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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Can't Buy Me Love

The second Can't Buy Me Love sequence in A Hard Day's Night
The only official recording session by all four Beatles outside of London took place on January 29th, 1964 at Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris.  The boys were in the studio specifically to record German versions of their two biggest hits She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand.  This work was accomplished quickly and so, with a full hour left over in the session, they decided to start recording the A-side of their next single.

Among the songs that John and Paul were writing for the soundtrack of their upcoming feature film was one by McCartney that they felt was a sure-fire hit.  Producer George Martin agreed with their choice.  However, he suggested a different arrangement of the composition, opening it with the chorus instead of the first verse as Paul had structured it.  The tape started running and by take four they had the master.  But the song underwent a few more alterations in that brief time. 

Take two is presented on the 1995 album Anthology 1 along with George's improvised guitar solo from take one. Paul sings in a bluesier style and John and George provide backing vocals which echo some of the lyrics.  By take four, the guitar solo is pre-planned, the backing vocals are gone and Paul sings the song as we now know it.  Back at Abbey Road Studios almost a month later, on February 25th, Paul double-tracked his vocal and George did the same with his guitar solo, thereby completing the recording.

Only a few days later, on February 28th, the group performed the new number for the BBC for their program From Us to You so that it could be broadcast around the time of the record's release.  This can be heard on the 1994 collection Live at the BBC.  As on the record, Paul's vocal is double-tracked here.

The song is featured twice in A Hard Day's Night with the first instance being the famous romp in the field behind the theater where they have been in holding for rehearsals.  Later in the film, it is used again as John, Paul and George rush to the police station to rescue Ringo in time for their television performance.

Can't Buy Me Love became part of the group's stage act for the next two years.  The boys returned in June of 1965 to the city where the basic track had been recorded.  That initial visit had been for a lengthy three-week engagement and the Parisian audiences had been mostly unimpressed by the Beatles at that time.  A recording of one of the two 1965 concerts reveals that the crowds were much more enthusiastic the second time around, even going so far as to echo the chorus of this song during its performance.

This number was part of the set list at both the 1964 and '65 Hollywood Bowl concerts.  The 1977 album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (and the 2016 reissue Live at the Hollywood Bowl) contains the August 30th, 1965 performance featuring a somewhat heavier-than-usual guitar solo from George and with Paul's voice sounding quite raw.

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