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Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The US version of Help differs from the UK version in that the US version is an actual soundtrack to the movie, whereas the UK version includes some Beatle songs from the movie as well as some other songs they put out around the time that they made the movie. That was also the case with the two different versions of the Beatles' previous movie soundtrack, Hard Days Night.

Since it is an actual soundtrack, the US version of Help contains instrumental music that is heard during the film as well as the Beatle songs that appear in the film. This time around, the Beatles turn to Ken Thorne to write the film's background music, instead of fifth or sixth Beatle George Martin who wrote the background music for Hard Days Night. Thorne does a great job and gives the listener classic movie orchestral drama, as well as a lot of music performed by Indian musicians playing their traditional instruments.

Unfortunately, none of Thorne's instrumentals are given a name, on the album jacket each one is called "instrumental". The first of these unnamed cuts contains tense orchestral buildups that alternate with soft buzzing sitars and tambouras. It sounds similar to pieces I have heard by John Zorn. The next instrumental starts off with a weird Felliniesque march before Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries interrupts the march. I would assume that the use of Wagner's overwrought music is supposed to be sarcastic.

The next instrumental is my favorite, it is a medley of Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love and Should Have Known Better played by the Indian musicians on sitar, tamboura, violin, flute, tablas and tambourine. It is a sublime piece of 60s instrumental exotica, but it is played without a trace of sarcastic kitsch. This is followed by a cut that features quiet suspenseful orchestral music, with mysterious melodies played by the vibraphone and celeste floating on top, this section eventually fades into twangy spaghetti western styled guitar playing.

The last instrumental is a high energy jam by the Indian musicians. It sounds like the final climatic section of a long Raga, without the beginning build-up sections. The Beatles' songs on here are quite good too. This soundtrack shows the group moving beyond the trite love songs of Hard Days Night to much more interesting chord changes and sound textures. The song The Night Before in particular shows traces of psychedelia starting to manifest itself in the Beatles' sound.

This album is quite good, especially when you consider the fact that real progressive rock was still a few years away. The combination of artsy pop songs, exotic orchestrations and Indian music make for an excellent proto-progressive rock album.

Report this review (#163822)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Really good, but I prefer the UK version, which included some un-movie singles like Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Yesterday or I'Ve Just Seen A Face. This version includes only the songs which are in the movie (and they're all great, especially Ticket To Ride, Help ! and You've Got To Hide Your Love Away), with a few instrumentals, wich are not that good. I give only two stars because of that, I consider than the UK version of this album is largerly better tha this rare US version which speaks only for the movie and did not proposes these singles on the B side.
Report this review (#163916)
Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the actual soundtrack of "Help" that I saw recently so was drawn to this. The US version here has all the instrumental music from the film which is similar to what they did with the "Yellow Submarine" soundtrack. There are tons of sitars and psychedelia but it soon wears out its welcome as The Beatles were always best when they sang, and they do not even contribute to the soundtrack sections. There are no titles to each section but when you watch the movie the tunes come back to me. None are all that good except for the Beatles medley heard near the beginning of the film, and the actual songs.

The songs are all good as expected. The title track has been covered ad infinitum for good reason as it captured a generation, the paranoia of the war, the loneliness and alienation of a technologically advancing society, the terror of the 60s. Or it could just be asking for help, but in any case these tracks are wonderful and memorable.

Best tracks are The Night Before, Lennon's soulful You've got to hide your love away, and the boppy tuneful Another Girl. Also I am a fan of Ticket to Ride, the huge single with catchy riff, and I Need You, always a highlight of the film. There are only 7 songs on the album so it was a great idea to initially release this album with a bunch of other songs and that is far superior to this because you get the likes of Tell Me What You See, a definitive harmonious track, raucous Dizzy Miss Lizzy, and the monster hit Yesterday.

None of those latter songs are here so I can only manage 2 stars for this collectors curio.

Report this review (#791466)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
1 stars For the record, the American version of this release is the only one I own, so my review is based off the American release of the album, HELP. The big difference between the American release and the UK version is that the UK version functions more like a Beatles album proper while the American version is more or less half album, half film soundtrack. It is why I have chosen to review the specific American release.

For likes of whatever, I found HELP very unappealing to me and very hard to enjoy. Maybe it's just that for this era of the band, they're pretty much still the insanely popular Fab Four. I have retroactively found a good number of their early hits like ''Love Me Do'', ''Eight Days a Week'' and ''I Saw Her Standing There'' to be quite enjoyable even if a bit campy, so I've come to terms with the poppier section of the Beatles' career. The problem is that in this particular instance, only the title track manages to squeeze any enjoyment out of me.

The chief reason for my disinterest is that I can't remember most of the other songs after spinning the album, even the famous ''Ticket to Ride'' (with the exception of the chorus) sounds mundane to me. Actually, I can remember ''You're Gonna Lose That Girl'' for the wrong reasons as it comes off as annoying to me. And am I the only one that thinks the production is too bright and sharp? It's to the point where I can't wear my headphones whenever I listen to the album.

The American version replaces a few pop songs with some of the soundtrack from the movie. It's nice to hear a sitar playing the melody of ''A Hard Day's Night'', but the soundtracks aren't very interesting either. Worse is that none of these breaks have any title to them.

Beatlemania had been going on for a few years, so if HELP had any positive impact on music, it was the breaking point of the Beatles as a pop sensation on the verge of shark jumping. Thankfully, the Beatles took a more art approach to their music and fresher ideas were on the way. As it stands, the soundtrack to HELP is dated and a poor representation of the Beatles as a pop group.

Lastly, I find that HELP has almost no prog value to it. Find a Beatles album after 1965 if you want to see where the Beatles fit in the prog saga.

Report this review (#928880)
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Review Permalink

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