Deep Dive: Beatles For Sale
The second album released by The Beatles in 1964 is Beatles For Sale. It's their fourth full LP release.
The name "Beatles For Sale" is said to be one of Ringo's lines, "bemoaning all the demands and pressures now being made upon the group following the craze of Beatlemania. The four all felt the same way--that they were just goods, getting shipped around the world and offered for sale. Because it was such a rush job, they were unable to put together enough original compositions together in time to fill the album; they managed only eight, then threw in six written by other people to complete the track list. So in one sense, they were going backwards rather than forwards, as the last album, A Hard Day's Night, had been all theirs" (Genius).
Another obvious difference in this record is that the songs that were written by Lennon-McCartney are more personal and reflective, moving away from the "Twist and Shout" style/sound they became known for so quickly.
The first track, "No Reply," quickly jumps into the new introspective style. Written by Lennon-McCartney, it is the story of a "spurned, jitted lover" who basically got curved and is taking it very personal. I like this style and it is a well-known Beatles hit.
"I'm A Loser" is the second track on the album and is of similar theme to the first. Lennon quoted in a 1980 Playboy Magazine interview that he wrote this song "[in his] Dylan period. Part of me suspects I'm a loser and part of me thinks I'm God Almighty."
The next song is one of the cover songs on the album. "Baby's in Black" is originally a Rubén Blades song. It's a very interesting song to listen to after only knowing the cover by The Beatles. It's a much different sound. Listen here.
"Rock And Roll Music" is the fourth song on the album, a Chuck Berry cover. You can sort of tell which songs are Lennon-McCartney and which are covers just based on theme. This is a great rock and roll Beatles song. One of my favorites with John leading.
"I'll Follow The Sun" is one that I often forget about. I really like it. It's also a cover...this time a Judy Collins song. I love the interaction between John and Paul on vocals here. It's really soothing. I think this one is underrated as well. I'd love to see Paul do this one in concert.
I am going to start this blurb by saying I LOVE THIS SONG. The drama of it is great. "Mr. Moonlight" starts with John's shrieking vocals. Unforgettable to me. Another cover song, originally by Roy Lee Johnson. If you don't know this one, you have to listen.
The next song is "Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey." It's a medley with Paul leading vocals. I've actually never heard this one before, I have to admit. I like this style by Paul a lot. It would be awesome to hear this in concert also. It has that bluesy rhythm. A good one. I'm linking it here because it's really good and I didn't even realize it before writing this. And Paul looks so adorable in the video.
What is there to say about "Eight Days A Week"? It's classic Beatles. Everyone knows this song. There's a great documentary (I LOVE IT) that just recently came out, with the same name. It covers the touring years of The Beatles in great detail and shows the legendary Shea Stadium performance. Trailer below. It's available on Hulu to stream if you haven't already seen it and are interested.
"Words Of Love" is another one that I sort of slept on until recently. I like the song. It has a bluesy undertone and rhythm to it.
"Honey Don't" is one I do not like at all, truly. It's a Carl Perkins cover and is sung by Ringo. I think that's enough for me to say. Looking back, I actually don't think Ringo even performed this one when I saw him in concert. That's ok.
"Every Little Thing" is the next song. Like most of the songs on this album, it's also led by John. Written by Lennon-McCartney, the song is reportedly about Paul's relationship with Jane Asher.
"I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" is one of my personal favorites on the album. This is an original song by the four and shows more insight to John's brain. It's a bit depressing but nonetheless relatable. "I don't want to spoil the party so I'll go, I would hate my disappointment to show, there's nothing for me here, so I will disappear, if she turns up while I'm gone please let me know. I've had a drink or two and I don't care."
"What You're Doing" is your typical Beatles song, with the addition of a new drumming element in the beginning of the song. I love this song. And I especially love the version off the LOVE album. Listen to a version of it here. It's so good.
The next and final song of the album is George singing "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby." It's another Carl Perkins cover. I quite enjoy this song and it reminds me of American English. They always perform that song.
In conclusion, I think this album is an interesting one for the group. Not my favorite by any means, but thematically I do respect it and like the direction their lyricism is going. I also am very happy about "Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey" and am adding that to some playlists now. The Beatles took steps back by doing a bunch of covers on this album, but it's still their second release in that year. You have to acknowledge the hustle.