The Beatles' Second Album was the first album of the group's work to be assembled by Capitol Records exclusively for the American market (as opposed to, say, Meet the Beatles!, which was a reconfigured and shortened version of With the Beatles). As such, it offends some historical purists, who don't think of it as a real album. Regardless of its origins, however, The Beatles' Second Album stands as probably best pure rock & roll album ever issued of the group's music. In the process of pulling songs from various British and American EPs, singles (including "She Loves You") and B-sides, as well as tracks left over from the editing of With the Beatles for American release, the compilers somehow managed to avoid any trace of the pop ballads favored by Paul McCartney that usually slowed down the group's other early albums, and the result was the longest uninterrupted body of hard rock & roll and R&B in their entire output. No other long-player by the group featured them doing more covers of songs by black American artists or songwriters, including Little Richard ("Long Tall Sally"), Chuck Berry ("Roll Over Beethoven"), Smokey Robinson ("You Really Got a Hold on Me"), Barrett Strong ("Money"), and others, and just to show how rich a vein this all was at the time of its release, the version of "Roll Over Beethoven" here actually charted briefly as a single, while "Long Tall Sally" served as their concert finale.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder