A Hard Day's Night

The Beatles

Capitol, 1964


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


There is something to be said for the album format in general. No matter how many times a song can be bludgoned to death on rock radio through overplaying, just pulling out the album it's from, slapping it on the turntable or in the CD player and giving it a spin helps to put those same overplayed songs into perspective.

Take a good portion of The Beatles' catalog. Now, I'm not questioning their influence on the rock music genre, but doesn't it get tiring to hear classic rock radio play the same songs over and over again? Yet on my very first listen to A Hard Day's Night (restored to the version originally released across the pond), the songs I can occasionally grow tired of hearing... well, they just made sense.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I can't say for certainty if this - the third release from John, Paul, George and Ringo - was the album that cemented Beatlemania into the hearts and minds of Americans, mainly because I wasn't scheduled to walk the planet for another six years. So if this, the soundtrack to the Beatles' first movie, wasn't the spark, it most certainly was the explosion as everything came together for the band.

With no song running over three minutes in length, The Beatles follow a simple yet powerful rule in rock: Get in, get your message across, and get out. There's no need to pad any of these 13 songs with such effluvia as extended guitar solos or spotlights on drum work. (Sorry, Ringo - no offense meant.) If anything, these short blasts of power-pop leave the listener wanting more - even today, nearly 40 years after its release, it's still powerful.

I could easily gush about songs like "A Hard Day's Night," "If I Fell" (one of the most beautiful love songs out there), "Can't Buy Me Love," "I Should Have Known Better" or any of the hits any rock fan worth their weight in salt already know. But what can be said about these which hasn't already been said? Let's leave it at this: this is the environment in which these songs were meant to be heard, no slam against any of the "best-of" releases meant. Even if you haven't seen the movie (which I'm guilty of), the flow of these songs just feels right.

Of these selections, only two are not familiar to classic rock radio fans. "When I Get Home" and "You Can't Do That" don't get nearly the amount of airplay - indeed, if they get any at all - as their counterparts. Regrettably, these also turn out to be the two weakest links in the whole album chain - not necessarily bad songs, but just not of the same caliber as the rest of the material.

So is A Hard Day's Night the perfect place for a newcomer to The Beatles to start with? That's not an easy call to make, simply because the band covered so much musical ground in less than a decade that to limit one's scope to only this album almost feels like they're getting cheated. If, however, someone wanted to go beyond a "best-of" collection and really start exploring the albums to discover the true essence of The Beatles, then A Hard Day's Night is a great launchpad.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-


This time Thelen gets it right (See my comments on his reviews of Sgt Pepper and the Doors debut.) A Hard Day's Night is a great album, and a perfect introduction to the Beatles. Just one disagreement with Thelen - When I Get Home and You Can't Do That are hardly the "weakest links". The latter especially is a great track, one of the highlights of the album. The weakest link I think would be I'm Happy Just to Dance with You, but it's a decent song even so. And let me add, the title track is one of the greatest songs of all time!!

© 2003 Christopher Thelen 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.