Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 1/10/10.
Following the Beatles arrival into the U.S. in February of 1964, Beatlemania was now sweeping the globe. With their mop-top haircuts and clean-cut look, they were the new stars that was playing the Ed Sullivan show as well as a slew of concerts all over the U.S. In the spring of that year, the band filmed a movie with director Richard Lester which would help raise their profile to the world. Around the same time from January of 1964 through early June of that year, the band was making another album with producer George Martin which would ultimately become the soundtrack for their upcoming film entitled A Hard Day's Night.
Produced by George Martin and all songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. A Hard Day's Night is an album where the Beatles refine their pop-rock sound with their poppy, upbeat sound along with more versatile styles in various songs including a Spanish-style ballad. The album would also include newer sounds as lead guitarist George Harrison would introduce a new guitar sound with the electric 12-string guitar. Even the lyrical content would develop into something deeper from both Lennon and McCartney with Lennon showing bits of the influence of Bob Dylan. The result would be one of the band's early hallmarks in their flourishing career.
Opening the album is its title track, an upbeat song with driving guitars and thumping rhythms with Lennon and McCartney singing the song and its workaholic-laden lyrics. With Lennon singing one verse and McCartney singing another, the song features a fuller yet raucous production from George Martin who plays a backing piano accompaniment while George Harrison provides a ringing yet flourishing guitar solo. I Should Have Known Better is led by a melodic harmonica solo by Lennon who sings the mid-tempo song led by Ringo Starr's steady, thumping drums and McCartney's bouncy bass line. The song's lyrics of longing in love shows a new lyrical depth in Lennon while Harrison plays a blazing, ringing guitar solo.
If I Fell is a slow yet tender love song with a slow, tapping rhythm provided by McCartney's smooth, thumping bass and Starr's tapping drums with a flourishing bass-drum fill. With Lennon singing the opening verse, the song is mostly sung by Lennon and McCartney with Lennon providing acoustic guitar washes that is accompanied by Harrison's lush guitar strum. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You is a song of teenage innocence with a bouncy, mid-tempo rhythm spurred by Starr's bass-pounding, hi-hat drum fills and McCartney's thumping bass line. Harrison sings the song with its simple yet innocent lyrics as Harrison and Lennon provide some fast, spurting guitar riffs while Ringo's pounding bass drum is from an African drum beat. The Spanish-acoustic ballad And I Love Her is led by melodic acoustic guitar riffs with washy guitar accompaniments as McCartney sings the song with his somber yet ethereal vocals. Featuring Starr on soft bongos and additional percussions, it is definitely one of the band's most poignant love ballads.
Tell Me Why is an upbeat song with melancholic lyrics provided by Lennon who sings the song as it features driving rhythms from Starr's bouncy drum fills and McCartney's soothing bass lines. Featuring some driving guitar riffs from Lennon and Harrison, the song is supported by amazing backing vocals from McCartney and Harrison as it another of the band's highlights. The album's leading single is the raucous, upbeat Can't Buy Me Love that is led by driving acoustic guitar riffs from Lennon as McCartney sings the song with a bouncy bass line that is complemented by Starr's steady yet hammering drum performance. The song's playful lyrics show McCartney's new progression in writing lyrics as the song also includes a blazing, ringing guitar solo from George Harrison. Any Time At All is an upbeat song with Lennon's rough vocals in the chorus with its driving rhythm from Starr's drum and McCartney's shimmering bass line. With Lennon playing an acoustic guitar and Harrison providing some melodic flourishes from the 12-string, the song's melancholic lyrics is another example of the newfound lyrical maturity of Lennon as it also features a melodic piano accompaniment from McCartney.
I'll Cry Instead is an upbeat, country-inspired track with bouncy rhythms and Harrison's spurting guitar riffs with Lennon's washy riffs as he sings melancholic lyrics in this short, one-minute, forty-six second song that shows the band's versatility. Things We Said Today is led by a fast-paced acoustic-guitar drive with Starr's steady, thumping beats as McCartney sings somber lyrics of frustration as he sings the song with double-tracked vocals. Featuring a tempo change in a section where the production heightens the song a bit, it is remarkable example of Martin's production techniques. When I Get Home is an upbeat song with Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison singing as Lennon takes charge with its lyrics of longing. With Starr's thundering drum fills and driving guitar riffs along with McCartney's thumping bass line, it's a song that revels in a bit of angst along with an element of doo-wop in the opening vocal line.
You Can't Do That is led by Harrison's ringing guitar solo with bouncy drum fills from Starr along with a clanging cowbell from McCartney who also provides a thumping bass line. Lennon sings the song with its biting lyrics as it features Harrison and McCartney on backing vocals while Starr also plays conga in the background as Lennon plays a blazing guitar solo with fast-paced washes. The album closer is the somber, mid-tempo track I'll Be Back that has Lennon playing a somber, acoustic guitar track with Starr's thumping drum fill and McCartney's soft bass accompaniment. With Lennon singing lead as he's joined by McCartney and Harrison on the song's melancholic chorus, the song features Harrison playing a flamenco-style guitar as it is a fitting closer to the album.
When the album was released on July of 1964 to coincide with the release of the film in Britain. The album was a huge smash as it showed a newfound maturity in the band. While half of the songs were on the film and another half were made during the sessions, it was regarded as one of the band's finest. Though the album would be released in a different form in the U.S. with one half of the album featuring songs from the film and four tracks are orchestral score versions provided by George Martin. The album did help raise the Beatles rising popularity all over the world as did the film which is regarded as one of the best films ever made. Even to musicians who were amazed at George Harrison's 12-string guitar playing that would be very influential to the folk-rock band the Byrds.
The 2009 remastered edition of the album presents the record in a fuller sound. With more depth to the guitars, bass, drums, vocals, and Martin's production. Everything sounds richer without any kind of scratches or errors as it is one of the top notch remasters among the rest of the band's catalog.
A Hard Day's Night is a brilliant album from the Beatles. Among the albums of their early period, this is their best album in terms of consistency and development. Though it may not reach the brilliance of the middle period that began with Rubber Soul more than a year later. It is one of their stellar albums of their career that trumps everything they did prior and the two albums that would follow. In the end, A Hard Day's Night is a remarkable achievement of an album from the Beatles.
The Beatles Reviews: Please Please Me - With the Beatles - Beatles for Sale - Help! - Rubber Soul - Revolver - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Magical Mystery Tour - The White Album - Yellow Submarine OST - Abbey Road - Let It Be - (1962-1966) - (1967-1970) - Past Masters - (Live at the BBC) - (Anthology 1) - (Anthology 2) - (Anthology 3) - (Let It Be... Naked) - (Love)
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