There has been so much written over the past five decades about The Beatles music that I’m afraid I’m probably covering a lot of old ground here but that’s just how it is when you decide to write about the most famous band in the world.
A Hard Day’s Night (1964) was more than just a soundtrack to The Beatles first ever film – it was one of those rare albums of the early sixties, that a group as bold as The Beatles, dared to release an entire album with their own material. In fact, if we break it down further, we could almost call it a John Lennon album. John contributed to all but three of the thirteen songs on the album, including the title track A Hard Day’s Night.
The title track is the glaring standout, beginning with a massive chiming chord, something that critics still talk about today as pioneering. But as a whole, the collection of thirteen songs and their arrangements were at the time, one of the finest examples of the Beatles wanting to express their range and versatility as artists. Much of it is very simple, yet so trailblazing with the inclusion of some really stellar pop ballads. Interestingly, I think the lads never sounded better at this point in their careers especially with Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s infectious harmonies. Saying that I always liked how the two of them shared vocal duties on many of their songs in those early days.
Fun fact: Paul shared vocals with John on A Hard Days Night because John realised he couldn’t get his voice high enough for the middle sequence beginning with “When I’m home everything seems to be right…”
A lot has also been said over the years about George Harrison’s incredible lead guitar work on A Hard Day’s Night. He achieved so much of its classic sound notable on his priced 12 string Rickenbacker. Even Ringo Starr, who has been the butt of plenty of jokes over the years, that he was a terrible drummer, does an incredible job on his drum kit, faithfully keeping time and throwing in the occasional drum fill for good measure. He also showed off his flair with the inclusion for instance of bongos on And I Love Her and a cowbell on the album’s title track. Many of these elements were barely noticeable until the album was remastered some ten years ago.
Some of the other more interesting aspects of the album that I really enjoy revolved around John and his songwriting and how he is a little more melancholy than usual on here, particularly on tracks like If I Fell, I’ll Cry Instead and You Can’t Do That. I also really like how the blaring sound of the harmonica introduces I Should Have Known Better and I absolutely adore Paul’s And I Love Her, the first ever Beatles song to feature an acoustic guitar solo, played by George with a very bolero feel about it.
From the classic rock of Tell Me Why and Can’t Buy Me Love to the adult pop ballads of If I Fell and I’ll Be Back, The Beatles third studio outing ticks all the right boxes. Originally released in the United States in June of 1964 and a month later in the UK, it was an instant hit reaching No.1 in both countries. Definitely check it out and maybe more importantly amuse yourself by watching the fab four in their motion picture debut.