Picking up in 1965 where Past Masters, Vol. 1 left off, Past Masters, Vol. 2 collects the 15 non-LP tracks that the Beatles released in the last five years of their career (not counting the singles that were released on Magical Mystery Tour). If Vol. 2 is more eclectic than its predecessor, it isn't quite as thematically consistent, but it does hit greater highs with a greater frequency. Indeed, some of the greatest singles in pop history are here: "Day Tripper," "We Can Work It Out," "Paperback Writer," "Rain," "Lady Madonna," "Hey Jude," "Revolution," "Don't Let Me Down," and "The Ballad of John and Yoko." All of the aforementioned are staples in the Lennon/McCartney canon, and while George Harrison's two contributions aren't as familiar, "The Inner Light" is arguably his best Indian excursion and "Old Brown Shoe" is a charmingly jaunty tune that points toward his solo career. In the middle of all this, single versions of "Get Back" and "Let It Be" appear (the former is stiffer than the LP version, the latter is better than its counterpart), along with the alternate (and superior) "Across the Universe" and the silly yet strangely irresistible "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)." Overall, the compilation feels a little disjointed, mainly because it covers so much ground so quickly, but that takes nothing away from the quality of the music, since many of these songs rank among the best, most inventive recordings of the pop/rock era.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Brian Jones