Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Help! - The Beatles

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
-The Beatles, "Help"

There are a lot of praises for Help!, The Beatles' fifth album. As usual, Wikipedia has an extensive article on it. 

Not everybody has access to the 2009 remastered version, which contains some interesting historical and recording notes. Below is a transcriptin of them. Hopefully, the quotation marks will prevent international copyright laws will be violated.
"With their previous album Beatles For Sale only two months into its chart run, The Beatles returned to Abbey Road studios in mid-February, 1965 to begin recording songs for their fifth LP and second movie, Help!. Within three days of the last February session, the Beatles were acting in scenes for the movie shot in the Bahamas.Filiming continued until May with location work in Austria, West London, Wiltshire and Berkshire and interior scenes shot at Twickenham Film Studios.
'Ticket to Ride' was their first single of the year and, following its release on 9th April, it quickly rose to number one. On 12th June, 1965, it was announced that the group had been awarded MBEs in the Queen's Birthday Honours list - an accolade previously never given to young pop stars. Before setting off for a brief European tour at the end of June, The Beatles recorded the songs needed to complete the album and also 'I'm Down' - the B-side of their next single 'Help!'.
Following the pattern set by A Hard Day's Night, the fourteen songs on the British version of the Help! LP were divided so that the seven tracks heard in the film were assembled on side one and the non-movie material appeared on side two. The front cover shows The Beatles making semaphore signals but, strangely, their shapes do not spell the word HELP.
Released on 6th August, the album entered the chart at number one and stayed there for nine of its 37 weeks in the Top Twenty.
In the USA, Help! was released as a film soundtrack album and featured the seven new Beatles songs in the film interspersed with instrumental music scored by Ken Thorne. It climbed to number one on the album chart dated 11th September and after nine weeks at the top, continued its run for a further 33 weeks. The non-movie songs recorded in the first half of 1965 were scattered over three other albums in the Sates. 'Yes It Is' - the B-side of 'Ticket to Ride' - was compled with three Help! tracks for Beatles VI. The other four tracks rom side two of the British album were shared between the American version of Rubber Soul and the Capitol release from June, 1986, "Yesterday"... And Today.
After a record breaking concert tour of the US and Canada in the summer of 1965, The Beatles were soon under pressure to write and record their second album of the year. The astonishing result was their most innovative album to date - Rubber Soul...
The Beatles' fifth album was recorded during sessions spread over twelve days during February, April and June, 1965. Just before filming for their second movie began in late February, they spent six consecutive days in the studio. Six songs completed during this time were incuded in the picture. The majority of the non-movie songs were recorded in June once filming had been wrapped up.
After recording their first two albums in 1963 using twin-track tape machines, the two LPs from 1964 were made with the advantages offered by a four-track machine. However, it was while recording the title song of Help! that The Beatles first found four tracks were not sufficient to encompass their musical arrangements. The solution was to create more tracks by mixing and copying to another four-track tape.
'Help!' was recorded in four hours on the evening of 13th April, 1965. The Beatles began by laying down the rhythm section with all four playing live. Bass and drums were recorded on track one and electric and acoustic guitars were sent to track two. Take nine was chosen as the master onto which the group would then make overdubs. While tracks one and two were played back to the studio, the vocals of John, Paul and George were recorded on track three. Once this had been done, they repeated the process by double tracking their vocals using the final free track.
All four tracks of the tape had now been used but George still had a final guitar part to add to the song. To create an extra track for this, the four-track master was copied to a new tape. The instrumental backing was transferred to tracks one and two but the vocals on three and four were mixed together and recorded on just track three of the new tape - leaving the fourth track free for the guitar overdub. Although 'Help!' was the only song on the album requiring this procedure, the 'bouncing down' of tracks became ever more frequent until eight-track machines became available to the group in the summer of 1968.
Help! was issued at a time when stereo records sold to a small number of hi-fi enthusiasts and so mixing to mono took priority over a stereo version. George Martin decided to give Help! a new stereo mix from the four-track tapes for its debut release on CD in 1987. The remastering team has worked with that version."
Photo taken from Rockistory (I think that using the photo actually breaks copyright laws...)

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