The Beatles – Help! (1965)
Welcome back to YDCS! We’re throwing it back a little further than normal this week with the fifth album by The Beatles, Help!. Help! Was the last truly “pop rock” album by The Beatles before their sound started to change to a more traditional rock sound with more overtly sexual and political themes on Rubber Soul. This was also the soundtrack to the second Beatles movie Help!. Most of the music for the album was initially written for the movie then released as a soundtrack album.
I’m going to review this album a little differently than normal. Although the album is fairly short by runtime, it’s 14 tracks long and there isn’t a song longer than three minutes. I’ve decided to pick out some of the highlights and include them below. I might continue to do this for older albums that tended to feature shorter, radio format songs as opposed to the longer, album rock format songs that became popular in the 1970s. Some of these choices are hidden gems, some are classics, and some highlight unique aspects of the album that made me pause. As a whole album, Help! is my favorite old school Beatles album. The tracks on this record are really fun to listen to and are great representations of the mid-1960s rock sound before the shift to a heavier blues rock sound that came to dominate the 1970s. Enjoy this classic Beatles album!
Dad’s Thoughts- Highlights
Help!: “Help!” is one of my favorite songs by The Beatles, up there with “Drive My Car,” “Sgt Pepper’s” and “Eleanor Rigby.” It’s such a good way to start an album. Everyone is familiar with The Beatles sound and “Help!” is like an explosion of vocals and is quintessential early Beatles. Imagine 1965, Beatlemania is in full swing. If this was the first Beatles album that you picked up at the record store, and put on “Help!” then you would know exactly what you’re getting in to. Great song and classic Beatles! Dad’s Rating 8/10
The Night Before: “The Night Before,” in concert with “Another Girl” later, are songs that never got a lot of love and never made it as big hits for the band but I really enjoy! “The Night Before” in particular has a classic 1960s/Beatles rock sound. When you think about the early days of rock and roll and what that sounded like, both from recording and musical standpoints, “The Night Before” hits all the marks. McCartney’s vocals are a highlight on this song for me. The instrumentation is fine, but the little shouts that he was known for add a fun depth to the song. Give this one a shot! Dad’s Rating 7/10
Another Girl: “Another Girl” is the second of my hidden gems from Help!. It’s not a special song but it does differentiate itself from the rest of the album in one major way, it has a more significant rockabilly sound than most of the album. I really like the almost twangy feeling on this track. It’s very slight but made me pause and re-evaluate. Fun fact, this song wasn’t performed live by any of the Beatles until McCartney did it in 2015. It took over 45 years for McCartney to do this song live; now that must have been a treat! Dad’s Rating 6/10
You’re Going To Lose That Girl: Fantastic track. This track won’t significantly alter the course of music but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good Beatles song. It has an infectious, up-beat, swing sound characteristic of most of the band’s work at this time. For me, the highlight is on the harmonies on this song. These are some of the best on the album and Lennon’s high notes are so pure that they’re a joy to listen to. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Ticket To Ride: This is one of the more substantial songs on the album and managed to escape the album to become one of the most popular Beatles songs. It has a markedly different sound than the swinging doo-wop/pop rock sound on the rest of the album featuring a heavier, syncopated drum and slower tempo with less vocal harmony through the verses, almost giving the song a darker sound. It’s probably one of the earliest examples of the band shifting their sound away from pop rock and more towards blues rock. Dad’s Rating 8/10
Yesterday: Ah “Yesterday.” This is such a beautiful ballad and it remains a substantial part of western music for the reason that so many people can identify with its theme. Its musical simplicity lets you focus on the message of the lyrics; heartbreak, longing, and love. The crescendo through the song that includes a more pronounced string section complements the song very well and emphasizes the hurt in the lyrics. This is the gold standard for ballads. They don’t come better than this. Dad’s Rating 10/10
Dizzy Miss Lizzy: This might be the most rocking song on the album! I can just imagine the hysteria that singing this song live would have caused. It has a strong rockabilly sound with wild vocals that would signal the direction of the band to come, moving away from radio friendly pop and towards more experimental sounds and a harder rock song on later albums like Revolver and Sgt Peppers. This might be a cover, but they did a great job embracing the craziness of Dizzy Miss Lizzy. Dad’s Rating 8/10
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