on May 23, 2005
If With The Beatles launched Beatlemania, then A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (the movie and this soundtrack) sealed it worldwide. The first album featuring entirely original songs, AHDN marks a big step forward for The Beatles and rock and roll in a time when singers and bands sang other people's compositions. This is the pinnacle of mid-60s British pop before the psychedelic era.
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.
on May 26, 2004
A Hard Day's Night (1964.) Beatles' third album.
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.
on May 21, 2004
The Beatles made their film debut in 1964 with "A Hard Day's Night," and this album is the accompanying soundtrack (although only the first seven songs are heard in the film). "A Hard Day's Night" is unique in that it's the only Beatles album to be exclusively written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with no songs written by George Harrison, no cover songs, and no lead vocals by Ringo Starr. Still, the album is outstanding pop from beginning to end, giving the Beatles yet another jewel in their musical crown, and *also* showing that the band were just starting to evolve into producing music a tad more deeper than the little rock 'n' roll ditties they started out with (though I totally love the group's early ditties, don't get me wrong!). Immortal Beatles rock 'n' rollers like the title song, "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" (with George on lead vocal), "Tell Me Why," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Any Time At All," and "You Can't Do That" are all in residence, but the Fab Four also surprise you with the gorgeous beauty of "If I Fell," "And I Love Her," "Things We Said Today," and "I'll Be Back." "I Should've Known Better" is another pop classic, "I'll Cry Instead" is a fine country-ish number, and "When I Get Home" is one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs, an awesome little pop-rocker. With Beatlemania in full swing, John, Paul, George & Ringo lay down another Beatles classic with "A Hard Day's Night." It's totally Fab!
on May 14, 2004
With the notable exceptions of The Hollies` Allan Clarke, Jackie Lomax, Ray Ennis of the Swinging Blue Jeans and one or two others, no-one of the other 60s group singers had that thrill in the voice that Lennon had (which, to my mind, makes so much of his later solo efforts such a comparative anti-climax) as exemplified here in spades on Tell Me Why, Any Time at All and the title song. He`s singing with every cell in his body, each pore, from head to toe...no wonder the Fabs felt the need to go `Whooo` every now and then!
This has always been my favourite Beatles album - the oft-underrated Beatles For Sale coming second. It`s perfect pop, and they all sound like they`re just glad to be alive!
I rate it way above Sgt Pepper, and light years above the `White Album` or Abbey Road. It`s from the same era as I Feel Fine - for me the most joyful, poignant pop song of its time.
on August 30, 2009
The Beatles third album, A Hard Day's Night, was released at the absolute height of Beatlemania, to coincide with the release in the summer of 1964 of a film about the boys by the same title. Finally, but interestingly not for once and for all, the Beatles would release an album consisting entirely of their own compositions. The original soundtrack to the film included only the first seven songs, beginning with the title track and ending with the album's other hit single, Can't Buy Me Love. Sandwiched between are I Should Have Known Better, the b-side to A Hard Day's Night, a very pretty trio of songs - If I Fell, I'm Happy Just to Dance With You, and And I Love Her. The exciting Tell Me Why follows, then gives way to one of the best songs ever to come from Paul, Can't Buy Me Love. Side two, for those who remember what it was like to flip a disc over and find more music, started strongly with John's exciting vocal on Any Time At All. I'll Cry Instead and Things We Said Today are more than filler and much preferred to having the Beatles cover rock n' roll or r & b tunes. The Beatles then rock out on When I Get Home, and John's no longer politically correct possessive/jealous You Can't Do That. The album finishes with I'll Be Back, which sounds as country and bluesy as some of the tunes that would appear more than a year later on Rubber Soul. I'll be back, indeed! The Beatles would not go away for many years, and A Hard Day's Night convinced some of the naysayers of Beatlemania, who had dismissed their Ed Sullivan Show appearances five months earlier, that the Beatles were for real. The early Beatles, despite their commercial success and their screaming fans, were not the Dave Clark V or the Monkees, but genuine artists.
on June 17, 2004
Anyone who's seen the film won't forget the virtuoso musical sequences, from the fast cutting of the opening, with the four faces flashing before us as A Hard Day's Night kicks off, to the boys playing around in a field as the soundtrack blares Can't Buy Me Love and the aerial camera soars and dips. And the energy of those sequences are in the songs, which are the most professional and confident of the Beatles' career up to this point. This album's all Lennon-McCartney, start to finish, and remains the only pure Lennon-McCartney album in the Beatles canon (George would be chipping in soon). This was the Beatles at the peak of their powers at the peak of Beatlemania. Personally, I find this to be an album that grows on you rather than wows you right away (though I'm pretty much alone in that). That's because despite the rock and roll flair of the two singles (which you've probably heard before this album), there's a lot of more subtle material on here. The first few listens I didn't even register Things We Said Today until I realized it was one of the best songs here. The sound of the guitar on this is quite memorable. And I Love Her is a classic ballad, probably the most famous song after the singles, but so is If I Fell, John's touching (and confusing, if you listen to the lyrics) ode to a love he can't pursue. This, along with the title track and I Should Have Known Better, kick off the album with a grand start. Some of the songs on side 2 (especially the aforementioned Things We Said Today) are just as strong as the first 7 tracks, which were the ones included in the movie--though there's no doubt that side 1 is superior. But I'll Be Back, You Can't Do That, and Any Time at All are all catchy pop--and at this stage the Four were writing songs with the best of 'em in Tin Pan Alley. Soon of course they would move far beyond pure pop rock as a form and love as a subject, but this is the pinnacle of their earlier, more focused phase.
on June 16, 2004
As Tony Barrow said, "we didn't want the film to turn into a continuous parade of Beatles music, but we decided to still release the other songs that John and Paul had written." And easily, any of the tracks on this LP could have been hit singles. The CD is filled with one great tune after another. There are absolutely no songs on here that you'll want to fast-forward. The title song, "A Hard Day's Night," along with "Can't Buy me Love" and "If I Fell" are probably the most famous of this collection, but it also includes such great songs as "I'll be Back," "I'll Cry Instead," and "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You." The only fault I see is that George doesn't sing enough (only 1 song), but John and Paul still do an excellent job. You would expect their first album of all-original material to be weak in spots, but it is strong all the way through. If you're a fan of the early Beatles stuff, this is THE album to buy.
on April 16, 2004
When this soundtrack album came out in the summer of 1964 - on Parlophone in the U.K. and Capitol in North America - it was an instant # 1 on both sides of the Atlantic - but the rewards didn't stop there.
Two tracks - Can't Buy Me Love [# 1 for 5 weeks] and its flipside You Can't Do That [# 48] - had already been hit singles earlier in the spring. Another # 1 single - the title song - then sprang from the album in July, b/w I Should Have Known Better [# 52], followed simultaneously by one more - And I Love Her [# 12] b/w If I Fell [# 53].
And if that wasn't enough, yet ANOTHER hit single - I'll Cry Instead [# 25] b/w I'm Happy Just To Dance With You [# 95] - followed early in August. So this was indeed an album that generated revenue from two very lucrative aspects of the market,
All were composed by Lennon-McCartney, as were the remaining album tracks - which weren't too shabby either. Indeed, I think I'll Be Back would have made still one more hit single had they taken that route back then. The liner notes may be a bit skimpy for some, but the AAD sound reproduction is perfect.
on April 9, 2004
This is, hands down, the best album of the Beatles early period. It roars along with shuch a shining and one-of-a-kind energy. It is also the only album EVER released that features Lennon-McCartney songs exclusively. All the rest include either covers or a song or two by George. This is a brilliant album, one which belongs in every collection.
I don't look at this album as two-sided (the first side being songs actually featured in the amazing film) because the songs are all wonderful. "A Hard Day's Night" is still as exbuberant and fresh as it was in 1964, kicking off with the most famous chord in the history of rock. "I Should Have Known Better" is insanely catchy and I always picture the Beatles singing it on the train when I hear it. "If I Fell" and "And I Love Her" are both great ballads composed by Lennon and McCartney, respectively. "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You" is perfect for George's voice. "Tell Me Why" is a happy, hip rocker without much of a point. "Can't Buy Me Love" is a rock classic and one of McCartney's best.
The second side is just as good, with songs like "Things We Said Today", "I'll Be Back", "Anytime at All", "I'll Cry Instead" and "You Can't Do That". For God's sake, everything about this album is perfect, even the cover! Buy it! It is spectacular.
This was the first Beatles album to contain exclusively original material. There are no George Harrison songs either - John and Paul wrote all the songs here. The first seven songs were featured in the film (including Can't buy me love, which had already been a hit) while the remaining six were also written for the film but were not used in it. Thus, only twelve of the thirteen were new recordings, although the other track was making its album debut here.
Apart from Can't buy me love, the album yielded just one other Beatles hit - the title track. However, several other songs here have retained their popularity, helped by some quality cover versions. I've heard excellent covers of I should have known better, If I fell, I'm happy just to dance with you, And I love her and Things we said today as well as the two hits, some of them in several different styles.
This is, perhaps, the strongest of the early Beatles albums prior to Rubber soul. If you are interested in the early part of their career and you want more than is available on the red album 1962 - 1966, this is essential.