“It’s rip-roaring, infectious stuff, with the accent on beat throughout,” wrote Derek Johnson in the New Musical Express.
“Beatles For Sale is going to sell, sell, sell. It is easily up to standard and will knock out pop fans, rock fans, R&B and Beatles fans,” predicted Melody Maker’s Chris Welch.
Nevertheless, the Fab Four’s fourth album has received mixed reviews down the years, especially when rated within the context of their musical canon. Worked to the bone with film, TV, radio, press and global concert tour assignments, The Beatles were also under pressure to deliver a couple of LPs per year. Unable to sustain the standard set by the all-Lennon-McCartney A Hard Day’s Night, its composers still produced some magnificent work, yet a few mediocre tracks, out-of-tune guitars and uncharacteristically questionable artistic choices gave the finished record an erratic quality that has resulted in divided opinions among listeners—including those discussing it on this show.
Under-appraised and underpraised, Beatles For Sale is put under the microscope for a well-earned reevaluation. And what no one can deny is that even the group’s sub-par output—in the eyes and ears of some—outstrips that of most other artists.
What John Lennon described as “the most miserable sessions on earth” were recalled by George Harrison as “the low of all time”. Yet, while such statements may have accurately reflected their respective mindsets, they also helped fuel widespread misconceptions about The Beatles’ January ’69 ‘Get Back’ project that evolved into the ‘Let It Be’ film and album.
The fragmented, shoddily-edited Michael Lindsay-Hogg-directed ‘documentary’ has also played a significant role in spreading the negativity, as have certain self-acclaimed experts’ uninformed opinions because of their failure to listen to all of the tapes. For, therein lies a very different, far more rewarding story that will likely be revealed in Peter Jackson’s new version of the movie. Regardless, that’s what Richard Buskin and Allan Kozinn (pinch-hitting for Erik Taros) focus on here: the many ups as well as the downs that took place at Twickenham Film Studios in the run-up to George temporarily quitting the group—and the project then relocating to The Beatles’ own Apple facility.
In so doing, Richard and Allan not only examine the long as well as short-term causes for the disharmony—including the personalities involved and their invariably fascinating, often-enlightening interactions; they also provide a fly-on-the-wall perspective on the thoughts and discussions that helped shape the Fab Four’s still-reverberating artistic decisions.
Such was the growing British interest surrounding The Beatles by mid-1963 that, on 1st July, fans gathered outside the EMI Studios on Abbey Road where the group was recording both sides of its next single: ‘She Loves You’ and ‘I’ll Get You’.
Since the late-Sixties, ‘She Loves You’ has been short-changed; dismissed by many as just catchy MOR pop compared to the Fab Four’s subsequent, more experimental tracks. In reality, this one was every bit as groundbreaking: a unique, infectious, beautifully-crafted rock belter that saw the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team hit the ball out of the park before, five days later, they and their colleagues accomplished the same inside Studio Two.
‘She Loves You’ was unlike anything that had been heard before—in various ways. So, where did it come from? And what were the ingredients in its creation? Take a deep dive into a true classic.