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Friday, October 21, 2011

Can't Buy Me Love b/w You Can't Do That

First Can't Buy Me Love sequence in A Hard Day's Night
Can't Buy Me Love - In Paris on January 29th, 1964, after recording the two German language songs, the Beatles still had time left at the end of the session, so they set about recording this new composition by Paul McCartney which would turn out to be their next single.  This would be the only time that all four members of the group would make any official recordings outside of England during their career.

The work on this song marks the first time that you can hear substantial changes from take to take until they arrive at the finished product.  And yet the song was complete in only four takes - that was how quickly they could accommodate new ideas.  Initially, Paul had written the song with the verse at the top, but producer George Martin suggested they open with the chorus to hook the listener.  On Anthology 1, you can hear take two, which features John and George singing backing vocals.  It was soon decided that these were unnecessary.  Back at Abbey Road Studios on February 25th, Paul's vocal was double-tracked and George's guitar solo was overdubbed (you can hear an earlier solo bleeding through in the background) and the song was ready for release.

This brisk, pop number was not intended for the upcoming movie, but director Richard Lester liked it so much that he used it not once, but twice in the film.  We first hear it in the glorious scene where the boys escape the TV studio and romp on a field with utter abandon.  Lester is actually inventing the music video right here twenty years before MTV.  The song is used again in the sequence where they rescue Ringo from the police station and rush back for the TV concert.

You Can't Do That - The first song to be recorded for the soundtrack was this B-side by Lennon.  Right at the top we hear something new - George's 12-string Rickenbacker which he had just purchased in the US.  John then launches into one of his earliest jealous guy compositions, singing with vengeful glee.  The guitar solo is another first with Lennon taking it himself, playing sharp, jabbing chords and bending notes as if they will help him burn off the steam he has built up in the lyrics.  And to top it all off, Paul plays cowbell!

Although they shot a performance of this song in the TV concert sequence, it was edited out of the film to keep things moving.  It is possible to find a VHS copy of the film which features this performance as an extra, with narration by Phil Collins who was one of the few young boys actually in the theater audience when it was filmed.

In addition to being a number one single in the UK, both of these songs also appeared a few months later on the album A Hard Day's Night.

By the time this single came out in the US, the market was absolutely flooded with material by the Beatles.  Both VeeJay and Swan Records had repackaged and rereleased almost every track to which they had the rights.  When Can't Buy Me Love hit number one on April 4th, 1964, the Beatles set an astonishing record - not only did they occupy the top five positions on the chart, they also had seven more songs in the Hot 100, as well as the number one and number two albums.  One week later, they added two more songs in the Hot 100, giving them an unprecedented domination of the charts that will probably never be equaled, let alone broken.

You Can't Do That appeared about a month after the single release on The Beatles' Second Album.  Can't Buy Me Love was included on the United Artists soundtrack album A Hard Day's Night.  Strangely, it did not appear on a Capitol album until the 1970 compilation Hey Jude.

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