The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night


4.5
superb

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
September 24th, 2005 | 65 replies | 21,764 views


Release Date: 1964 | Tracklist



Marx would be proud. Lenin would kick himself, such is the distance by which he missed the ball. Paul McCartney screams the chorus of #1 single Canít Buy Me Love, which lies precisely in the middle of the barely thirty minutes album, with the intent of a true revolutionary. "I donít care too much for moneyÖ Ďcause money canít buy me love." OK, itís not exactly the Marxist ideal, but it beats the gulags. The minor-key R&B shuffle backs what is an oddly aggressive vocal, and signals a precedent set throughout the album. The song is typical of the model used on the album: itís short (each song clocks in well below three minutes; it contrasts a bright, abrasive vocal with a melancholic accompaniment; and it utilises a songwriting trick the Beatles made their own, at George Martinís prodding, beginning quickly with the chorus line.

The title track exudes a similar ethos. A Hard Dayís Night opens with an infamous, and contentious, augmented G chord (again, probably down to Martinís influence) before launching spiritedly into the chorus: "Itís been a hard dayís night/And Iíve been working like a dog Ö but when I get home to you/I find the things that you do/Will make me feel all right." The working manís anthem is one of the oldest songwriting tricks, beaten to death by John Bon Jovi, but that fact in itself is not enough to explain the songís lasting success. The simplistic structure and lyrics are offset by a breath-taking shared vocal and a haunting bridge. Interestingly, Q magazine awarded it the honour of third most exciting song of all-time.

That same immediate chorus formula is observed on no less than six of the thirteen songs on offer. I Should Have Known Better, Tell Me Why and Any Time At All are all short, peppy,perfect pop songs. All utilise the favoured layered vocal style of Lennon and McCartney, which adds some extra punch to the chorusesÖ not that they need it. The superb vocal styles of all Beatles are often overlooked in favour of their songwriting and instrumental skills, and perhaps A Hard Dayís Night is the best example of those skills. The tracks are generally understated instrument-wise, which ensures the focus is squarely on vocals. Georgeís sole vocal track, Iím Happy Just To Dance With You , is very much a song of its time, an unfortunate casualty of the lack of good recording technology in the 60ís, but the vaguely eastern melody wonderfully contrasts the ďpop" melody.

George Martinís influence is clearly evident again in the pair of ballads, which also constitute two of the albumís highlights. If I Fell features a haunting, classically-influenced melody, sung beautifully in harmony by McCartney(high) and Lennon(lead, bass). Itís my favourite track on the album, as it encapsulated everything I love about the early Beatles And I Love Her is driven by a strong, tender vocal by McCartney, Ringoís brilliant echoed bongos and some beautiful Spanish guitar picking from George. Despite his sacrilegious use of a pick on nylon-strings, he performs excellently. Also notable is the key-shift to coincide with the guitar solo, avoiding the clichťd ďraised final chorus".

The final tracks mark an unfortunate dip in quality, but not so severe that theyíd be labeled bad or even average tracks. Iíll Cry Instead continues Lennonís crying fixation on the album (among other references, If I Fell makes allusions to the same). Evidently, the self-loathing so apparent on the follow-up had yet to take hold. Things We Said Today is the most notable of the remaining tracks, if only for McCartneyís beautiful vocal.

If ever I there were the need to dispel the notion of the early Beatles as simply a cheesy pop band, thereís no better example of the complicity and depth in that period than the 1964 classic A Hard Dayís Night. Itís brash, abrasive, even confrontational. Itís less ďI want to hold your hand" and more ďwhat would like for breakfast?" Itís the album which should have seen the Beatles hit their stride. The material written for the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, which famously starred the four Beatles, was deemed so strong that a separate album release would have to be arranged to accommodate those songs which couldnít appear in the film. Unfortunately, it would take a further two tired albums before they really hit the golden trail with Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Pepperís Lonely Heartís Club Band released sequentially within three years. As it stands, A Hard Dayís Night remains a diamond in a sea of emeralds, the one release of the startlingly prolific first three years that remains consistently of top quality throughout.

Amid the later classics Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, White Album, A Hard Dayís Night will always be overlooked. Perhaps thatís its charm.



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user ratings (1126)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (5)
Fun as a bucket of British kittens....

crandynewman (3.5)
Listen to this album and you won't have a hard day's night....

themightyquinn23 (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
September 24th 2005



2647 Comments


A good review, short and to the point. Unfortunately this is probably my least favorite Beatles album.

Jawaharal
September 24th 2005



1832 Comments


You spelled lennon wrong on the first line :eek:
good review. I like this one but not a ton.

Killtacular
September 24th 2005



1314 Comments


Not Lennon. Vladamir Lenin.

Jawaharal
September 24th 2005



1832 Comments


Oh. how obvious! /Smacks head on keyboard

morrissey
Moderator
September 25th 2005



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do you have any interest in professional writing/reviewing?

Because this was fabulous.

robo2448
September 25th 2005



132 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great album. Great review. I really love I Should Have Known Better, pop masterpiece. This cd is perfection of The Beatles early days. Anyone who avoids this album because it's early and "pop" is missing out.

Laafe
September 25th 2005



347 Comments


"Pop" is great. People say they hate all pop music but they dont. The beatles are probably the greatest pop band ever. Ace reveiw here man.

Chilly-Bean-Bop
September 25th 2005



344 Comments


i dont classify the beatles as "pop" i would classify "pop" as soft cell, eurythmics, etc.

Killtacular
September 25th 2005



1314 Comments


The Beatles were only pop in their early days. They later expanded to be an experimental rock band.

morrissey
Moderator
September 25th 2005



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Beatles were always pop. It's not a bad thing.

masada
October 13th 2005



2733 Comments


[quote=Grateful Dead]Rock n Roll was pop from 1960-5.[/quote] '54 - '65.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 14th 2005



15730 Comments


Why did my conversation about my opinion of the Beatles music era's get tagged?

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Storm In A Teacup
November 21st 2005



12701 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really love this album a whole lot, if you hadn't reviewed this Spat I would have been on the task right away.

Storm In A Teacup
November 21st 2005



12701 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, but I'm afraid my review for this would be incredibly inferior.

I might do it when all the crazy bullshit lately has calmed down, but I just don't see myself being able to write a Beatles review at all.

Storm In A Teacup
March 12th 2006



12701 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is when they started becoming awesome.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2006



15730 Comments


I never liked their earlier stuff. Rubber SOul is when they started getting great.

Bron-Yr-Aur
April 26th 2006



4405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I believe the Beatles transcended genre classification. Pop, Rock, Vaudvillian, the list goes on.

Bron-Yr-Aur
June 29th 2006



4405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hmm... Say what you will. Anyway, great review. Some two months later...

MisterPilgrim
August 8th 2006



233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review. This is probably the high point of the Early Beatles.

freudianslipknot
December 2nd 2006



803 Comments


Great review. On the "augmented G chord" opening Hard days' night (whatever the hell that looks like). I saw an interview with George Martin where he said that he believed that Lennon had just strummed the open strings of a guitar in standard E tuning. I tried it. It sounded near enough - but my ear isn't that great. Anyhow, this the first beatles I ever heard - so I'm kind of biased in its favour. So I'll claim a lack of objectivity and not rate it.



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