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The Beatles - Past Masters Volume 2 CD (album) cover

PAST MASTERS VOLUME 2

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.11 | 57 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 1988, Past Masters Volumes 1 and 2 were released to coincide with the reissues of all the original Beatles albums. These two introspective looks into the rarities and singles of the group had some of their most important songs on them. While Volume 1 was a bit underwhelming, but in the end a good overall release, Volume 2 improves on it immensely. The songs on this release range from standard pop tunes to off the wall jazzy experiments and in the end it proves to be a large success. This album takes tracks that weren't released on albums between the Help! and Let It Be albums and those tracks that were chosen are amongst the most creative and fun in the Beatles catalogue.

Day Tripper will go down in history as one of the most recognizable riffs ever (along with Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water and Derek & Domino's Layla) and it really has a great beat to it and some nice vocals from McCartney. We Can Work It Out has some more great vocals from McCartney as well as a nice drum performance from Ringo, but other than that does nothing for me. Paperback Writer has some great riffing from the duel guitarists and some inquisitive lyrics from McCartney who sings about wanting to be a novelist. Rain is the first Beatles track to ever feature a section of backwards music, in this case the vocals and drums are backwards, and this can arguably be seen as Ringo's greatest drum performance while with the group. Spectacular acid influenced rock here. Lady Madonna was a White Album era song that had some waltzy piano lines and some nice backing vocals from George and John as well as some great overall musicianship.

The Inner Light is a raga influenced George Harrison track (that found it's way as a B-Side if I'm not mistaken), and it's his best work of this style next to the masterpiece track Love You To on Revolver. Hey Jude is one of the Beatles longest and most famous pieces (mainly for the eponymous and infamous 4 minute outro chant section). It's a somber ballad at its core, but it has an uplifting message as well as some killer piano work from McCartney (who also provides a spectacular vocal performance on top of that). Revolution is a distorted/fuzzed up version of the acoustic piece Revolution 1 found on The White Album. This version is a lot better than the original version because it's a lot heavier, it's a lot more powerful, and the leads from Harrison are just out of this world spectacular. One of the best songs in the Beatles catalogue, in my opinion. Get Back in this form was the original single version which was vastly different from the one featured on Let It Be. This version has a much more studio feel and it has a rawer sound, but other than that it is very faithful. Don't Let Me Down is one of the more underrated Beatles songs, and it has some nice keyboards on the part of Billy Preston (who sat in with the group during the Get Back sessions and the infamous rooftop concert). It has some sincere vocals from Lennon and an urgent atmosphere, and I can't help but love it.

The Ballad of John and Yoko features only two musicians on the track, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. If I remember correctly, they recorded this song within a day, and released it within a week to the public as a single. It has a nice upbeat feel to it, and some nice guitar work from Lennon. Old Brown Shoe is another George Harrison piece that has a wicked piano line and some searing leads. The sound on this track is very nice and gives hints at what Harrison's solo career would become (in a way, that is). Across the Universe is presented here in its original form, without the choir and with the original wildlife sound effects in the background (as the song was made for a World Wildlife Fund charity album). Expect more of the same from the Let It Be version, though. Let It Be is a bit different from its album counterpart mainly in that the guitar solo is vastly different from the one on the final record, and it is infinitely better. Harrison really lets loose and really shows off his true talents on this version. Finally, You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) is next to Revolution 9 the single weirdest piece the Beatles ever created. Looming around since 1968, You Know My Name features many wild sections that are connected by the lyrical theme. There's some nice Brian Jones saxophone and some great lounge style singing from McCartney in the middle sections. This actually is one of my favorite Beatles tracks, and I can't really explain why.

In the end, Past Masters Volume 2 would be a vast improvement over Volume 1. Although it isn't a masterpiece, it shows some great experimentation and creativity in the group and I can't help but feel satisfied every time I listen to it. Fans of the later Beatles albums will truly love these albums and fans of early progressively tinged songs will find this album to be fitting of that style. Me? I actually thought this album was excellent, and is a very good compilation worth of a purchase. 4.5/5

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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