I picked a good day yesterday to drive in my car for many hours, as the album of the day is one of my all-time favorites. It is no secret that I’m a big fan of the Beatles, and yesterday was the soundtrack album to the mockumentary film, “A Hard Day’s Night”. Although the movie is a bit absurd and cashes in on the charisma and the dry comedic timing of the band, the album is absolutely outstanding. It might be my favorite Beatles album of all-time, which is no small statement, and if not, it is definitely my favorite from their early years of 1963-1966. It is also the 263rd rated album of all time on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time.
This has to be the most Lennon-centric of all of the Beatles albums. There are 13 songs (all originals by Lennon/McCartney), and aside from 3 songs with Paul on lead vocals and 1 with George (none for Ringo this time), the other 9 songs feature John Lennon on lead. There is so much to like here. Casual fans will quickly recognize the title track and “Can’t Buy Me Love”, which are certainly classic Beatles songs, but to me, the real treasure lies within 4 other songs on side one, and 1 song on side two. “And I Love Her” is a beautiful McCartney ballad done right, with Harrison’s lush acoustic-flamenco guitar. “You Can’t Do That” and “Tell Me Why” perfectly fit my favorite early formula for the Beatles, with Lennon on lead vocals and Paul and George adding amazing harmony backing vocals. These songs are the Beatles at their early upbeat best, and it is easy to see why they consistently rose above the other acts of their kind. “I Should Have Know Better” features John on both lead vocal and harmonica, and like the last two noted above, is just an excellently written and highly infectious melody.
I reserve my highest praise for “If I Fell”, a soft Lennon ballad that is again just bursting with beautiful backing harmonies, in the same rare air as “This Boy”. Sometimes it just boggles my mind that three singer-songwriters, each with such an individual gift, somehow found each other at such an early age in the same English town and blended their voices so perfectly. Paul’s higher pitch is the perfect contrast and compliment to the slightly deeper and more similar voices of John and George.
I listened to this album multiple times on my drive yesterday, and songs like this melted the miles away quickly. If I could only take ten albums with me to a desert island, this one would probably be on the list. Even if Ringo didn’t get a single song…