The Beatles – Help!

[EMI; 1965/2009]

The Beatles’ first album since their famed meeting with Bob Dylan betrays a heavy folk-rock influence. With the exception of the closing Larry Williams cover “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” the majority of Help! is acoustically based. Help! is the Beatles’ second time doing the film-soundtrack thing, and as an album it has a more unified feel than the previous year’s A Hard Day’s Night. The film itself was pretty ridiculous, but it provided the vehicle for one of the Beatles’ finest collections of songs.

The common view is that the Beatles’ truly classic output starts with Rubber Soul, but there is an argument to be made for Help! actually being the band’s first great album. The title track and “Yesterday” are recognized as two of the finest Beatles songs ever, but you almost never hear anybody talk about songs like “The Night Before,” “It’s Only Love,” or “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” and those songs are just as good. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” is one of John Lennon’s best love songs ever, and the country cover “Act Naturally” is in Ringo’s top five. By this time, the Beatles were on a roll, the likes of which had never been seen before. And they were just getting started.