The Beatles were unstoppable during the mid 60’s, with many music critics saying that the Fab 4 fad was all but over, that The Beatles had nothing more to offer the world … what a mistake that was.
The most significant aspect of A Hard Day’s Night was that it represented the first album composed of all original Beatles material and was recorded over nine non-consecutive days between January and June of 1964. It’s worthy to note that at the time, the Beatles were penning material for other musicians, this of course meant that they were honing their skills, especially in the area of ballads, with these arrangements and presentations transferring nicely as they inched into the their psychedelic sound … after all, “A Day In The Life” is pretty much a refined and revisioned ballad. All of this of course meant that listeners found themselves for the first time standing in front of John, Paul, George and Ringo, where the boys stood alone with no cover songs to protect them. Also for the first time were were hearing more dynamic guitars, more infused harmonies, as the band had over the the last few years grown very comfortable with themselves, and now, even the likes of Mr. Dylan were taking notice.
The movie was pure pop culture, framed by this collection of songs, as it was all about the music and not the plot line. A Hard Day’s Night was a complete immersion of sight and sound, where pop music and show biz collided and nothing about music or film would ever be the same again. “A Hard Day’s Night” opens like a thunder-clash, where the present and the future are inseparable, where Paul’s Hofner bass (which was stolen after the rooftop event and never seen again), George’s Rickenbacker, an acoustic Gibson along with an elegant Steinway Grand piano create almost fours seconds of sustained sound that ring out here like magic, while traversing all the way into the climax of Sgt. Pepper, with “A Day In The Life.”
Review by Jenell Kesler
Of course Hard Day’s Night has its share of rockers, yet it also belays a gifted sense of the melancholy within the masterful construct of “If I Fell.” This is also the first album on which Ringo does not have a song, which at the time wasn’t seen as a drawback. And, considering things missing, all of the music from the movie was not included here, often because several of the numbers thad been previously released. On a whole, the album simply beams with irresistible self-confidence, energy, and fresh emotional visions that were entirely new. That being said, the UK version is much better than the American, where the album was drenched with all of those silly movie instrumentals, making it almost unlistenable, as was the reason for the disparaging opinions of the record based on which side of the ocean one lived on. It’s also an album where the second side was equally strong, inherently sophisticated and well worth your time, especially if you ignore the American pressing.
Even if you were to consider A Hard Day’s Night nothing more than an assemblage of pop songs, the level of musicianship, vocal presentation and writing is lightyears beyond what the Beatles were doing just the year before … so say what you will, consider it a soundtrack or not, either way, there’s no way of denying the brilliance found within these grooves.
*** The Fun Facts: The title of the album was the accidental creation of Ringo. From the John Lennon interview with Playboy magazine: “I was going home with Dick Lester (the movie director) who suggested the title, Hard Day's Night, derived from something Ringo had said. I had used it in “I 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.’”
As to the album cover: Robert Freeman was asked again to produce the cover artwork. He wanted to suggest the idea of movement, by expressing a flow of a pictures: four rows of four head shots, set up as though they were frames from a movie. The pictures of the four individual Beatles were taken in Freeman’s studio, in London. He asked them to make another facial expression for each new photo. The photos were also used at the end of the movie. While the British albums used a blue frame for the images, other countries used red, with the US album only showing four of the images and not the twenty as on the UK issue, with the movie poster continuing thirty-two images.
I have a strange false pressing of version "1A 062-04145" (from the Netherlands) which contains eight songs of the Beach Boys on side A instead of the regular Beatles-tracks! (B-side has the regular tracks!) Does anyone know more about this?