Help! was the Beatles' fifth album release in UK and the ninth to come out in the US. The UK version is considered the official track listing for the Beatles' catalogue. Fourteen songs appear on the album: seven from the film of the same name (side one), in a manner similar to the Hard Day's Night release. George Martin produced the album, on the Parlophone label. Side two included previously unreleased tracks, including Yesterday, McCartney's immensely popular solo tune. In the US, the sound track album was on side one, and George Martin instrumentals of Beatles' songs filled side two. In the UK, side two contained five new original songs and two covers. Rolling Stone magazine placed it at 332 in its 2003 list of the Greatest Albums of All Time.
Help! is considered to be the pivot point between the "early period" of the Beatles, characterized by simple love songs with rock and roll rhythms, and the "middle period," in which the group displayed a much broader reach, both with its music and its rhythms. Additional instrumentation was added in some tracks: strings for Yesterday, and flutes for You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, John Lennon's composition that reflected an influence from the work of Bob Dylan. McCartney's I've Just Seen a Face is considered to be pure country, a departure from ballads or rock numbers heard on previous releases. The subject matter and the arrangement of Ticket to Ride were judged by critics to be quite innovative for the time, if not downright daring. Harrison provided two songs for the album: I Need You and You Like Me Too Much", his first contributions since the second album, and songs that showed his development as a more mature song writer. Finally, the group began relying more and more on keyboards and less on electric guitars, all of which hinted at the coming work in a folk-rock and psychedelic style, as well as the much broader instrumental palette that the group would come to display.
Lennon later commented in an interview that the title of the album, and the song, was truly a plea for help. The Beatles were struggling with their enormous fame and exhausted from a brutal schedule of recordings and public appearances. In Lennon's own life, he began passing through a period of intense sadness and personal drama, which ultimately was resolved only by his complete lifestyle change under the influence of his new-found love, Yoko Ono.
Some songs written for the film did not make the cut. The song originally written for Ringo to sing, If You've Got Trouble, was deleted, and he sang Act Naturally as a substitute. The group also wrote and rehearsed That Means a Lot, but shunted it off to P.J. Proby instead of putting it in the album and film. Lennon's Yes it Is was considered a failed re-write of This Boy, and so was shuffled off to the b-side of a single release (Ticket to Ride). Two songs turned down for the film by director Richard Lester wound up on side two: Harrison's You Like Me Too Much and McCarntney's Tell Me What You See.
Contrary to popular belief, the cover photo for Help! does not spell out "help" in semaphore code. That was the original idea, but the arrangement of the arms of the band members was altered to make the shot more appealing graphically. So the spelling came out "NUJV." The arrangement on the UK cover differs from that on the US album, but neither one spells out "help."
Recording for Help! began in session during February of 1965, and continued for several day-long sessions in March, April, May and June. All were held at the Abbey Road studios of EMI. The initial release in the UK was on August 8, 1965.
|Side A||Lead Vocals||Written by||Length|
|The Night Before||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:33|
|You've Got to Hide Your Love Away||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:08|
|I Need You||Harrison||George Harrison||2:28|
|You're Going to Lose That Girl||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||2:17|
|Ticket to Ride||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||3:10|
|Act Naturally||Starr||Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison||2:29|
|It's Only Love||Lennon||Lennon/McCartney||1:54|
|You Like Me Too Much||Harrison||Harrison||2:35|
|Tell Me What You See||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:36|
|I've Just Seen a Face||McCartney||Lennon/McCartney||2:04|
|Dizzy Miss Lizzy||Lennon||Larry Williams||2:53|