a tough album to get to sound right, as long-time readers of our site surely know, but here are the sides that prove this album can sound very good indeed. Looking for the best sound? Try Till There Was You on side one and You Really Got A Hold On Me on the flipside.
What the Best Sides of With The Beatles Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1963
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Tubey Magic Is Key
This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, especially in the case of the new Beatles albums, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What We're Listening For on With The Beatles
Less grit - smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on With the Beatles.
A bigger presentation - more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a Pure Pop record. It needs at least some weight down below to rock the way Norman Smith, The Beatles long-suffering engineer, wanted it to.
Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven't played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.
Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
Early or Late Pressing?
So many Parlophone copies would have you think With The Beatles is a gritty, edgy, crude recording -- especially if you made the mistake of buying an early pressing. The early pressings are consistently grittier, edgier and more crude than the later pressings we played. So much for that old canard "original is better". When it comes to With The Beatles it just ain't so, and it doesn't take a state of the art system or a pair of golden ears to hear it.
The audiophile community seems not to have caught on to the faults of the early Beatles pressings, but we here at Better Records are doing our best to correct their all-too-common misperceptions, one Hot Stamper pressing at a time.
It may be a lot of work, but we don't mind -- we love The Beatles! We want to find the best sounding copies of ALL their records, and there is simply no other way to do it than to play them by the dozens.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
A Tough Record to Play
With the Beatles ranks fairly high on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale. Do not attempt to play it using anything other than the highest quality equipment.
Unless your system is firing on all cylinders, even our hottest Hot Stamper copies -- the Super Hot and White Hot pressings with the biggest, most dynamic, clearest, and least distorted sound -- can have problems . Your system should be thoroughly warmed up, your electricity should be clean and cooking, you've got to be using the right room treatments, and we also highly recommend using a demagnetizer such as the Walker Talisman on the record, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.
This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area most audiophiles neglect).
- It Won't Be Long
- All I've Got to Do
- All My Loving
- Don't Bother Me
- Little Child
- Till There Was You
- Please Mr. Postman
- Roll over Beethoven
- Hold Me Tight
- You've Really Got a Hold on Me
- I Wanna Be Your Man
- Devil in Her Heart
- Not a Second Time
- Money (That's What I Want)
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
With the Beatles is a sequel of the highest order — one that betters the original by developing its own tone and adding depth. While it may share several similarities with its predecessor — there is an equal ratio of covers-to-originals, a familiar blend of girl group, Motown, R&B, pop, and rock, and a show tune that interrupts the flow of the album — With the Beatles is a better record that not only rocks harder, it's considerably more sophisticated... the heart of With the Beatles lies not in the covers, but the originals, where it was clear that, even at this early stage, the Beatles were rapidly maturing and changing, turning into expert craftsmen and musical innovators.
Original Liner Notes (!)Fourteen freshly recorded titles – including many sure-fire stage-show favourites – are featured on the two generously filled sides of this record. The Beatles have repeated the successful formula which made their first ‘Please Please Me’ LP into the fastest-selling album of 1963. Again they have set eight of their own original compositions alongside a batch of ‘personal choice; pieces selected from the recording repertoires of the American R&B artists they admire most.
The first half of the session gets away to a rip-roarin’ start with John’s powerful treatment of IT WON’T BE LONG NOW. Two more Lennon/McCartney compositions follow with these two remarkably talented tunesmiths handling their own lyrics on ALL I’VE GOT TO DO and ALL MY LOVING. On the first slower number John takes the vocal lead with Paul supplying the harmony. On ALL MY LOVING Paul stands in the vocal spotlight with John and George chanting in the background. Listen to George’s superb, slightly Country and Western guitar solo, an intriguing feature of ALL MY LOVING.
DON’T BOTHER ME marks the disc debut of George Harrison as a composer. It is a fairly fast number with a haunting theme tune. Behind George’s double-tracked voice the rest of the fabulous foursome create some unusual instrumental effects. Paul beats out a lean, hollow-boned rhythm from the claves, John uses a tambourine and Ringo hits out at a loose-skinned Arabian bongo (don’t ask me where he picked that up!) to pound out the on-beat percussive drive.
On a fair number of previous recordings by The Beatles producer George Martin has joined the group to add suitable piano sounds to their instrumental arrangements. His keyboard contributions come a little later in this new programme but on LITTLE CHILD it is Paul McCartney who plays piano. John and Paul join forces for the vocal on this rocker and, whilst Paul was over-dubbing the piano bits. John was standing beside another microphone adding in some neatly-timed mouth-organ phrases.
Those who considered Paul’s interpretation of A Taste Of Honey to be a stand-out attraction of The Beatles’ first LP will be more than pleased to hear him assume the role of romantic balladeer again on TILL THERE WAS YOU, the near-standard hit from the show ‘The Music Man.’
Ringo plays the bongos behind Paul’s solo performance, George and John switch to acoustic guitars for this track only Paul’s’ pulsating bass uses electricity.
If you have read a great deal in the musical press about Merseyside’s beat basement, The Cavern, you might imagine that the cellar stompers of Liverpool would demand an all-up-tempo programme. Curiously Paul’s persuasive handling of TILL THERE WAS YOU used to go down extremely well at the club long before the Love me do days when The Beatles were frequent bill-toppers at this now-famous venue.
The first half closed with another number which dates back to The Beatles’ Cavern Club period. Once an American chart-topper for a recording group called The Marvelettes, PLEAE MR. POSTMAN features a double-tracked John Lennon with George and Paul in vocal support.
Chuck Berry’s ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN has been one of the most requested items at recent concert performances by The Beatles. George duets with himself on this one; the boys add to the atmosphere of active excitement by their handclapping.
Paul issues forth with the invitation HOLD ME TIGHT on the fairly brisk second track of Side Two. More handclapping and energetic vocal support from John and George.
The boys have an immense admiration for America’s rhythmic group The Miracles, to whom they pay tribute via their interpretation of YOU REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME. John and George tackle the wild, relentless vocal with Paul joining them for the chorus lines. Incidentally that IS George Martin on piano this time!
Observing the tremendous audience response that Ringo has been getting whenever he sings Boys, John and Paul put their heads together to pen a special new number their fierce-voiced drumming man. The result is a real raver entitled I WANNA BE YOUR MAN. The Hammond organ in the background is played by John Lennon.
Though they are lesser known on our side of the Atlantic than The Crystals or The Shirelles, the American all-girl group The Donays have always commanded plenty of professional respect from The Beatles. Therefore, they witched around the lyrics of DEVIL IN HER HEART and handed this medium-paced beat offering to George Harrison, John and Paul provide the harmony with Ringo using his maracas.
The final Lennon/McCartney composition of this session features a double-tracked John Lennon singing NOT A SECOND TIME. George Martin’s piano work is featured on this number and again upon the programme’s closing track MONEY. Paul describes MONEY as ‘a really big screamer’ and he recalls the numerous Cavern Club occasions when this item brought forth the same type of overwhelming response given to Twist and Shout. Much recorded by American blues merchants, MONEY has John shouting the raw lyrics with tremendous force and feeling whilst George and Paul supply the answers.
MONEY makes a completely worthy climax to this knock-out programme. Hope it doesn’t leave you too breathless to flip back to Side One for a repeat-play session WITH THE BEATLES.
– TONY BARROW