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Music / Help!

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"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away..."
Help! is the fifth studio album by The Beatles, released in 1965. Like their earlier album A Hard Day's Night, it served as a sort of soundtrack to the movie of the same name. It would also be their final studio album until Let It Be to feature any covers.

Interestingly, the album cover with the Beatles using flag semaphore to spell "HELP" is inaccurate; it instead spells "NUJV". According to cover photographer Robert Freeman, this inaccuracy was intentional as it turned out that the "HELP" arrangement didn't look good enough, and the cover resulted from subsequent improvisation. On the US version of the album, it was changed to "NVUJ".

The album would spawn hits such as "Help!", "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away", "Ticket to Ride", and "Yesterday", one of the most recorded songs of all time.note 

A notable point of trivia regarding this album is that footage of the Beatles performing "Ticket to Ride" was included in the 1965 Doctor Who serial "The Chase", during a sequence at the beginning of the story in which the Doctor and his companions use a "Time-Space Visualiser" to view multiple anecdotal events from Earth's past, including the Fab Four on Top of the Pops. Incidentally, the footage included in the former show is the only surviving visual record that the Beatles were ever on the latter; the BBC had a policy of wiping old episodes for reuse due to a combination of limited storage space, high prices of new magnetic tape reels, and high re-airing fees imposed by acting unions at the time, and both Top of the Pops and Doctor Who fell victim to this practice. However, when the BBC abandoned systemic wiping for Doctor Who in 1974 and for all of their programmes altogether in 1978, staff scrambled to recover lost episodes of Doctor Who; "The Chase" was one serial that managed to be recovered in its entirety, and with it the only remaining footage of the Beatles on Top of the Pops. Ah, the perils of archiving.

Tracklist (Standard Version):

Side One

  1. "Help!"
  2. "The Night Before"
  3. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
  4. "I Need You"
  5. "Another Girl"
  6. "You're Going to Lose That Girl"
  7. "Ticket to Ride"

Side Two

  1. "Act Naturally"
  2. "It's Only Love"
  3. "You Like Me Too Much"
  4. "Tell Me What You See"
  5. "I've Just Seen a Face"
  6. "Yesterday"
  7. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"

Tracklist (US Version):

Side One

  1. "Help!"
  2. "The Night Before"
  3. "From Me to You Fantasy"*
  4. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
  5. "I Need You"
  6. "In the Tyrol"*

Side Two

  1. "Another Girl"
  2. "Another Hard Day's Night"*
  3. "Ticket to Ride"
  4. "Medley: The Bitter End/You Can't Do That"*
  5. "You're Going to Lose That Girl"
  6. "The Chase"*

* From the film score by Ken Thorne

Principal Members:

  • George Harrison - lead and backing vocals, guitar
  • John Lennon - lead and backing vocals, guitar, piano
  • Paul McCartney - lead and backing vocals, bass, guitar, piano, güiro
  • Ringo Starr - lead vocals, drums, percussion, tambourine, maracas, cowbell, bongos, claves, brushed snare

She's got a ticket to trope, and she don't care:

  • Alternate Album Cover: The original UK release features the Beatles in a White Void Room, spelling out "NUJV" in semaphore. The US version with an altered tracklist, meanwhile, shrinks down the band, rearranges the members so that they instead spell out "NVUJ", and sandwiches them between much larger versions of the band name and album title.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: As noted above, the Beatles are spelling out the gibberish "NUJV" on the cover because the photographer disliked the look of "HELP".
  • Break Up Song: "Yesterday" ("Why she had to go/ I don't know she wouldn't say") and "Ticket To Ride" ("The girl that's driving me mad is going away").
  • Cover Version: "Act Naturally" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" are covers of Buck Owens and Larry Williams, respectively. Apart from a throwaway rendition of the "trad. arr." bawdy song "Maggie Mae" on Let It Be, these two, plus another Williams cover, "Bad Boy", recorded alongside "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", would be the last covers to feature on a Beatles record.note 
  • Cult Soundtrack: To the movie of the same name.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Paul McCartney dreamt the melody of "Yesterday" during his sleep. When he woke up he asked everyone whether they could remember who wrote it. As it turned out he had invented it himself and so he recorded it as a solo piece, without the rest of the band. It would become their most covered song.
    • Another version of the story behind "Yesterday" has Paul playing it on the piano in Alma Cogan's flat in Kensington. He was sure it was an existing tune but couldn't recall where it came from. He may have been thinking of "Answer Me", a huge hit for both Frankie Laine and David Whitfield in the 1950s. There are certainly some similarities between the two songs. "Answer Me" contains the lines
      She was mine yesterday
      I believed that love was here to stay
      Won't you tell me where I've gone astray
      Please answer me O Lord
  • Face on the Cover: The band is shown from a distance and in different clothing, but in an empty background that does not distract from the viewer looking at them.
  • In the Style of:
    • "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" is basically John doing Bob Dylan (with John himself saying he'd never have used the "clown" line/rhyme otherwise).
    • "I've Just Seen A Face" is pure country.
  • New Sound Album: To an extent. There's the country-rock "Act Naturally", and the folkish "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away".
  • Nostalgia Filter:
    • "Help"
      When I was younger, so much younger than today. I never needed anybody's help in any way
    • "Yesterday"
      Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.
  • The Oldest Profession: "Ticket to Ride" is about a girl getting her streetwalker license.
  • One-Woman Song: "Dizzy Miss Lizzy".
  • One-Word Title: "Help!" and "Yesterday".
  • The Power of Love: "It's Only Love", "I Need You".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Help!" was a summarization of Lennon's feelings about Beatlemania at that point.
  • Silly Love Songs: Just like the earlier albums most of the material here deals with love.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Ringo Starr sings lead on "Act Naturally", and George Harrison sings lead on "I Need You" and "You Like Me Too Much".
  • Subdued Section: "Help!" has this at the end, when Lennon repeats the first verse.
  • Title Track: "Help!".
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: On "It's Only Love":
    Just the thought of you makes nighttime brrright
  • Urban Legends: The album cover supposedly has the band mimicking the word "help" in semaphore sign language. This was originally the idea, but the photographer felt the movements they made didn't look as photogenic, so he allowed the band to strike other poses that looked better.
  • White Void Room: The Beatles stand in it on the album cover.