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Monday, July 13, 2015

HELP!

In April of 1965, Eight Arms to Hold You became Help! and the group duly recorded a Lennon composition of that name.  It was America's turn to get the initial release of the next record (this flip-flopping seems to have been the early pattern) so, on July 19th, four days ahead of the UK issue, we got the single Help! b/w I'm Down, the B-side being an insane McCartney rocker that unusually was not available on any album during the group's career, even in the US.

But, as great as it was, the single merely served to whet our appetites for the soundtrack album and the film itself.  This time, continuing the alternating trend, British fans were offered the album first, on August 6th, followed a week later by the American version.

Now, Capitol Records has taken a lot of heat over the years for this release, but the truth is that it was pretty much using the same model that United Artists had with its soundtrack album for A Hard Day's Night.  Only the seven new songs by the Beatles used in the film appeared on the record, as well as six pieces of incidental music (the opening one not even listed) from a fellow by the name of Ken Thorne.

SIDE ONE

Help!
The Night Before
From Me to You Fantasy
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
I Need You
In the Tyrol

SIDE TWO

Another Girl
Another Hard Day's Night
Ticket to Ride
The Bitter End
You're Going to Lose That Girl
The Chase

Of course, if any fans had bought the most recent singles, they already had the songs Ticket to Ride and Help! in their possession, so they really got only five new tunes for their hard-earned cash.  And the gatefold cover, which contained photos and hype about the film inside, made the cost of the album an additional dollar to boot.

Unlike George Martin's score for A Hard Day's Night, Ken Thorne's music for this film is often downright wacky, matching the tone of the movie.  His brief variation on the James Bond theme opens the album before the title song (Capitol even kept this in front of Help! on original pressings of the Red Album in 1973) and, of course, we should never lose sight of the fact that Thorne's medley of tunes from A Hard Day's Night played on instruments from India helped to introduce a young George Harrison to a lifelong fascination with the music, culture and religion of that Far Eastern country.

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