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Album facts: Help!

John, Paul and even George's songwriting had matured immensely since their previous album Beatles for Sale, which was largely a rock and roll homage to their musical roots. With songs like Yesterday, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, Ticket to Ride etc - it was clear that The Beatles' sound was changing and arguably their most inspirational work was still ahead of them. But before the band would reach the heights of Rubber Soul and Revolver, their fifth album was a growth in songwriting prowess nonetheless. 

George Harrison wrote two new compositions for Help! - You Like Me Too Much and I Need You; his first writing contributions since 1963's Don't Bother Me. 

Album cover

The photo on the front of the UK album release was taken by Robert Freeman; someone The Beatles worked with previously on With the Beatles, A Hard Day's Night and Beatles for Sale. 

"I had the idea of semaphore spelling out the letters HELP. But when we came to do the shot the arrangement of the arms with those letters didn't look good. So we decided to improvise and ended up with the best graphic positioning of the arms." - Robert Freeman

Release

The Beatles' fifth album Help! was released on August 6th, 1965. Recorded between February and June of 1965 the album contains twelve original Beatles' tracks and two cover songs; one sung by John and the other by Ringo.

"I started thinking about my own emotions - I don't know when exactly it started, like I'm a Loser or Hide Your Love Away or those kind of things - instead of projecting myself into a situation. I would try to express what I felt about myself which I'd done in me books. I think it was Dylan helped me realise that - not by any discussion or anything but just by hearing his work - I had a sort of professional songwriter's attitude to writing pop songs; he would turn out a certain style of song for a single and we would do a certain style of thing for this and the other thing.

I was already a stylized songwriter on the first album. But to express myself I would write Spaniard In The Works or In His Own Write, the personal stories which were expressive of my personal emotions. I'd have a separate songwriting John Lennon who wrote songs for the sort of meat market, and I didn't consider them - the lyrics or anything - to have any depth at all. They were just a joke. Then I started being me about the songs, not writing them objectively, but subjectively." - John Lennon

Chart success

On August 8th 1965, Help! reached number one on the UK Albums Chart. Similarly in the US on September 11th, the US version reached number one on the US Billboard, and there it remained for seven straight weeks.

Help! UK album cover, 1965. 

Help! UK album cover, 1965. 

In the US the album was released on August 13th with a different cover and track listing. This version contained all the songs from side one of the UK release, with film instrumentals on side two.

UK track list

Side one

1. "Help!"
2. "The Night Before" 
3. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" 
4. "I Need You" (George Harrison)
5. "Another Girl" 
6. "You're Going to Lose That Girl" 
7. "Ticket to Ride" 

Side two

1. "Act Naturally" (Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison)
2. "It's Only Love" 
3. "You Like Me Too Much" (George Harrison)
4. "Tell Me What You See" 
5. "I've Just Seen a Face" 
6. "Yesterday" 
7. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams)

US track list

Side one

  1. "Help!" (Lennon) 2:39
  2. "The Night Before"  (McCartney) 2:36
  3. "From Me to You Fantasy" (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) 2:08
  4. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (Lennon) 2:12
  5. "I Need You" (Harrison) 2:31
  6. "In the Tyrol" (Ken Thorne) 2:26

Side two

  1. "Another Girl"  (McCartney) 2:08
  2. "Another Hard Day's Night" (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) 2:31
  3. "Ticket to Ride"  (Lennon with McCartney) 3:07
  4. "Medley: The Bitter End/You Can't Do That" (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) 2:26
  5. "You're Going to Lose That Girl"  (Lennon) 2:19
  6. "The Chase" (Ken Thorne) 2:31

Buy Help! from Amazon (US or UK)

Chart success

Help! reached number one on the UK Albums Chart on August 8th, 1965 and number one on the US Billboard on September 11th. The title track was released as a single in the US on July 19th and in the UK on the 23rd; with Paul McCartney's I'm Down as the B-side. The song reached number one on the UK Singles Chart on August 5th, 1965. It also reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 on September 4th, staying there for three consecutive weeks.

"I remember Paul playing to me Yesterday and he called it Scrambled Egg. It wasn't until he got the lyric together that we decided to record it - so he went down and sat on a high stool with his acoustic guitar and sang Yesterday." - George Martin
"I think it was largely John's - the actual Ticket To Ride bit. We wrote it together you see, with John and I. Certain songs would nearly always be the idea of one of us. One of us had actually said, 'Ticket To Ride would be good', the other one would say, 'Okay, that's what we'll write today'." - Paul McCartney
"I had these two guys who used to write songs whenever we needed some. I think we just called them up and said, 'Look, we'll be doing a movie now lads, will you come up with a couple of catchy hits?'" - George Harrison

Personnel

  • John Lennon – lead, harmony and background vocals; rhythm guitar; electric piano
  • Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and bass guitars; electric and acoustic pianos; güiro
  • George Harrison – harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm guitars; lead vocals on "I Need You"
  • Ringo Starr – drums and miscellaneous percussion; lead vocals on "Act Naturally"
  • George Martin – producer, piano on "You Like Me Too Much"
  • John Scott – tenor and alto flutes on "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
  • String quartet on "Yesterday", arranged by Martin in association with McCartney
The Beatles filming Help! in Austria, 1965. 

The Beatles filming Help! in Austria, 1965. 

The Beatles filming Help! at Cliveden House, May 11th 1965. 

The Beatles filming Help! at Cliveden House, May 11th 1965. 

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