Friday, October 18, 2013

Help!

Released Date: August 6, 1965 (UK)
August 13, 1965 (US)

Recording Dates: February 15, 1965- June 17, 1965

After recording Beatles For Sale (check out the history behind Beatles For Sale here) in 1964 The Beatles had returned to Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios to record their fifth album, Help! Help! was recorded on and off through the months of February to June. It featured;
Ringo Starr: Vocals, drums, tambourine, maracas, cowbell, bongos, claves, percussion, hand claps, acoustic guitar percussion.
John Lennon: Vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, electric piano, Hammond organ, tambourine, and snare drum.
Paul McCartney: Vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric piano, piano, and bass guitar.
George Harrison: Vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 12- string guitar, and gΓΌiro.
George Martin: Piano
Tony Gilbert: Violin
Sidney Sax: Violin
Kenneth Essex: Viola
Francisco Gabarro: Cello

The album was recorded for their second motion picture Help! which would appear in colour on July 29, 1965. The original names for the film were Beatles II or Eight Arms To Hold You. The film featured songs from their album like, "Help!", "You're Going To Lose That Girl", "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away", "Ticket To Ride", "I Need You", "The Night Before", "She's A Women", "A Hard Days Night" (instrumental), "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" (instrumental), "Another Girl", "You Can't Do That" (instrumental). Just like The Beatles first film, A Hard Days Night, John took on the role of writing the title song where he wrote "Help!" at his home in Weybridge,
"When Help! came out, I was actually crying out for help. Most people think it's just a fast rock 'n' roll song. I didn't realise it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help. So it was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: he - I - is very fat, very insecure, and he's completely lost himself. And I ams singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was."- John Lennon
 In August of 1964 The Beatles met Bob Dylan who introduced them to marijuana which led to a drug phase for the group during this time,
"A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film. It was great. That helped make it a lot of fun." -Ringo Starr
Marijuana and other drugs like LSD later influenced the group in later albums like Rubber Soul and Revolver, which is nicknamed the "acid album".  Although Dylan turned the group onto drugs he also had influenced them in a number of ways with his poetic writing and hard-core folk sound. Lennon admits to his inspiration to write "I'm A Loser" in Beatles For Sale because of Bob Dylan. John also found the Dylan influence in his "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" which was featured on Help!

Help! is what I like to call the "transition album". I call it this because it was released in 1965, so Beatlemania had already hit it's climax, it was still strong but 1964 was the highest of Beatlemania. Also, during this time The Beatles had gotten into marijuana and experimenting with LSD which led to the acid album. Help! was when McCartney found himself as a song writer when he wrote "Yesterday", it showed the group maturing which is shown in the "grown up" album, Rubber Soul. This album has the Beatlemania aspect along with a new maturity level.

"We know all about 'Yesterday'. I have had so much accolade for 'Yesterday'. That's Paul's song and Paul's baby. Well done. Beautiful. And I never wished I'd written it." -John Lennon
"Yesterday" is one the number one song that has ever been covered. The song is said to have been covered 7 million times in the 20th century. During this time Paul was living in an upstairs, attic room at home of his girlfriend, Jane Asher's parents home. Paul managed to fit a piano in the small room at 57 Wimpole Street, London and placed it next to the bed. One morning Paul woke up with this tune stuck in his head, a jazzy, soft tune and questioned himself if he's heard the song before. 
"My dad used to know a lot of old jazz tunes, I thought maybe I'd just remembered it from the past."- Paul McCartney
 He quickly got to the piano and fooled around with it until he got the tune. McCartney then wrote some lyrics, just in case he forgot the tune. Being morning he sang 'Scrambled eggs, oh baby how I love your legs..". John Lennon said that "The song was around for months and months be fore we finally completed it." McCartney had to think of other lyrics for the song instead of having it called "Scrambled Eggs", although Lennon loved the title "Scrambled Eggs" and having a track being produced by George Martin with a title like that. Paul got to thinking and remembered that people like sad songs, something they can relate to and that's why the song is so soft and sad.

Paul recorded "Yesterday" on a high stool with his acoustic guitar and some string instruments. It was the first time that no other Beatles were featured on the track, just Paul.  George Martin remembers it as,
"Paul went down to No. 2 Studio at EMI, sat on a high stool with his acoustic guitar and sang 'Yesterday'. That was the master to begin with. Then I said, 'Well, what we can do with it? The only thing I can think of is adding strings, but I know what you think about that.' And Paul said, ' I don't want Mantovani.' I said, "what about a very small number of string players, a quartet?' He thought that was interesting, and I went and worked on it with him and made suggestions for the score. He had ideas too, and we booked a string quartet and over dubbed the strings - and that was the record" 
Paul calls "Yesterday" his most successful song,
"It was my most successful song. It's amazing that it just came to me in a dream. That's why I don't profess to know anything; I think music is all very mystical. You hear people saying, 'I'm a vehicle; it just passes through me.' Well,, you're dead lucky if something like that passes through you." 
Help! was released in the UK on August 6, 1965 and entered the charts at #1 on August 14, replacing "The Sound Of Music". The album spent 9 weeks as #1 but stayed in the charts for an additional 37 weeks.  There were over 250,000 copies ordered and just in the first week sales topped of over 270,000! The Beatles also released "Ticket To Ride" and "Help!" as singles which as no surprised topped charts and became million-sellers!
The Album features the following tracks;
  • Help! (Lennon- McCartney)
  • The Night Before (Lennon- McCartney)
  • You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (Lennon- McCartney)
  • I Need You (Harrison)
  • Another Girl (Lennon- McCartney)
  • You're Going To Lose That Girl (Lennon- McCartney)
  • Ticket To Ride (Lennon- McCartney)
  • Act Naturally (Morrison- Russell)
  • It's Only Love (Lennon- McCartney)
  • You Like Me Too Much (Harrison)
  • Tell Me What You See (Lennon- McCartney)
  • I've Just Seen A Face (Lennon- McCartney)
  • Yesterday (Lennon- McCartney)
  • Dizzy Miss Lizzy (Williams)

The album was released in the US in Capitol Records version on August 13,1965. There were 1 million copies ordered, which at one time was the largest initial order in history of the music industry! Although it seemed like a lot of copies, more orders were needed because the album immediately sold 3 million copies. Help! entered US charts as #1 for 9 weeks and stayed in charts for another 33.  The Capitol Record album includes the following tracks;
  • Help!
  • The Night Before
  • From Me To You Fantasy (instrumental) 
  • You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
  • I Need You
  • In The Tyro (instrumental)
  • Another Girl
  • Another Hard Days Night (instrumental)
  • Ticket To Ride
  • The Bitter End/ You Can't Do That (instrumental)
  • You're Going To Lost That Girl
  • The Chase (instrumental)
The album cover was shot by Robert Freeman who also had taken the With The Beatles, A Hard Days Night  and Beatles For Sale cover. The covered featured the group wearing skiing outfits from the film and having the cover spell "NUJV" in semaphore. 
"I had the idea of semaphore spelling out the letters HELP. But when we came to do the shot the arrangement of the arms with those letters didn't look good. So we decided to improvise and ended up with the best graphic positioning of the arms."- Robert Freeman

Help! Fun Facts:

  • The first session for the new album took place in Studio Two on February 15, 1965 where they started recording "Ticket To Ride", "I Need You", and "Another Girl"
  • Help! was were George first got interested in Indian music and sitar
  • The album features 10 songs credited to Lennon- McCartney, 2 to Harrison, and 2 covers
  • The Cover for the US version has the arms spelling "NVUJ" instead of "NUJV"
  • George Martin wanted to have "Yesterday" be credit to just McCartney but Brian Epstein wouldn't allow it because he wasn't going to 'break up' the band.

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