Monday, July 10, 2017

TRACK ONE: "A Hard Day's Night" VS. "Drive My Car"

Now that all things Sgt. Pepper have quieted down a bit, I'd like to bring forth another edition of "The Battle Of The Records," and I will begin by asking this question-

Why is "A Hard Day's Night" rarely mentioned when discussing best Beatles records?

Most common Top 5, in no particular order:

Sgt. Pepper
Rubber Soul
The White Album
Abbey Road

"A Hard Day's Night" was the first record of all original material, and none of it was filler.  What band was doing this in 1963?

I thought about pitting "A Hard Day's Night" against "Pepper," but realized with "Pepper," it is really about the sum of its parts. There are too many songs on both "The White Album" and "Abbey Road," so that wouldn't work. It was down to "Revolver" and "Rubber Soul," though both have one more song than "A Hard Day's Night." We will deal with that at a later date.

I decided on "Rubber Soul," as I think the results might be closer than you think.

Now that all of that is that, let's begin

Is there a more recognizable opening chord than "A Hard Day's Night?" This jumps out of the box and does not relent, from Paul's gut busting vocals on the bridge, to the "beedledeebeedlebeedledee" guitar/piano solo, to the very last "feel all right," this song is lightning in a box.

"Drive My Car" is nothing to shake a stick at. Another great opener, with some killer riffage, another impossible Ringo fill, and three part harmonies right out of the gate. "Beep beep'n, beep beep YEAH!" Tough call, but "A Hard Day's Night" gets my vote.


Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Hard Days Night by an angstrom. Maybe two angstroms.


Shriner said...

AHDN for the win. I never got "Drive My Car", actually.

Rodger Stroup said...

"A Hard Day's Night" gets my vote in this opening round. "Drive My Car" is a great opener, but AHDN gets the nod.
As for AHDN getting passed over in favor of the other five albums you listed, I blame that on the Capitol/EMI relationship and a crappy contract between the Beatles and EMI. Supposedly, EMI didn't account for movie soundtrack albums by the Beatles in their contract, which opened the door for UA to negotiate directly with Brian Epstein for the release of the soundtrack.
If a person was hip and on the ball enough to get the import of AHDN, I think the album would be on more top 5 lists. Instead, US fans got Something New and the soundtrack on UA.
That's my take, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Both tracks are great but pulling away at the finish line: "A Hard Day's Night"!

Same when comparing the albums.

Captain Al

EasilyConfused said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
richeye said...

A Hard Day's Night gets the nod on the strength of the opening chord alone.

Noam Sane said...

Blindly stumbling into working with George Martin - every band should be so lucky. Getting a guitar sound like that onto tape is far more difficult than most would think.
The guitars on Hard Day's Night hit you like a stiff wind, from the first note. Yeah, the lads could play, and they obviously knew how to dial up an amplifier, but it was Sir George who made those records more or less explode from the speakers.

Every try to cover "Drive My Car" with a band? Nailing the intro is much harder than it sounds. Peak McCartney...yet....

Vote: HDN, undeniably.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day when working at a record store, I actually did manage to be hip and on the ball enough to score a British copy of A Hard Day's Night and it remains at the top of may fave Beatles albums. Just quick comparison of both albums and I'll probably pick all but two or three AHDN tracks. Randy

Joe said...

A Hard Day's Night for me. joe

Sal Nunziato said...

To Noam, and anyone interested--

Over the last 40 years, I've been in bands that have covered Beatles songs. These are the songs my bands have covered:

I Feel Fine
When I Get Home
You Can't Do That
Hello Goodbye
She Said, She Said
Don't Let Me Down
I'm So Tired
Two Of Us
I've Got A Feeling
Come Together
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Happiness Is A Warm
I Call Your Name
Not A Second Time

From the odd time changes---Warm Gun, She Said She Said---to the ridiculous drum patterns of Ringo---I Feel Fine, She Said She Said---to the vocals, bass playing, rhythm playing....GAAAAAH...It's why the Fab Faux need 30 people on stage. We pulled off the basic rockers---You Can't Do That, When I Get Home...but almost always, one of us said, "Jeez, how did they play that?"

Sal Nunziato said...

"It's why the Fab Faux need 30 people on stage."

I realize it's so they can recreate ALL the parts. I know. But still....

David said...

I agree with you/ most, A Hard Day's Night - LOVE the opening chord

Charlie Messing said...

I too vote for HDN - the (UK version of course). And the first song gets my vote too. The opening chord - you've seen the video about the opening chord? It explains why it's a puzzle - someone was able to hear the unmixed tracks and play them alone, in different combinations - and found out - George is playing one chord and John a totally different one. Brilliant.

Chris Collins said...

"Hard Day's Night". No question.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

While Rubber Soul may be my favorite Beatles' album, "A Hard Day's Night" is a better song, Great use of a Ringo malapropism to create it.

Dave said...

Another vote for AHDN. This should be fun!

Dave F

dogbreath said...

"A Hard Day's Night" for me. Back in '64 the guitar chords wowed me when needle first hit vinyl and then again when scrunched down in my cinema seat as the black & white images washed over me. Btw I think "nothing to shake a stick at" must have a different meaning in the US (over here it generally means nothing to get excited about, no great shakes) as I'm sure you're not knocking "Drive My Car" which is a great opener too and perfect for when you're, er, driving your car.

Anonymous said...

AHDN 4 me. loved it all, including the Peter Sellars version

buzzbabyjesus said...

"A Hard Day's Night".

soundsource said...

sorry but I've got to go with drive my car. It's one of my top five beatles tunes just for the guitar riff

Michael Giltz said...

Computer in hospital. Tried to post a comment but failed, I think. As before, I am taking this absurdly seriously. I play each track back to back a couple of times and avoid playing the rest of the albums. I really try to make it this song vs that song.

"A Hard Day's Night" wins.

I am crazy about "Drive My Car." What a great song and the piano kills me. I just love how at this stage the Beatles can even think of the silliness of singing "Beep beep beep beep yeah!" and make it so cool in the bargain. Imagine that being your one hit and you're forced forever to sing "beep beep beep beep yeah" at the end of ever set while the crowd sings along. You'd probably grow to hate it but what could you do? ("867-5309 e-yi-ine!") This was actually a tough vote.

Or so I told myself. The entire soundtrack has the benefit of the film, one of the all time greats. No wonder people are referencing visual moments in the film when explaining their pick, and rightly so. I do think "Revolver" would wipe the floor with it. But that opening chord.... It's one of the greatest movie openers and album openers of all time. A pure adrenaline rush of joy equal to "She Loves You!" And that cowbell -- or whatever it is Ringo is percussioning -- kills me.

"A Hard Day's Night" and really there was no doubt.

Troy said...

Late to the party, but I'd vote for Hard Day's Night. Drive My Car is a good tune, but HDN slays me.

Anonymous said...

AHDN, if you will, is the Beatles' version of Deface the Music/Utopia...every song different from the last, covering every style exquisitely....and I'm Happy Just to Dance with You gets me weepy every time..that being said, AHDN as an opener yes....Rubber Soul for the center square....