Beatles for Sale
In their first three albums the Beatles performed the very best of their own compositions and favorite covers. Considering the exhausting pace of their public appearances, performances and recording sessions in 1963 and 1964, one can easily understand that by album four the group would be fatigued. Even the cover album picture is said to reflect signs of wear and tear on the group. Many critics judge Beatles for Sale to be less spectacular than any of their other studio albums.
Nevertheless, this fourth album shows something of a shift in Lennon's songwriting focus. The characteristic hard-rocker pace of earlier albums, with lyrics aimed directly at teenage fans, gives way in Beatles for Sale to more thoughtful songs, some of them eerily dark and autobiographical. Lennon in particular moved away from the Motown, R&B and doo-wop sounds to a style more like Bob Dylan's, and hence to a more folk-rock feel. I'm a Loser is a specific example of this shift in Beatles for Sale. Elements of country style can also be heard among the tracks, presaging more evolution away from "love you" rock in the later albums.
Beatles for Sale was not released as such in the US, due mainly to Capitol Records' continuing policy of dicing up the UK albums and repackaging them for American audiences, a practice that can not be explained on the basis of musical merit. More likely it reflected a fear that they could not cash in so fully in the US on the group's popularity if they simply remarketed the UK versions. Tracks from the fourth album appear sprinkled over two US releases: Beatles '65 and Beatles VI. All versions went to number one in their respective charts.
The crushing performance schedule also held back Lennon and McCartney from being able to come up with a full set of original songs, and so the fourth album includes several covers, unlike A Hard Day's Night, but much in the same vein as the first two studio albums. Most of the eight original Lennon/McCartney numbers were just sketched out in hotel rooms, with edits and polishes applied in the studio as the rehearsal process went on.
The songwriting duo was still very much in a collaborative mode. For example, John wrote most of No Reply, but Paul composed the middle eight. The first three songs on the album -- No Reply, I'm a Loser and Baby's in Black -- are curiously mature and melancholy for a group made famous by its youth and upbeat high-spirits. The cover songs, on the other hand, fit the old mold. They came mainly from Cavern Club and Hamburg repertoire: Rock and Roll Music (Chuck Berry), Words of Love (Buddy Holly) and Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby (Carl Perkins), sung by Harrison. Ringo also sang lead in Carl Perkins' Honey Don't. Paul McCartney's rendition of Mr. Moonlight (by Dr. Feelgood and the Interns) received a cool response from critics and fans alike. The most popular cover by far was the medley of Kansas City and Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, in which Paul performed his Little Richard impression.
The recording of Beatles for Sale commenced on August 11, 1964 and continued off and on through October 26, with most of the work coming in the last four weeks of the period. The group had just a short respite from the Hard Day's Night sessions, and that small slice of time was spent in touring several countries. Using Abbey Road's four-track equipment, the Beatles began to be more experimental about instrumentation and voice overdubs.
Beatles for Sale was released on December 4, 1964, just a month after the final mixes were made.
|Side A||Lead Vocals||Written by||Length|
|I'm a Loser||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:31|
|Baby's in Black||Lennon and McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:02|
|Rock and Roll Music||Lennon||Chuck Berry||2:32|
|I'll Follow the Sun||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||1:46|
|Mr. Moonlight||Lennon||Roy Lee Johnson||2:33|
|Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey||McCartney||Leiber, Stoller & Penniman||2:33|
|Eight Days a Week||Lennon with McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:44|
|Words of Love||McCartney and Lennon||Buddy Holly||2:12|
|Honey Don't||Starr||Carl Perkins||2:55|
|Every Little Thing||Lennon and McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:01|
|I Don't Want to Spoil the Party||Lennon and McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:33|
|What You're Doing||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:30|
|Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby||Harrison||Carl Perkins||2:23|