Tag Archives: THE BEATLES

Help! (1965, the Fifth Beatles Album)

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Help

Studio Album / Soundtrack by The Beatles
Released 6 August 1965
Recorded 15–19 February, 13 April, 10 May & 14–17 June 1965,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock, pop rock, folk rock
Length 34:20
Label Parlophone
Producer George Martin
The Beatles Chronology
Beatles for Sale
(1964)
Help!
(1965)
Rubber Soul
(1965)
Singles from
Help!
  1. “Ticket to Ride”
    Released: 9 April 1965
  2. “Help!”
    Released: 19 July 1965
Professional Ratings
Review Scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars
The A.V. Club A
Blender 4/5 stars
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars
Paste 100/100
Pitchfork Media 9.2/10
The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) 5/5 stars
The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1979) 5/5 stars[

Help! is the fifth British and tenth North American album by English rock group the Beatles, and the soundtrack from their film Help!. Produced by George Martin for EMI’s Parlophone Records, it contains fourteen songs in its original British form, of which seven appeared in the film. These songs took up the first side of the vinyl album and included the singles “Help!” and “Ticket to Ride”. The second side contained seven other releases including the most-covered song ever written, “Yesterday”.[13]

The American release was a true soundtrack album, mixing the first seven songs with orchestral material from the film. Of the other seven songs that were on the British release, two were released on the US version of the next Beatles album, Rubber Soul, two were back-to-back on the next US single and then appeared on Yesterday and Today, and three had already been on Beatles VI.

In 2012, Help! was voted 331st on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.[14] In September 2013, after the British Phonographic Industry changed their sales award rules, the album was declared as having gone platinum.

Music

The album features Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday”, arranged for guitar and string quartet and recorded without the other group members. John Lennon’s “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” indicates the influence of Bob Dylan and includes classical flutes. While several compositions on 1964’s Beatles for Sale, as well as “I’ll Cry Instead” from A Hard Day’s Night, had leaned in a country and western direction, McCartney’s “I’ve Just Seen a Face” was almost pure country, taken at such a fast tempo that it might have been bluegrass if not for the absence of banjo and fiddle.

“Ticket to Ride”, also released as a single, was felt by Lennon to be “heavy” in its sound compared to the group’s previous output and daring in its reference to a boy and girl living together. McCartney called the arrangement “quite radical”.

George Harrison contributed “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much”, his first compositions to be included on a Beatles album since “Don’t Bother Me” on 1963’s With the Beatles.

The record contained two cover versions and a few tracks more closely related to the group’s previous pop output, yet still marked a decisive step forward. The record sleeve-note shows that Lennon and McCartney made more extensive and prominent use of keyboards, previously played unobtrusively by Martin. Four-track overdubbing technology encouraged this. Lennon, for his part, made much greater use of acoustic guitar, forsaking his famous Rickenbacker. All these developments can be traced to the previous Beatles for Sale, where they were less obvious because that album had been recorded more hastily, lacked chart hits and contained many cover versions.

The original LP’s format of featuring songs from the soundtrack on side one and non-soundtrack songs on side two follows the format of A Hard Day’s Night.

In later years, Lennon stated that the album’s title track was a sincere cry for help; he regretted changing it from a downbeat, piano-driven ballad to an uptempo pop song, which was done only as a result of commercial pressures.

Help! was the band’s final British album (except for the late 1966 “oldies” album) to feature any cover songs until 1970’s Let It Be (which included a performance of the traditional folk song “Maggie Mae”). (In 1966, Capitol would release “Act Naturally”, already on the British Help! album, on Yesterday and Today, and later in 1966 Parlophone would release that “oldies” album, which included “Bad Boy”; both songs had been recorded before Help! was released.)

Rejected Songs

A few songs that were intended for the film were not used because of the Beatles’ suggestions. Lennon and McCartney wrote “If You’ve Got Trouble” for Ringo Starr to sing, but the song was rejected and Starr sang “Act Naturally” (which is not in the film but is about being in the movies) instead. “That Means a Lot” was written for the film, but the Beatles were not satisfied with their performance of the song and they gave it to P.J. Proby, who released it as a single. Lennon said “Yes It Is” was “me trying a rewrite of ‘This Boy’, but it didn’t work”; it was released as the B-side of “Ticket to Ride” and was also on Beatles VI. “You Like Me Too Much” and “Tell Me What You See” were rejected for use in the film by its director, Richard Lester, though they did appear on the album (and also on Beatles VI).

Much later, in June 1965, the song “Wait” was recorded for the album. However, “Wait” (with some newly added overdubs) ended up on Rubber Soul when another song was needed to complete that album.

When “Help!” came out in ’65, I was actually crying out for help. Most people think it’s just a fast rock-‘n’-roll song. I didn’t realize it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help. It was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: He — I — is very fat, very insecure, and he’s completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was. Now I may be very positive — yes, yes — but I also go through deep depressions where I would like to jump out the window, you know. It becomes easier to deal with as I get older; I don’t know whether you learn control or, when you grow up, you calm down a little. Anyway, I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for help.

John Lennon

Album Cover

The album cover features the Beatles with their arms positioned to spell out a word in flag semaphore. According to cover photographer Robert Freeman, “I had the idea of semaphore spelling out the letters “HELP”. But when we came to do the shot, the arrangement of the arms with those letters didn’t look good. So we decided to improvise and ended up with the best graphic positioning of the arms.”

HelpSPELLINGOn the UK Parlophone release, the letters formed by the Beatles appear to be “NUJV”, whilst the slightly re-arranged US release on Capitol Records appeared to feature the letters “NVUJ”, with McCartney’s left hand pointing to the Capitol logo. The Capitol LP was issued in a “deluxe” gatefold sleeve with several photos from the film and was priced $1 more than standard Capitol releases at the time.

Compact Disc Release

There have been three Compact Disc releases of Help!. The first was on 30 April 1987, using the 14-song UK track line-up. Having been available only as an import in the US in the past, the original 14-track UK version replaced the original US version with its release on LP and cassette as well on 21 July 1987. As with the CD release of the 1965 Rubber Soul album, the Help! CD featured a contemporary stereo digital remix of the album prepared by Martin in 1986. Martin had expressed concern to EMI over the original 1965 stereo remix, claiming it sounded “very woolly, and not at all what I thought should be a good issue”. Martin went back to the original four-tracks tapes and remixed them for stereo. One of the most notable changes is the echo added to “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”, something that was not evident on the original mix of the LP.

When the album was originally released on CD in Canada, pressings were imported from other countries, and used the 1987 remix. However, when the Disque Améric and Cinram plants in Canada started pressing the album, the original 1965 stereo mix was used by mistake. This was the only source for the 1965 stereo mix in its entirety until the release of the mono box set in 2009.

The 2009 remastered stereo CD was released on 9 September. It was “created from the original stereo digital master tapes from Martin’s CD mixes made in 1986”. The disc in the mono box set contains the 1965 mono mix as well as the 1965 stereo mix.

Track Listing

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. “Help!” Lennon 2:18
2. “The Night Before” McCartney 2:33
3. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” Lennon 2:08
4. “I Need You” (George Harrison) Harrison 2:28
5. “Another Girl” McCartney 2:05
6. “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” Lennon 2:17
7. “Ticket to Ride” Lennon with McCartney 3:10
Side two
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. “Act Naturally” (Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison) Starr 2:29
2. “It’s Only Love” Lennon 1:54
3. “You Like Me Too Much” (George Harrison) Harrison 2:35
4. “Tell Me What You See” McCartney and Lennon 2:36
5. “I’ve Just Seen a Face” McCartney 2:04
6. “Yesterday” McCartney 2:03
7. “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” (Larry Williams) Lennon 2:53

North American Capitol Release

HelpUSalbumcover

Soundtrack album by The Beatles and Ken Thorne
Released 13 August 1965
Recorded 15–19 February, 13 April, 10 May & 14–17 June 1965,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 28:43
Label Capitol
Producer George Martin, Dave Dexter, Jr.
The Beatles North American chronology
Beatles VI
(1965)
Help!
(1965)
Rubber Soul
(1965)
Singles from Help!
  1. “Ticket to Ride”
    Released: 19 April 1965
  2. “Help!”
    Released: 19 July 1965

The North American version, the band’s eighth Capitol Records album and tenth overall, includes the songs in the film plus selections from the orchestral score composed and conducted by Ken Thorne, which contains one of the first uses of the Indian sitar on a rock/pop album. “Ticket to Ride” is the only song on the American release in duophonic stereo (also known as “fake stereo”) reprocessed from the mono mix. This album is available on CD as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 2 box set. This set also includes the mono version of the American release, which is purely a stereo-to-mono fold-down mix, including the “fake stereo” duophonic “Ticket To Ride” folded down to mono, despite Capitol already having the mono mixes for the single releases of both that song and “Help!”. A second CD release of this album, which contained the seven songs in true mono was issued in 2014 individually and part of the Beatles The U.S. Albums boxed set.

The American version of “Help!” reached the number one spot on the Billboard album charts for nine weeks starting on 11 September 1965.

Track Listing

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. “Help!” (preceded by an uncredited instrumental intro based on “The James Bond Theme”) Lennon 2:39
2. “The Night Before” McCartney 2:36
3. “From Me to You Fantasy” (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) instrumental 2:08
4. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” Lennon 2:12
5. “I Need You” (Harrison) Harrison 2:31
6. “In the Tyrol” (Ken Thorne) instrumental 2:26
Side two
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. “Another Girl” McCartney 2:08
2. “Another Hard Day’s Night” (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) instrumental 2:31
3. “Ticket to Ride” Lennon with McCartney 3:07
4. “Medley: The Bitter End (Ken Thorne)/You Can’t Do That” (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) instrumental 2:26
5. “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” Lennon 2:19
6. “The Chase” (Ken Thorne) instrumental 2:31

Chart Positions

Chart Year Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 1965 1
Billboard 200 Pop Albums
Australian Albums Chart
Australian Albums Chart 1966

Certifications

Original Release
Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA) Gold 35,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Platinum 300,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.

North American Release
Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada) 2× Platinum 200,000^
United States (RIAA) 3× Platinum 3,000,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Personnel

According to Mark Lewisohn and Alan W. Pollack.

  • John Lennon – lead, harmony and background vocals; acoustic (six and twelve-string) and rhythm guitars; electric piano
  • Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and background vocals; lead, acoustic and bass guitars; keyboards (acoustic and electric pianos); güiro
  • George Harrison – lead, harmony and background vocals; acoustic, rhythm and lead guitars
  • Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps and assorted percussion (tambourine, maracas, cowbell, bongos, claves and brushed snare); lead vocals (on “Act Naturally”)
Additional musicians
  • George Martin – piano and producer
  • John Scott – flutes on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”
  • String quartet on “Yesterday”, arranged by Martin in association with McCartney

Surround versions

The songs included in the soundtrack of the film Help! were mixed into 5.1 surround sound for the film’s 2007 DVD release, that is, tracks 1—7, accounting for half of the original album’s songs.

Release history

Country Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom 6 August 1965 Parlophone mono LP PMC 1255
stereo LP PCS 3071
United States 13 August 1965 Capitol mono LP MAS 2386
stereo LP SMAS 2386
Worldwide reissue 15 April 1987 Apple, Parlophone, EMI Compact Disc CDP 7 46439 2
United States 21 July 1987 Capitol stereo LP CLJ 46439
Japan 11 March 1998 Toshiba-EMI CD TOCP 51115
Japan 21 January 2004 Toshiba-EMI Remastered LP TOJP 60135
Worldwide reissue 11 April 2006 Apple/Capitol/EMI CD reissue of US LP CDP 0946 3 57500 2 7
Worldwide reissue 9 September 2009 Apple/Capitol/EMI CD stereo remaster CDP 0946 3 82415 2 2

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

200px-Beatles_logo.svgFOREVER

Beatles for Sale (1964, the Fourth Beatles Album)

200px-Beatles_logo.svgBeatlesforsale-vert

Beatles for Sale is the fourth studio album by English rock band the Beatles, released on 4 December 1964 and produced by George Martin for Parlophone. The album marked a minor turning point in the evolution of the Lennon–McCartney partnership, John Lennon particularly now showing interest in composing songs of a more autobiographical nature. “I’m a Loser” shows Lennon for the first time coming under the influence of Bob Dylan,[3] whom he met in New York while on tour, on 28 August 1964.

Beatles for Sale did not produce a single for the UK – the non-album tracks “I Feel Fine” and “She’s a Woman” performed that role. Nevertheless, that coupling was followed up in the United States by “Eight Days a Week”, which became their seventh number one in March 1965.

The album hit the UK number one spot and retained that position for 11 of the 46 weeks that it spent in the Top 20. Beatles for Sale did not surface as a regular album in the US until 1987. In its place was Beatles ’65 which featured eight songs from Beatles for Sale, plus the A and B-side of “I Feel Fine” and “I’ll Be Back” from the UK’s A Hard Day’s Night album. Beatles ’65 enjoyed a nine-week run at the top of the US charts from January 1965.

Overview

The Beatles began their first studio session for Beatles for Sale on 8 June 1964, only seven days after their last session for A Hard Day’s Night. Prior to the new recording sessions, the band toured Australia and New Zealand (after a two-show night in Hong Kong), played concerts in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and made several television, radio and live concert appearances in the UK. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic said, “It was inevitable that the constant grind of touring, writing, promoting, and recording would grate on the Beatles,”[5] leading to the inclusion of several cover versions after the all-original A Hard Day’s Night; the band’s visible weariness on the album’s cover is noted by narrator Malcolm McDowell during The Compleat Beatles. Yet during these sessions they were still capable of recording the single “I Feel Fine” and its B-side, “She’s a Woman” (both written by Lennon–McCartney, and not included on the album).

Gram Parsons has noted the strong country influence on “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”. “I’m a Loser” is also notable for being perhaps the first Beatles song to directly reflect the influence of Bob Dylan, thus nudging folk and rock a little closer together toward the folk-rock explosion of the following year.

Charting

Beatles for Sale and its modified US counterparts, Beatles ’65 and Beatles VI, all reached number one on the charts in their respective countries, with Beatles for Sale taking over from A Hard Day’s Night in the United Kingdom.

On 26 February 1987, Beatles for Sale was officially released on Compact Disc (catalogue number CDP 7 46438 2), as were three other Beatles’ albums, Please Please Me, With the Beatles and A Hard Day’s Night. Almost 23 years after its original release, the album charted in the United Kingdom for a fortnight in 1987. Having been available only as an import in the US in the past, the album was also issued domestically in the US on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987. Even though this album was recorded on four-track tape, the CD version issued in 1987 was available only in mono.

This album has been digitally remastered using the latest technology (along with the rest of the Beatles’ catalogue) and was reissued on CD in stereo for the first time on 9 September 2009.

Writing and Recording

Background

When Beatles for Sale was being recorded, Beatlemania was just past its peak; in early 1964, they had made waves with their television appearances in the United States, sparking unprecedented demand for their records. Beatles for Sale was their fourth album in 21 months. Recording for the album began on 11 August, just one month after the release of A Hard Day’s Night, following on the heels of several tours. Much of the production on the album was done on “days off” from performances in the UK, and most of the songwriting was done in the studio itself.

Most of the album’s recording sessions were completed in a three-week period beginning on 29 September. Beatles’ producer George Martin recalled: “They were rather war-weary during Beatles for Sale. One must remember that they’d been battered like mad throughout ’64, and much of ’63. Success is a wonderful thing, but it is very, very tiring.”

Song Selection

Even the prolific Lennon–McCartney songwriting team could not keep up with the demand for their songs, and with a targeted deadline of Christmas to meet, the band resorted to recording several cover versions for the album. This had been their mode of operation for their first albums but had been abandoned for the all-original A Hard Day’s Night. The album included six covers, the same number as their first two albums. McCartney recalled: “Recording Beatles for Sale didn’t take long. Basically it was our stage show, with some new songs.” Indeed, three of the cover tunes were recorded in a total of five takes in one session on 18 October.

Beatles for Sale featured eight original Lennon and McCartney works. At this stage in their partnership, Lennon’s and McCartney’s songwriting was highly collaborative; even when songs had a primary author the other would often contribute key parts, as with “No Reply” where McCartney provided a middle-eight for what was otherwise almost entirely a Lennon song.

In 1994, McCartney described the songwriting process he and Lennon went through:

We would normally be rung a couple of weeks before the recording session and they’d say, ‘We’re recording in a month’s time and you’ve got a week off before the recordings to write some stuff.’ … so I’d go out to John’s every day for the week, and the rest of the time was just time off. We always wrote a song a day, whatever happened we always wrote a song a day … Mostly it was me getting out of London, to John’s rather nice, comfortable Weybridge house near the golf course … So John and I would sit down, and by then it might be one or two o’clock, and by four or five o’clock we’d be done.

Recording

Recording took place at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London. The Beatles had to share the studio with classical musicians, as McCartney would relate in 1988: “These days you go to a recording studio and you tend to see other groups, other musicians … you’d see classical sessions going on in ‘number one.’ We were always asked to turn down because a classical piano was being recorded in ‘number one’ and they could hear us.” George Harrison recalled that the band was becoming more sophisticated about recording techniques: “Our records were progressing. We’d started out like anyone spending their first time in a studio—nervous and naive and looking for success. By this time we’d had loads of hits and were becoming more relaxed with ourselves, and more comfortable in the studio … we were beginning to do a little overdubbing, too, probably to a four-track.”

Recording was completed on 18 October. The band participated in several mixing and editing sessions before completing the project on 4 November; the album was rushed into production and released exactly a month later. The Beatles’ road manager, Neil Aspinall, later reflected: “No band today would come off a long US tour at the end of September, go into the studio and start a new album, still writing songs, and then go on a UK tour, finish the album in five weeks, still touring, and have the album out in time for Christmas. But that’s what the Beatles did at the end of 1964. A lot of it was down to naivety, thinking that this was the way things were done. If the record company needs another album, you go and make one.”

Original songs

Opening tracks

All three opening tracks for Beatles for Sale have a sad or resentful emotion attached to them. This opening sequence set the sombre overall mood of the album, revisited in another Lennon tune, “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”, which, “consistent in tone with ‘No Reply’, ‘I’m a Loser’, and ‘Baby’s in Black’”, according to Allmusic, “finds the singer showing up at a party only to find that the girl he expected to find isn’t there”.

Other McCartney songs on the album included “What You’re Doing”, which implored the singer’s girlfriend to “stop your lying”. Although “Eight Days a Week” and “What You’re Doing” are well regarded by many fans, they were regarded negatively by their creators: McCartney dismissed “What You’re Doing” as “a bit of filler … Maybe it’s a better recording than it is a song …”, while Lennon referred to “Eight Days a Week” in a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine as “lousy”. In 1972, Lennon revealed that “Eight Days a Week” had been made with the goal of being the theme song for the film Help!:

I think we wrote this when we were trying to write the title song for ‘Help!’ because there was at one time the thought of calling the film Eight Arms To Hold You.

McCartney considered the Beatles for Sale sessions to be the beginning of a more mature phase for the band:

We got more and more free to get into ourselves. Our student selves rather than ‘we must please the girls and make money’, which is all that “From Me to You”, “Thank You Girl”, “P.S. I Love You” is about. “Baby’s in Black” we did because we liked waltz-time … and I think also John and I wanted to do something bluesy, a bit darker, more grown-up, rather than just straight pop.

“No Reply”

According to Lennon in 1972, Beatles music publisher Dick James was quite pleased with “No Reply”:

I remember Dick James coming up to me after we did this one and saying, ‘You’re getting better now—that was a complete story.’ Apparently, before that, he thought my songs wandered off.

Reviewer David Rowley found its lyrics to “read like a picture story from a girl’s comic,” and to depict the picture “of walking down a street and seeing a girl silhouetted in a window, not answering the telephone.”

“I’m a Loser”

Steven Thomas Erlewine, writing for Allmusic, singled out “I’m a Loser” as “one of the very first Beatles compositions with lyrics addressing more serious points than young love.” (cf. “There’s a Place”)

David Rowley found it to be an “obvious copy of Bob Dylan”, as where Lennon refers to the listener as a “friend”, Dylan does the same on “Blowin’ in the Wind”. He also said its intention was to “openly subvert the simple true love themes of their earlier work”.

“Baby’s in Black”

Main article: Baby’s in Black

Unterberger said this song was “a love lament for a grieving girl that was perhaps more morose than any previous Beatles song”. The song features a two-part harmony sung by Lennon and McCartney.

“I’ll Follow the Sun”

“I’ll Follow the Sun” was a reworking of an old song; it had originally been written when McCartney was a youth, as he related in 1988:

I wrote that in my front parlour in Forthlin Road. I was about 16 … We had this hard R&B image in Liverpool, so I think songs like “I’ll Follow the Sun”, ballads like that, got pushed back to later.

Unterberger argued that although the song was “sometimes described as a ballad because of its light and mild nature, it’s actually taken at a pretty brisk tempo.”

George Martin would later say that this was his favourite song from Beatles for Sale.

“Eight Days a Week”

Main article: Eight Days a Week

“Eight Days a Week” is noteworthy as one of the first examples of the in-studio experimentation that the band would use extensively in the future; in two recording sessions totalling nearly seven hours on 6 October devoted exclusively to this song, Lennon and McCartney tried one technique after another before settling on the eventual arrangement. Each of the first six takes of the song featured a strikingly different approach to the beginning and ending sections of the song; the eventual chiming guitar-based introduction to the song would be recorded in a different session and edited in later. The final version of the song incorporated another Beatles first and pop music rarity: the song begins with a fade in as a counterpoint to pop songs which end in a fade out.

“Every Little Thing”

Main article: Every Little Thing (song)

The dark theme of the album was balanced by “Every Little Thing”, a “celebration of what a wonderful girl the guy has”, according to Unterberger,[15] that appeared later in the album and had been written as an attempt for a single, according to McCartney:

‘Every Little Thing’, like most of the stuff I did, was my attempt at the next single … but it became an album filler rather than the great almighty single. It didn’t have quite what was required.

The British progressive rock band Yes included an extended cover of this song on their 1969 debut album and have played their version live on many occasions.

“What You’re Doing”

Main article: What You’re Doing

The lyrics are generally believed to concern McCartney’s relationship with Jane Asher, also considered to be the muse for future Beatles songs such as “I’m Looking Through You” and “You Won’t See Me” from Rubber Soul and “For No One” from Revolver.

Cover Songs

The remainder of the album consisted of cover versions, several of which had been staples of the Beatles’ live shows years earlier, especially in Hamburg, Germany and at The Cavern in Liverpool, including Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music”, Buddy Holly’s “Words of Love”, and two by Carl Perkins, “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” (sung by George Harrison) and “Honey Don’t” (sung by Ringo Starr).

800px-Beatles_for_sale_side1Many critics panned the cover version of “Mr. Moonlight”. Stephen Thomas Erlwine of allmusic called it Lennon’s “beloved obscurity” that wound up as “arguably the worst thing the group ever recorded.”[5] Q magazine agreed, calling “Mr. Moonlight” “appalling.” Rowley noted that the original by Dr Feelgood and the Interns was “hardly outstanding”. A cover of Little Willie John’s “Leave My Kitten Alone” was recorded at the same session, but rejected from inclusion on the finished album; it was widely bootlegged before seeing official release on 1995’s Anthology 1 compilation.

596px-Bfs_lp_corrThe recording of the medley of “Kansas City” and “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!” was memorable for McCartney, who in 1984 said that it required “a great deal of nerve to just jump up and scream like an idiot.” His efforts were egged on by Lennon, who “would go, ‘Come on! You can sing it better than that, man! Come on, come on! Really throw it!'” The song was inspired by Little Richard, who combined “Kansas City” with his own composition, “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!”, but Rowley found the lead vocals “strained” and considered it McCartney’s “weakest Little Richard cover version” (although McCartney only recorded one other Little Richard cover, “Long Tall Sally”, while with the Beatles). However, in contrast to this Ian MacDonald, in his book Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties, described it as one of their better covers. The original LP sleeve listed the song as “Kansas City” (Leiber & Stoller). After the attorneys for Venice Music complained, the record label was revised to read “Medley: (a) Kansas City (Leiber/Stoller) (P)1964 Macmelodies Ltd./KPM. (b) Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey! (Penniman) Venice Mus. Ltd. (P)1964.”

Release

Beatles for Sale was released in the United Kingdom on 4 December 1964. On 12 December, it began a 46-week-long run in the charts, and a week later knocked A Hard Day’s Night off the top of the charts. After seven weeks, the album’s time at the top seemed over, but Beatles for Sale made a comeback on 27 February 1965, by dethroning The Rolling Stones and returning to the top spot for a week. The album’s run in the charts was not complete either; on 7 March 1987, almost 23 years after its original release, Beatles for Sale re-entered the charts briefly for a period of two weeks shortly after the first CD release on 26 February 1987.

Album Design

The downbeat mood of the songs on Beatles for Sale was reflected in the album cover, which shows the unsmiling, weary-looking Beatles in an autumn scene photographed at Hyde Park, London. McCartney recalled: “The album cover was rather nice: Robert Freeman’s photos. It was easy. We did a session lasting a couple of hours and had some reasonable pictures to use … The photographer would always be able to say to us, ‘Just show up,’ because we all wore the same kind of gear all the time. Black stuff; white shirts and big black scarves.”

This was the first Beatles album to feature a gatefold cover (the next would be Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in 1967). The photo inside the gatefold cover showed The Beatles standing in front of a montage of photos, which some have assumed was the source of inspiration for the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, though there is no evidence for this.

The sleeve notes featured an observation by Derek Taylor on what the album would mean to people of the future:

There’s priceless history between these covers. When, in a generation or so, a radioactive, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what the Beatle affair was all about, don’t try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play them a few tracks from this album and he’ll probably understand. The kids of AD2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well being and warmth as we do today.

North American Release

The concurrent Beatles release in the United States, Beatles ’65, included eight songs from Beatles for Sale, omitting the tracks “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!”, “Eight Days a Week” (a number one hit single in the US in early 1965), “What You’re Doing”, “Words of Love”, “Every Little Thing”, and “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” (flipside to “Eight Days a Week”, it reached number 35 in the US and it would hit number one on the US Country chart for Rosanne Cash when she remade it in 1989). In turn, it added the track “I’ll Be Back” from the British release of A Hard Day’s Night and the single “I Feel Fine”/”She’s a Woman”. The six omitted tracks finally got an LP release in America on Beatles VI in 1965. Beatles ’65 was released eleven days after Beatles for Sale (and just ten days before the Christmas holiday) and became the fastest-selling album of the year in the United States.

Australian Release

Australian cover of Beatles for Sale.
Australian cover of Beatles for Sale.

Although the LP was released with an identical track listing to the UK version, EMI Australia changed the cover art. The reason for this was due to a union rule stating that either new artwork had to be made for overseas albums or the original cover was to be photographed. John Lennon complained to EMI Australia at a meeting about the changes, but the cover remained the same until the album’s release on compact disc in 1988.

The cover of the Australian release of the LP featured individual photographs of The Beatles taken at one of the group’s Sydney concerts in June 1964.

Reaction

The band, which in the previous year had grown weary of performing for screaming audiences, followed the contemporary standard industry practice of including covers in order to maintain an expected level of productivity. Q found the album title to hold a “hint of cynicism” in depicting The Beatles as a “product” to be sold. Erlewine said, “The weariness of Beatles for Sale comes as something of a shock.”

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars
The A.V. Club B
Consequence of Sound 4.5/5 stars
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars
Paste 79/100
Pitchfork Media 9.3/10
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars

Despite citing it as “the group’s most uneven album”, Allmusic felt that its best moments find them “moving from Merseybeat to the sophisticated pop/rock they developed in mid-career.” Tom Ewing of Pitchfork Media said, “Lennon’s anger and the band’s rediscovery of rock ‘n’ roll mean For Sale’s reputation as the group’s meanest album is deserved”. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph commented that “if this is a low point, they still sound fantastic”, adding that “the Beatlemania pop songs are of a high standard, even if they are becoming slightly generic.” John Lennon said of the album, “You could call our new one a Beatles country and western LP.”

Track Listing

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “No Reply” Lennon with McCartney 2:15
2. “I’m a Loser” Lennon with McCartney 2:31
3. “Baby’s in Black” McCartney and Lennon 2:02
4. “Rock and Roll Music” (Chuck Berry) Lennon 2:32
5. “I’ll Follow the Sun” McCartney 1:46
6. “Mr. Moonlight” (Roy Lee Johnson) Lennon 2:33
7. “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!” (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller/Richard Penniman) McCartney 2:33
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “Eight Days a Week” Lennon 2:44
2. “Words of Love” (Buddy Holly) Lennon and McCartney 2:12
3. “Honey Don’t” (Carl Perkins) Starr 2:55
4. “Every Little Thing” Lennon and McCartney 2:01
5. “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” Lennon with McCartney 2:33
6. “What You’re Doing” McCartney 2:30
7. “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” (Perkins) Harrison 2:23

Charts and Certifications

Chart positions

Chart Year Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 1964 1
1965

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA) Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada) Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA) Platinum 1,000,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.

Personnel

The Beatles
  • John Lennon – lead, harmony and backing vocals, rhythm and acoustic guitars, piano, harmonica, tambourine, handclaps; 12-string lead guitar on “Every Little Thing”
  • Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and backing vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, Hammond organ, handclaps
  • George Harrison – harmony and backing vocals, lead vocals on “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby”, lead, acoustic and 12 string guitars, African drum, handclaps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, timpani, cowbell, packing case, bongos, lead vocals on “Honey Don’t”
Additional musicians
  • George Martin – piano and producer
Personnel per Mark Lewisohn

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

200px-Beatles_logo.svgFOREVER

A Hard Day’s Night (1964, the Third Beatles Album)

HardDayUK-vertA Hard Day’s Night is the third studio album by British rock group the Beatles, released on 10 July 1964, with side one containing songs from the soundtrack to their film A Hard Day’s Night. The American version of the album was released two weeks earlier, on 26 June 1964 by United Artists Records, with a different track listing. This is the first Beatles album to be recorded entirely on four-track tape, allowing for good stereo mixes.

In contrast to their first two albums, all 13 tracks on A Hard Day’s Night were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, showcasing the development of the band’s songwriting talents. The album contains some of their most famous songs, including the title track, with its distinct, instantly recognisable opening chord, and the previously released “Can’t Buy Me Love”; both were transatlantic number-one singles for the band.

The title of the album was the accidental creation of drummer Ringo Starr. According to Lennon in a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine: “I was going home in the car and Dick Lester [director of the movie] suggested the title, ‘Hard Day’s Night’ from something Ringo had said. I had used it in ‘In His Own Write’, but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny … just said it. So Dick Lester said, ‘We are going to use that title.'”

In 2000, Q placed A Hard Day’s Night at number five in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2012, A Hard Day’s Night was voted 307th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

Contents

Hard_days_night_side1-vertMusically, A Hard Day’s Night eschews the rock and roll cover songs of the band’s previous albums for a predominantly pop sound. Sputnikmusic’s Dave Donnelly observes “short, peppy” pop songs characterised by layered vocals, immediate choruses, and understated instrumentation. According to Pitchfork Media’s Tom Ewing, the lack of rock and roll covers allows listeners to “take the group’s new sound purely on its own modernist terms”, with audacious “chord choices”, powerful harmonies, “gleaming” guitar, and “Northern” harmonica. Music journalist Robert Christgau writes that Lennon–McCartney’s songs were “more sophisticated musically” than before.

Side one of the LP contains the songs from the movie soundtrack. Side two contains songs written for, but not included in, the film, although a 1980s re-release of the movie includes a prologue before the opening credits with “I’ll Cry Instead” on the soundtrack.

A Hard Day’s Night is the first Beatles album to feature entirely original compositions, and the only one where all the songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.[19] Lennon dominates the song writing being the primary author of ten out of the thirteen tracks on the album, all except “And I Love Her,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and “Things We Said Today.” This is also one of three Beatles albums, along with Let It Be and Magical Mystery Tour, in which Starr does not sing lead vocal on any songs. Starr sang the lead vocal on “Matchbox” during the sessions; it appeared instead on the Long Tall Sally EP.

Cultural Influence

According to music critic Richie Unterberger, “George Harrison’s resonant 12-string electric guitar leads were hugely influential; the movie helped persuade The Byrds, then folksingers, to plunge all out into rock & roll, and the Beatles would be hugely influential on the folk-rock explosion of 1965. The Beatles’ success, too, had begun to open the US market for fellow Brits like the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Kinks, and inspired young American groups like the Beau Brummels, Lovin’ Spoonful, and others to mount a challenge of their own with self-penned material that owed a great debt to Lennon-McCartney.”

Reissues

On 26 February 1987, A Hard Day’s Night was officially released on compact disc in mono, along with Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and Beatles for Sale. Having been available only as an import in the US in the past, the 13 track UK version of the album was also issued in the US on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987. Stereo mixes of “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “And I Love Her” had been made available on the first compact disc issue of 1962–1966 in 1993. Most of the rest of the tracks appeared in stereo on compact disc for the first time with the release of the box set The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 in 2004.

On 9 September 2009, a remastered version of this album was released and was the first time the album appeared in stereo on compact disc in its entirety. This album is also included in The Beatles Stereo Box Set. A remastered mono version of the original UK album was part of The Beatles in Mono box set.

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “A Hard Day’s Night” Lennon and McCartney 2:34
2. “I Should Have Known Better” Lennon 2:43
3. “If I Fell” Lennon and McCartney 2:19
4. “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” Harrison 1:56
5. “And I Love Her” McCartney 2:30
6. “Tell Me Why” Lennon with McCartney 2:09
7. “Can’t Buy Me Love” McCartney 2:12
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “Any Time at All” Lennon 2:11
2. “I’ll Cry Instead” Lennon 1:46
3. “Things We Said Today” McCartney 2:35
4. “When I Get Home” Lennon 2:17
5. “You Can’t Do That” Lennon 2:35
6. “I’ll Be Back” Lennon with McCartney 2:24

Charts and certifications

Chart performance

Year Chart Position
1964 UK Albums Chart 1
1965 Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart 1
2009 Finnish Albums Chart 27

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA) Gold 35,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Gold 100,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.

North American Release AHardDaysNightUSalbumcover-vert

The American version of the album was released on 26 June 1964 by United Artists Records in both mono and stereo, the fourth Beatles album in the United States. The album went to number one on the Billboard album chart, spending 14 weeks there, the longest run of any album that year.

All seven songs from the film, the first side of the UK album, were featured along with “I’ll Cry Instead”, which, although written for the film, was cut at the last minute. The American version also included four easy listening-styled instrumental versions of Lennon and McCartney songs arranged by George Martin conducting an orchestra of studio musicians: “I Should Have Known Better,” “And I Love Her,” “Ringo’s Theme,” and “A Hard Day’s Night.” After EMI acquired United Artists Records, this album was reissued on 17 August 1980 on the Capitol label, catalogue SW-11921.

While the stereo version of the album included the instrumental tracks in true stereo, the Beatles’ own recordings appeared as electronically rechannelled stereo recordings made from the mono releases. The 1980 Capitol Records release used the same master tape as the original United Artists stereo release, despite the availability of several tracks with official stereo remixes by that time. True stereo versions of most of the songs appeared on the Capitol album Something New, released in July 1964. “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “I Should Have Known Better” finally appeared in stereo on the Apple Records compilation Hey Jude in 1970. The song “A Hard Day’s Night” did not appear in stereo in the US until the LP Reel Music in March 1982. In 2014, the American version of “A Hard Day’s Night” was released on CD individually and in a boxed set of all the other US Beatles albums to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles first US visit. This CD reissue features all of the songs in both true stereo and mono mixes.

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “A Hard Day’s Night” Lennon and McCartney 2:33
2. “Tell Me Why” Lennon with McCartney 2:10
3. “I’ll Cry Instead” Lennon 2:06
4. “I Should Have Known Better” instrumental 2:10
5. “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” Harrison 1:59
6. “And I Love Her” instrumental 3:46
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “I Should Have Known Better” Lennon 2:44
2. “If I Fell” Lennon and McCartney 2:22
3. “And I Love Her” McCartney 2:29
4. “Ringo’s Theme (This Boy)” instrumental 3:10
5. “Can’t Buy Me Love” McCartney 2:12
6. “A Hard Day’s Night” instrumental 2:06

Charts and Certifications

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada) Platinum 100,000^
United States (RIAA) 4× Platinum 4,000,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Chart Succession

Preceded by
Hello, Dolly! by Louis Armstrong
Billboard Top LPs number-one album
25 July – 30 October 1964
Succeeded by
People by Barbra Streisand
Preceded by
The Rolling Stones by The Rolling Stones
UK Albums Chart number-one album
25 July 1964 – 19 December 1964
Succeeded by
Beatles for Sale by The Beatles

Personnel

  • John Lennon – vocals; acoustic and electric (six and twelve-string) guitars; piano; harmonica; tambourine
  • Paul McCartney – vocals; acoustic and bass guitars; piano; cowbell
  • George Harrison – vocals; acoustic and electric (six and twelve-string) guitars; claves
  • Ringo Starr – drums and percussions
  • George Martin – piano
  • Norman Smith – bongos on “A Hard Day’s Night”

200px-Beatles_logo.svgFOREVER

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

With the Beatles (1963, the Second Beatles Album)

200px-Beatles_logo.svg

Withthebeatlescover-vert

With the Beatles is the second studio album by the English rock group The Beatles. It was released on 22 November 1963, on Parlophone, and was recorded four months after the band’s debut Please Please Me. The album features eight original compositions (seven by Lennon–McCartney and “Don’t Bother Me”, George Harrison’s first recorded solo composition and his first released on a Beatles album) and six covers (mostly of Motown and R&B hits). The cover photograph was taken by the fashion photographer, Robert Freeman, and it has been mimicked by several music groups over the years. Most of the songs from the album were released in the United States by Capitol Records as the Meet the Beatles! LP on 20 January 1964; the rest featured on their next US album, The Beatles’ Second Album.

The LP had advance orders of a half million and sold another half million by September 1965, making it the second album to sell a million copies in the United Kingdom, after the soundtrack to the 1958 film South Pacific. With the Beatles remained at the top of the charts for 21 weeks, displacing Please Please Me, so that the Beatles occupied the top spot for 51 consecutive weeks. It even reached number 11 in the “singles charts” (because at the time UK charts counted all records sold, regardless of format). EMI Australia did not receive the cover art, and used a caricature of the band in a similar style to the black-and-white photograph on other releases. The Beatles were unaware of this until fans showed them the cover during their only Australian tour, and informed the EMI publicity staff that they were not pleased with the substitution.

On 26 February 1987, With the Beatles was officially released on compact disc (in mono only, catalogue number CDP 7 46436 2). Having been available only as an import in the US in the past, the album was also issued domestically in the US on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987. Along with the rest of the Beatles’ canon, it was re-released on CD in newly re-mastered stereo and mono versions on 9 September 2009.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 420 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album was a number 1 in the UK and Germany.

Track Listing

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “It Won’t Be Long” Lennon with McCartney 2:13
2. “All I’ve Got to Do” Lennon 2:03
3. “All My Loving” McCartney 2:08
4. “Don’t Bother Me” (Harrison) George Harrison 2:28
5. “Little Child” Lennon with McCartney 1:46
6. “Till There Was You” (Meredith Willson) McCartney 2:14
7. “Please Mister Postman” (Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman) Lennon with McCartney and Harrison 2:34
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “Roll Over Beethoven” (Chuck Berry) Harrison 2:45
2. “Hold Me Tight” McCartney 2:32
3. “You Really Got a Hold on Me” (Smokey Robinson) Lennon with Harrison and McCartney 3:01
4. “I Wanna Be Your Man” Ringo Starr with McCartney 1:59
5. “Devil in Her Heart” (Richard Drapkin) Harrison 2:26
6. “Not a Second Time” Lennon 2:07
7. “Money (That’s What I Want)” (Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy) Lennon with McCartney and Harrison 2:49

Recording

With the Beatles (side 1) - Parlophone yellow and black label.
With the Beatles (side 1) – Parlophone yellow and black label.

Recording

Unlike Please Please Me, which was recorded in one day (11 February 1963), With The Beatles was recorded over seven sessions across three months, from 18 July to 23 October. In between sessions, as Beatlemania took off across the UK, the group were busy with radio, TV, and live performances. The sessions featured:
18 July: “You Really Got A Hold On Me”, “Money (That’s What I Want)”, “(There’s A) Devil In Her Heart” and “Till There Was You”.
30 July: “Please Mister Postman”, “It Won’t Be Long”, “Money (That’s What I Want)”, “Till There Was You”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “It Won’t Be Long”, and “All My Loving”.
11 September: “I Wanna Be Your Man”, “Little Child”, “All I’ve Got To Do”, “Not A Second Time” and “Don’t Bother Me”.
12 September: “Hold Me Tight” “Don’t Bother Me”, “Little Child” and “I Wanna Be Your Man”.
3 October: “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Little Child”.
17 October: “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “This Boy”, and “You Really Got A Hold On Me”. This was the Beatles’ first session to use four-track recording. “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “This Boy” were the A-side and B-side of The Beatles’ next single, released on 29 November.
23 October: “I Wanna Be Your Man”.

Personnel

According to Mark Lewisohn:

The Beatles
  • George Harrison – lead, harmony and backing vocals; lead and acoustic guitars; handclaps; nylon-string acoustic guitar on “Till There Was You”
  • John Lennon – lead, harmony and backing vocals; rhythm and acoustic guitars; harmonica and handclaps; nylon-string acoustic guitar on “Till There Was You”; Hammond organ on “I Wanna Be Your Man” and tambourine on “Don’t Bother Me”
  • Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and backing vocals; bass guitar and handclaps; piano on “Little Child” and claves on “Don’t Bother Me”
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, handclaps; lead vocals on “I Wanna Be Your Man” and Arabian loose-skin bongo on “Till There Was You” and “Don’t Bother Me”
Production
  • Robert Freeman – cover photograph
  • George Martin – arrangement, production and mixing; piano on “You Really Got a Hold on Me”, “Not a Second Time” and “Money (That’s What I Want)”
  • Norman Smith – engineering and mixing

Chart performance

Album
Chart (1963) Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 1
Album cuts
Billboard charts (North America)
Year Song Chart Rank
1964 “All My Loving” Billboard Hot 100 45
1964 “Roll Over Beethoven” Billboard Hot 100 68

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA) Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada) Gold 50,000^
Germany (BVMI) Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA) Gold 500,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.

Release history

Region Date Label Format Catalogue
United Kingdom 22 November 1963 Parlophone Mono LP PMC 1206
Stereo LP PCS 3045
16 February 1987 CD CDP 7 46436 2
United States 26 February 1987 Capitol Records Mono, LP CLJ-46436
Parlophone CD CDP 7 46436 2
Worldwide re-release 9 September 2009 Apple Records Remastered stereo CD 0946 3 82420 2 4
Remastered mono CD
13 November 2012 Remastered stereo LP 0094638242017

200px-Beatles_logo.svgFOREVER

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Please Please Me (1963, the First Beatles Album)

200px-Beatles_logo.svg PleasePleaseMe-vertPlease Please Me is the debut album by the English rock band The Beatles. Parlophone rush-released the album on 22 March 1963 in the United Kingdom to capitalise on the success of the singles “Please Please Me” (No. 1 on most lists but only No. 2 on Record Retailer) and “Love Me Do” (No. 17).

Of the album’s 14 songs, eight were written by Lennon–McCartney (originally credited “McCartney–Lennon”), early evidence of what Rolling Stone later called “[their invention of] the idea of the self-contained rock band, writing their own hits and playing their own instruments.” In 2012, Please Please Me was voted 39th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Recording

In order for the album to contain 14 songs (the norm for British 12″ vinyl pop albums at that time was to have seven songs on each side, while American albums usually had only five or six songs per side), 10 more tracks were needed to add to the four sides of their first two singles recorded and released previously. Therefore, at 10:00 am on Monday, 11 February 1963, the Beatles and George Martin began recording essentially their live act in 1963 and finished at 10:45 pm—less than 13 hours later. In three sessions that day (each lasting approximately three hours) they produced an authentic representation of the band’s Cavern Club-era sound, with only a few minor overdubs and edits. Optimistically, only two sessions were originally booked by Martin and the evening session was an afterthought. Mark Lewisohn would later write: “There can scarcely have been 585 more productive minutes in the history of recorded music” Martin overdubbed the piano on “Misery” on 20 February and celesta on “Baby It’s You” five days later.

Martin had initially contemplated recording the album live at the Cavern in front of the group’s home audience and visited the Liverpool club on 9 December 1962 to consider the technicalities. But when time constraints intervened, he decided to book them at EMI Studios in Abbey Road instead and record them virtually live. Martin said, “It was a straightforward performance of their stage repertoire—a broadcast, more or less.”

The day ended with a cover of “Twist and Shout,” which had to be recorded last because John Lennon had a particularly bad cold and Martin feared the throat-shredding vocal would ruin Lennon’s voice for the day. This performance, captured on the first take, prompted Martin to say: “I don’t know how they do it. We’ve been recording all day but the longer we go on the better they get.”

The song “Hold Me Tight” was recorded during these sessions, but was “surplus to requirements” and not included on the album. “Hold Me Tight” was recorded again on 12 September 1963 for With the Beatles.

The whole day’s session cost around £400 (£10,000 as of 2014).  George Martin said: “There wasn’t a lot of money at Parlophone. I was working to an annual budget of £55,000.” This budget had to cover all of the artists on Martin’s roster. Individually, under a contract with the Musicians’ Union, each Beatle collected a £7 10s (£7.50) session fee for each three-hour session.

Martin considered calling the album Off the Beatle Track before Please Please Me was released on Parlophone PCS 3042. The album was recorded on a two-track BTR reel-to-reel tape deck, with most of the instrumentation on one track and the vocals on the other, allowing for a better balance between the two on the final quarter-inch tape mix-down in mono. A stereo mix was made at the same time as the mono mix, with one track on the left channel and the other on the right, as well as an added layer of reverb to better blend the two tracks together. This was common practice for mixing stereo albums at the time.

Release

Please Please Me was released as a mono LP album on the Parlophone label in the UK on 22 March 1963, and has remained on UK catalogue continuously since 1963. The stereo version was released on 26 April, over a month after the mono version.

Please Please Me by The Beatles (side 1) - Parlophone gold and black label
Please Please Me by The Beatles (side 1) – Parlophone gold and black label

Release formats:

  • Vinyl (12″) record (stereo and mono)
  • Reel-to-reel (3-3/4-ips) (mono) (paperbox) [deleted late 1960s]
  • Reel-to-reel (3-3/4-ips (mono)+(stereo)) (plastic boxes) [deleted mid-1970s]
  • 8-track tape (stereo) [deleted late 1970s]
  • Cassette tape (originally released in stereo, re-issued in mono in 1988) [deleted late 1990s]
  • CD (1987 version) (mono) [deleted 2009]
  • CD (remastered in 2009) (stereo and limited edition mono)
  • Digital Download (remastered in 2009) (stereo)
  • Vinyl (re-issue of the 1963 vinyl, but used 2009 CD release) (stereo)

In the United States, most of the songs on Please Please Me were first issued on Vee-Jay Records’ Introducing… The Beatles in 1964, and subsequently on Capitol Records’ The Early Beatles in 1965. Please Please Me was not released in the US until the Beatles’ catalogue was standardised for CD.

In Canada, the majority of the album’s songs were included upon the Canadian-exclusive release Twist and Shout, which featured “From Me to You” and “She Loves You” in place of “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Misery”.

In New Zealand, the album first appeared only in mono on the black Parlophone label. The following year (1964) EMI(NZ) changed from black to a blue Parlophone label and the album was again available only in mono. Due to constant demand, it was finally made available in stereo, first through the World Record Club on their Young World label in both mono and stereo, and finally on the blue Parlophone label.

The album was released on CD on 26 February 1987 in mono, as were their three subsequent albums, With the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and Beatles for Sale. It was not released on vinyl or tape in the US until five months later when it was issued for the first time in the US on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987.

Please Please Me was remastered and re-released on CD in stereo, along with all the other original UK studio albums, on 9 September 2009. The 2009 remasters replaced the 1987 remasters. A remastered mono CD was also available as part of the limited edition The Beatles in Mono box set.

Sleeve Notes

As consistent with all early 1960s albums made in the UK, the rear of the album sleeve has sleeve notes. The Beatles press officer Tony Barrow wrote extensive sleeve notes, which included a brief mention of their early 1960s rivals the Shadows.

Album Cover

George Martin was an honorary fellow of the Zoological Society of London, which owns the London Zoo. Martin thought that it might be good publicity for the zoo to have The Beatles pose outside the insect house for the cover photography of the album. However, the society turned down Martin’s offer, and instead, Angus McBean was asked to take the distinctive colour photograph of the group looking down over the stairwell inside EMI’s London headquarters in Manchester Square.[21] Martin was to write later: “We rang up the legendary theatre photographer Angus McBean, and bingo, he came round and did it there and then. It was done in an almighty rush, like the music. Thereafter, though, the Beatles’ own creativity came bursting to the fore.”[32] In 1969, the Beatles asked McBean to recreate this shot. Although the 1969 photograph was originally intended for the then-planned Get Back album, it was not used when that project saw eventual release in 1970 as Let It Be. Instead, the 1969 photograph, along with an unused photograph from the 1963 photo shoot, was used in 1973 for the Beatles’ retrospective albums 1962–1966 and 1967–1970. Another unused photograph from the 1963 photo shoot was used for The Beatles (No. 1) (also released in 1963).

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars
The A.V. Club A
Consequence of Sound 4.5/5 stars
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars
Paste 92/100
Pitchfork Media 9.5/10
Rolling Stone favourable
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars
Sputnikmusic 4/5

Please Please Me hit the top of the UK album charts in May 1963 and remained there for 30 weeks before being replaced by With The Beatles. This was surprising because the UK album charts at the time tended to be dominated by film soundtracks and easy listening vocalists.

In a 1987 review upon its CD reissue, Rolling Stone magazine’s Steve Pond recommended Please Please Me “for the Beatles’ unfettered joy at making music”. In 2012, Please Please Me was voted 39th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. It was ranked first among the Beatles’ early albums, and sixth of all of the Beatles’ albums, with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Revolver, Rubber Soul, The Beatles (The White Album) and Abbey Road ranked higher.

Rolling Stone also placed two songs from the album on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: No. 140, “I Saw Her Standing There”, and No. 186, “Please Please Me”. According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic, “Decades after its release, the album still sounds fresh,” the covers are “impressive” and the originals “astonishing.”

Track listing

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “I Saw Her Standing There” John Lennon and Paul McCartney Paul McCartney 2:54
2. “Misery” John Lennon and Paul McCartney John Lennon and Paul McCartney 1:50
3. “Anna (Go to Him)” Arthur Alexander John Lennon 2:55
4. “Chains” Gerry Goffin, Carole King George Harrison 2:23
5. “Boys” Luther Dixon, Wes Farrell Ringo Starr 2:24
6. “Ask Me Why” John Lennon and Paul McCartney John Lennon 2:24
7. “Please Please Me” John Lennon and Paul McCartney John Lennon and Paul McCartney 1:59
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Love Me Do” John Lennon and Paul McCartney John Lennon and Paul McCartney 2:23
2. “P.S. I Love You” John Lennon and Paul McCartney Paul McCartney 2:04
3. “Baby It’s You” Mack David, Barney Williams, Burt Bacharach John Lennon 2:40
4. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” John Lennon and Paul McCartney George Harrison 1:59
5. “A Taste of Honey” Bobby Scott, Ric Marlow Paul McCartney 2:03
6. “There’s a Place” John Lennon and Paul McCartney John Lennon and Paul McCartney 1:51
7. “Twist and Shout” Phil Medley, Bert Russell John Lennon 2:32

Track listing per Calkin.

Personnel

According to Mark Lewisohn:

The Beatles
  • John Lennon – lead vocals, background vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, hand claps
  • Paul McCartney – lead vocals, background vocals, bass guitar, hand claps
  • George Harrison – background vocals, lead vocals on “Chains” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, hand claps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, hand claps, lead vocals on “Boys”
Additional musicians and production
  • George Martin – producer, mixer, additional arrangements, piano on “Misery”, celesta on “Baby It’s You”
  • Norman Smith – audio engineer, mixer
  • Andy White – drums on “Love Me Do”, percussion on “P.S. I Love You”

Charts and Certifications

Chart Positions

Chart Year Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 1963 1

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA) Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada) Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA) Platinum 1,000,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.

Release History

Region Date Label Format Catalogue
United Kingdom 22 March 1963 Parlophone Mono LP PMC 1202
26 April 1963 Stereo LP PCS 3042
United States 26 February 1987 Capitol Records Mono, LP C1 46435
Stereo LP
Cassette C4 46435
CD CDP 7 46435 2
Worldwide re-release 9 September 2009 Apple Records Remastered stereo CD 0946 3 82416 2 1
Remastered mono CD
13 November 2012 Remastered stereo LP 0946 3 82416 1 4
16 November 2010 iTunes Store Digital download of remastered stereo

50th Anniversary

In 2013 the album’s 50th Anniversary was celebrated by modern artists re-recording the album in just one day, the same time it took The Beatles to record it 50 years earlier. The Stereophonics recorded a cover of the album’s opening track, “I Saw Her Standing There.” It and the other recordings were broadcast on BBC Radio 2, and a documentary about the re-recording of The Beatles’ debut album was broadcast on BBC Television.

200px-Beatles_logo.svgFOREVER

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

The Beatles

The Beatles . Biography


Wikipedia

The Beatles 001-02

The Beginning

The Beatles 004

How do you begin a biography of the Beatles? I mean honestly, what can you say that can summarize such a spectacular revolution, not only in music but in world consciousness? Their scope of influence stretches from music to film and even dabbles in politics and the art of friendship. Their story is inspiring, sparking many to get up out of their chairs and try something new. The Beatles pioneered so much in their short time together, changing the world for generations to come.

The Beatles 002-01-1024-640

It all began in 1957, Liverpool England, the second most unlikely place in the world to give birth to stardom (the first being Demorest, Georgia). John Lennon had learned the banjo at a young age, moving quickly to the guitar and then starting his own band. Dubbed “The Quarry Men”, this high school skiffle group played around Liverpool, changing members more frequently than they changed socks. Soon, a young Mr. Paul McCartney sauntered up to John in between concerts. After hearing him play the guitar, John said “Hey. Join me band, we?ll become the most popular group in the world.” Not wanting to appear anxious, Paul waited a day before saying “Alright, sure.” The famous Lennon-McCartney duo was born.

09 The-Beatles

Eight months later Paul had a suggestion for a new recruit. Three years their junior, George Harrison was nonetheless a wizard on the guitar. John was hesitant to allow such a young person into the band, but George won him over. Two weeks before his 15th birthday, George officially became a member of the band. I don’t know about you, but my fifteenth birthday wasn’t nearly as productive as his…

The Beatles 003

The Quarry Men continued to play in and around Liverpool. Their name went through several changes over the coming months. After using and discarding the Quarry Men label, Johnny and the Moondogs enjoyed a brief stint, followed by The Nerk Twins. Finally, John hit upon something when he conjured “The Beatals” as their new official title, wanting an insect reference similar to Buddy Holly’s “The Crickets”, the whole beetle theme continued through their next five names: The Silver Beetles, The Silver Beats, The Beatles, The Silver Beatles. At last, after going through more metamorphoses than a caterpillar, the ‘silver’ was dropped (again), leaving the short and sweet, ultra catchy and very rememberable, The Beatles.

Their logo was based on an impromptu sketch by instrument retailer and designer Ivor Arbiter. The Beatles 001-02
Their logo was based on an impromptu sketch by instrument retailer and designer Ivor Arbiter.
The Beatles 001-02

The Beatles 016Some phenomenal changes were in the air as the universe began to stitch together the group that would spark so much change throughout the world. Though they didn’t know it at the time, but this group of young men were setting their foundation for their climb to the top of the world. All they needed was a big break.

Abbey Road Studios main entrance
Abbey Road Studios main entrance.

Abbey Road Studios has been home to countless landmark recordings and pioneering advances in recording technology. We excel in recording, mixing, editing, mastering and audio restoration.

Our facilities are some of the best in the world with award-winning engineers, wonderful acoustic rooms, an unrivalled microphone collection and a highly sought-after mixture of unique, historic audio equipment and cutting-edge recording technology.

The studios are also a unique venue and we host a limited number of exclusive events per annum.

 Top Ten most Technically Innovative Beatles Songs 28 April 2014 Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, co-authors of 'Recording the Beatles', have compiled a list of the top ten most technically innovative Beatles songs for Mojo magazine. As they explain,

Top Ten most Technically Innovative Beatles Songs
28 April 2014
Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, co-authors of ‘Recording the Beatles’, have compiled a list of the top ten most technically innovative Beatles songs for Mojo magazine.
As they explain, “The group’s remarkable thirst for newness, allied with the ingenuity of their producers and engineers at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, gave rise to cutting-edge sonics and daring studio exploration – now often taken for granted.”
Check out the top ten here.
Brian and Kevin will be speaking at ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’ events this weekend, along with Beatles engineer Ken Scott. The last few tickets are available here.
Abbey Road Meets... Ken Scott 27 March 2014 We put your questions to renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott this week. Ken is one of the speakers at ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’ events, where he will return to the very room where he worked on his first session nearly 50 years ago: The Beatles putting the finishing touches to their album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in Studio Two. An esteemed engineer, producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also worked with Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few. Thank you to everyone who participated and sent in questions; the standard was high and it was tough choosing which ones to put to him. Here is the interview in full.
Abbey Road Meets… Ken Scott
27 March 2014
We put your questions to renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott this week.
Ken is one of the speakers at ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’ events, where he will return to the very room where he worked on his first session nearly 50 years ago: The Beatles putting the finishing touches to their album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in Studio Two.
An esteemed engineer, producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also worked with Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few.
Thank you to everyone who participated and sent in questions; the standard was high and it was tough choosing which ones to put to him. Here is the interview in full.
Visit Abbey Road's legendary Studio Two 11 March 2014 We are pleased to announce ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’, unique talks taking place in April and May featuring special guest former Abbey Road Studios Engineer Ken Scott. The talks mark a new opportunity to visit Abbey Road Studios’ world famous Studio Two, where many iconic artists have recorded including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Elton John, Oasis and Adele. Event hosts Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, authors of critically acclaimed book Recording the Beatles, return for the third instalment of this fascinating talks series with a brand new lecture exploring the evolution of recording techniques and equipment, many of which were pioneered at Abbey Road Studios. In addition to the informative and entertaining stories behind these techniques, the lectures will include demonstrations using both new and vintage equipment, some of which has been used on many landmark recordings over the studios’ 82 year history. For the first time in the series, Brian and Kevin welcome a special guest. Renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott will be returning to speak in the very room where he recorded tracks by legendary artists including Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and the Beatles. An esteemed producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also made records with The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few. With Brian and Kevin’s incredible knowledge of Abbey Road Studios’ history and its role in the development of audio production plus Ken’s unique insight into life at the world’s first purpose built recording studios, these talks promise to be a captivating experience for all classical, rock, pop and film score fans.
Visit Abbey Road’s Legendary Studio Two
11 March 2014
We are pleased to announce ‘The Sound of Abbey Road Studios’, unique talks taking place in April and May featuring special guest former Abbey Road Studios Engineer Ken Scott.
The talks mark a new opportunity to visit Abbey Road Studios’ world famous Studio Two, where many iconic artists have recorded including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Elton John, Oasis and Adele.
Event hosts Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, authors of critically acclaimed book Recording the Beatles, return for the third instalment of this fascinating talks series with a brand new lecture exploring the evolution of recording techniques and equipment, many of which were pioneered at Abbey Road Studios. In addition to the informative and entertaining stories behind these techniques, the lectures will include demonstrations using both new and vintage equipment, some of which has been used on many landmark recordings over the studios’ 82 year history.
For the first time in the series, Brian and Kevin welcome a special guest. Renowned former Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott will be returning to speak in the very room where he recorded tracks by legendary artists including Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and the Beatles. An esteemed producer and pivotal figure in Abbey Road Studios’ history, Ken has also made records with The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Lou Reed, to name but a few.
With Brian and Kevin’s incredible knowledge of Abbey Road Studios’ history and its role in the development of audio production plus Ken’s unique insight into life at the world’s first purpose built recording studios, these talks promise to be a captivating experience for all classical, rock, pop and film score fans.

The Ride to the Top

The Beatles did not immediately jump out to stardom. In fact, their climb was somewhat like a roller coaster, a slow clanking to the top, the suspense building and waiting for that first plunge over the hill. For months they toured Liverpool and the surrounding towns trying to build a fan base. Eventually they made their way Hamburg, playing to a particularly rowdy crowd. The boys were forced to rev-up their performance for the demanding audience, teaching them how to become true showmen. Upon returning to Liverpool, they discovered some of their fame had preceded them.

Brian Epstein, a record store owner in Liverpool, got wind of the Beatles about this time. His interest was piqued, so he went to watch them perform one night. At first glance, they appeared like most young Liverpudlians at the time: uncouth hair, leather jackets and dark trousers. But when they played, their synthesis created something marvelous. Something about their energy when together inspired Brian to become their manager. He pulled some strings and got the boys a few auditions. Sadly, they were unfruitful. This didn’t dampen their resolve, however, and Epstein continued lobbying for the band until he finally secured an audition with George Martin at Parlophone records.

Martin, as it turns out, loved their sound. He, too, was an early victim of the Beatles’ undeniable charm and catchy beats, succumbing to their charismatic energy like Bugs Bunny to a carrot. He cleaned them up, put them in tailored suits and gave them a resounding thumbs-up (It was Brian Epstein who suggested they wear suits). The only part of the package he didn’t seem to like was their drummer, Pete Best. In a move that still raises eyebrows to this day, Epstein was asked to replace Pete before the deal would be complete. Richard Starkey, our beloved Ringo Starr, would take his place, completing the rock and roll quartet. The Beatles were complete.

Being the superstar producer like he was, Martin decided these lanky Liverpudlians should take over the world. After consulting history books and noting that marching over mountains with elephants was not successful, he decided to take the musical route. After several mildly-successful singles released in the UK, the album Please Please Me was recorded in a 12-hour studio session and released in March of 1963. It was a hit, topping the charts for over 6 months. Not too shabby for one day’s worth of work; much nicer than minimum wage.

I Want To Hold Your Hand hit the enterprising shores of America at the end of 1963, floating to number one like a rubber ducky. Their new look was also a big hit. Teens loved their off-kilter appearance, collarless suits, mop-top hair and quirky personalities. The Beatles quickly became known for their plucky sense of humor and constant silliness. In an interview conducted in February 1964, a reporter informed the Beatles that Detroit University had a ‘Stamp out the Beatles’ movement. The boys nodded, and Paul replied with his characteristic head bob “We’ve got a Stamp out Detroit movement!” After laughing, the interviewer continued. “They think your haircuts are un-American.” John retorted, “Well, it was very observant of them because we aren’t American, actually.” Such flippant and unrestrained joy in life was infectious, only increasing their charm and lovability.

The Beatles then hopped on a boat and sailed over to the U.S. (via jet plane) for their famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. In what was the highest rated program to that date, the famous words “Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles!” introduced the rag-tag bunch to the television world. They hopped, they sang, they played, they laughed. People loved it. The souls of the world were opening up to a new era of thought, instigated by the quartet of young clowns from Liverpool. Their songs were simple but touching, the tunes catchy and enjoyable. America fell for the Beatles’, and their success was only beginning.

I Can See My House from Here (or “being on the top)

A sure-sign of being “on the top” would be having a lunchbox with your image on the front. Or a pencil sharpener. Or a pair of socks. Or bubblegum. Or all of the above and much more. Beatlemania settled upon the world, nestling us in the warm winged comfort of the four boys from Liverpool. Their timing couldn’t have been better to start their ascent up the pedestal of stardom. The world was on the verge of an enormous change, and the Beatles, with their budding creativity, would foster the revolution.

As any comic book teaches us, good never comes without evil. Critics reared their ugly heads and had their say, proclaiming the Beatles were nothing but a fad that would die as soon as the next group of cute guys with guitars came along. Shortly after being proved embarrassingly wrong, the same critics tucked their tails and ran, beginning lives of insurance salesmen to retain a shred of their dignity.

The Beatles’ answer to the critics: make a movie. Nothing short of borrowing Santa’s magic sleigh could allow the group to tour every city on earth, so, A Hard Day’s Night was created, sending their images to even the smallest towns and earning them a world-wide reputation for being the happy-go-lucky fab-four they were. Accompanying the movie was an album of the same name, a soundtrack of sorts, launching their career even higher into orbit as thousands of teenage girls watched the movie and swooned.

On the personal side, the band members were molding together in an even tighter knit than before. They were growing up and growing together, stepping into their own personalities more deeply than before. A Hard Day’s Night was the first Beatles album written entirely by the band, showcasing their creativity and ingenuity even this early in their career. John and Paul flexed their lyric-writing muscles in preparation for the records to come.

Since becoming household names, John, Paul, George and Ringo had unwittingly become workaholics. Touring schedules were hectic, hopping the boys across cities, states and countries in a matter of months. And being stars comes with its fair share of responsibility; now they had fans to attend to, those loyal people who could never get enough Beatlemania. The first few years of their success gave them little time to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Beatles for Sale was released in early December 1964, but contained only a handful of original songs. By the end of 1964, the consensus was clear–-slow down and concentrate on the music.

With a bigger budget and more explorative souls, the Beatles produced another movie/album combo six months later. Help! was released to glowing fans, featuring Ringo as the “Starr” of the show. (Yes, that was a bad joke, but I had to!) The album featured more original hits by the Lennon-McCartney duo, including the most-covered song in the history of music, Yesterday. This record also showed off John’s vocal abilities and range, his heart rising and falling with his voice to enchant everyone.

The Beatles were only getting better. They established a pattern of constantly pushing the limits of both society and themselves (and the music industry) and setting ever-higher standards for their work. Each successive album built upon the last as they continued to mesh as a group, their personalities growing more integrated by the day. The universe had stitched them together as if they were destined to be, now they just had to grow as a group to become a whole. Much like a ball of yarn becomes a sock, actually.

Rubber Soul has been called the first true Beatles album, symbolizing their break from traditional love songs and moving into a more eclectic form of songwriting. Every tune was an original, and a few were more original than others. In My Life has been called the greatest song ever written, giving haunting memories of that ruggedly familiar feeling of nostalgia explicated so poetically by John. Norwegian Wood featured an instrument unfamiliar to most western ears, the sitar, played by George Harrison. Such a blending of cultures and sounds was indicative of the group’s collective charm and charisma as well as the budding movement of non-violence and love growing throughout the world.

Never satisfied with milking old formulas, the experiments continued. After Rubber Soul came Revolver, a veritable fruit smoothie of melody, harmony, love, traditional style and something very new. If Rubber Soul was a single step into originality, Revolver was a full game of hopscotch. Songs such as Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine and Tomorrow Never Knows showcased the talent waking up from a long winter’s nap within the group. Fully comfortable with themselves, with each other, and with their music, the Beatles had shoved their sticks in the ground and were preparing to pole vault across the lines of normality even farther.

The renaissance of culture and consciousness was in full-swing at this point. Hippies, those free-willed 15-25 year olds with a penchant for peace, were leaving their homes and striking out on their own, rejecting the old and forging into the new. The Beatles were doing similar things at this time, releasing the traditional styles of music and breaking into their own style. Were the Beatles a catalyst for this movement of change or did they just ride the universal waves? The answer is, undoubtedly, a little bit of both.

After turning up the creativity in exponential notches for their previous albums, the Beatles did their most creative work to date with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The brainchild of Paul, the name was a nom de plume of sorts for the Beatles, giving them an excuse to wear crazy outfits. The album features many musical firsts, as per the usual Beatles’ style. Each song blends smoothly into the next, creating the impression that the whole album is one grand concert, complete with applause and screaming fans.

Sgt. Pepper was also the “coming-out” album for the Beatles. Although they had been innovative on their previous recordings, Sgt. Pepper proved they were never out of fresh ideas to experiment with. Their voices can really be heard on this album; they sound more aware, more grown up and more settled in their roles as world musicians. At this time, psychedelic drugs were in full swing in many countries around the world, and the Beatles experimented with their effects as well. While many say this was the source of their creativity in the later years, at best it only contributed to their inherent innovation. Still, Sgt. Pepper was inventive and fresh, becoming an instant hit and long-term inspiration for many.

The Beatles’ were about to embark upon a gauntlet of changes beginning in 1967. Paul sketched out a plan for a new movie, this one completely unscripted. The idea was that a group of actors would be placed on a bus with the Beatles and taken for a ride through their imagination. A “magical mystery tour” of sorts. Work began on the album and movie in the spring of ’67, but was interrupted by several major events. Their manager since the beginning, the man who discovered the Beatles, Brian Epstein, passed away. This was not only an emotional blow to the group, having lost a trusted companion and friend, but a work-related strain as well. Without a manager to handle the business details of the band, the work fell onto the members. Paul had a very proactive attitude toward the process, immediately taking responsibility and encouraging the others to do so as well. John and George had very different opinions, and Ringo didn’t seem to mind either way. The first internal strain had begun to form, one that would, in combination with many other factors, lead to the eventual breakup of the Beatles.

The Beatles also visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man becoming famous in America for bringing an ancient Indian technique of meditation to the world. Seeking spiritual knowledge just as we all were, the Beatles traveled to India with the hopes of gaining enlightenment. Each band member had a different experience there, creating a larger rift between them. They came back unfulfilled on one level but full of creativity on another. Magical Mystery Tour was finished shortly after, releasing both the movie and the album before the end of the year.

The tension created by the loss of their manager and by the varied experiences in India was taking its toll. This combined with John’s insistence on having his new love interest Yoko Ono present at the studio (despite his band-mate’s wishes) made the situation more harrowing. At one point, Ringo actually left the group. The Beatles were far from through with their creative streak, however, as their very next album would show.

In stark contrast to their previous two works, the The Beatles (The White Album) featured a simple white cover with “The Beatles” inconspicuously written on the front. Its simplicity was a foil to the complex music found within. Over two dozen songs filled the inside of this plain white wrapper, each more different than the last. From crazy psychedelic songs such as Wild Honey Pie to somber melodies in Julia, Blackbird and I Will, the White Album would become famous for containing more musical styles than many artists had dabbled with in their entire careers. Such was the nature of the Beatles’ free spirit and inventiveness, the four personalities melding together to allow the freedom and ingenuity for the various styles to come forward.

The band owed United Artists another movie (thanks to those fun things called ‘contracts’), so it was decided to make an animated movie based on the song Yellow Submarine (Songtrack) previously released on Revolver. The soundtrack by the same name featured only four new songs by the Beatles, George Martin creating the orchestral pieces and arranging the other songs.

The Breakup

Unfortunately, the band felt they were running out of steam. Tensions had grown and the overall feeling was that the Beatles were near their end. A final album was planned, but even the details of it could not be agreed upon. The producer favored Paul’s ideas, causing John to withdraw from many sessions in resentment. George and Ringo felt unneeded and refused to show up at many rehearsals. Though the band’s problems were increasing, their music did not seem to suffer the same fate. Abbey Road, planned as a farewell album, featured tight vocals, haunting harmonies and the famous You Never Give Me Your Money medley, pulling many songs together in one long enjoyable ride. Abbey Road was released in the fall of 1969, but the Beatles still were not done with the world, or so it seemed.

Lennon McCartney Harrison Starr

Paul tried to convince the others to do a handful of concerts to re-establish their core group of fans. John and George were against the idea. What resulted was the famous rooftop concert staged in London. At its conclusion, John said the famous line “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!”. They still had their magic. Songs recorded here were combined with other Beatles material and mixed by Phil Spector. Let It Be (recorded before Abbet Rd) was pieced together and released to the world, an unintended finale to the Beatles’ tromp through the world.

Their end officially came on December 29, 1970. The Beatles, the world’s most influential group of musicians, had been through it all. From rising from obscurity to a serendipitous beginning, they floated on the waves of fame and rode them all the way to America. There they delighted fans and critics alike, awing them with their playful sense of life and harmonious music. They had merchandise, millions of fans, and even a mass album burning in the mid 60’s when John stated they were “more popular than Jesus”. Up and down, side to side, the Beatles traversed it all. It was the symbolic end of an era the Beatles had helped create. The world was changed because of them, and it would never be the same. As John said at the conclusion of the rooftop concert, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!”

Post-Beatles:

The four men went their separate directions. John became known for his political activism and his own music career, often combining efforts with wife Yoko Ono. His most famous post-Beatles song, Imagine (from the album of the same name), encouraged unity and peace between nations. It was a ballad for world harmony, encouraging everyone to imagine a world free from war, united as one.

Though his career after the Beatles was successful, it did not reach the height of what he had accomplished in the band. His final album was released in late 1980, rising straight to number one almost everywhere in the world. In December of the same year, John Lennon was tragically murdered by a gunman outside his Manhattan apartment. The world cried collectively when they heard the news, as one of the greatest revolutionary songwriters had moved on from this world and to the next. His work would live on, affecting the lives of billions of people throughout time.

George Harrison, often referred to as the “quiet Beatle”, slowly came into his own after the breakup of the band. He released several albums and singles sporadically, including rock’s first triple album, All Things Must Pass. He had a growing interest in Hinduism and eastern meditation techniques spurred by his meetings with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Throughout the 90’s he fought a battle with lung cancer, one that would eventually take his life in November of 2001. This gentle soul, one who was forever advocating love and spirituality, was cremated, his ashes rumored having been spread on the holy river Ganges in India.

Paul enjoyed a successful solo career after the splitting of the Beatles, continuing to produce albums to this day. Ringo released an album that topped the charts in the late 80’s but was otherwise not very active in the music industry. In the mid 1990’s, coming together for the closest thing to a Beatles’ reunion possible, Paul, George and Ringo agreed to allow a three volume six CD Beatles’ Anthology 1, Anthology 2, Anthology 3 (with accompanying television shows) to be produced, containing unreleased recordings, demos, and two new songs. Free as a Bird and Real Love, originally written by John but re-recorded from his demo tapes. It was both a tribute and a retrospection for the Beatles, reminding the world and a new generation that they were the most influential band ever to grace our globe.

John Lennon once said in reference to the Beatles’ popularity, “We were just a band that made it very very big, that’s all.” In some ways he’s correct. The Beatles was a band, four men from Liverpool, that rose to fame as any band would. When they made it to the top, the world was ready for change. The combined energies of these four created something spectacular, something undeniably unique. This allowed for unmatched creativity and ingenuity, the pinnacle of human potential expressed in their group. Their message is timeless, their songs unique and dear to everyone’s heart. They are sure to delight and inspire listeners for the rest of time.

~by John Bardinelli © 2004 Beatlesnumber9

A SHORT BEATLES HISTORY

Founded in Liverpool during the late ’50s by guitarists John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, with drummer Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe on bass,the Beatles were initially a skiffle band, playing a British variation of American folk music. The band — which went under several names before arriving at the Beatles — incorporated numerous American rock & roll, rhythm & blues, and pop music influences in their playing and songwriting, most notably the sounds of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Arthur Alexander. By the early ’60s, they had developed significant popularity in Hamburg, Germany, where dozens of Liverpool bands were booked into local clubs, and this soon translated into success in their hometown, where the band’s mixture of solid American rock & roll and careful music articulation made them stand out from the rest of the city’s music scene. Sutcliffe left the band in 1961 and McCartney took over on bass. After finding their manager Brian Epstein — who got them an audition with George Martin, the head of EMI Records’ tiny Parlophone label — the band was signed to a recording contract in 1962. Ringo Starr replaced Best on drums soon thereafter, and the group’s lineup was set.

By the spring of 1963, the Beatles’ singles and albums were breaking sales records in England, and they were officially introduced to America in February 1964 with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show followed by a whirlwind tour. The group had been signed the year before to do a movie, and, through a stroke of good luck, they were turned over to producer Walter Shenson, director Richard Lester, and screenwriter Alun Owen, who together created A Hard Day’s Night, probably the best rock & roll movie ever made. This film, a black-and-white, documentary-style, fictionalized account of the fishbowl lives that the Beatles were leading during the first wave of Beatlemania, was popular with parents as well as their teenage children, and critics loved it, too. (Andrew Sarris called it “the Citizen Kane of jukebox movies.”) The mix of the four personalities — Starr’s honest, earthy, clownish presence; Harrison’s cutting, funny personality; McCartney’s pleasant, engaging presence; and Lennon’s snide, sarcastic wit — won over audiences around the world.

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The band’s follow-up movie, Help! was made on a much bigger budget and in color, but it failed to repeat A Hard Day’s Night’s success, suffering from an unfocused script and a good, but not great, selection of songs. The group was generally as unhappy with the results as everyone else, although the film did make money and have some entertaining moments. The Beatles tried directing and producing their own television film, 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour, but the result — outside of a couple of scenes and a handful of good songs — were amateurish. In 1968, they provided the songs for the psychedelic animated feature Yellow Submarine, and made a brief onscreen appearance at the movie’s conclusion. The divisions that would eventually lead to the group’s break-up were chronicled in the 1969 documentary Let It Be, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, with impressive results.

The Beatles’ exposure to movie-making whetted their appetites for filmmaking on a variety of levels. Lennon had an acting role in Richard Lester’s anti-war satire How I Won the War, while McCartney wrote the score for the John and Roy Boulting comedy The Family Way. Meanwhile, Starr acted in the film Candy, while Harrison produced the soundtrack to the Indian movie Wonderwall. During the late ’60s and early ’70s, the Beatles’ corporate entity, Apple, acquired the distribution rights to various movies, including El Topo and La Grande Bouffe, and made a number of films, most notably Born to Boogie, directed and produced by Starr, and The Concert for Bangladesh, co-produced by Harrison. Starr also took an occasional acting role, most notably in the David Puttnam-produced period drama That’ll Be the Day. McCartney also composed and performed the title song for the 1973 James Bond movie Live and Let Die, but it was ultimately Harrison who became the most active of the Beatles in filmmaking. Through his company Handmade Films, he helped produce such hit pictures as Monty Python’s Life of Brian – Criterion Collection and the fantasy Time Bandits (Special Edition). The end of the ’70s also saw the lingering mystique of the Beatles parodied by Monty Python alumnus Eric Idle and Bonzo Dog Band-founder Neil Innes in the film The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash, in which Harrison made a cameo. ~ Bruce Eder.

Discography

Original UK LPs

  1. Please Please Me (1963)
  2. With the Beatles (1963)
  3. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  4. Beatles for Sale (1964)
  5. Help! (1965)
  6. Rubber Soul (1965)
  7. Revolver (1966)
  8. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  9. The Beatles (White Album) (1968)
  10. Yellow Submarine (1969)
  11. Abbey Road (1969)
  12. Let It Be (1970)

Compiled from many sources