Today marks the 55th anniversary of the release of The Beatles fourth UK album, "Beatles For Sale." (Here in The States, we got it as "Beatles '65," with some of the spill-over tracks winding up on "Beatles VI" a few months later.)
This has always been one of my all-time favorite Beatles albums ... I've told the story before about how I literally wore out the grooves on my LP, to the point that my mother came in my room, making me stop playing it due to the screeching "metal on metal" sound drowning out the music. (She was right ... when I lifted the needle to turn it off, it was covered in shredded vinyl!)
This album was recorded at an incredibly busy time in The Beatles' lives. Beatlemania was at its peak ... and the band was touring all over the world, as well as making television and radio appearances. They had just finished filming "A Hard Day's Night" and were about to embark on their second film, "Help!" (Honestly, they all look a little bit weary on the album cover!)
So what was it about this particular album that made it such a stand-out for me?
I really can't say. In reality, it was a very hastily thrown-together affair, taking advantage of very little studio time (so much so that SIX of the tracks were covers of tunes dating back to their Hamburg "playing in bars" days ... we hadn't had THAT many covers on a Beatles album since their very first release.) I'm sure The Beatles themselves found this a bit frustrating as they had composed ALL of the songs themselves on their previous album "A Hard Day's Night" ... but there was no question that a new LP was required as we headed into the holiday shopping period.
Despite any misgivings, it all seemed to work ... Chuck Berry's "Rock And Roll Music" (John Lennon's second best vocal EVER, in my opinion, after "Twist And Shout"), the incredibly beautiful arrangement of Buddy Holly's "Words Of Love," TWO Carl Perkins tunes ("Honey Don't," sung by Ringo, and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby" sung by George, in their then obligatory one song per album phase),Paul's EXCELLENT reading of "Kansas City" (which, unbeknownst to anybody at the time, incorporated a medley bit with Little Richard's "Hey Hey Hey Hey") and John's take on Dr. Feelgood's "Mr. Moonlight" just seem to fit perfectly next to brand new Lennon and McCartney tracks like "No Reply," "I'm A Loser," "Baby's In Black," "I'll Follow The Sun," "Eight Days A Week" (released as a single here in The States ... the U.S. version of the album included both sides of their latest single, "I Feel Fine" and "She's A Woman," along with a left-over track from the British "A Hard Day's NIght" album, "I'll Be Back"), "Every Little Thing," "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" (issued as the B-Side of "Eight Days A Week" in America) and another cool Paul track,"What You're Doing."
To this day I can listen to it over and over again ... and have ... and still do.
But the reason I'm bringing this album up today (other than the fact that it's its anniversary) is because of the AMAZING prophetic liner notes written, some 55 YEARS AGO, by Beatles publicist Derek Taylor that states (and then predicts) the following:
This is the fourth by the four. 'Please Please Me,' 'With The Beatles,' 'Hard Day's night' ... that's three. Now ... 'Beatles For Sale.'
The young men themselves aren't for sale. Money, noisy though it is, doesn't talk THAT loud. But you can buy this album --- you probably have, unless you're just browsing, in which case don't leave any dirty thumbprints on the sleeve!
It isn't all currency or current though. There's priceless history between these covers. None of us is getting an younger. When, in a generation or so, a radio-active, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what the Beatle affair was all about -- 'Did you actually KNOW them?' -- don't try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play the child a few tracks from this album and he'll probably understand what it was all about. The kids of AD 2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well being and warmth as we do today.
For the magic of the Beatles is, I suspect, timeless and ageless. It has broken all frontiers and barriers. It has cut through differences of race, age and class. It is adored by the world.
-- Derek Taylor
A pretty bold prediction 35 years before the millennium! And a pretty accurate prophecy, too!
Now granted, Taylor was the band's publicist ... so he was paid to say good things about them and keep interest level high ... but to predict 35 years in advance ... after just four albums and a worldwide tour ... that the music of The Beatles would still be relevant as we turned the page on the new millennium was quite bold ... MOST artists enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame and then faded off into the sunset ... but the feeling was that these Lads From Liverpool were different ... they just might have a lasting impact on the music scene for decades to come.
And now, twenty years PAST Derek Taylor's prophecy, we still find all of this to be true. Any new releases or compilations immediately shoot to the top of the charts, 55 years later. (Witness the recent 50 Year Anniversary Deluxe Box Set Reissues for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," The White Album and "Abbey Road.") Beatles For Sale indeed. (kk)