Friday, 11 July 2014

50 Years Of The Beatles' A Hard Days Night

The Beatles album and film A Hard Days Night is 50 years old!

The third Beatles LP, the only one in the original canon of releases to be made up of compositions by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The first feature film, a humorous slant of the inside world of Beatlemania penned by Welsh playwright Alun Owen and directed in Black and White by Richard Lester.

So why so special?

The album follows on from 1963's Please,Please Me and With The Beatles. Both albums establishing the essential fab four sound through influences and original compositions. The Beatles had well and truly conquered the UK by the fall of 1963, they had taken the USA by Spring 1964.

On their return to the UK they went straight into recording their next album which would be the soundtrack for their first feature film. Well... almost!

The album comprises songs written for A Hard Days Night. Side one featuring songs from the film and side two featuring songs that nearly made the film.  As an entity the album defines that The Beatles have finally landed, not only as performers but as songwriters. There isn't a duff song on the album and its incredible to think the decisions the films producers had to make in leaving six songs from the album out of the finished film. Anytime at All, You Can't Do That and I'll Be Back are all great songs that didn't make the final film and remain as strong as If I Fell, Can't But Me Love and A Hard Days Night.

Similarly the film sets a template for the caricatured image of Beatlemania, which would be later seen in The Monkees TV series and even the humour of Yellow Submarine.

There are some unforgettable scenes too. The Fab Four breaking loose from the confines of a TV studio via a staircase to a playing field with the strains of Can't Buy Me Love playing in the background and Ringo taking leave of the group to parade the streets at the suggestion of Paul's wily Grandfather (Wilfred Brambell).

The film also features a stellar cast of British character actors to help The Beatles along the way including Victor Spinetti, Deryck Guyler, Wilfred Brambell, Norman Rossington and John Junkin.

A Hard Days Night probably introduced me to The Beatles. It was the first film I saw featuring them on television back in the 1970s and I remember playing my Mum's mono LP to death for years afterwards. For me, it defines a pinnacle moment for The Beatles and Beatlemania.

The hard work of constant recording and touring would begin to take its toll by the next album, but for the moment The Beatles were happy to be who they were, pop stars and film stars and that fun, and joy are captured forever on LP and film - enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I can remember my mates and I coming out of the Regal cinema after seeing the film when it came out in '64 and going home swinging round lamp posts etc. We were the Beatles! Or wanted to be. Next stop the junk shop looking for cheap guitars. It's all in the book I'm writing 'Brumbeat!'

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