A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (THE BEATLES)

THE STORY SO FAR:

Strummmmm! That dramatic guitar chord that kicks of A Hard Day’s Night (album, song, movie) still jumps right out at you, slaps you in the face, and jump-starts your heart. And you know what? Both the music and the film are still as crisp and lively as they were in 1964. Of course, only the first seven songs are actually in the movie (and they are the strongest of the bunch, from the rousing rock & roll of the title track and the hit single “Can’t Buy Me Love,” to the beautiful ballads “If I Fell” and “And I Love Her”). But nobody’s going to complain about having songs like “I’ll Cry Instead” and “Things We Said Today” in the second half of the record; they sure don’t feel like leftovers. Yet another high-point for John, Paul, George, and Ringo–four fab fellows who hit the highest heights imaginable.

TRACK LIST

1. A Hard Day’s Night
2. I Should Have Known Better
3. If I Fell
4. I’m Happy Just To Dance With You
5. And I Love Her
6. Tell Me Why
7. Can’t Buy Me Love
8. Any Time At All
9. I’ll Cry Instead
10. Things We Said Today
11. When I Get Home
12. You Can’t Do That
13. I’ll Be Back
14. A Hard Day’s Night Documentary

THE CRITICISM:

Something that seems to fly over the heads of many Beatles fans is the complexity involved in the majority of their music. Yes, their later material was not the only music to be complex. In fact, this aspect started from the beginning, actually, and this album is no exception: many of the chords, progressions and structures to the songs on this album are very advanced — especially coming from a rock band who wrote their own material back in the early ’60s, and what’s a hell of a lot more impressive is how they seem to make it all sound so seemingly simple; the complexity of the musicianship doesn’t overwhelm the music, but in actuality, it plays an important role in making their music as infectious and devouring as it was (and still is): the way they treat the melodies, and how they sequence and arrange them are so marvelous.

You know the title track, as it features that explosive, shot-in-the-dark strum of a chord (which is complex, by the way.) And from there, we are taken on an exciting ride. We get infectious rockers like the aforementioned title track, lovely, melodic-soaked ballads like “If I Fell,” more infectious rockers like “Happy Just To Dance With You,” which is sung by George Harrison, and features some stunning arrangements, but these arrangements make for some interesting, mysterious, yet infectious melodies, which lend the track a certain sexy, elegant and utterly classy quality. We also get Latin-infused numbers like Paul McCartney’s “And I Love Her.”

My favorite track on this excellent album is “Tell Me Why.” Many people on this page seem to bash this track, which is fine. It was rumored that John Lennon himself didn’t think the world of this track, and said that it was a song written without much effort, and that it was inspired by his love of the R&B “girl groups” from that time period. You can definitely hear the influence here (and in certain other Beatles songs), but the passionate, raucous, uninhibited, and alternately beautiful vocal harmonies, the sexy way in which they swing, and the jazzy basslines from McCartney are just a few of the things that contribute to the creation of something which is almost orgasmic to my ears.

Later, we get to see one of the earliest examples of The Beatles exploring their love of country-rockabilly in “I’ll Cry Instead,” while “Things We Said Today” is more of a melancholic-toned melody, which, ironically, features a fairly-fast tempo. “You Can’t Do That” features some ominous lyrics to a lover, but yet the melody and the song in general sounds so up-tempo, jovial and celebratory. And, to close off the album, we have “I’ll Be Back,” one of the most understatedly beautiful songs on the album.

THE BREAKDOWN

Final Score:  100% – A+

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