On April 4th, 1964 the Beatles made Billboard history as they took over the top 5 positions of the hot 100 with “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Twist And Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me”. Their place in music history was set in stone, no other act since has ever come close to this amazing feat. By 1964 the band had already become the biggest and most important act of the 1960s, and they where getting tired.
Beatles For Sale, released just in time for Christmas, is the group’s 4th record and 2nd release from 1964. Let’s take a look inside and go track by track.
Track By Track
- Starting off the album with a bleak heartbreak song, “No Reply”shows a lot of artistic growth from John and sets the tone for this album. When I look at their faces on the album cover and hear this song it goes together perfectly. You can imagine them walking down a path with the leaves falling one Fall’s evening. “No Reply” is an extraordinary song, John sounds devastated and when Ringo’s cymbal smashes into the chorus you can feel the character in the song fall apart. Paul helps with some insane high notes, listen to the bridge it’s crazy!
I’m a Loser
- John’s introspective journey begins here with this folky type song. This time he looks inside and reveals a little about himself. It’s still a song about love ultimately but compared to what John did on A Hard Day’s Night this song feels much more grown up. John breaks out the harmonica again for the solo bit and Paul helps once again adding brightness to the chorus. I like John’s delivery in the verse with that deep tone. This is the song where John began to change, I would put it in a trilogy with “Help!” and “Nowhere Man”.
Baby’s In Black
- Another pretty bleak song, this John and Paul tune is good if not a little standard. Once again Paul crushes it, listen to the bridge, he gets super high “OH HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE!” this song is urgent and seems similar to “Yes It Is” lyrically.
Rock And Roll Music
- Oh so we’re back to covers eh. To make up material for this record the boys looked to their favourite 50s artists again and made some fine picks from Buddy Holly, Little Richard and now Chuck Berry. John does a good shouting vocal on this song. I feel like at this point they’d advanced past cover songs but this is a fun one and a lot more energized then Chuck’s original.
I’ll Follow The Sun
- Paul levels up again and delivers one of his most beautiful songs. This is another one that says a lot with a little, it’s a wonderful song with a great bridge and a lovely set of lyrics. Paul was getting better with each album and this gem shows that, just wait until the next record though.
- Commonly sighted as one of the worst Beatles songs, “Mr. Moonlight” is an over the top cover. I like it though, John’s vocal is rough on it but the backing is a little cheesy at times and the keyboard solo does it no favours either. Still I feel like it works, the boys got an interesting guitar sound for this album that continues on all the songs, once again I feel it’s all tied in with the album cover. I like this song.
Kansas City (Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey)
- *Yawn* Not one of my favourites, this song isn’t really anything special. Paul sang Little Richard well but I don’t think much of this song, it’s pretty standard for a 50s rock tune. I don’t have much to say on this one, it’s just kind of there at the end of side 1.
Eight Days a Week
- Pop gem, this is pretty much the last song in the Beatlemania frenzy style if you get what I mean. Every part of this song is catchy, it’s simple and memorable, certainly a ray of sunshine on this downcast album.
Words Of Love
- An excellent respectable cover of Buddy Holly’s original with a very deep vocal. It’s very close to the original, I don’t know which one I like more honestly they both have lots of good things going on. A perfect pick for the band, the best Buddy song they could’ve done for sure. I don’t know how well anything else would have worked, John later did an awesome version of “Peggy Sue” in the 70s.
- Ya don’t as in I DON’T like this song. It’s a goofy Ringo song that I straight up dislike. I honestly don’t like his vocal tone, I mean “Octopus’s Garden” is an awesome tune and all but this song doesn’t do it for me, I don’t care for the original or Carl Perkins in general. This would be my least favourite song on the album if not for “rock on George” and the last song on this record.
Every Little Thing
- Every little thing she does SLAM SLAM she does for me ya-ah! This song has a rad chorus but feels a bit standard. It reminds me of “Not A Second Time”. By standard I don’t mean it’s a bad tune, the chorus is cool and I like George’s playing on it but it’s not the most remarkable and memorable tune on the album. It sounds like something that was knocked out in 20 minutes. As in it was written and recorded in that time.
I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party
- Taking another turn for the bleak, this song goes hand and hand with “I’m A Loser”. This song puts a lot of imagery in my head actually, it’s a decent song and better then the last couple.
What You’re Doing
- A neat Paul song, I dig this one. Again it feels a bit standard but I think it’s pretty fun, with a little riff under it and the piano bubbling under the solo. It does seem like something they slammed out to fill out the album but I don’t think it’s too bad.
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby
- When someone says “Mr. Moonlight” is the worst song the boys recorded, I wonder if they’re ever listened to this whole album? This is by far the weakest and laziest song on the record. The double tracking is so horrible and off sync and it ends the album on an underwhelming low note. I personally don’t like this song at all. I guess George didn’t have any songs to hand in for this record. This recording is just kinda lazy.
Beatles For Sale shows how tired the band was, it’s an uneven effort with some amazing tunes like “No Reply” and “I’ll Follow The Sun”, some pretty standard originals and a whack load of covers ranging from good to bad. If you take the first 5 songs, remove “Rock And Roll Music” and add “Eight Days Of Week” you have a great EP. But I still feel like this record is a good listen as it documents the change in The Beatles sound. A Hard Day’s Night is a triumphant Beatlemania party and Beatles For Sale is the hangover.
I still feel like the album cover says every single thing you need to know about this album, the way they look at the camera, so worn out and almost defeated in a Fall setting, it says a lot. Beatles For Sale is spotty but overall it’s a worthwhile listen for it does contain some amazing originals and serves as a bridge between two eras of the band.
- No Reply
- I’ll Follow The Sun
- I’m a Loser
- Eight Days A Week
- Rock And Roll Music
- Words Of Love
- Baby’s In Black
- I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party
- What You’re Doing
- Honey Don’t
- Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby