The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (1964): Review


Produced by George Martin Label – Parlophone

Taking a hint from Elvis Presley’s wide screen ambitions, Brian Epstein and The Beatles relentless quest to be the biggest recording artists in the world would mean a dual assault via film and accompanying soundtrack album. For those that couldn’t see the band live, and with the limited television exposure of the time, a movie seemed the perfect platform to expose the four piece to an audience clamouring for more than just vinyl records and photos. John Lennon’s astute request for Richard Lester to direct, gave the film the necessary feel good, light, comedy entertainment factor, and a perfect environment to mix dialogue scenes with the original music the band had created. Indeed, for the first time the songs in some ways feel more carefully crafted in order to be as relevant both visually and aurally. There would be no throwaway cover songs, heralding a new emphasis and a certain pressure to provide decent quality original material. It works of course, and considering Lennon and McCartney’s prolific self imposed song writing workload, there are still some shimmering pop classics amongst the 13 song set, that results in a long player that is marginally more consistent than their previous two.


As with earlier releases the dominant sound is their brash, upbeat, rock n’ roll influenced pop interspersed with a few melodically sincere ballads. McCartney would provide his first classic love song with the Latin tinged “And I Love Her”, and Lennon appears unusually wistful on the gentle “If I Fell”. However, it’s the up tempo rockers that really stand out. Lennon’s clanging opening chord and Ringo’s hammering cowbell on the title track showcase a fuller instrumental sound than ever, thanks largely to Abbey Road’s new four track recorder. The fast paced, electrifying start is perfectly complemented by the breathless confidence of Lennon’s “I Should Have Known Better”. With an unstoppably memorable melody, it remains one of Lennon’s best true pop songs. Other highlights include the striking, mildly aggressive “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and the beautifully harmonic closer “I’ll Be Back”. The misfires are rarer than any preceding recording, with only the messy falsetto line on “Tell Me Why” blotting what is a superb compilation of songs.

“A Hard Day’s Night” is another joyous celebration of adept invention and frothy exuberance. Almost every song is a genuine winner and a potential hit. With this kind of momentum how could the world not notice?


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

See also…
The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963): Review
The Beatles – With The Beatles (1963): Review

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