Beatles For Sale

Beatles For Sale
The Beatles
Parlophone

Produced by George Martin

Released 4 December 1964

Beatles For Sale: The Beatles, Parlophone 1964 Mono. Gatefold sleeve front and rear
Inner gatefold. It was The Beatles first gatefold sleeve
The collage of heroes previews Sgt Pepper
side oneside two
No Reply
(Lennon-McCartney)
Eight Days A Week
(Lennon-McCartney)
I’m A Loser
(Lennon-McCartney)
Words of Love
(Buddy Holly)
Baby’s In Black
(Lennon-McCartney)
Honey Don’t
(CarlPerkins)
Rock and Roll Music
(Chuck Berry)
Every Little Thing
(Lennon-McCartney)
I’ll Follow The Sun
(Lennon-McCartney)
I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party
(Lennon-McCartney)
Mr Moonlight
(Roy Lee Johnson)
What You’re Doing
(Lennon-McCartney)
Medley: Kansas City(Lieber / Stoller)
Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey
(Richard Penniman)
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby
(Carl Perkins)
Beatles For Sale: The Beatles, Parlophone LP, December 1964

I deviate from my original intent with Reviled! The Albums Critics Love To Hate, as after all not a single Beatles original studio track is really reviled by me, nor by many others. However, even the greatest have albums that are ‘more equal than others.’

When I originally started the series many years ago, Let It Be held this slot as “weakest Beatles studio album” and I drafted an article, but Let It Be – Naked changed that, and the recreated film in 2021 will change it again. There are other contenders, but Yellow Submarine is only half an album. Live At The Hollywood Bowl is genuinely dire, but it’s a souvenir, and one which they never contemplated issuing.

So, sod the critics. For me,Beatles For Sale is the weakest original Beatles album. That still means it’s an essential four star record … it’s just surrounded by five star records.

The title has been quoted as disillusion, but it is more concrete than being vaguely pissed off. In late 1964, a New York business syndicate had offered Brian Epstein £3,500,000 for The Beatles contract. At the same time, the Delfont Organisation was contemplating an offer for NEMS Enterprises.

It was the fourth album, stuck in the middle between A Hard Day’s Night and Help, which got the better songs. The single I Feel Fine / She’s A Woman came from the same sessions.

No band today would come off a long US tour at the end of September, go into the studio and start a new album, still writing songs, and then go on a UK tour, finish the album in five weeks, still touring, and have the album out in time for Christmas. But that’s what the Beatles did at the end of 1964. A lot of it was down to naiveté, thinking that this was the way things were done. If the record company needs another album, you go and make one.
Neil Aspinall, The Beatles Anthology, 2000

side oneside two
Long Tall Sally
(Johnson – Penniman- Blackwell)
Slow Down
(Larry Williams)
I Call Your Name
(Lennon-McCartney)
Matchbox
(Carl Perkins)
Long Tall Sally (EP): The Beatles, Parlophone, June 1964

It should be considered alongside the Long Tall Sally EP which had been released in June 1964. Both share a reliance on cover versions to flesh out the releases. Long Tall Sally had the title track (Little Richard), Slow Down (Larry Williams), Matchbox (Carl Perkins) and I Call Your Name (Lennon-McCartney), a Billy J. Kramer B-side.

In America …

The original UK mono album was not released in the USA until 1987. Eight of the fourteen songs appeared on Beatles ’65. The rest got onto Beatles VI. The difference in track selection may be significant … spreading out the cover versions, including I Feel Fine. The default is the dreaded stereo. No Beatles album before Sgt Pepper is better in stereo, and Sgt Pepper is arguable.

Galleries – click to enlarge

Chart action …

How well did it do?

UK #1 for eleven weeks
Australia #1
Germany #1

71st Best Album of All Time in Critics Choice 1987
204th Best Album in All Time Top 1000 Albums in 2000

Eight Days A Week US #1 single (not released in the UK)
Also #1 in Canada, Netherlands, Belgium. #5 in Germany

I Feel Fine was UK #1, USA #1
Also #1 in Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden
#3 in West Germany, Austria, Belgium

Long Tall Sally EP was UK EP chart #1

Beatles For Sale No. 1 was top of the UK EP charts for six weeks.

What the critics have said … (usually many years later)

At the time, The Beatles were way beyond any possible criticism. Contemporary UK reviews are basic fan mail.

Beatles For Sale is on the whole, a bit of a disappointment. With hindsight, we can see influences for change in their lives in 1964, but none of that is reflected in the album. Instead it betrays evidence of overwork, lack of time and limited creative energy.
Hunter Davies, The Beatles Lyrics, 2014

Only five months before, the group released the joyous A Hard Day’s Night.  Now, they sound beaten, worn, and, in John Lennon’s case, bitter and self-loathing. His opening trilogy (“No Reply,” “I’m a Loser,” “Baby’s in Black”) is the darkest sequence on any Beatles record, setting the tone for the album. Moments of joy pop up now and again, mainly in the forms of covers and the dynamic “Eight Days a Week,” but the very presence of six covers after the triumphant all-original A Hard Day’s Night feels like an admission of defeat or at least a regression. (It doesn’t help that Lennon’s cover of his beloved obscurity “Mr. Moonlight” winds up as arguably the worst thing the group ever recorded.)
Stephen Thomas Erlewine. All Music Com

Beatles For Sale had been recorded by George Martin on the fly between The Beatles engagements, and Martin rates it as one of their lesser works. ‘They were rather weary during Beatles For Sale,’ he has commented, ‘One must remember they had been battered like mad during 1964.’
Howard Souness, FAB An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney, 2010

If ever an album sleeve told a story, it’s Beatles For Sale. Burned-out, both mentally and physically from the brain-frazzling effects of Beatlemania, the glazed expressions on the faces of John, Paul, George and Ringo tell you that this is a band low on morale and short of ideas. Or at least, that’s what most Beatle historians will tell you about the Fab’s least-loved studio album. Yet when viewed from a 21st century perspective, those defiant stares can be interpreted as meaning something very different …Paul du Noyer, Beatles For Sale in Record Collector Presents The Beatles Vol. 1, 2010

Praise …

Stephen Stills first discovered The Beatles seriously with Beatles For Sale:
That’s still where I’m at, incidentally, and so is everybody else – and maybe at that time they were at their biggest and most isolated, and thus at their closest (to each other).
Richard Williams interview, Melody Maker, 28 February 1970

Why I chose it

1964. Beatlemania was at its height in the UK, and exploding in the USA. I saw The Beatles live for the third time just before this one came out. I had consumed every Beatles record to that point. The album chart tells the story in the UK. In early 1965 it dominated (having replaced A Hard Day’s Night at #1), but twice it switched places with The Rolling Stones #2, then it was replaced by Bob Dylan with Freewheeling and then immediately by Bob Dylan with Bringing It All Back Home. The Pretty Things are ‘file with The Rolling Stones’ and The Kinks were more raucous than The Beatles.

New Musical Express LP chart 7 April 1965

On the week of its release I Feel Fine was number one … and The Rolling Stones with Little Red Rooster were number two.

Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr Jones?

Ballad of A Thin Man, Bob Dylan

What was happening was Beatlemania, success in the USA and hordes of screaming pre-teen girl fans in the UK.
To American listeners, like Stephen Stills, then David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Beatles For Sale was a rock revelation.

In the UK, the wannabe cool guys were affronted by the total Beatlemania domination and the extension to a younger audience. Those in teen bands were turning to The Rolling Stones and The Animals for inspiration. I was buying Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. At parties, the girls only wanted to hear The Beatles, the boys wanted to hear The Rolling Stones. My Christmas present just after the release of Beatles For Sale was Rhythm & Blues At The Flamingo by Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames. I kept my Christmas money and in January 1965 I bought The Rolling Stones #2 and Mose Allison Sings. My last purchases before that Christmas were Bob Dylan (the first album) and Another Side of Bob Dylan. Indeed the times they were a-changing. I didn’t buy Beatles For Sale.

So, in December 1964 / early 1965, the would be teenage R&B bands and the kids watching them in church halls up and down the land were the ones eschewing The Beatles (let us add that it’s a damn sight easier to play a basic R&B song than a Beatles one).

The covers

It is a contractual obligation album, made in eighteen days, which had to be released for Christmas sales. Hence the title. They were short of original material. Nearly a decade later with The Band’s Moondog Matinee, Bob Dylan’s Self-Portrait or David Bowie’s Pin-Ups or Bryan Ferry’s These Foolish Things, the much-loved cover versions route was the path out of needing an album, but being so busy being successful there wasn’t time to write one. Both Self-Portrait and Pin-Ups are in this series!

If they’d followed the style of Please Please Me and With The Beatles, and gone for gender blind versions of girl-group proto-soul or early Motown, then the new R&B and soul fans would have liked that. However, they went back earlier, to late 50s rock and roll for the fillers covers. While their earlier choice of 1961-62 covers had seemed innovative, these seemed same-old.

On the first two UK albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles they covered The Isley Brothers, Barrett Strong, The Marvellettes, The Shirelles, Arthur Alexander, The Cookies, The Donays. For my generation this was the new stuff.

Chuck Berry (and Bo Diddley) were in the ascendancy then – that’s what we called R & B. America differed, having an R & B chart which the early soul material above would have gone into.

On Beatles For Sale and the Long Tall Sally EP they covered Little Richard, Larry Williams, Buddy Holly. Rock and roll, not R & B. Fifties, not early sixties. Then they compounded it with THREE by Carl Perkins. Carl Perkins had a kiss curl. Carl Perkins is mid-fifties, a decade earlier. Carl Perkins is rockabilly. I have grown many years later to appreciate Carl Perkins, but at the time, I thought him old hat. Old crap, even. Country & western? To me that was Frank Ifield covering Lovesick Blues or Ken Dodd covering 8 x 10. It’s the sort of stuff the Beatles saved us from in the first place.

Paul McCartney: Recording Beatles For Sale didn’t take long. Basically it was our stage show with some new songs.
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

But which stage show? This was the era of mods and rockers. Ringo Starr described The Beatles as ‘mockers.’ Those early Motown / girl group covers were pure mod-appeal. Their old Hamburg rock and roll act was pure rocker. Maybe (I had a scooter) that’s another reason I was against it.

Of the six covers, I’d dispense with five altogether, keeping just Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, and putting it in that Twist & Shout / Money position as final track.

Of the originals, Every Little Thing and What You’re Doing are the only two Beatles songs where I have to think, ‘How does that go?’

They didn’t put I Feel Fine or its B-side She’s A Woman on there. They maintained their policy of keeping singles separate in the UK. It’s wise – people may hold back on buying a single knowing it will be on the LP. Also buyers of the single, may be put off the LP because they already have their favourite track and its B-side. Interestingly, Barry Miles McCartney biography has Paul remembering Yes It Is as ‘the remaining John Lennon song on Beatles For Sale.’ Well, if you remember the sixties … No, it was never on there, and later was released as the B-side of Ticket To Ride. Paul suggests that it dates from the same sessions, so should have been available. However, Ian MacDonald’s definitive guide says it was recorded in February 1965.

Much is made of Beatles For Sale as a Bob Dylan-influenced album, which in turn persuaded Dylan to go electric.It has been noted as the first album with a Dylan influence. It has been noted as the “country & western” album. It’s been noted as a Lennon-dominated album … Paul McCartney was heavily into his relationship with Jane Asher and was for a change, under-contributing. It contains one my favourite Lennon songs in I’m A Loser.

Side one

No Reply

This happened once before
When I came to your door
No reply

A stunning opening. BANG. No messing about. John Lennon lead vocal. It’s a brilliant first line taking us straight into the story.

John Lennon: No Reply was my song. Dick James, the publisher, said ‘That’s the first complete song you’ve written that resolves itself. You know, with a complete story. It was my image of ‘Silhouettes.’ I had that image of walking down the street, and seeing her silhouetted in the window and not answering the phone. Although I never called a girl on the phone in my life – phones weren’t part of the English child’s life.
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

Phones? Luxury! Aunt Mimi might disagree with John’s conscious efforts to portray a working-class image. John was thinking of the doo-wop classic by The Rays in 1957. His mind was very much into 1957:

Took a walk and passed your house late last night
All the shades were pulled and drawn way down tight
From within, the dim light cast two silhouettes on the shade
Oh, what a lovely couple they made

Silhouettes (Bob Crewe & Frank Slay)

It’s tougher than No Reply as it continues:
Lost control and rang your bell
I was sore
Let me in or else I’ll beat
Down your door

Silhouettes (Bob Crewe & Frank Slay)

That was covered by Herman’s Hermits in 1965 (UK #3, US #5).

Much of Paul’s biography by Barry Miles consists of Paul stating or arguing over the writing shares.

Paul McCartney: We wrote No Reply together but from a strong idea of (John’s). I think he pretty much had that one, if he didn’t have the third verse or the middle eight, then he’d play it for me pretty much formed and then we’d shove in a bit in the middle.
Quoted in Barry Miles Paul McCartney. Many Years From Now. 199

I’m A Loser

I’m A Loser is the one everybody’s talking about. It demonstrates the powerful influence Bob Dylan’s style has had on John, whose collection of Dylania – albums and sets of lyrics – swells week by week.
Tony Barrow, sleeve notes to the EP Beatles For Sale- Volume 1

The word DYLANIA never caught on, but that’s how early they made the connection between this song and Dylan. And in 1964, completing your collection of “Dylania” wouldn’t take long.

It’s the candidate for Dylan-influenced, because it’s confessional and self-deprecating and has a major harmonica part. Another John Lennon song and vocal.

John Lennon: I’m A Loser was me in my Dylan period, because the word ‘clown’ is in it. I objected to the word clown, because that was always artsy-fartsy, but Dylan had used it, so I thought it was alright and it rhymed with whatever I was doing. Part of me thinks I’m a loser, and part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

Ben Jonson influenced Shakespeare. Woody Guthrie influenced Bob Dylan.

Although I laugh and I act like a clown
Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown
My tears are falling like rain from the sky

Robbie Robertson told Bob Dylan that Smokey Robinson was America’s greatest poet (rather than Bob). Consider Tears of A Clown:

Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public

I try to keep my surface hid
Smiling in the crowd I try
But in my lonely room I cry
The tears of a clown

Henry Cosby / Stevie Wonder / William Jr. Robinson, first recorded 1967. A hit in 1970.

Both great songs. I’ll be surprised if Smokey hadn’t heard the earlier one.

Baby’s In Black

Three songs into the album, all Lennon compositions (according to John) and lead vocal. and it’s looking like a great album. There’s a waltzy, rollicking singalong sea shanty feel to it. is it Germanic?

Hunter Davies mentions Astrid Kircherr, Stuart Sutcliffe’s German girlfriend. Astrid is credited with the early Beatles photographs and the Beatle cut. Sutcliffe, the fifth Beatle, died in April 1962. Davies says when he met Astrid in 1967, she was dressed all in black, as in the Hamburg era, living in a flat with black walls and black furniture.

Paul McCartney: We wanted to write something a little darker, bluesy, the title’s dark anyway. It’s in 3/4 time, one of the first waltzes we wrote, which was interesting because most of our suff’s in 4/4. It was very much co-written and we both sang it.
Quoted in Barry Miles Paul McCartney. Many Years From Now. 1994

Rock and Roll Music

It is one of the trio of great raucous Lennon rock and roll vocals … Twist and Shout, Money and Rock and Roll Music. It was recorded after eight hours in the studio, meaning we had the almost shot lead vocal.

Chuck Berry from 1957. It was one of his biggest US hits (R&B #6, Pop chart #8). It’s described as one of his most popular numbers. Oddly, I’ve never liked it that much either in the original or in the Beatles and Beach Boys cover versions.

It later gave its title to two mid-price Beatles compilations on EMI’s Music For Pleasure in 1980. It’s odd to use a cover version as a title, however apposite. The Beatles had been performing it since Hamburg.

It was released as a single in Europe (but not in the UK) in 1965 with I’m A Loser on the B-side. It was #1 in Norway, Sweden and Australia, #2 in Germany and The Netherlands and #3 in Belgium.

Rock and Roll Music: The Beatles, Belgian single, Parlophone 1965

I’ll Follow The Sun

Paul McCartney had written this long before success in April 1960. His innate gift for sprightly melodies was in action already.

I wrote that in my front parlour in Forthlin Road. I was about 16. ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ was one of those very early ones. I seem to remember writing it just after I’d had the flu and I had that cigarette. I remember standing in the parlour, with my guitar, looking out through the lace curtains of the window, and writing that on
Kennethy Womack, The Beatles Encyclopedia

Pete Best has recounted McCartney playing the song on piano in Hamburg. There is a bootleg of an early recording:

McCartney told Peter Hodgson, from whom he bought the tape in 1995, that it was recorded in the bathroom of his home during a school holiday in April 1960. Intriguingly, it featured different lyrics and music, plus a brief guitar break by Harrison, in place of the section which eventually began ‘And now the time has come, and so my love I must go’.
The Beatles Bible, online

McCartney thought in reviving it that it might be the single (as he says, he always thought that). They took eight takes to nail it.

Mr Moonlight

Mister Moonlight: Dr Feelgood & The Interns, Okeh 45, US copy (
UK Columbia label)

A cover of the B-side of Dr Feelgood by Dr Feelgood and The Interns (i.e. Piano Red). The A-side was much played by bands in 1962 (US #66). It’s way better than this B-side. Mr Moonlight was composed and sung by Roy Lee Johnson, the guitarist in The Interns.

Paul McCartney: This is the second one we didn’t write. It was originally the b-side of ‘Dr Feelgood’, and one of the numbers we played at The Cavern. I play a bit of organ softly in the background, and John and I do the singing. Ringo got hold of a horn-shaped sort of conga drum for this with good effect.
Disc 14 November 1964

The Beatles had started performing it live in 1962:

Mr. Moonlight was great because there would be this moment of tension in the audience. The song would be announced and everybody knew John would have to start on that note—MISTER! Moonlight. There was no chord to precede it, he had to get it right from nothing.
Neil Aspinall, quoted in Mark Lewison, The Complete Beatles Recordings.

Most people’s least favourite song on what was to become the Beatles for Sale LP
Mark Lewison, The Complete Beatles Recordings.

A gross quasi-calypso
Ian McDonald, Revolution In The Head, 1994

The weirdest thing about this is the Blackpool pier Hammond organ, played by Paul McCartney.

Kansas City

(later retitled Kansas City / Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!). If you only have Kansas City (as above) you have an early pressing. Another from their old stage act … they had recorded it for the BBC back in July 1963.

The original by Leiber & Stoller dates back to 1952 as KC Lovin’ and recorded by Little Willie Littlefield. Wilbert Harrison, and then Little Richard did it in 1959. Paul McCartney says he had only heard Little Richard’s version. The Beatles had met Little Richard in Hamburg in 1962, when Richard was playing a two week gig at the Star Club in Hamburg. Note they recorded Long Tall Sally on the EP just a few months before Beatles For Sale.

The idea of a medley with both songs was Little Richard’s from 1955. It was issued as a single in 1959. The Beatles followed his version, and had to correct their original credits. Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey (Goin’ Back to Birmingham) had been the B-side of Good Golly Miss Molly. The Beatles knew their B-sides, but we all did in those days.

Paul McCartney: I could do Little Richard’s voice, which is a wild, hoarse, screaming thing; it’s like an out-of-body experience. You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it. You have to actually go outside yourself. It’s a funny little trick and when you find it, it’s very interesting.
Barry Miles Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now 1994

A 1962 recording at The Cavern (with Some Other Guy) was their first TV appearance, and was later bootlegged from acetates. There is another bootleg from Hamburg. It’s on Live At The BBC. The Beatles had performed it just once on their 1964 US tour, just a month before they did the studio recording. Of couyrse, that was in Kansas City.

I was deeply disappointed when I first heard the album. I had Brenda Lee’s All The Way album from 1961. She does a vastly more tuneful version of Kansas City with languid lazy backing. It’s a great recording. Much better than this. Sorry!

Side two

Eight Days A Week

New Musical Express 12 February 1965
New musical Express 7 February 1965

John Lennon: Eight Days A Week was Paul’s effort at writing a single for the movie (Help!). That luckily turned to ‘Help!’ which I wrote – bam! bam! Like that. And got the single. Eight Days A Week was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was (Paul’s) initial effort, but I think we both worked on it.
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

Eight Days A Week: The Beatles, Capitol USA single 1965

The title came from a chauffeur transporting Paul to John’s house for a writing session. For years, it was seen as another Ringo Starr coining like A Hard Day’s Night, but Ringo declares he never said it, and Paul has always attributed it to the chauffeur. It was a major hit single in the USA, though never released in the UK.

I’ve always loved it, even if the best word to describe it is “Beatlesque.”

Words of Love

Buddy Holly. The name The Crickets led to The Beetles then to The Beatles, so a homage. In this case though, it was Buddy Holly solo from 1957, not with the Crickets.

I can’t see the point of a cover unless you can improve it (The Beatles Twist and Shout) or have something radical to say (e.g. Cat Power’s Satisfaction). This does neither. it’s a perfectly good cover of a nice song. Ringo added a slapped packing case.

They did a version which is on Live At The BBC Volume 2 in July 1963. The song had been a consistent part of their act from 1958 to 1962.

Honey Don’t

Ringo Starr: We all knew Honey Don’t. It was one of those songs that every band in Liverpool played. I used to love country music and country rock. I’d had my own show with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes where I would do five or six numbers.
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

It was the B-side of Blue Suede Shoes by Carl Perkins virtually a decade earlier. For me, Carl Perkins best two songs ever were on the same 45.

When they did it in Hamburg, John sang it. Here it becomes one for the Ringo fan club. They’d established that was a necessary popular move. Ringo did Beaucoups of Blues, a great album, and has affinity with the style, but it’s no more than a basic karaoke singalong.

The group’s version lacks the essential Perkins bounce, while Starr’s doleful vocal, punctutated by desperate attempts to gee things up, offers only a rapidly dwindling fund of hopeless charm.
Ian McDonald, Revolution In The Head in 1994.

The Beatles were inordinately fond of Carl Perkins, who had toured tyhe UK in 1964 and was ru. Ian McDonald in Revolution in The Head states that in their early days, John Lennon sang Honey Don’t, Blue Suede Shoes, Tennessee and Boppin’ The Blues. Paul McCartney sang Sure To Fall In Love With You. They duetted on Lend Me Your Comb. George Harrison used to sing Your True Love, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby and Glad All Over. Pete Best had sung Matchbox, which John Lennon took over after Pete Best was fired.

Matchbox was on Long Tall Sally EP. Other recordings appear on Live At The BBC and Live At The BBC Volume Two
They recorded Sure To Fall in Love With You in June 1963. (Live at the BBC Vol 1)
They recorded it again in September 1963 (Live At The BBC Volume 2)
They recorded Glad All Over twice in July 1963. (Live at the BBC Vol 1) (Live At The BBC Volume 2)
They recorded Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby in 1963 for the BBC, but the issued track on Live At The BBC is December 1964.
They recorded Lend Me Your Comb in July 1963 (Live At The BBC Volume 2)
They recorded Honey Don’t in November 1963 (Live At The BBC Volume 2)
A version of Blue Suede Shoes by The Beatles (in the medley: Rip It Up/Shake, Rattle and Roll/Blue Suede Shoes) is found on Anthology 3.
They also used to play Gone, Gone, Gone but didn’t record it.
John Lennon recorded Blue Suede Shoes live with the Plastic Ono Band on Live Peace in Toronto.
In 1985, George and Ringo joined Carl Perkins on stage for a tribute show.

Dance Album of Carl Perkins, Carl Perkins, US Sun LP 1957

They must have had Carl Perkins Dance Album of Carl Perkins from 1957. They played EIGHT songs from it. According to the sleeve notes:

They’re happy songs, light toe-tapping rhythm numbers that just naturally make you feel a little gayer.

Every Little Thing

I had written about my lack of knowledge of two songs before I read this by Hunter Davies:

This track came as a surprise to me – playing it now, I realized I didn’t know it and had no memory of having heard it back in the sixties. Little wonder, I suppose, as it is highly forgettable, a bit of a dirge with a lacklustre beat and poor words.
Hunter Davies, The Beatles Lyrics, 2014

Paul McCartney: Every Little Thing, like most of the stuff I did, was my attempt at the next single … I thought it was very catchy … it was something I thought was quite good but it became an album filler rather than the great almighty single. It didn’t have quite what was required.
Quoted in Barry Miles Paul McCartney. Many Years From Now. 1997

I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party

Ringo again. It was one that took longer to record than most (19 takes) and George Harrison played his Gretsch Tennessean ‘in the style of Carl Perkins’ for yet another Carl Perkins connection.

Paul McCartney: Ringo had great style and great delivery. He had a lot of fans, so we liked to write something for him on each album. I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party is quite a nice little song, co-written by John and I. It sounds more like John than me, so 80-20 to him.
Quoted in Barry Miles Paul McCartney. Many Years From Now. 1994

In deference to Ringo’s massive cuddly toy popularity in the USA, I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party was the B-side of the American release of Eight Days A Week. It even got a separate chart placing, reaching US #39 independently of Eight Days A Week.

It was a major US hit for Roseanne Cash when she covered it in 1989 (US Country #1).

What You’re Doing

Written by Paul McCartney during the summer US tour. George’s Rickenbacker 12-string guitar influenced The Byrds. Roger McGuinn on his solo tours said that George’s Rickenbacker inspired them to adopt 12 string and to get that ‘Beatle Beat.’ I never understood what about 4/4 made it a Beatles beat.

Odd, as it is far from an inspiring song, but I guess guitarists listen to the guitar track.

In fact the best bit of the song is The Four Seasons style opening drumming (think Big Girls Don’t Cry or Walk Like A Man) then that chiming 12-string guitar sound. So an unmemorable song with a memorable guitar and drum part. (Harrison-Starr) rather than (Lennon-McCartney) for a change.

Not exactly poetry, or even half-decent pop lyrics
Hunter Davies, The Beatles Lyrics, 2014

Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby

George Harrison: For this album we rehearsed only the new ones. Songs like Honey Don’t and Everybody’s Trying to be My Baby we’d played live so often, we only had to get a sound on them. But with songs like Baby’s in Black we had to learn and rehearse them.
The Beatles Anthology, 2000

George’s Carl Perkins special. It was a tad later, 1958, from Perkins’ LP Teen Beat. On 18 November, desperate for three songs, they recorded this, Rock and Roll Music and Words of Love in a straight hour.

It sums up Beatlemania thiough:

I woke up last night, half past four
Fifteen women knocking on my door

Recorded in one take, the track makes a lame finale to Beatles For Sale.
Ian McDonald, Revolution In The Head 1994

EPs

The album spawned two EPs, which was normal to attract impecunious British fans.

The first EP had four of the five best tracks on the album, so it was a bargain.

1 No Reply1 Rock and Roll Music
2 I’m A Loser2 Eight Days A Week
1 I’ll Follow The Sun1 Words of Love
2 Baby’s In Black2 I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party

The first EP was #1 in the UK EP chart in April 1965 for five weeks, and for a further week in June.

The French EP< Kansas City by Les Beatles is notable, in that they chose the four of the worst songs for the EP! France had also decided that silly British jokes were not chic, so re-titled the album 1965.

Overall

Quite often I discover new likes and dislikes doing this series, but here it’s pretty much unchanged. The first four songs on side one, plus Eight Days A Week wrap it up for me.

THE REVILED ALBUMS ARE (so far) …

Beatles For Sale – The Beatles
Their Satanic Majesties Request … The Rolling Stones
Electric Mud– Muddy Waters
Self Portrait – Bob Dylan
Cahoots – The Band
Wild Life – Wings
Recall The Beginning: A Journey From Eden … The Steve Miller Band
Hard Nose The Highway … Van Morrison
Chicago III … Chicago
Berlin– Lou Reed
Pinups – David Bowie
Born Again – Randy Newman
Mingus – Joni Mitchell

And here’s a rule-breaker. I’d decided one album each, but Van Morrison got so much vituperation from critics (unjustly) in 2021, that I had to add it:

Latest Record Project Volume1… Van Morrison

This list will grow steadily

3 thoughts on “Beatles For Sale

  1. It was my first Beatles album – given to me from Santa along with Another Side Of Bob Dylan. I still treasure it for the eight Lennon-McCartney tracks. No Reply stands up to any of their early songs – and could also be played on the guitar I was struggling to master. The filler tracks were – well, the Moptops doing what they did. And Words of Love sent me to Buddy Holly. I’d take Beatles for Sale over Let It Be to the desert island.

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  2. I have no memory whatsoever of “Look what you’re doing” from the 60s. It was only with the “Love” album that I heard a bit of this song and traced it. I think that the arrangement is very modern for when it was recorded, with the guitar riff, the exposed drumming and the emphasized syllables. Maybe the lyrics don’t say that much – but I concentrate more on the music and less on the lyrics.

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