Beatles Albums 1964-65

Beatles Creativity Phase Three; Album Artists

By the summer of 1964 The Beatles had used up all that their ears had taught them as an audience-responsive live band and recycled it back creatively as a pop singles machine. They had answered demands for a UK number one, an American number one, a movie theme tune, a classic rock n roll EP and had accidentally invented the modern rock album when they delivered the Hard Days Night soundtrack album with extra tracks, all written by Lennon and McCartney. The studious Beatles however were bored and Lennon entered his ‘fat Elvis’ period doubting the value of fame and “writing every day.”  And then Bob Dylan turned up. Bob Dylan had been blown away by the endless stream of Beatles hit records on the radio when he was driving across Colorado in the Spring of 1964 and their driving rock was to influence him and the rise of folk-rock. But the influence was mutual. George had bought Dylan’s second album Freewheelin’, played it constantly and persuaded Paul and John of its value. They met him at New York’s Delmonico’s on August 28th 1964 and Paul discovered the seven levels. Dylan’s immediate impact can be heard in John’s lyrics, tone and harmonica I’m A Loser;

In many ways Beatles for Sale is a disappointing album, but like other unsuccessful Beatles albums it was rushed into without a break; they needed a “Day Off Man!” The Beatles massive breakthrough in 1963 meant that everyone wanted to copy them. Having overthrown tame English pop and created new musical possibilities during the previous year, 1964 saw bands copying them and, oddly, their massive success initially limited the range of music on offer; although that was to change in 1965.  Beatles for Sale, rushed out for Christmas 1964 has a sombre mood matching the sombre cover pic, but can also be seen as their country album (Lennon) and the start of their ‘mature phase’ (McCartney). Their early attempts at studio experimentation produced Eight Days A Week;

Back in the studio EMI wanted an uptempo track for the Christmas single,  and although it was rushed like the album, The Beatles created another breakthrough with the feedback at the start of  I Feel Fine using the Gibson guitar’s in A to get the effect. Whilst a great rock single Lennon was now a published author and Dylan had criticised the simplicity of their lyrics and this is simple joie de vivre. Personally I have a great attachment to this song as it was the first Beatles single I bought on the very day it came out. Back then record shops would have a pile of Beatles singles on the counter as that was all anyone bought, they went to the toppermost of the poppermost on one days sales. It’s a Christmas Number One & I Feel Fine;  

Hard Days Night was only made so that United Artists could have a Beatles soundtrack album to promote and make a million dollars profit, however it was smash box office hit film, second only to Goldfinger in 1964, and so a follow-up was required. What better than spoofing Bond? Unfortunately there was no Beatle-centric Alun Owen script on Help! and they were required to act whilst being “extras in their own movie.” They couldn’t act, but at least they went on holiday. Tim Riley and Walter Everett regard the call and response opening chorus as a particularly fine way of hooking the listener in to his emotional turbulence, whilst John himself regards Help! as one of his two best Beatles songs; it is rated 29th best song of all time by Rolling Stone  – HELP!;

1965 was an extra-ordinary time in England. Suddenly it seemed that pop music wasn’t just a passing fad but that The Beatles had created the space for a social revolution. England remains a class-bound society, especially now (2012) with privately-educated Posh Boys in charge, but for a few years in the sixties it looked as if we might have a social revolution. Certainly working class artists and craftsmen, usually photographers, were being taken seriously and, astonishingly the Beatles were awarded M.B.E.s for services to the British Empire (read Economy). The Stones were writing their own songs and Judas Dylan had gone electric; McCartney wrote Yesterday, the most covered song of all time, and George Martin scored the music. Martin said that, from then on, he became a musical collaborator, rather than a schoolmaster, in Abbey Road Studio 2. And you can’t make Scrambled Eggs without using a string quartet;

The Who My Generation, The Kinks See My Friends, The Byrds Mr Tambourine Man 1965 was a great year for singles.  The music revealed a new range of styles that didnt simply copy MerseyBeat but, with Art School sensibilities at their heart, used Pop Music as a magnificent form of working class artistic expression. The Beatles now hung out with their musical peers in London clubs, especially The Animals and Moody Blues as well as the Stones, and made their own discoveries. In late 1964 Paul bought a Epiphone Casino guitar, although the Beatles were known for playing Rickenbackers. George and John loved the sound and in February 1965 each bought one; John’s white guitar still being a feature at the Rooftop Concert four years later. They were also experimenting with electric pianos, seen and heard on HELP! and their sound was evolving. After their first break to prepare an album since Hard Days Night, Rubber Soul revealed the softer folk-rock band Beatles. For the rest of the sixties they would Drive My Car;

They weren’t just playing like a rock band they were one, George “acting as musical director,” getting two songs on the album and perhaps most significantly, providing Sitar backing to Lennon’s Norwegian Wood. I remember Rubber Soul being the first album that me and my friends spent time discussing the lyrics like a Dylan album. Nowhere Man, Girl, Michelle, The Word and Think for Yourself generating much debate. This was music that reflected the time it was authored in. Rubber Soul was a big favourite with George, who introduced the Beatles to Dylan and the Byrds, who’s Bells of Rhymney inspired If I Needed Someone, the Harrisong played the most live by The Beatles. If I Needed Someone it would be George;

They had synthesised the country sounds of Beatles for Sale, the expanded instrumentation of HELP! along with the folk-rock sounds of The Byrds, and the inspiration of Dylan’s lyrics into a new whole. With time to prep the album and three weeks off before recording, always good for a Beatles album, they attacked Rubber Soul with a sense of purpose. Having accidentally produced a coherent soundtrack album with Hard Days Night, flushed with confidence after cracking the USA, the self-contained Beatles finally produced the modern musical artefact; a varied rock album pontificating on the world around them. To a working class boy this was the first intimation that anything is possible. Tim Riley however reckons that the subject of their music became nostalgia and this does drip with Scouse, In My Life;

Their first enduring classic and still much loved as an album (5th Best album ever according to Rolling Stone) and not just as a template for the future of rock music, Rubber Soul was released on December 3rd to general acclaim. Simultaneously Day Tripper, which took their new folk-rock sound and hardened it up with a riff , and We Can Work It Out were released as a Double A-sided single; the first of an amazing run of double sided singles by the best album band on the planet and Noel Gallagher’s favourite. The Beatles weren’t simply nostalgic, they faced the future.  Once they were quick studies but now they were collaborative, pushing George Martin for more; this took 11 hours to record and, as a precursor to their next album, featured contributions from all four.  They Can Work It Out  

This is part three of six posts on The Beatles Creativity. It is preceded by 1) Beatles Live 1957-63 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64. It is followed by 4) Beatles Psychedelia 1966-67 5) Beatles Apple 1968 6) Beatles Let It Be 1969 There is a full Beatles YouTube Album review of Rubber Soul here. Page checked & Updated Jan 15 2014

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10 Responses to “Beatles Albums 1964-65”

  1. [...] A Beatles YouTube Album Beatles YouTube Archive « Beatles Albums 1964-65 [...]

  2. [...] is part two of six posts on The Beatles Creativity 1) Beatles Live 1957-63. It is followed by 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Beatles Albums 1964-65Got To Be FreeBeatles in [...]

  3. oldrope Says:

    Hey, interesting read as usual. I think it’s interesting how you can see an even more marked progression than normal on Help! as a whole. Even on some less lively tracks. Also ever featured a beatle cartoon on here, I cant remember. I had never seen one till a trip to my local supermarket over here in Argentina prompted me…

    http://oldrope.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/tell-me-what-you-see/

  4. [...] of six posts on The Beatles Creativity 1) Beatles Live 1957-63 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65 4) Beatles Psychedelia [...]

  5. [...] one of six posts on The Beatles Creativity. It is followed by parts 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65 4) Beatles Psychedelia 1966/67 5) Beatles Apple [...]

  6. [...] The Beatles Creativity. It is preceded by 1) Beatles Live 1957-63 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65 4) Beatles Psychedelia 1966/67 5) Beatles Apple [...]

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