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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT - side two

After filming was completed, the Beatles took a brief holiday, then returned to Abbey Road studios on June 1st and 2nd, 1964 to record a new batch of songs which would fill out both the non-soundtrack side of the album and the Long Tall Sally EP.

Any Time at All - A sharp drum shot by Ringo is followed by John barking out the song title, the band's full entrance and a high echo of the title by Paul before John resolves the refrain.  The verses are John double-tracked.  In the middle of each verse one of his voices drops out and the second finishes the line as the first re-enters to begin an overlapping line, then is rejoined by the second.  It is a simple, but clever device, and it marks one of the first times that they will use a studio trick to accomplish something that they could not duplicate live.  For the instrumental break, George (on guitar) and Paul (on piano) play melodies which mirror each other and intersect in the middle.  All in all, a fine mid-tempo piece by Lennon with nice contributions from the whole band.

I'll Cry Instead - On the same day that they recorded the Carl Perkins number Matchbox, Lennon comes up with a rockabilly tune of his own.  George, already warmed up in the style earlier in the day, turns in some fine guitar work.  All sources indicate that John and Paul sing this as a duet, but it has always sounded to me like John's voice double-tracked.

In interviews over the years, Lennon always said that he wrote this song for the film, but director Richard Lester replaced it with Can't Buy Me Love.  However, if Mark Lewisohn's research is correct and the song was recorded on June 1st after filming was complete, then John's memory is faulty.  Then again, why would producer George Martin include this recording with the other soundtrack songs that he sent to both United Artists and Capitol Records on June 9th if he knew that it was not going to be used in the film?

There is also the matter of the song's length.  Not only were there usually different mixes for mono and stereo, but there were often different mixes for the US and the UK.  In this instance, the American version has a repeat of the first verse, making it twenty seconds longer than the British version.  And Lewisohn indicates that the song was recorded in two parts - Section A and Section B - which were later edited together but, for the life of me, I've never been able to hear where the edit is.  Quite a few mysteries for such a brisk, little number.

Capitol Records released I'll Cry Instead as a US single, mistakenly printing on the label that it was "From the United Artists picture A Hard Day's Night."  It peaked at number twenty-five.

At this point, the fine McCartney composition Things We Said Today breaks up what is otherwise an all-Lennon album side.  I have already covered this song as the B-side to A Hard Day's Night.

When I Get Home - The "Whoa oh oh I"s in the refrain of this number are not the prettiest harmonies that the Beatles ever sang, but the urgency in them is certainly apparent.  Lennon once again uses his rhythm guitar as well as his voice to drive a song along as if his life depended on it.  When he gets to the bridge, he has built up so much momentum that he can simply let the song bounce along for a bit before he attacks the next verse and literally takes it home.

The above four recordings only appeared in the US on the Capitol album Something New.

Next up is You Can't Do That, which I examined as the B-side to Can't Buy Me Love.

I'll Be Back - The album closes with this wonderfully moody piece - quite a contrast to the screaming cover versions that closed the first two albums.  John's double-tracked voice sings plaintively, sometimes with Paul, sometimes alone, about a shattered love affair.  Except for the bass, the guitars are acoustic, with George once again doing some lovely work.  In his book Tell Me Why, Tim Riley points out that as the song fades out, the key keeps changing from major to minor and back again.  Indeed, he writes extensively about how this is a motif for the entire album and how this is a great step forward in the maturity of both John and Paul's songwriting.

In the US, Capitol held this song back for months, finally releasing it on the album Beatles '65.

You may have noticed that there are only six instead of the usual seven songs on side two.  The group was to record one final song on June 3rd, but Ringo was taken ill with tonsillitis and pharyngitis that morning.  Instead of recording, John, Paul and George spent the afternoon rehearsing with session drummer Jimmy Nicol, who was called in to replace Ringo for the start of their imminent world tour.  That evening, the three Beatles did record a few demos of unfinished songs including John's No Reply, which would lead off the next album and George Harrison's second composition You Know What to Do, a pleasant effort which was promptly forgotten for thirty years until the tape was discovered during research for the Anthology.

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