Despite the frivolous, not to say silly, plot, "Help!" is just plain fun; and, if one gets past the frantic antics, it is full of delightful puns and allusions (Some are very Goon Show.). The adorable four are supported by an A-1 cast, including Leo McKern, who puts as much zest into his role as the evil Clang as he does into that of Rumpole. Victor Spinetti (who was also in "A Hard Day's Night"), chews the scenery as the mad scientist, Foot, and he is ably assisted by Roy Kinnear as the dippy Algernon. Eleanor Bron is outstanding as the mysterious Ahme, who, decked out in an outrageous peacock blue turban and plumes, informs the lads that there is more to her than meets the eye. Each one of us probably has his favorite scene; mine is one in which Ringo is told not to worry about the Bengal tiger which is sharing the cellar with him; all he has to do to calm the beast is sing the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; and then all the Beatles and everyone else in the pub above the cellar belt it out in German! Goofy, but so what? It's fun! And besides, the Beatles sing a rollicking rendition of "Hey! You've got to Hide Your Love Away."
The second disk with the commentary is particularly enlightening. Not only are there the very interesting comments of the director, Richard Lester, but there is also a fascinating explanation by the technicians on the intricacies of restoring the film. Wendy Richard, who plays my favorite character, Miss Brahms, in "Are You Being Served?", talks about the thrill of playing her very first role in "Help!," only to discover at the last minute that the scene had been cut (They show bits and pieces of it, but unfortunately, the scene itself seems to be lost).
"Help!" is a film to watch on a summer night when you just want to sit back, relax, and have a good laugh.
This album is a reissue of the original UK album, which was apparently very different from its American counterpart. The first seven songs were in the soundtrack of the movie while the last seven songs were not.
Unlike some Beatles albums, this one actually includes some hit singles. They are Help, Ticket to ride and Yesterday, although their version of Yesterday was not released as a single in the UK until the mid-seventies, when it made the top ten. Many covers of Yesterday were released as singles in the UK but only two charted, these being the versions by Matt Monro, who made the top ten, and Marianne Faithfull, who made the top forty. Of course, all the singles that were released in Britain and America at the time were number one hits.
The early Beatles albums included several covers but times were changing so this album contains only two. One of them, Act naturally, is a country song originally performed by Buck Owens. On this album, Ringo is the lead singer. The other cover, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, is a rock'n'roll song originally performed by Larry Williams.
Apart from the three hits already mentioned, the most popular songs here are You've got to hide your love away and I've just seen a face, both of which have been covered by a number of other singers and groups in a variety of musical styles. The remaining songs, including two by George Harrison, are interesting but not especially memorable. For that reason, this album is not one of the strongest Beatles albums, but it is still an excellent album in its own way and worthy of its five stars.
So, this is a great album but less great than most other Beatles albums. If you only want some Beatles music but not everything, you can give this a miss as long as you have a compilation containing the hits. If, like me, you want a lot of their music, this album becomes essential.
on 27 February 2006
For some reason this album has quite often attracted less than flattering reviews complaining that The Beatles were tired and such like. Yeah right. I wouldn’t mind being tired if it meant I could churn out tracks like ’Ticket To Ride’, ’Yesterday’, ’I’ve Just Seen A Face’ and ’You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.’ Perhaps it was because from their next album ’Rubber Soul’, released just a few months after this one in 1965, the music The Beatles produced was taken to such heights that it was virtually beyond criticism. So this was the poor relation after the exuberance of ’A Hard Day’s Night’ and before the psychadelia of the mid 60s output? Well that would be a pretty ridiculous conclusion. This album’s songwriting was for the most part far superior to that on ’Beatles For Sale’ from the previous year and only marginally less consistent than ’Rubber Soul’.
When discussing a weaker link amongst Beatles albums, one does not think of Anne Robinson. And this album was way above what most bands were producing at the time and still sounds remarkably fresh and vibrant 40 years later. If you can I would avoid purchasing Beatles compilations. Their original albums are so much more rewarding. They each give a snapshot of where they were at the time. But blink and you’ve missed a few beats as the next album was always different. Other artists have successfully reinvented themselves it is true. David Bowie, Dylan, even The Stones on occasions. The Beatles did it with practically every album.
Other tracks worthy of note here are ’The Night Before’ from Paul, a fast catchy number with great backing vocals. ’I Need You’ is a simple but effective and quite charming Harrisong (check out Tom Petty’s version on Concert For George). ’You’re Gonna Lose That Girl’ is one of those lost Lennon classics that one finds on most Beatles albums. Among the covers, ’Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ is delivered with gusto and ’Act Naturally’ is a suitable vehicle for Ringo’s country vocal (he was to do a whole album of country songs in 1970 after the split entitled ’Beaucoups Of Blues’, to great effect).
A couple of the other songs are a little ordinary but only by this band’s Everest High standards. The title track was a genuine cry for help from Lennon (or so he said later) but is actually one of their less engaging singles. Not that it’s bad or anything. On the whole this album finds The Beatles at or very near their peak. I rediscovered it recently and it was great. It is the kind of album that you forget how good it is. And surely ’Ticket To Ride’ is their most majestic single for their early-mid period.
Same formula, but some subtle changes with seven songs appearing in the film Help. Primarily still songs about girls and relationships. Lennon's interest in the American folk scene is beginning to show through again. To me there is a slightly ramshackle feel about Help - the songs aren't quite as fresh as on some of the earlier albums. It all starts on a highpoint with one of the band's best compositions in the title track.
It must be remembered that this was the Beatles' fifth album in three years and although they are by and large very short in length it is still an impressive output. I can't help wondering, however, whether the songs are becoming a little jaded. Of course that comment seems like so much bunkem when you realise Paul McCartney's classic Yesterday is included. In many ways. But standing alongside that Ringo's attempts to sing the novelty country song "Act Naturally" which is pretty average to say the least. There are a number of almost curio tracks like McCartney's "I've Just Seen a Face" with its huge nod to Simon and Garfunkel. Help was the last of a quintet of similar sounding and similar feel albums before the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership really began to blossom with the release of Rubber Soul
A lot of bleating goes on about the Beatles' work from Rubber Soul onwards. Their studio experimentation, massive success, refusal to conform to the boundaries of pop music and simply brilliant songwriting from the second half of 1965 onwards cannot be downplayed (outside of Magic Mystery Tour/Yellow Submarine). However, there is often a reluctance to accept the pre-Rubber Soul Beatles as being anything better than a very good pop band.
I beg to differ. I think that the Help album, while in posession of a duff track or two, is a simply magnificent, life-affirming 35 minutes of wonderfully written pop. Pop, yes, but - at the risk of becoming Bones McCoy - not as we know it. This is the catchiest, most well written pop with a great attention to detail.
One thing that has to be pointed out is that the 'classic' standout songs from this album - 'Yesterday' the most covered song ever, 'Help!', the most confessional of John's earlier songs - as good as they are, are not necessarily any better than the lesser known moments here. Both of George Harrison's contributions, while ignored by the man himself in his book I Me Mine, are great. Paul McCartney's 'Another Girl' sets a slightly vicious lyric to a quirky tune, preluding his dumping of Jane Asher for Linda Eastman by three years. 'Dizzy Miss Lizzie,' while being a shameless attempt to emulate their early cover of 'Twist And Shout', is underrated. While the guitar riff is somewhat meek, the constant crashing cymbal and Lennon's throat-shredding vocal make it a wonderful closer.
The only slack moment is Ringo's vocal turn on 'Act Naturally,' a cover of an artist the name of which escapes me, but even that is perfectly listenable when in the right mood.
This is a perfectly tuned album of pop genius. Avoiding this based on the later quality would be a big mistake.
on 29 May 2010
Just been revisiting the DTS soundtrack of this excellent release and noticed that George Harrison's double-tracked vocals on 'I Need You' appear to be a different take to that included on the various mono and stereo vinyl / CD issues. His phrasing isn't quite the same.
Anybody else noticed?
on 12 February 2011
I never liked the Help album on vinyl. The reasons for this were not the songs, not the fact that the keyboard / organ was augmenting rhythm quite a lot, it was, and it seems incredible to say this, it was the recording, pure and simple. I have said on other reviews, jokingly, was George M on holiday when this was done? The original vinyl comes across as very flat and tinny, unfairly tarnishing the songs, the vocals, the melodies and the instrumentation.
But now, wow! The remastering, unlike Please Please Me and With the Beatles, aids this album 110%. Each song is fresher, more resonant, fuller, richer etc. The rockier ones are screamingly thumpingly alive. Now, one thing that had not happened yet, George had still not reached the status of a great rock guitarist, as another reviewer has pointed out, but as ever with early Beatles material, the thumping nature of the sound of the rockier songs made this relatively unimportant, and I am glad to say, George was a true master of other styles not quite true rock / rock'n'roll.
So, if like me, Help was sandwiched in between Yellow Submarine and the White Album on your Best / Worst albums list, then I am sure you will move it up a place or two after getting the remastered version.
on 14 November 2007
Watched both discs in one sitting last night.
Disc 1 is the film and beyond options for subtitles in various languages there are non extras. It's a sparklng restoration and the sound is perfect. When they're indoors in their terraced house pad for the first time you see that their suits have a light pin stripe. George is reveled as sometimes looking tired a bit spotty.
But the extras disc is vexing. The missing scene is not that - it's folks talking about the missing scene with a few stills. But when you look at the three trailers included, two include another missing scene of the band drivng cars on an beach. The extra docs include some shots with clapperboards that clearly demonstrate that more footage survives - where is this footage? And the two docs about the film (not the one on the restroation) rely on a boring static talking head approach that doesn't make for gripping viewing - although seeing Neil Aspinall without a hat for the first time is quite something. Richard Lester is genial, but most of the folks who talk don't offer anything new. For example, it's said that Epstein wanted filming to take place in the Bahamas - but it is not said why. Couldn't a little extra effort have been put into these extras? It is The Beatles after all.
on 28 November 2014
finally got round to reviewing this great album, the film is totally NUTS and a much more superior than their first film A HARD DAY"S NIGHT but this is for the album so i better get on with it,
so what do we have here then, fun, catch toe tapping sing-a-long songs ....well er not really,it is so much better than that.
this is an album that has truly a masterpiece in it"s own right , the vocals are so strong and clear as a bell that you don"t have to put the album on repeat to listen to the lyrics, the sound is superb with no nasty feedback ( this is the 2012 remaster vinyl) and a joy to listen to , all four Beatles have great songs for their fans ( yes even Ringo !!! ...with act naturally).
from the title song to dizzy miss Lizzy, there is not a bad track on the album , i really love George"s I NEED YOU , always have,
only two tracks that were not written by any of the boys ( act naturally and Dizzy Miss Lizzy) great song especially the latter which is a true rock"n roll classic brilliantly sung by John but the whole album is fantastic, so buy this album on vinyl or C.D. and sit back and enjoy the fun, and go back in time to 1965 and relive the Beatles magic...FANTASTIC
on 11 May 2012
This is very much a film of its time. It is enjoyable and 'silly' rather than laugh-out-loud, a bit cringe-making in places but you have to remember the year. You have to watch it a few times to get all the gags. One of my favourite bits is where they go to Scotland Yard and Patrick Cargill says "So this is the famous Beatles. How long do you think you'll last?". To which John replies "Great Train Robbery - how's that one going then?".
The boys are good (well they were playing themselves) although John does not seem to make much impression. It is fun watching the sceene where they are fighting the baddies in their house and John & George are obviously laughing. And the sceene when Paul is shrunk and naked. Considering that this was 1965 and a film whos audience was mainly teenage girls, the sight of Paul with no clothes on must have been virtually pornagraphic!
Perhaps it would have been good to have more songs but the film is a nice reminder of simpler times and it is always a treat to watch the boys in their prime and be reminded of their brilliance.