About the UK version of A Hard Day’s Night:
A Hard Day's Night was the third Beatles LP released in the U.K. and “the first and only album to solely feature Lennon/McCartney originals.” MU To confuse matters, though, the U.S. version of the album was the soundtrack for the movie of the same name and consequently chopped out a few songs to make way for George Martin instrumentals. Either way, ”only the first seven songs are actually in the movie and they are the strongest of the bunch.” JE
When viewed as a full work, though, the album “stands as a testament to [Lennon & McCartney’s] collaborative powers – never again did they write together so well or so easily.” STE “A Hard Day's Night showed a band on the verge of breaking new creative ground, a group that still had fun making old-fashioned pop records.” CS The “syrupy pop-song covers are gone, largely replaced by memorable, tightly crafted masterpieces” JA “performed with genuine glee and excitement.” STE “All of the disparate influences on their first two albums…coalesced into a bright, joyous, original sound, filled with ringing guitars and irresistible melodies.” STE “This is the sound of Beatlemania in all of its giddy glory.” STE
”In the flurry of experimentation that dominated Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and the supreme lyrical achievements of Revolver, The Beatles’ first masterpiece frequently gets lost in the shuffle.” CS ”It's so easy to underestimate this album [and] overlook how great The Beatles were so early in their career because” LL “as the original boy band, the adoration of pre-adolescent girls made The Beatles seem a trifle bit silly.” CS
“With no song running over three minutes in length, The Beatles follow a simple yet powerful rule in rock: Get in, get your message across, and get out. There's no need to pad any of these 13 songs with…extended guitar solos or spotlights on drum work. (Sorry, Ringo - no offense meant.) If anything, these short blasts of power-pop leave the listener wanting more - even today…it's still powerful.” CT “These songs are all catchy” MU and “the melodies forceful and memorable.” STE
This is also “the first [album] to feature George Harrison playing his Rickenbacker electric 12-string guitar (on the opening chord of A Hard Day's Night, for instance). The distinctive sound of the 12-string inspired countless guitarists including Roger McGuinn and David Crosby of the Byrds.” H “That dramatic guitar chord…still jumps right out at you, slaps you in the face, and jump-starts your heart.” JE “The chiming tones of” AD the “jangly guitars and Lennon's irresistible rough vocals" LL make for “straight-ahead good-time rock and roll” MU on “the first pop song to end with a different chord than it started on.” CS
Both it and “Can't Buy Me Love, the latter “coated by Paul's golden voice,” LL “practically burst forth with the joy of music making lost on most artists.” CS Packed with “uncontainable musical exuberance,” LL it “is a stone cold classic, wonderful from beginning to end and it's only 2:14 long! Now, here's a tip all you budding songwriters - pop songs should preferably be less than three minutes long.” AD
”Gushing pop giddiness…runs through I Should Have Know Better,” LL “sung by John. [Great] harmonica sound here, and the melody and vocals are both super strong. The instrumental break positively chimes and shines thanks to the guitar sound” AD and “the glorious harmonica.” H
The “gentle” STE and “powerfully poignant If I Fell” H is “one of the most beautiful love songs out there.” CT It “features gorgeous harmony vocals by John and Paul.” AD
“Even the toss-off I’m Happy Just to Dance with You, [which was] handed over to George to provide him with a lead vocal, is graced with brilliant backup vocals.” JA “Enjoyable, but no all time world beating masterpiece.” AD
“The guitars sound nice all through” AD “the sappy but sweet” MU “ballad And I Love Her, [bringing] Paul very much to the fore with the vocal.” AD
The “swinging” MU “Tell Me Why brings back memories of the earlier Beatles style as displayed on their first two records, [although this is a more] varied album than either of it's predecessors.” AD
“Lennon’s scathing” MU and “brash” Any Time at All” STE is a “wonderful rocker” JA “with good John vocals.” AD
“The tough folk-rock of” STE “the rockabilly-tinged I'll Cry Instead” LL makes for a “perfectly enjoyable with it's little charming guitar parts amid a shuffling rhythm.” AD It “gives a sneak peak at the bitingly good lyricist Lennon would become: ‘I've got a chip on my shoulder that's bigger than my feet/And I can't talk to people that I meet/And if I could see you now/I'd try to make you sad somehow/But I can't/So I cry instead.’” LL
“John’s You Can't Do That is a relentless, powerful rocker,” DBW although it and When I Get Home are “the two weakest links in the whole album chain - not necessarily bad songs, but just not of the same caliber as the rest of the material.” CT
There are “two memorable ballads – Paul’s” AD “catchy” MU “Thing We Said Today and John's I'll Be Back, both with clever ascending hooks.” JA The former “sounds crystal clear and beautifully recorded.” AD
“Yet another high-point for John, Paul, George, and Ringo – four fab fellows who hit the highest heights imaginable.” JE
About the U.S. version of A Hard Day’s Night:
While the UK release was a full-fledged studio album, the U.S. version – released a couple of weeks in advance of the UK version – was an actual soundtrack, including those songs actually featured in the film as well as a handful of instrumentals. The latter are completely unnecessary, rendering the U.S. album far inferior.
About Something New:
Released just weeks after the U.S. version of A Hard Day’s Night, the material here, despite the misleading title, isn’t new. There are five songs from the U.S. soundtrack plus some of the material from the initial UK release. This album does include the new August ’64 single Matchbox / Slow Down and a German version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” but those are hardly improvements over the #1 singles “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” as well as “I Should Have Known Better,” which were all featured on the UK and U.S. versions of A Hard Day’s Night.
In 2004, the Capitol Records Vol. 1 box set gathered the U.S. albums Meet the Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New, and Beatles ‘65 on CD for the first time.