Beatles Review: Beatles For Sale

Has been a while since I posted my last review about A Hard Day’s Night. Oh well, there have been some hiccups lately. Anyway, let’s have a look at The Beatles’ next album, Beatles For Sale. It’s been their fourth album in less than 2 years! Imagine that! Today’s groups manage to produce one album every three years or so. And mostly disappear in between, while The Beatles were constantly present in media, TV shows, radio shows, concert tours, etc. I find this pretty unbelievable in hindsight. I must say that all the activities and hectic show business seem to start showing in this album. It has been hastiliy recorded as a christmas album. Where the previous album was a huge leap forward for the Beatles, this album is one step forward and one step backwards in my opinion. One step forward in that the compositions of The Beatles are a bit more sophisticated (listen Eight Days A Week) and adding a new slightly negative twist in their lyrics (well, this is mostly John Lennon) for example, ‘I’m A Loser’, predating Beck’s ‘Loser’ by 30 years. But one step back for falling into the old pattern of mixing 6 cover versions in between their own songs. Not a bad thing mind you, Rock’n’Roll cover versions by The Beatles are still a safe bet for a party, but they proved they could do better. Actually I find this album pretty cool. If you leave away the high expectations that A Hard Day’s Night might have left, it’s still a pretty solid party album with loads of fun by the musicians. I once read something along the lines that this album probably started a whole lot of garage bands by giving them a license to ‘plug in and have some great fun’, which I think is perfectly true.

I need to be a little short today, but please fill in anything I might have left as well as your opinion about the album in the comments. I had some good fun listening Beatles For Sale today, next time I will have a short look and listen at the Help! album.

Beatles Review: A Hard Day’s Night

Now we come to the first peak in The Beatles’ career: their 3rd album A Hard Day’s Night. Somewhere I’ve read that this album sounds like somebody opened a bottle of champaign, and this hits the nail on its head. Where the last album With The Beatles was slightly dark, this here is all bright, hyperactive and full of adrenaline. It starts with the weird opening chord (which puzzled even scientists because nobody was able to find out exactly what chord it was until 2008) of the title song, and runs through a set of 13 Beatles originals (yeah right, no cover versions this time). It shows all the good qualities of the early Beatles, their incredible vocal harmonies, their simple-yet-intriguing melodies and rhythms. And it shows the incredible fun and energy that the guys had.

I remember a fun little story. When I was young (much younger than now at least), I saved myself a lot of money (around 30 DM, approx. 15€ nowadays) to buy this album on CD. That must have been in 1992 or so, I was about 14. I didn’t even have a CD player! So I went to the closest supermarket, gave away my hard-earned money to get this CD. And when I was home and saw ‘Mono’ on the package, I was so disappointed, because I believed that this was a fake thing. In my childish view I assumed that the real thing must be stereo because stereo is obviously better, no? In the end, I went back to the supermarket and returned the CD (that was quite a funny and geeky argument with the salesguy, not wanting the CD because it’s mono). But not without first going to a friend and making a copy of it to cassette tape. Yay 😀 Only much later I realized that the mono version was indeed the official version and bought the CD again. Now I have both, and comparing the versions I must say that the mono version is indeed better, again there are a bunch of glitches on stereo (the start of ‘Should Have Known Better’ for example) that have been corrected in mono. It needs to be said that at this time mono was by far the dominant format and the Beatles themselves never really cared for the stereo mixes, leaving them to others, while attending the mono mixes themselves. However, compared to the first two albums, which have this funny extreme left-right panning, the stereo mixes are a bit more sane, which owes to the fact that they used 4 track recording for the first time.

That was a bit technical this time, I usually try to avoid that because we want to listen to music, not technology, right? I enjoyed listening to this album today anyway. Quite alot even. Next time I will have a look (listen) at the Beatles for Sale.