Help! was the fifth British and ninth American album by The Beatles, and it was also the soundtrack for the film of the same name. The album was released on August 6, 1965. When the album was reissued on CD in 1987, the British tracklist of the album was used instead of the American tracklist. On the British version, the first seven songs on the CD actually appear in the film, while the remaining seven were tacked on to turn the soundtrack into a complete album.
Help! opens with the title song, which was also released as a single from the album. In interviews, John Lennon has said the lyrics express the stress he felt after the band had such a quick rise to success. It’s an upbeat song that has the pop sound you would associate with the mid-1960s, and it’s one of the songs by The Beatles that I really enjoy. This is followed by “The Night Before,” which was written by Paul McCartney. Lyrically, there is a call and response structure to the song.
Next on Help! is “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” which was written by John Lennon. Vocally, Lennon sounds as if he’s trying to emulate Bob Dylan’s style. Musically, the song features a tambourine, maracas, tenor, and alto flutes, in addition to the regular instruments that the Beatles would use. This is followed by “I Need You,” which was written by George Harrison. It is suspected that the lyrics of the song are about George Harrison and Pattie Boyd. This song also represents George’s first recorded use of a volume pedal.
“Another Girl” was written by Paul McCartney. It’s an uptempo song with an influence from blues music, and the vocals employ close three-part harmonies. Next is “You’re Going to Lose That Girl,” which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was the last song recorded for the film, and the speaker tells a friend that if he doesn’t treat his girl right, that he will try to take her away from him. Musically, there are doo-wop influences. “Ticket to Ride” is the last song from Help! to appear on the album, and it was released as a single. The song was primarily written by John Lennon. The actual meaning of “Ticket to Ride” has never been entirely clear, and several theories have been offered. “Ticket to Ride” is another song from Help! that I have enjoyed over the years.
“Act Naturally” is a cover song, and it was recorded by Ringo Starr; it was released as the B-side to the “Yesterday” single. It’s an upbeat song, and it’s another song on the CD that I enjoy listening to. This is followed by “It’s Only Love,” which was written by John Lennon. It’s a slower song that clocks in at slightly under two minutes. In my opinion, while it’s not a bad song, it’s also not one of the stronger songs that The Beatles have recorded.
“You Like Me Too Much” was written by George Harrison. Musically, the song features both a piano and an electric piano. Overall, it has more of a “typical” Beatles sound that listeners at the time would have associated with the band. “Tell Me What You See” was written by both John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Musically, it’s a song that starts to foreshadow the sound of the next couple of albums, Rubber Soul and Revolver. The listener can hear some folk influence in the music as well. Lyrically, the song is a little more mature and reflective than on the compositions of previous albums. This is followed by “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” which was written by Paul McCartney. Musically, it’s one of only a few Beatles songs that does not have a bass track. It’s also more of a country and western feel than a listener would normally associate with The Beatles.
“Yesterday” is next on Help!, and it’s one of my favorite songs by The Beatles. It’s a melancholy ballad that is about the breakup of a relationship. The song features Paul McCartney accompanied by a string quartet. The final song on the album is “Dizzy Miss Lizzie,” which was another cover song the band recorded for this album. It’s a very uptempo number, and it even features Ringo Starr playing a cowbell.
Overall, there’s a lot of good material on Help! However, it can be hard to truly judge the album as one whole work, since only the first half of the album was recorded with the intent of being part of a whole unit. Even with that dynamic, it’s still an enjoyable album to listen to.