Working Like A Dog

HARD DAY’S NIGHT

Hard Days Night. Was it a single, an album or a film? Was it fab, a phenomenon, a virus or a multimedia experience? All of the above of course. After giving us the album as cultural artefact they now gave us being a Beatle as pop art. We wanted to be in their gang and this is what it is like. You can’t buy love but you could experience Beatlemania, be their mates for 89 minutes, then run from the cinema laughing out loud with the exhilaration of it all. We identified with them completely; and with their view of the world. If only we could be as cool in dealing with authority.

From the opening declamatory chord of the single, which I first heard on Juke Box Jury, this was the consummate Beatles experience for their fans. And in 1964 the film was second at the box office to Goldfinger, where James Bond makes a point of mocking them, so most of the UK must have seen it. Here’s the Beatlemania vision of the single.

In September 2009 Uncut reckoned that Michael Lindsay-Hogg helped the Beatles invent the video with Paperback Writer and Rain; hmm, what about some of the Hard Day’s Night sequences such as I Should Have Known Better? I reckon Richard Lester invented the pop video, in the MTV sense. Several sequences in the movie play like a pop video. Unfortunately this tends to show up the pace of the rest of the film. But when the boys are on screen, and Richard is cutting with the best of them, Hard Days Night still feels contemporary.  And this has something special, the first meeting of George and Patti. In case you can’t recognise her pre-Layla she is in the opening freeze frame. So classic early Beatles, pre-MTV and pre-Beeching.

Not only does George get off with Patti, and we were all looking out for her when we went to see the film, but he has a cracking track beautifully filmed by Lester. Written by Lennon I’m Happy Just to Dance with You rocks gently, George gives it the right tone and sings it confidently as they prepare for a TV show in a studio setting. Lester makes the most of the setting and at the time it felt very modern, very cool.

So this was the dilemma we faced in the summer of 1964. Going to see a film for me meant a month of saving up. Buying a single needed almost two months saving up and albums were almost five times more expensive than singles; birthdays came around quicker than that!  Also, in those days, if you liked a film you could just stay in the cinema and watch it again for free; I certainly did that with Goldfinger. So why was Hard Days Night such a big hit? Because it made the Beatles even more accessible than their records. More screen within a screen magic from Lester in this clip as the Flamenco Lothario’s go all ballad for the girls. Strong song from Paul giving a good change of pace after The Beatles typically relentless opening. Like Lester’s other mini-masterpieces this holds up well; dry your eyes.

In the film Can’t Buy Me Love, already the biggest selling single of the year, was always going to be a reliable highlight. However the way Lester sets it up, and the sense of relief it represents makes it the emotional centrepiece, even in a film with several excellent “video” sequences. And they escape to a local park, which is how we got our release in those days. Parks, or “recce’s” in Yorkshire, were free and you could run around and play football until your heart was thumping. Notice how the boys are running, jumping and, er, standing still; pure Goonery.

What makes Hard Day’s Night, the album, such a good album is the second side of, essentially, bonus cuts not in the movie. I think the best of these is You Can’t Do That as it is a mid-tempo rocker sounding like they could have played it for hours if need be. This is a live version from Melbourne, lucky Aussies. Incidentally whilst it is often celebrated that The Beatles held the top 5 chart positions after the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, in Australia they held the top 6 chart positions on April 3rd! And they topped their single charts with the All My Loving EP, almost twice the price of a single. No wonder they played live there.

The View from 9/9/9 The first classic album, sounds better now than it did at the time. Definitely worth buying and can be seen as the summative early Beatles album 90%

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One Response to “Working Like A Dog”

  1. […] Beatles YouTube Album Beatles YouTube Archive « Working Like A Dog Eight Arms To Hold You […]

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