Monday, January 21, 2008

No. 332: Help!

Band: The Beatles
Album: Help!
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Well, it's The Beatles, so it's great. It's placement, I imagine, is due to its lesser place in the band's discography, but it's still great.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It is, outside of “Beatles for Sale,” the band's weakest effort.
Best song: I really like “The Night Before.” Of course, “Yesterday” is also a classic.
Worst song: “You Like Me Too Much” isn't great, but it's still a good song.
Is it awesome?: Yes.

Oh, John, Paul, George and Ringo! I've missed you so! Where have you been?

“Help!” isn't a great movie and it's certainly not the best Beatles record, but an album like this reminds you as to how catchy, popular rock should be done. “Act Naturally” is the great sad song that the Beatles didn't often cover, complete with Ringo's sad sack voice. “It's Only Love” is similarly dark, “Help!” also has some negative stuff to it.

It is, in a lot of ways, the band's most negative record. Nearly every song has a tinge of regret in it, probably due to the fact that the band was in the complete grips of American Beatlemania and couldn't, you know, have anything close to a private life.

“The Night Before” is “Fuck and Run” twenty five years earlier, while “You Like Me Too Much” isn't as positive as the normal Lennon/McCartney numbers.

McCartney's masterpiece, “Yesterday,” is among his best sad love songs. The band didn't often write such songs – they were incredibly upbeat – and the story of the song is similar to the story of “Satisfaction.” McCartney consistently says the melody simply came to him and he even put nonsense words into the melody when he was writing (the famous example being “scrambled eggs”). Oddly enough, it's the most covered song of all time. To say it's a classic is a bit of an understatement.

“Help!” is not a fantastic album. There aren't any of the experiments that dot “Revolver” or the White Album. The record wasn't a revelation like “With the Beatles” or “Please Please Me.” Still, it's an amazing record by the best rock and roll band.

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