The Beatles album: Help!
The Beatles fifth studio album was a period where John Lennon admitted to being in his ‘Fat, Elvis phase’ of course he was as skinny as a beanpole, but still the title track was his cry for help. Coming back after the anger and frustration of The Beatles for Sale must have been no easy feat, yet the fab 4 clambered back on top replacing anger for curiosity.
Much like Hard Day’s Night, Help is a stand-alone and stand out album. This is where the Beatles really seemed to expand their musical palette. From the desperate jingle jangle, brisk remedy of Help to the dabbling Indian instrumentals on Ticket to Ride, the sound of the Beatles was changing from black and white crayons to a complex oil canvas of across the universe.
The western world was on the verge of turmoil when Help was released in 1965, with the controversial Vietnam war underway and the civil rights movement on the march, Bob Dylan singing about answers blowing in the wind and the Beatles wholly sick of singing about preteen love and wanting to show their more mature and complex nature.
This is where we hear love songs of a different beat, not the pop-tastic, optimistic range of harmonies and smiles, but the more somber and sober edge of love with tracks like ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ and ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’. The latter song Paul McCartney went on to say was ‘John doing Dylan’. The song has also caused controversy in the past with the speculation of it being a message to Beatles manager at the time Brian Epstein in relation to his sexual preferences. Yet Lennon simply shrugged the lyrics as being far from cryptic stating he was just bashing out pop songs, away from his personal feelings.
Amidst the treasures of Help, the stunning harmonies, the catchy riffs and the abundance of great lyrics there are few fillers to be found, like ‘Act Naturally’ and’ Dizzy Miss Lizzy’. Yet the album remains a timeless classic in the Beatles library, there’s less arrogance to be found as John states in his lyrics ‘Now I’m older and not so self-assured’ and of course that all famous and beloved rendition of ‘Yesterday’. The classic McCartney ballad has been literally stoned to death with every Tom, Dick and Harry attempting to make it their own, yet none can even come close to the original charm of Paul in his finest hour.
The album was adored from the get go, the fanatics who had suffered a slap in the face from Beatles for Sale were only too happy to see John, Paul, George and Ringo back on track. Musical critics were glad to hear a feast of new ideas and fresh energy from the fab 4, suffice to say the album shot to number one. Since then some have grumbled that it’s far from the best Beatles album, yet who cares – it’s still a damn fine album!