The Beatles

Capitol, 1965

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


(Assistant Editor's note: This review is meant for those who want to discover the Beatles but haven't ever heard the full albums. Since there's maybe nine of those people in the world, I hope they're reading this.)

Were you to draw a line between the moptop boys of Beatlemania and the sophisticated composers who spoke for a generation, it would come in between Help! and Rubber Soul. The weariness and reliance on covers from Beatles For Sale is gone, and the band appears to be having fun again -- aided, more than likely, by their discovery of marijuana courtesy of one Bob Dylan. Or perhaps working on a movie again got the creative juices flowing. Whatever the reason, Help! is a very good Beatles album but not a must-own, falling somewhere between the sunny pop optimism of A Hard Day's Night and the bleak defeat of Beatles For Sale.

There would come a time, beginning in 1966, where the boys started making album statements, forcing the listener to hear the music as the product of a creative force, not a marketing machine churning out hit singles. So my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Help! is interesting in that it's the last album that features a few hit singles, some filler and the token George Harrison tracks that didn't add much to the overall picture. It's also half of the soundtrack to the movie, but that's useless, as the music in the movie didn't make much sense like it did in A Hard Day's Night.

Paul McCartney really steals the show here, with "Another Girl" and "The Night Before" being two of the finest album tracks of the band's entire career, the former a surprisingly quick and slightly dark pop tune driven by Paul's funky lead guitar. He also turns in "Yesterday" and the sped-up country of "I've Just Seen A Face," which could almost be a hillbilly tune and is a forgotten classic.

The album hits a slow stretch with "Act Naturally," "It's Only Love" and "You Like Me Too Much," the former a Ringo-sung throwaway cover. "You Like Me" and "Tell Me What You See" are that rare beast, Beatles tracks that are neither catchy nor worth hearing more than a couple times. It's in this stretch that the foursome shows its weariness, what with Beatlemania, filming a movie, tossing off tons of non-album singles and trying to keep sanity and marriages together at the same time. So one can forgive them a few duff tracks in the process, but it's those that keep this disc from being a classic.

Lennon's title tune still ranks as one of the most understated cries for help in all music, perhaps the jauntiest begging ever committed to vinyl, but it's his rollicking, hoarse cover of "Dizzy Miss Lizzie" that stands above most other Beatles covers. Of the other tracks, "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" and "Ticket To Ride" are fine tunes, "I Need You" is standard George Harrison (he would improve quickly) and "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" is assured Lennon, proof that even during down times the man could write a great song when he wanted to.

With too many average tracks, Help! falls short of classic status, but the best here is still worth hearing as a bridge between what had come before and what lay ahead.

Rating: B

User Rating: B



© 2006 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.