|1. A Hard Day's Night|
|2. I Should Have Known Better|
|3. If I Fell|
|4. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You|
|5. And I Love Her|
|6. Tell Me Why|
|7. Can't Buy Me Love|
|8. Any Time At All|
|9. I'll Cry Instead|
|10. Things We Said Today|
|11. When I Get Home|
|12. You Can't Do That|
|13. I'll Be Back|
John Lennon dominates this album, starting with the strong opener, the self-titled AHDN, I Should Have Known Better featuring a jaunty harmonica, If I Fell and I'll Be Back (two of his sweetest ballads), the rockers Anytime At All and When I Get Home, the Wilson Pickett-inspired You Can't Do That and I'll Cry Instead, which features John's first confessional lyric (a la Dylan) expressing self-doubt.
Paul offers the million-selling hit, Can't Buy Me Love, and the strong ballads, And I Love Her and the underrated Things We Said Today. Otherwise, Paul takes a low profile.
The only weakness are the boy-meets-girl lyrics which were the standard of the day. Only I'll Cry Instead suggests any maturity in the songwriting, as Dylan's full influence hadn't yet touched the band.
Musically, the album's one great advance is George's introduction of the 12-string Rickbacker, whose jangly sound would be picked up by a folk quartet from L.A. later known as The Byrds. The Their success in turn would help push The Beatles in a different direction.
A final note: I still prefer listening to my Parlophone vinyl in stereo than to this mono CD. The stereo mixes are no better or worse than Help! and Rubber Soul, yet they remain officially locked in the EMI vaults. George Martin mistakenly believed that stereo mixes were never made in 1964, but this is not so. Perhaps one day Apple will have the good sense to re-issue this great album in stereo.
Following the Beatles' early 1964 tour of America, it fast became apparent to the band that they had become more popular than they could have ever imagined - and their popularity was only continuing to rise. For their next project, the band decided to do a film that demonstrated that spoofed their feelings on their life as celebrities. What resulted was the film A Hard Day's Night, produced by Dick Lester. The soundtrack to the film became the band's fourth studio album. Read on for my review.
This was the band's first LP to feature nothing but original songs - there are no covers whatsoever. It's also the first of the band's albums on which a particular member of the band dominates - in this case, John Lennon. Of the thirteen songs here, he wrote ten (although George Harrison sings one), and Paul McCartney wrote the other three. First of all, let's look at Lennon's material, which makes up the majority of the album. The title track is straight-up pop-friendly sixties rock that you'd expect the band to shell out in this era. The opening guitar strumming is priceless. When I Get Home, You Can't Do That, and Any Time At All are other pop-friendly rockers that John wrote for the album - all of which are excellent. The rather popular Tell Me Why, featured toward the end of the film, is one of the band's finest pop-style tunes. But the album isn't all about pop-style stuff. If I Fell is one of the band's first true original ballads, and it's a damn fine one too. I'll Be Back is a sort of half-ballad that closes out the album, and it's another great song. Lennon's vocals are top notch through and through. I'll Cry Instead is an extremely catchy song, despite it being a last-minute addition to the film. And then, of course, is I'm Happy Just To Dance With You. This is a Lennon composition, but George Harrison sings - and his vocals are very good here. It's a shame the band didn't use more of his material or let him sing more often - it's a mistake that would ultimately lead to him being dissatisfied with the band later on. McCartney's three compositions are very good as well. Although And I Love Her is NOT one of his stronger tunes, the other two he wrote make up for it. Can't By Me Love is, by far, the most popular song on this album - and it's damn catchy too. The last of his compositions is Things We Said Today, a sort of half-ballad. Though very different from other Beatles songs, it's an excellent song nonetheless. In the end, this is a damn fine pop-rock album. I wish they would have had Ringo singing on a song, but I'm not complaining.
THIS TEXT REFERS EXCLUSIVELY TO THE STANDARD AMERICAN ISSUE OF THE ALBUM, RELEASED IN THE EARLY NINETIES. In the early nineties, when compact discs were becoming the mainstream format of the music industry, the record company released every original United Kingdom Beatles album in America! Back in the Beatles' prime in America, the original albums from the early days were NOT released here. Rather, the record company of the day just threw together "compilations" that fused album tracks with hit singles - NOT the real albums that fans wanted. At long last, the REAL albums are available here, the way the band wanted us to enjoy them. The record company even did fans one better, and released two Past Masters CDs, which compiled all of the singles-only tracks from England! Unfortunately though, the record company wasted an opportunity, in a sense. Many of the band's albums could have been combined, (one release could have been Please Please Me/With The Beatles, one could have been A Hard Day's Night/Beatles For Sale, etc.,) but they didn't do this. That's a real shame, because it would have been a better value for customers - and since places jack up Beatle album prices anyway, the record company really SHOULD have done it. Bonus tracks and expanded liner notes would also have been nice. Oh well, we can't have it all. But these are just complaints about the issue of the album - they have no impact whatsoever on the way I feel about the album.
A Hard Day's Night is a damn fine album through and through, and is arguable the finest album of the band's pop period. If you're a Beatle fan, this album is just waiting to be added to your collection. Don't hesitate to make the purchase - by holding off on buying it, you're only hurting yourself.