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 (Red Album) compilation.

The US edition

In 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 band 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 them. 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 it had 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 a feat of this nature has occurred.

Sleeve notes

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.

Tony Barrow

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