Another Beatles album and another masterpiece. This probably isn’t as much of a stylistic jump forward as Beatles For Sale or Rubber Soul will be. However, Help! manages to strengthen their artistic integrity. There’s not only more of Lennon’s Dylan-posturing, but just a little bit more innovation. As if you’d expect anything less from them!
John dominates this record again with the contribution of three A+ scoring songs, but Paul stays strong in the running with two A+ scoring songs of his own! George contributes two ditties, but again his songwriting still seems to be in the formative stages (although he is still a lot better than most songwriters from the era). John’s Help! starts things off in a remarkably energetic way. It’s a fast-paced rocker with some excellent chord progressions and two melody-lines going at once. And, as expected, the thing is catchy as hell. The Beatles were feeling very overextended at this point of their careers, and you can guess that he wrote this to vent some of that frustration. As a result of that, I have thought about it to vent my frustrations from time to time!
‘You Got to Hide Your Love Away’ is one Lennon’s Dylan-inspired acoustic folk numbers, and it has a melody that’s immediately lovable. Lack of creative melodies is a common criticism I have of folk music in general, but John knew exactly how to fix that! ‘Ticket to Ride’ has been so well incorporated in our culture that we probably don’t realize how unusual it was for the time. Those loud, thundering drums and that droning guitar tone has been compared to heavy metal, and that comparison isn’t unjustified. (Of course, it’s not heavy metal… but it begins to approach that style!)
Paul wrote ‘Yesterday’, of course, and it’s one of the first rock songs to incorporate a string quartet. (Though the string quartet idea was George Martin’s.) Classical music snobs like to point out that such an arrangement wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if it was introduced in the classical realm, and they’re absolutely right! However, the idea was certainly bracing, and it points its way toward progressive rock. Furthermore, it works perfectly with Paul’s sweet, folksy melody. Paul’s other A+ contribution was ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face,’ which is certainly an unusual take on folk-rock. The acoustic guitar is strummed like mad, and Paul’s melody is sweet and breezy!
The second half of the albums kicks off with the Ringo sung country number ‘Act Naturally’ which seems so out-of-place, it becomes comical yet ‘It’s Only Love’ has some haunting guitar sounds and a beautiful John vocal. ‘You Like Me Too Much’ re-introduces Piano into a Beatles album and works as a very nice unassuming enjoyable track. ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ is a wonderfully great Simon And Garfunkel rip-off… I get the history confused sometimes. If it actually invented Simon And Garfunkel ( it does sound a hell of a lot like them ) then hats off to those Beatles lads! If not, hats off to them anyway, it’s a super fun song. We get ‘Yesterday’ today and then to round everything off we get something a little older, a little goodbye as such because ‘Dizzie Miss Lizzie’ is one of those Rock N Roll John vocal scorchers. Excellent.