We were different. We were older. We knew each other on all kinds of levels that we didn’t when we were teenagers. The early stuff – the Hard Day’s Night period, I call it – was the sexual equivalent of the beginning hysteria of a relationship. And the Sgt Pepper-Abbey Road period was the mature part of the relationship.”
– John Lennon (1980)
A Hard Day’s Night is the third album by The Beatles; it was released on July 10, 1964. The album is a soundtrack to the A Hard Day’s Night film, starring the Beatles. 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 2000, Q placed A Hard Day’s Night at number 5 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 388 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The soundtrack songs were recorded in late February, and the non-soundtrack songs were recorded in June. The title song itself was recorded on April 16.
…but A Hard Day’s Night is perhaps the band’s most straightforward album: You notice the catchiness first, and you can wonder how they got it later.
The best example of this is the title track– the clang of that opening chord to put everyone on notice, two burning minutes thick with percussion (including a hammering cowbell!) thanks to the new four-track machines George Martin was using, and then the song spiraling out with a guitar figure as abstractedly lovely as anything the group had recorded.”
– Tom Ewing, Pitchfork
The final Beatles Christmas offering was also recorded separately, as the band had effectively split by this point. It features an extensive visit with John and Yoko at their Tittenhurst Park estate, where they play “what will Santa bring me?” games. Harrison only appears briefly, and Starr only shows up to plug his recent film, The Magic Christian. Paul sings his original ad-lib, This is to Wish You a Merry, Merry Christmas. Starting at 1:30, at the tail-end of Ringo’s song, the guitar solos from The End are heard, followed by Yoko interviewing John.
Wings over America is one of the reasons I miss vinyl, it was big in every sense of the word. A triple album, with a poster and a cover designed by Hipgnosis.
Originally, Wings over America was to be a two-record set, but this was rethought due to the success of a bootleg called Wings from the Wings, released on a bicentennial red, white and blue triple record set, recorded on 23 June 1976 at The Forum (Inglewood, California).
This caused McCartney to redo the official release as a three-record set covering the entire concert, including Denny Laine’s “Go Now”, a song from his time as a member of The Moody Blues. This song was only performed 21–23 June 1976 at the Forum.
Compiled from all recorded shows of the band’s Wings Over America Tour that spring, Wings over America was another success for Paul McCartney and Wings, reaching number 1 in the US in early 1977 (the last in a 5-album stretch of consecutive number 1 albums for Wings) and number 8 in the UK, and selling several million copies.
Wings Over America was reissued as a double-CD in 1984 on Columbia Records and later on Capitol Records.
On November 29, 2002, a year after his death, a tribute concert for George Harrison was held at Royal Albert Hall. Friends and family gathered to play his songs, and it was an impressive, if predictable, roster:
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Tom Petty, and Eric Clapton, who also served as musical director, took center stage, but George’s son Dhani Harrison was also there, as was Ravi Shankar’s daughter Anoushka, early British rock & roller Joe Brown, and Gary Brooker. Unlike many all-star lineups, everybody had a close personal connection to George.
.. a big step forward, exploring doubt, loneliness, alienation, adult sexual longing, acoustic guitars, electric piano, bongos, castanets, and the finest George songs known to man. … Help! was utterly ruined in its U.S. version, which cut half the songs and added worthless orchestral soundtrack filler, so it’s always been underrated. But Help! is the first chapter in the astounding creative takeoff the Beatles were just beginning: the soulful bereavement of “Ticket to Ride,” the impossibly erotic gentleness of “Tell Me What You See,” the desperate falsetto and electric punch of “You’re Going to Lose That Girl.”
…. the album’s masterpiece is McCartney’s brooding, deceptively simple chamber-pop ballad “Yesterday.” … it’s compositionally complex, one of the first major pop songs to draw directly from classical music, juxtaposing acoustic guitar with a string quartet, shifting from minor to major chords. It set the stage for one of the most groundbreaking and innovative periods in The Beatles’ career, not to mention pop music in general.
~Mark Kemp (pastemagazine.com)
Help! – from a 6-song set filmed for British television in August of 1965:
6 August 1965
15–19 February, 13 April, 10 May& 14–17 June 1965,
EMI Studios, London