Now, the all-Lennon-McCartney album. And I Love Her, If I Fell, I’ll Be Back… Just a great album, not to mention the film at all! Just listen to what Paul is recounting and you will see how great The Beatles were individually.
“A Hard Day’s Night”, the third studio album by the Beatles, was released on 50 years ago today (10 July 1964). The American version of the album was released two weeks earlier, on 26 June 1964 by United Artists Records, with a different track listing. This is the first Beatles album to be recorded entirely on four-track tape, allowing for good stereo mixes.
In contrast to their first two albums, all 13 tracks on “A Hard Day’s Night” were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, showcasing the development of the band’s songwriting talents. The album contains some of their most famous songs, including the title track, with its distinct, instantly recognisable opening chord, and the previously released “Can’t Buy Me Love”; both were transatlantic number-one singles for the band.
The title of the album was the accidental creation of drummer Ringo Starr. According to Lennon in a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine: “I was going home in the car and Dick Lester [director of the movie] suggested the title, ‘Hard Day’s Night’ from something Ringo had said. I had used it in ‘In His Own Write’, but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny … just said it. So Dick Lester said, ‘We are going to use that title.'”
In 2000, Q placed “A Hard Day’s Night” at number five in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2012, “A Hard Day’s Night” was voted 307th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
Musically, “A Hard Day’s Night” eschews the rock and roll cover songs of the band’s previous albums for a predominantly pop sound. Sputnikmusic’s Dave Donnelly observes “short, peppy” pop songs characterised by layered vocals, immediate choruses, and understated instrumentation. According to Pitchfork Media’s Tom Ewing, the lack of rock and roll covers allows listeners to “take the group’s new sound purely on its own modernist terms”, with audacious “chord choices”, powerful harmonies, “gleaming” guitar, and “Northern” harmonica. Music journalist Robert Christgau writes that Lennon–McCartney’s songs were “more sophisticated musically” than before.
Side one of the LP contains the songs from the movie soundtrack. Side two contains songs written for, but not included in, the film, although a 1980s re-release of the movie includes a prologue before the opening credits with “I’ll Cry Instead” on the soundtrack.
“A Hard Day’s Night” is the first Beatles album to feature entirely original compositions. Lennon dominates the song writing being the primary author of ten out of the thirteen tracks on the album, all except “And I Love Her,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and “Things We Said Today.” This is also one of three Beatles albums, along with “Let It Be” and “Magical Mystery Tour”, in which Starr does not sing lead vocal on any songs. Starr sang the lead vocal on “Matchbox” during the sessions; it appeared instead on the “Long Tall Sally” EP.
According to music critic Richie Unterberger, “George Harrison’s resonant 12-string electric guitar leads were hugely influential; the movie helped persuade the Byrds, then folksingers, to plunge all out into rock & roll, and the Beatles would be hugely influential on the folk-rock explosion of 1965. The Beatles’ success, too, had begun to open the US market for fellow Brits like the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Kinks, and inspired young American groups like the Beau Brummels, Lovin’ Spoonful, and others to mount a challenge of their own with self-penned material that owed a great debt to Lennon-McCartney.”