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Friday, December 4, 2015

Beatles for Sale (No. 2)

Two months after the EP Beatles for Sale, the ingeniously-titled Beatles for Sale (No. 2) arrived on June 4th, 1965.  The four tracks issued here definitely qualify as deep cuts culled from an album that was now six months old.

SIDE ONE

I'll Follow the Sun
Baby's in Black

SIDE TWO

Words of Love
I Don't Want to Spoil the Party

For the first time, there were no liner notes on the back cover apart from a simple track listing.  Instead, the eight previous EPs, along with their contents and catalog numbers, were listed.  This meant, of course, that all of them were still in print and available for purchase at record stores throughout the UK at that time.

Whether it was by design or not, all four of these songs are essentially duets by John and Paul, with one or the other occasionally taking a solo line or two.  These tracks highlight a period of close collaboration between the two songwriters which was already showing signs of coming to an end.

First up is one of McCartney's earliest compositions, the lovely ballad I'll Follow the Sun.  Paul sings the verses alone (sometimes double-tracked) on this song, then John joins in with his harmony line in the bridges.  Baby's in Black is an actual Lennon-McCartney 50/50 composition, an increasingly rare commodity even at this point in the group's career.  It's an odd piece, not nearly up to their usual standards, yet they chose to add it to their stage act in 1965.

Side two opens with Words of Love, the one and only cover of a Buddy Holly song the Beatles would officially record for release.  John and Paul imitate the rock and roll icon's vocal style, singing in a manner they would never duplicate.  Lennon's rockabilly I Don't Want to Spoil the Party rounds out the program with John and Paul trading the lead vocal line between the verses and the bridges.  George's twangy Gretsch Tennessean guitar dominates the band's sound on both of these numbers, as well as on Baby's in Black on side one.

Despite the presence of I'll Follow the Sun, the overall feeling of the disc is downbeat, a fact which may have contributed to its relatively poor sales.  It only managed to reach the number five spot on the Record Retailer EP chart even though it had no competition from any other Beatles' single or album for over a month.

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