The American release was a true soundtrack album, mixing the first seven songs with orchestral material from the film. Of the other seven songs that were on the British release, two were released on the US version of the next Beatles album, Rubber Soul, two were back-to-back on the next US single and then appeared on Yesterday and Today, and three had already been on Beatles VI.
In 2012, Help! was voted 331st on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".
The album features Paul McCartney's "Yesterday", arranged for guitar and string quartet and recorded without the other group members. John Lennon's "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" indicates the influence of Bob Dylan and includes classical flutes. While several compositions on 1964's Beatles for Sale, as well as "I'll Cry Instead" from A Hard Day's Night, had leaned in a country and western direction, McCartney's "I've Just Seen a Face" was almost pure country, taken at such a fast tempo that it might have been bluegrass if not for the absence of banjo and fiddle.
"Ticket to Ride", also released as a single, was felt by Lennon to be "heavy" in its sound compared to the group's previous output and daring in its reference to a boy and girl living together. McCartney called the arrangement "quite radical".
George Harrison contributed "I Need You" and "You Like Me Too Much", his first compositions to be included on a Beatles album since "Don't Bother Me" on 1963's With The Beatles.
The record contained two cover versions and a few tracks more closely related to the group's previous pop output, yet still marked a decisive step forward. The record sleeve-note shows that Lennon and McCartney made more extensive and prominent use of keyboards, previously played unobtrusively by Martin. Four-track overdubbing technology encouraged this. Lennon, for his part, made much greater use of acoustic guitar, forsaking his famous Rickenbacker. All these developments can be traced to the previous Beatles for Sale, where they were less obvious because that album had been recorded more hastily, lacked chart hits and contained many cover versions.
The original LP's format of featuring songs from the soundtrack on side one and non-soundtrack songs on side two follows the format of A Hard Day's Night.
In later years, Lennon stated that the album's title track was a sincere cry for help; he regretted changing it from a downbeat, piano-driven ballad to an uptempo pop song, which was done only as a result of commercial pressures.
Help! was the band's final album to feature any cover songs until 1970's Let It Be (which included a performance of the traditional folk song "Maggie Mae").
A few songs that were intended for the film were not used because of The Beatles' suggestions. Lennon and McCartney wrote "If You've Got Trouble" for Ringo Starr to sing, but the song was rejected and Starr sang "Act Naturally" instead. "That Means a Lot" was written for the film, but The Beatles were not satisfied with their performance of the song and they gave it to P.J. Proby, who released it as a single. Lennon said "Yes It Is" was "me trying a rewrite of 'This Boy', but it didn't work"; it was released as the B-side of "Ticket to Ride" and was also on Beatles VI. "You Like Me Too Much" and "Tell Me What You See" were rejected for use in the film by its director, Richard Lester, though they did appear on the album (and also on Beatles VI).
Much later, in June 1965, the song "Wait" was recorded for the album. However, "Wait" (with some newly added overdubs) ended up on Rubber Soul when another song was needed to complete that album.
The album cover features the group with their arms positioned to spell out a word in flag semaphore. According to cover photographer Robert Freeman, "I had the idea of semaphore spelling out the letters HELP. But when we came to do the shot the arrangement of the arms with those letters didn't look good. So we decided to improvise and ended up with the best graphic positioning of the arms."
On the UK Parlophone release, the letters formed by The Beatles appear to be 'NUJV', whilst the slightly re-arranged US release on Capitol Records appeared to feature the letters 'NVUJ'.
The Capitol LP was issued in a "deluxe" gatefold sleeve with several photos from the film and was priced $1 more than standard Capitol releases at the time.
The original photograph used on the UK album was reverse printed. Holding it up to a mirror reveals the letters LPUS - "Help Us".
North American release
The North American version, the band's eighth Capitol Records album and tenth overall, includes the songs in the film plus selections from the orchestral score composed by Ken Thorne and performed by the George Martin Orchestra, which contains one of the first uses of the Indian sitar on a pop album. "Ticket to Ride" is the only song on the American release in duophonic stereo (also known as "fake stereo") reprocessed from the mono mix. This album is available on CD as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 2 box set. This set also includes the mono version of the American release, which is purely a stereo-to-mono fold-down mix, including the "fake stereo" duophonic "Ticket To Ride" folded down to mono, despite Capitol already having the mono mixes for the single releases of both that song and "Help!".
The American version of "Help!" reached the number one spot on the Billboard album charts for nine weeks starting on 11 September 1965.
Revised Track Listing
All songs written by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.
- "Help!" (preceded by an uncredited instrumental intro) – 2:39
- "The Night Before" – 2:36
- "From Me to You Fantasy" (instrumental) (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) – 2:08
- "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" – 2:12
- "I Need You" (Harrison) – 2:31
- "In the Tyrol" (instrumental) (Ken Thorne) – 2:26
- Side two
- "Another Girl" – 2:08
- "Another Hard Day's Night" (instrumental) (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) – 2:31
- "Ticket to Ride" – 3:07
- Medley: "The Bitter End" (Ken Thorne)/"You Can't Do That" (instrumental) (Lennon–McCartney; arranged by Thorne) – 2:26
- "You're Going to Lose That Girl" – 2:19
- "The Chase" (instrumental) (Ken Thorne) – 2:31
This LP and motion picture is noteable in the Beatles' tome in that, for the first time, an aroma permeated the shoot that was identifiable as marijuana. Maybe that was why the Beatles had such fun making "Help", and John was getting his munchies on! (this was, in fact, his "fat Elvis" period!) By their next LP ("Rubber Soul") they'd be fully psychedelicized with the aid of LSD.
More pontifications at a sooner than later date...Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you next time!