Tuesday, 20 November 2018

The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night (1964)


  

Released July 1964

The Beatles started to leave behind their rock 'n' roll and Motown covers for this soundtrack album to their first appealingly madcap romp of a film. Side one are all songs from the film and the second side were songs written for the film but not used. The emphasis is on pop pretty much all the way. It is an innocent, gently appealing album.

TRACK LISTING

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

The first two are corkers - the now iconic title track named after a throwaway comment from Ringo Starr and the rousing rock of John Lennon's vocal on "I Should Have Known Better". I am sure there is a missed note on the harmonica at the beginning though. In fact, looking it up, apparently the stereo version does indeed have a brief "drop out". It doesn't occur at all on the mono.

"If I Fell" is an enchanting low key love ballad, while "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" is very mid-sixties "easy listening" but it has a superb, rich, bassy sound and a captivating rhythm. George Harrison is on vocals on this one. "And I Love Her" is beautiful. One of Paul McCartney's best early love songs Just where did Ringo get those tom-toms? Don't ask :). "Tell Me Why" sees that soon to be familiar Lennon cyncism about lying within love beginning to make itself known, as it would much more on "Beatles For Sale" later in 1964. It suffers a bit from a murky, muffled mix, particularly on the stereo version. The mono version is probably the best way to listen this track, although it still has limitations. "Can't Buy Me Love", of course, is now a world-famous classic. No need for any further comment from me, is there? Apart from to praise the bass line.

"Any Time At All" has a jangling guitar sound soon to be adopted by The Byrds. Songs like this are admittedly just pretty innocent love ditties, but the influence of their full-on guitar attack, at the time, was huge. "I'll Cry Instead" is an upbeat country-ish rocker from Lennon with yet another throbbing, melodic bass line. McCartney's "Things We Said Today" has always been, for me, the best song on the album. It is catchy but also melancholic and broody, despite its lively refrain. After each chorus bit, however, the music gets downbeat again, most atmospherically. "When I Get Home" is a very typical rock-ish Lennon number from the time, similar to his "Beatles For Sale" material. "You Can't Do That" sees Lennon in a similar musical groove and some mildly threatening lyrical content, as he gets a bit jealous of his girl's potential wandering. It is one of the album's most muscular rockers. "I'll Be Back" is a harmonious but once again slightly sad love song.

This is a pleasant, inoffensive album, but beneath the tuneful geniality there are several notes of mournful sadness. These would come to be expressed increasingly over the next few albums, particularly by Lennon.

Although this album was mixed in stereo and remastered thus in 2009, this is one of those where I definitely prefer the mono (which is actually the case for all the early ones). The bassy thump of the mono version is awesome.

B-

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