Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review #3: The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night

Five months later and another Beatles album. Either no other bands existed at this time, or these guys were popular and talented enough to create compelling material, though after the last album...

Album #3 is actually a soundtrack to a film of the same name, likely to capitalize on Beatlemania and make a quick buck - why else would you cast 4 guys with no acting experience in a movie? Surprisingly, the film was nominated for two Oscars, one of which is for writing. Also of note, it was "the first Beatles album to feature entirely original compositions," according the the always correct Wikipedia (the main source for my Beatles info). The title was the brainchild of Ringo in a Yogi Berra moment (without the wit or intention), later to be continued with the song 8 Days A Week, and I assume the coining the phrase "giving 110%."

Again, a short album without a single song breaking the 3 minute mark. I guess that's what happens when you only have a few days rest between albums. This album was also the first 4 track recording for the Beatles, so feel free to cop the stereo version if you don't have a soul and want to wipe your muddy feet on the art that the Beatles created.

  1. A Hard Day's Night - Things kick off nicely here with one of their more recognizable songs, that appears to be about coming home to your flat and shagging your gal. Is that a cowbell I hear? More cowbell, I need more cowbell!

  2. I Should Have Known Better - I could take it or leave it. On a side note, Wikipedia says John had a little hissy fit about his harmonica during the recording of this song.

  3. If I Fell - A warm and fuzzy love song with a nice melody. Unlike the cover songs on the first two albums, this feels like they are feelin' it. All in all, it's okay. For those of you who care, "this was also Kurt Cobain's favourite Beatles song" or so says the wiki-man (with an extra "u" too be snooty).

  4. I'm Happy Just to Dance with You - Mood and lyrics fit - a happy, bouncy tune that picks up the momentum, though the lyrics are quite basic.

  5. And I Love Her - One of my favorite Beatles songs, of course the guitar solo in the middle kind of sounds like someone is learning to play, in my opinion.

  6. Tell Me Why - The momentum picks back up, with John interograting his crying girlfriend (or wife) as to why she lied (or he lied if you assume he's talking to himself to confess about his cheating). There's a weird Peanuts cartoon-sounding section about half way in that doesn't really fit.

  7. Can't Buy Me Love - Another classic Beatles song spawning numerous covers, a movie (not theirs), and a collectible lunch box. As noted by Wikipedia, this song has the opposite meaning of their last money song, Money (That's What I Want). But after 1 year, 3 albums, tours, and a movie I would assume that they have money now and realize its limitations. Or to further the analysis, the song Money (That's What I Want) was a cover so not their true feelings, but this song they wrote which may reflect their actual views. No?

  8. Any Time at All - Keeps the energy going even with Lennon's unsual pronunciation of "at all" as "uh TAll." Must be a British thing.

  9. I'll Cry Instead - ehh.

  10. Things We Said Today - This song caught my attention and may be my 4th favorite on the album behind the 3 that made the greatest hits. This song seems to have more depth to it - I enjoyed the instrumental shifts and changes in tempo.

  11. When I Get Home - According to my iTunes player, this song was just on.

  12. You Can't Do That - John's big threat to his girl talking to another guy: "I'll let you down." Ooo, I'm scared. Unless in British English it means something else. Beyond this, it reveals a controlling Lennon "I told you before, you can't do that." No, no ladies, control yourself, he's all mine. (I think there might be cowbell in here, too.)

  13. I'll Be Back - After the previous song, I'm a little creeped out when Lennon says, "I'm the one who wants you." I think he might try to stalk someone at this point. Sequnced differently, I might like this one.

This album feels more like an album versus a collection of songs as the first half seems to follow a love theme (well I guess the whole album does), though the interwebs suggest that the "concept" album wasn't yet invented by the Beatles, so I credit the cohesiveness of the soundtrack to attempting to follow the theme of the movie (which I haven't seen). However, it was nominated for an Oscar for its writing so I have to assume that there's a story to follow in there somewhere.

While the good songs outweigh the bad, this album is still just average in my opinion. Of the three albums reviewed thus far, with is on par with their debut. If you are inclined to pick this one up you should know the stereo version of this album doesn't have the left/right feel to it, so either mono or stereo works well, maybe more so on the stereo side since it sounds cleaner (which should help if you have dirty feet).

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