Wednesday, September 2, 2009

LP Love: A Hard Day's Night

As I'm out of the country until September 15, my normal song-a-day listening schedule is being put on hold. Instead, rediscover your love for the LP format by enjoying a complete Beatles album per day. Try to keep your finger away from the "shuffle" or "skip" buttons for the ultimate retro experience! See you in September to wrap up the Beatles' catalog song by song, remastered-style.

A Hard Day's Night

Release Date: July 10, 1964

The Beatles' third album served as the soundtrack to their first movie, which was released in British cinemas just a few days before the album. Side A is made up of the seven songs featured in the film, while side B has six extra songs to round it out. Amazingly, every single one of these songs was an original, which I believe was a first in the history of British pop music. A Hard Day's Night also has the notable distinction of being the only Beatles album made up entirely of Lennon-McCartney songs.

And what songs they are! Thus far in their career, the Beatles are clearly getting tighter with every album. The seven songs from the movie might very well make up the best side A of an LP in the entirety of the Beatles' career-- I said this recently as an offhand remark, but the more I think about it, the more I want to stick to it. It's just stunning. "A Hard Day's Night" and "Can't Buy Me Love" are both masterworks of pop, "And I Love Her" is the beginning of what will be Paul's career as a terrific composer of ballads, and "If I Fell" boasts some of the most sophisticated vocal parts John ever wrote. But by and large, the songs of side A seem to continue in the same style as what's come before. Arguably, side B is more experimental, with the off-kilter rhythms of "Any Time At All" and "When I Get Home" juxtaposed with the burgeoning maturity (musical and emotional) demonstrated by both Paul and John in "Things We Said Today" and "I'll Be Back." You can still absolutely have a dance party to this music, as you could to the previous two album, but A Hard Day's Night, like the film it was named for, really showcases how much more the Beatles are than your average pop band. My vote for the best early-period album.

High Points: "A Hard Day's Night," "If I Fell," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Things We Said Today"

My Secret Favorite Song: "I'll Be Back"

The Song I'm Not Supposed to Love So Much But Totally Do Anyway: "You Can't Do That"

Track Listing:

"I'm Happy Just to Dance with You"
"And I Love Her"



  1. Oooh! I wish you were still here to define the early period. I'm assuming Help! is the dividing line, and I'm guessing it's counted as the end of the early period. Either way, For Sale must be in the early period, so I want to vote for that. I think this album is the most 'solid,' with higher lows than For Sale. But I think For Sale has the highest highs of anything before Revolver. I know you're a big fan of that album too.

  2. FOR SALE is definitely underrated, as is HELP!