Past Masters Volume Two
The second volume of Beatles’ non-album material covers from late 1965 until 1970, although there’s a gap in 1967, as their 1967 single material was included on the second side of Magical Mystery Tour. Like the first volume, it’s a good overview of their career arc, and the quality of their singles often mirrors the quality of their contemporary albums.
The first four tracks cover their 1965 and 1966 singles, and they’re all brilliant; 1965’s double a-side of ‘Day Tripper’ and ‘We Can Work It Out’, and 1966’s ‘Paperback Writer’ and its psychedelic b-side ‘Rain’ are all among the group’s very best songs. Their 1968 singles are also strong, McCartney’s ‘Lady Madonna’ and the faster, more intense version of Lennon’s ‘Revolution’ are highlights. ‘The Inner Light’ is one of Harrison’s better Indian pieces, while ‘Hey Jude’ retains power even with its overlong coda.
The second half of Past Masters is all drawn from the sessions for Let It Be, and it’s clearly weaker, with throwaways like the group effort ‘You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)’ Harrison’s ‘Old Brown Shoe’ and Lennon’s monotonous ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’.
There’s some essential Beatles’ material on Past Masters Volume Two, and the first four tracks are among their very best work. Because the second half is weaker, it’s difficult to rank the package too highly, but like most things this great band recorded, it’s worth hearing.