A Hard Day’s Night

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The UK release

A Hard Day's Night was released in the United Kingdom on 10 July 1964, as Parlophone PMC 1230 (mono) and PCS 3058 (stereo). It was also available on 4" reel-to-reel tape, in mono only, as TA-PMC 1230.

The album was first released on compact disc on 26 February 1987, along with Please Please Me, With The Beatles and Beatles For Sale.

Although it was The Beatles' first album to be recorded entirely on four-track machines, offering greater flexibility for stereo separation between instruments and vocals, until 2009 the compact disc version was available only in mono. The remastered version released on 9 September 2009 was the album's first stereo appearance on CD.

Several of the songs were issued in stereo as part of the 2004 box set The Capitol Albums Vol 1, on the album Something New, and three of the songs - A Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love and And I Love Her - appeared in stereo on the 1962-1966 compilation.

The US edition

A Hard Day's Night album artwork - USAIn the United States, A Hard Day's Night was released on 26 June 1964, two weeks before its UK release. As the distributors of the movie, United Artists owned the rights to the soundtrack. It was issued as United Artists UA 6366 (mono) and UAS 6366 (stereo) with different artwork, although once again the photography was by Robert Freeman.

United Artists had discovered in autumn 1963 that EMI had failed to cover film soundtracks in the contract with The Beatles. Despite The Beatles not having become popular in America at the time, the company realised they could capitalise on their phenomenal fame in Britain, and negotiated the rights to make a feature film about the group. Producer Walter Shenson's brief from UA was simple: "We need a film for the express purpose of getting a soundtrack album," he was told. "Just make sure there are enough new songs for a soundtrack album and don't go over budget."

As with most of The Beatles' US releases, the tracklisting was different from the UK version: it contained just the songs featured in the film, with four orchestral pieces performed by The George Martin Orchestra. The non-film songs included on the UK version were eventually released on the Capitol LP Something New in July 1964.

The tracklisting for the a-side of the US version of A Hard Day's Night was: A Hard Day's Night, Tell Me Why, I'll Cry Instead, I Should Have Known Better (orchestral instrumental), I'm Happy Just To Dance With You, And I Love Her (orchestral instrumental). The b-side contained I Should Have Known Better, If I Fell, And I Love Her, Ringo's Theme (This Boy) (orchestral instrumental), Can't Buy Me Love and A Hard Day's Night (orchestral instrumental).

Although it was written for the film, I'll Cry Instead was dropped at the last minute, although the song appeared nonetheless on the US soundtrack. There were also misspellings on some of the label pressings, with Tell Me Why renamed as Tell Me Who, and I'll Cry Instead becoming I Cry Instead.

Chart success

A Hard Day's Night had advance orders of over 250,000 in the United Kingdom. By the end of 1964 A Hard Day's Night sold 600,000 copies. It spent 21 consecutive weeks at number one in the UK from 25 July 1964, and remained in the charts for 38 weeks.

More than a million advance orders were placed in the United States before its release. Within three months it had sold another million copies, making it one of the fastest-selling albums of all time. It topped the US Billboard album chart for 14 weeks, the longest run for any album that year.

The Beatles made chart history in the week of 5 August 1964, by topping the US and UK single and album charts simultaneously with releases all titled A Hard Day's Night. This is the only time such a feat has occurred.

As with Please Please Me and With The Beatles, the sleeve notes for A Hard Day's Night were written by The Beatles' press officer Tony Barrow.

Alun Owen began work on the original screenplay late last autumn. Producer Walter Shenson and director Richard Lester watcher their newest screen stars at work over Christmas and the New Year on the stage of the Finsbury Park 'Astoria' in London. John and Paul began to compile a collection of new compositions for the soundtrack while The Beatles were appearing in the Paris 'Olympia' last January. One morning early in March a specially chartered train moved out of Paddington station and the first day's shooting of The Beatles' first feature film got under way.

Reel upon reel of precious film had filled the camera crew's metal cans before a title had been selected for the United Artists picture. Then Ringo casually came up with the name at the end of a particularly strenuous session on the film set. 'It's been a hard day's night that was!' he declared, squatting for a moment at the arm of his canvas chair behind the line of cameras and technicians. The film, which also stars Wilfred Brambell in the role of Paul's (mythical) Irish grandfather, was promptly named 'A HARD DAY'S NIGHT'.

The story depicts something like 48 consecutive hours of activity in the bustling lives of four beat group boys. Named John, Paul, George and Ringo. A Hard Day's Night is heard at the very beginning of the film as the boys sing and play over the opening titles. The number features John's double-tracked voice, producing a duet effect. Its brisk, compelling theme crops up in orchestral form elsewhere during the film as part of recording manager George Martin's instrumental soundtrack score.

John's I Should Have Known Better makes an early appearance in the film during a railway sequence when the four boys are seen playing cards in the guard's van of the train.

John and Paul share the vocal action on If I Fell, the first of four songs featured in extensive theatre/studio sequences which show the group rehearsing and finally performing in a television spectacular. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You gives George a chance to handle the lead vocal, And I Love Her hands the solo spotlight to Paul who is joined by John for Tell Me Why.

The last of the soundtrack's magnificent seven, Can't Buy Be Love, has already been a worldwide disc hit for The Beatles. In 'A HARD DAY'S NIGHT' it forms the musical backdrop to several different scenes - when the boys are seen chasing across a field after a quick-fire getaway from the television studio and when the incredible race between Beatles, fans and police takes place with the boys tearing along streets and down alleyways in double-quick time!

Creating and perfecting completely new compositions for the soundtrack of 'A HARD DAY'S NIGHT' presented John and Paul with one of the greatest challenges of their pop-penning career. In the past their song-writing had been done at a more leisurely pace. Now they had a shooting schedule deadline to meet and the entire collection of fresh numbers had to be compiled during a session of concerts in Paris and a now legendary visit to America. To assist their work the two boys had a grand-piano moved into their hotel suite at the George V in Paris.

By the beginning of March the task was complete and The Beatles had a total of almost a dozen new songs ready for final rehearsal. At every stage of its conception and production care was taken to see that 'A HARD DAY'S NIGHT' would not turn into a continuous parade of Beatle performances. After all the Beatles themselves had agreed that the film should portray as many different facets of the four boys' individual personalities as possible. Indeed the comedy content was, and is, of paramount importance, and John, Paul, George, and Ringo are afforded maximum opportunity to display their on-the-spot sense of humor.

It became apparent that no more than six new songs should be introduced via the soundtrack of the film. To increase this number would have left insufficient screen-time for the action of the plot. On the other hand it seemed most unfair to hold back on the remainder of the boys' new songs when each one was of such excellent quality. Eventually the decision was made to record all the material which John and Paul had written and include the extra titles on the second side of this album.

Although the voice of George Harrison is much in evidence throughout the album the solo vocal activity on the second side is shared between the songs' composers, John and Paul. Paul handles the lyrics of Things We Said Today and he's heard in duet with John on I'll Cry Instead. For the main part John's is the dominant voice featured on Any Time At All, When I Get Home, You Can't Do That and I'll Be Back although George and Paul back up his efforts strongly on all titles.

When you listen to the second side of this record you will agree that it would have been a pity to cast aside such a fabulous set of songs solely because they couldn't be fitted into the structure of 'A HARD DAY'S NIGHT'. Now, with this album in your library, you have a collection of Beatles recordings which is comprehensive and up to date. At the same time it is interesting to remember that the LP housed within this sleeve is the first-ever album release to be made up entirely of self-composed and self-performed Beatle compositions.

27 responses on “A Hard Day’s Night

  1. Elsewhere Man

    This was the first of the remasters that I purchased as I had yet to hear most of the songs in stereo.

    The remaster did not disappoint. This is clearly the best of their pre-Rubber Soul albums. And not just because it’s all originals and no covers, but in spite of that fact. The Beatles weren’t exactly going through the motions when they did covers but most of the material on this album was as good or better than any cover version they had recorded to date…

  2. vonbontee

    Interesting that their only (pre-Pepper) album without a Ringo spotlight is also their only LP with 13 songs instead of 14. Maybe they eventually decided against including Ringo’s “Matchbox” cover for the sake of preserving the all-original Lennon-McCartney purity?

      1. vonbontee

        Wow, I didn’t know that! Too bad they hadn’t recorded “Matchbox” a year earlier: If so, then they could’ve used it on WTB in place of “I Wanna Be Your Man”; and reserved THAT one for AHDN. Result = 14 MacLen originals, including one each for George & Ringo. Or, hmmm, maybe they could’ve taken “I Call Your Name” from the 4-song “Long Tall Sally” EP and added the two German songs in its place, thereby turning a 4-song EP and 13-song album into a 5-song EP and 14-song album – albeit one without a Ringo vocal…

        UNLESS…John relinquished “I’ll Cry Instead” for Ringo to sing, which I’m sure he would’ve done quite nicely! It’s got that C&W/rockabilly feel, and of course that was Ringo’s specialty.

  3. M. Whitener

    This album proved that they didn’t need the covers that filled in the first two efforts. Also, it shows the competitive nature of Lennon & McCartney with each other to top the other’s effort, with “A Hard Day’s Night” being put out to no doubt match what Paul had did just before it with “Cant Buy Me Love”.

    However, the album as a whole is John at his best across an entire Beatle album. “If I Fell” is one of his strongest efforts & “You Can’t Do That” could have easily been another #1 if released as a single. Add in “Ill Be Back” and you have John’s voice & songwriting flow at it’s very best in his pure rock singer phase of the early Beatle work.

  4. Mean_Mr_Mustard

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on that one, Liam. On AHDN, Lennon sang lead vocals on 9 of the 13 tracks. On Pepper, Lennon sings lead or has a major vocal contribution to 7 of the 13 songs, Paul 8. The two best songs on the album (arguably, of course) are Lennon’s: “Lucy…” and “A Day in the life.” Hence, Lennon is all over Pepper, even on Paul’s songs: superb vocals on “Sgt. Pepper,” co-writer of “With a Little Help,” middle-eight of Getting Better, co-writer and beautiful vocals on “She’s leaving home.” Given that, it might be somewhat accurate to call AHDN
    John’s but Pepper is definitely not `Paul’s.’ AHDH is a great album.

    1. JohnPaulGeorgeRingo

      Sorry to disagree with your disagreement MMM but I tend to agree with Liam: Paul wrote five songs (and a reprise) while John wrote three songs. John then contributed to two songs from Paul (Getting Better and With a Little Help) and Paul contributed to John’s (A Day in the Life, arguably the best song on the album, by the way). Finally, the whole concept of S. Pepper came from Paul.

  5. Rockpile

    I agree with Liam above about this being John’s album. I truly believe he was carrying the Beatles on his shoulders here when they needed him to. His voice was the strongest, he was cheekiest, he wrote the books, he wore the cap. And here he wrote the songs. His final song I’ll Be Back heralds the next phase of the Beatles the same way Tomorrow Never Knows and A Day in the Life do.

  6. Johan Cavalli

    In 10 of the 13 songs, Lennon was the dominant composer. George Martin and McCartney seldom talk about this album, because Martin wasn´t so influential here, and McCartney didn´t write so many songs.
    The melodies are innovative. The title song has glissando like arabian folk music?, the middle part in I Should Have Known Better has an increasing tension — with two changes of key — instead of the tension only in the A-bits, the intro to If I Fell has three changes of key! and the rest sounds like a madrigal from 15th century, I´m Happy Just To Dance With You is like a mix of Irwing Berlin and Lennon, and in When I Get Home, Lennon changes the melody only by changing the rythm in the same note! Lennon was a pure genius.

  7. Dr. TJ Murray UNLV

    Great synopsis, Johan. Indeed a great album which seems to be increasingly appearing on other artists favorite albums list. And I strongly agree with Mean Mr. Mustard on his assessment of Pepper. Pepper was an album born of many ideas thrown in from all directions (and by all Beatles), hence the colorful soundscape. AHDN, quite simply, was a great guitar/bass/drums album of mostly Lennon tunes.

  8. oldfartbassplayer Walt

    man, I can’t even focus on my appreciation of the music on HDN- I’m too caught up in the memories of sitting in a theater with my Beatles-loving friends, anticipating, then hearing the huge ‘CLANG’ and then getting swept away by the frenetic journey through their ‘world’- a total multi-media immersion for a 14 year old, if you count the popcorn…

    My favorite tracks BTW were Things We Said and I’ll Be Back, both haunting, minor-key masterpieces.

  9. Steve

    This is my favourite Beatles album. It is also a Lennon masterpiece. If anybody was ever in any doubt who was driving force behind the beatles.Give this a listen then look no further.
    So sgt pepper took you by surprise, you better see right through that mothers eyes.

  10. Graham Paterson

    I received this great album in 1979 for my 13th Birthday along with Rubber Soul. This is unique because it is totally filled with Lennon- McCartney compositions. The title song A Hard Days Night is brilliant with one of the most iconic guitar openings in pop/ rock history. The songs on side one perfectly compliment the brilliant film that they were largely the soundtrack for. The title track, I Should Have Known Better, And I Love Her, Cant Buy Me Love and If I Fell are great tunes, the latter particularly a lovely song. Side two whilst not used in the film, illustrate the progression of the Lennon- McCartney song writing team. You Cant do That, Ill Cry Instead and Ill Be Back are all strong and obviously written largely by John Lennon. And Things We Said Today, one of Paul McCartneys most beautiful ballads and a real favorite of mine.

  11. Bongo

    Although “Please Please Me” & “With The Beatles” were great Beatles LP’s, AHDN certainly brought them to the next level. perfect timing releasing the movie as they rose to superstardom!

  12. Trevor

    Does anyone know what the vinyl album I have here is? It is different than the normal cover you see and is red, white and black. 4 of the songs on the album are instrumental versions produced by George Martin. It is an official Parlophone/EMI recording made in Australia.

    1. Julian

      That’s the American “A Hard Day’s Night” album originally released on the United Artists label. They got the rights to do the soundtrack as a part of the deal of making a movie.

  13. Biased John Lennon fan

    John was extremely generous despite this being essentially his masterpiece.

    1. He lets Paul sing the middle eight on A Hard Day’s Night

    2. He gives Paul the more recognizable harmony on If I Fell

    3. He lets Paul and George join him in 3 part harmonies in Tell Me Why

    4. He gives Paul the second Any Time at All! in the refrain of that song.

    5. He brings Paul and George in again for some brilliant harmonies in When I Get Home

    6. He lets Paul harmonize with him in most of I’ll Be Back

    Compare that with Paul, who didn’t want
    harmonies in Can’t Buy Me Love and
    And I Love Her, both of which could certainly have used them.

    The notion that John had all the ego and Paul was the cute little angel couldn’t be more inaccurate

  14. Michael

    I can see why you — or anyone, for that matter — would choose Revolver as number one. And I love that its status has only grown over the years. It’s a close second to AHDN in my book. But then no one’s publishing my book, are they?

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