The Beatles – Beatles for Sale

In the past, I viewed this album as a let down after 3 great LPs. But, is it really?

In the past, I always viewed this album as a let down after such a great first three albums. When I was in the mood for some Beatles, I never once said “Hey, I’m in the mood for some Beatles for Sale!” But, is this album really a let down? It took me so long to finally write this post, I had the chance to listen to it about a dozen times. Each time my CD changer made a new circuit I heard it again. I think I’m finally ready to write about it and have some theories as well.

Beatles for Sale kick off with the following songs: No Reply, I’m a Loser, and Baby’s in Black. Those are good songs, but they aren’t Hard Day’s Night or Help. So right off the bat, there’s a bit of a let down because the album doesn’t have a fast, up beat tune to start it. That comes all the way down at Track 4, Rock and Roll Music, which is a cover, and brings me to my next point.

The Beatles were tired. The constant grind of touring, movie making, show appearances, and studio work for the past two years has completely wiped them out. Who can be creative when all you really want is some peace, quiet, and a good night’s sleep? To wit, half of the songs are covers, which is a bummer after Hard Day’s Night was their first album to be 100% original. This also shows in the fact that Beatles for Sale didn’t produce an A-side single, not one. They were running out of steam trying to make incredible albums as well as put out incredible singles to keep them on top of both the song and album charts.

If you look at the album release dates, they had put out FOUR albums in the past two years. That is a ridiculous amount and it reminds me of stories I’ve heard about child actors back in the 50’s and 60’s, who got hooked on drugs that they used to give them “pep” so they could perform well during their grueling film schedule. Judy Garland is a prime example. I’m sure this is no different, except (as far as I know) they didn’t use these drugs to keep them going. George Martin also had commented that they were weary during recording and it led to the melancholy tone of the sessions.

But is this really a bad album? I don’t think so. After hearing these songs several times, it just has a different feel than previous albums. John and Paul were trying to write more autobiographical songs (see wiki link above), so naturally it wouldn’t be only the sugary pop of previous releases. And musically, these are good songs. There is a great deal of unique Beatles sound in them and often the chord progressions and songs themselves don’t go where you would expect, which is nice.

Since they had to include some covers, in order to make the December 1964 deadline for the album, I’m really glad they chose the American rock and roll numbers they did. So many Americans were looking across the pond at that time to what was happening in the UK with the Beatles and other bands, but they were looking right back at us seeing the unique sound of the American south. Rock and Roll was a very unique thing and I love that they pay tribute to some of their contemporaries that maybe weren’t getting quite as much recognition or credit. Chuck Berry had a large part in inventing Rock and Roll, yet when the Beatles covered his song, it was a huge boost to his popularity as well. And rightly deserved.

As you’ll see in later posts, I have an extensive Blues collection from several different American artists. I feel like this is the true roots to all of the great rock music you heard back then and to hear the Beatles paying it tribute is right on the money in my mind.

 

I’ll Follow the Sun

You have to get deep into the album before you hit this song, but I think it’s incredible. It’s sad and beautiful, with a very positive message. I know this might be a little morbid, but someday we all will pass on. There isn’t a song I’d like played at my funeral more than this one. It points to the impact people have on your life and the fact that time and circumstances separate us all eventually, with the promise of a reunion someday. It’s wonderful and I like this more than the sugary pop songs. It has much more depth and feeling.

Eight Days a Week

Finally! Here’s what we’ve been missing, an honestly to goodness upbeat Beatles song! You have to wait until Track 8 to hear it, but it’s worth the wait. This was released in the US as a single, but not the UK. Weird. Anyways, it’s a great tune.

I LOVE the animation on this video. The 60’s just looked like a fun time to be alive. Reminds me of the Frosty the Snowman Christmas special.

 

Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby

This is one of the notorious cover songs. A fun tune by Carl Perkins, it’s totally George all the way. I’m sure the Beatles could sing this and know from experience how it goes. I like the tongue in cheek way they present it. Great way to close out the album.

 

Hope you enjoyed the post and have a great weekend full of music!

D

 

The Beatles – Please Please Me

When you really dig deep into their music and story, you find a group of four extremely hard working and talented young guys who loved music.

I would say The Beatles are my all time favorite band. Not that I’m going out on a limb by saying it, because they’re one of the most popular of all time. But, when you really dig deep into their music and story, you find a group of four extremely hard working and talented young guys who loved music. They worked hard at their craft and their sound evolved and changed as they matured and experimented with different instruments and song writing ideas.

When you follow their discography, they put out an amazing amount of material in a very short amount of time, much to the world’s benefit. Their creativity was running at a mile a minute. You’ll find several stories like this, about how they wrote the song Hard Day’s Night. George Martin told John and Paul that they needed a title track for their movie album and the next morning they walk in with that classic. Probably took them 15 minutes to get it all down.

Because of this rich history and my love of every one of their albums, I’m going to slow down and dedicate one post to each of their albums. That way I can take my time with each and give them the attention I believe they deserve individually.

Please Please Me

PleasePleaseMe

The Beatles had been a very successful live club playing in Germany and then returning to London for their epic tenure at the Cavern Club, where they started to gain a following. According to Wikipedia, Please Please Me was basically a live recording of one of their Cavern Club sets. It only took 3 recording sessions, a total of 9 hours and 45 minutes to record this classic. In studio time, that’s a ridiculously short for an album of this quality. There were very few overdubs, just the performances recorded onto a two track tape recorder.

Some interesting facts about this album:

  • It wasn’t released in the US until 1987, when the Beatles catalog was converted to CD. Some of the songs were released on other LPs, but the full album was not
  • The classic John Lennon vocals for Twist and Shout were done on the very first take, at the end of the day. He had a cold and they worried recording this song would shred his vocal chords, which it did
  • The photo on the album cover was taken in the stairwell of EMI Records. If you’ve seen the retrospective albums 1962–1966 and 1967–1970, you’ll recognize this photo was repeated several years later and the two were used on the album covers. Very cool touch.

On a personal note, I didn’t actually hear this album until 1995, when I slowly collected The Beatles’ full discography, one used CD at a time. I recognized all of the hit songs, as my dad listened to the retrospective albums all the time as I was growing up. The big realization to me, was that the entire album was very good. Even the tracks that never made airplay were excellent.

Here’s some of my favorites, all of which have become iconic songs from this time period.

I Saw Her Standing There

Wow, what a way to kick off an album.

 

Please Please Me

This is a very upbeat and fun song. I couldn’t find an album version anywhere out there, so here’s a restored version of the song live in Washington DC. Like most Beatles concerts it’s nearly impossible to hear the band over the screaming of the girls in the audience.

 

Twist and Shout

Here’s that classic vocal performance from John Lennon with perfect harmonies by Paul and George. Just makes you want to shout along with them at the ending part. They didn’t write this song, but it is an amazing performance. Like the other, I couldn’t find the album version out there, but this is a famous performance, done in front of the Queen. That joke about the cheap seats is a famous one.

 

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the songs. With the Beatles is up next.

D