Thursday, February 13, 2014

Music Review - The Beatles - Help!

Help! is, of course, another movie soundtrack. For me, this is when the band gets consistently interesting. Incorporating more acoustic guitar as well as, in one song each, a flute, bongos, guiro and a string quartet, the band is obviously stretching in the studio and enjoying the flexability that four tracks can offer.

The songs are also increasingly infused with folk music while still retaining their infectious pop roots. Lyrically the band is also testing the waters, treading on themes not traditionally found in pop music.

Let's start with the title track, shall we? What other pop song from 1965 is an urgent plea for help? This is a full year ahead of Pet Sounds and possibly helped spur the creative "arms race" between Wilson and The Beatles. Lyrics like "Help me if you can, I'm feeling down" were a few decades ahead of Trent Reznor. Pairing desperate lyrics with an upbeat, catchy melody was also a few decades ahead of They Might Be Giants. Lennon had originally written the song in a less peppy format but changed it due to pressure to have an upbeat single. Thanks to YouTube, you can hear a snippet of his original demo. It's interesting but I prefer the version that I've heard all my life. I'm a creature of habit.

"You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" has also been a longtime favorite of mine, partially due to it's 3/4 time signature. "Ticket To Ride" is another song firmly established in the classic Beatles cannon. Ya gotta love that choppy drum beat! Another personal B-list favorite is "I've Just Seen A Face." It's simple and catchy, a brief 2:07 that gets right to the point. Other very strong non-hits are "You Like Me Too Much" with it's prominent piano part and "Tell Me What You See." Even "Act Naturally", the Ringo song, is pretty durned good!

And then there's "Yesterday," one of the most played and covered songs in the history of mankind. Normally if I hear a song too many times I get sick of it but oddly, I can still enjoy this one.

With only two covers, expanding experimentation in the studio, and an album chock full of great-to-amazing songs (aside from the covers) Help! is a very respectable endeavor.

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