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on October 15, 2004
"Beatles For Sale," the Fab Four's fourth album, is not regarded as highly as their other works. The Beatles hammered this record out pretty fast as they recorded it between tours, and they were pressed for time in coming up with new stuff. Thus, the album is only half original material, while the other half are cover songs (8 Beatles originals and 6 covers, to be precise). But I'm not bothered by this one single bit. Yes, more original songs would've been appreciated, but we must remember that one of the Beatles' early trademarks was doing excellent cover songs as well as their own stuff, and "Beatles For Sale" gives you a healthy dose of both. The end result is a wonderful Beatles album. Regarding the band's original compositions, they're all classics: John Lennon's "No Reply" and "I'm A Loser," Paul McCartney's "I'll Follow The Sun" (an older song that McCartney dug up from his club days with the group) and "What You're Doing," and the duo's brilliant collaborations on "Baby's In Black," "Eight Days A Week," "Every Little Thing," and "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party." The Beatles ain't no slouches when covering other people's songs either, and the batch of covers on "Beatles For Sale" are all tremendous fun. Lennon has a great time at the mike on Chuck Berry's "Rock And Roll Music," McCartney tears it up on the medley of "Kansas City" and "Hey Hey Hey," Ringo Starr gets one of his signature vocal performances on Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't," and George Harrison, also a Carl Perkins fan, does great justice to "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby." "Mr. Moonlight" is another fine cover, as is the group's rendition of Buddy Holly's "Words Of Love" (with Ringo playing on a packing case!).The Beatles' close friend Derek Taylor wrote in the album's liner notes back in 1964: "The kids of AD 2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well-being and warmth as we do today." Needless to say, Taylor was 100% right. "Beatles For Sale" may be underappreciated by some, but it shouldn't be. By dividing the album into half originals and half covers, the Fab Four give us the best of both of their musical worlds. Whether doing their own stuff OR other people's, these guys had the magic touch. "Beatles For Sale," filled with great Beatles music from beginning to end, is great testament to that.
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HALL OF FAMEon November 5, 2002
The fourth album by the Fabs is, yes, kind of subdued, but not by much. There are upbeat numbers like "Rock And Roll Music," the US #1 single "Eight Days A Week," Ringo's cover of Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't," and the Little Richard medley to speed things up. Gee, I've listed the bright spots of the album already!
However, songs like "I'm A Loser," "Baby's In Black," and "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" reflect a kind of weariness creeping in that later evolved into the introspective Rubber Soul. I mean, check out the sombre mugs on the album cover!
There aren't that many cover songs here than there were on their first two albums, but the ones they cover are beauts. The best of these is Chuck Berry's "Rock And Roll Music" with that immortal chorus, "give me that rock and roll music/if you wanna dance with me."
That being said, the Beatles have expressed that melancholy in upbeat songs such as "No Reply." That is about a girl who dates someone else and has her family covering for her. The poignancy expressed with the "I nearly died" refrain. And "I'm A Loser," in the same uppity vein, has lyrics such as "Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown." is it for her or for myself that I cry?"
The mid-paced "Baby's In Black" has shades of Dylan, hard to tell since all four of them are singing in contrast to Dylan's stark solo vocal. Love that lyric: "Baby's in black and I'm feeling blue."
Paul sings a nice slow ditty "I'll Follow The Sun", which happened to be one of his earliest compositions dating back to the late 1950's. In contrast, he wildly covers the engaging Little Richard medley, "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey." Wonder how it sounds compared to the original.
Despite being Buddy Holly fans, "Words Of Love" is the only Holly song done, and it's lovingly done on this album, with Ringo's percussive instrument being a packing case of all things!
George's only song here is the Carl Perkins number "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby." Ironically, Ringo's song here is also a Carl Perkins number. Both do their admirably best here.
For Sale is still a superior Beatles album despite the sobriety of many of the songs.
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on September 12, 2009
I just purchased this at a local store, as I am too impatient to wait for the other 6 I ordered through Amazon. Those people that say that they can hear no difference do not know what they are talking about. All of the accoustic guitars are now bright and jangly as they should be. The bass is more prominent and the drums are crisper, all without overpowering the vocals.

There is more seperation between the voices so you can tell who is singing which part. It is not all muddled together, each individual instrument stands out on its own. Anybody who expects a modern digital recording from a 1964 analog source is just being unrreasonable. Remember, these were recorded on two- and four-track recorders, so with any bounce down to add instruments, you will have some loss of sonic ability, in spite of all they can do. It's just the limit of the 1964 analog source tape. For what it's worth, in my mind, it's a welcome addition - a veritable breath of fresh air. I highly recommend this album.
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This, their fourth album, is similar to Please please me and With the Beatles in its general style, featuring a mix of covers and originals. The covers remind us all of the singers who inspired the Beatles - this time it's Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.
The original songs include three songs that were considered for UK singles release but weren't. Eight days a week was released as a single in America, where it went to number one. The other two, No reply and I'm a loser, were not released as singles anywhere as far as I know. I don't want to spoil the party is (by Beatles standards) generally overlooked, but Rosanne Cash covered it and took it to the top of the country charts in the eighties. It was the first cover of a Beatles song to top the country charts and may still be the only one. I'll follow the sun and Baby's in black are other brilliant originals.
This album was the last of its kind. Subsequent album took the Beatles away from their roots as they experimented with different sounds and styles. To some people, that's when the Beatles became interesting, but I enjoy all their music. If you enjoy their early music, you'll love this album.
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on April 8, 2006
This is one of The Beatles' best albums. I grew up listening to them, and have probably heard every song ever written by them over 100 times each, if not more...but 'Beatles For Sale' has always stood out more for me. For my entire 20 years, "What You're Doing" has no doubt been a favorite of mine; this is a song that I have never gotten sick of and no kidding, I listen to it at least once every day. If you're a Beatles fan, well, you know exactly what i'm talking about when I say that The Beatles are about as close to perfection that we're ever going to get from any band. With songs like "Eight Days A Week", "Every Little Thing" and "I'll Follow The Sun", how could one not love this album?! There really isn't any low point on this album. Personally, the "Medley" isn't a favorite of mine, but it's ok, because every other song is great. If you don't own this album, you truly don't know what you're missing and if you're just starting to listen to The Beatles, this is a great album to start with.
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on September 20, 2009
Well I bought all the remasters and put this one off getting till near to last. After reading the reviews ect I figured this would have been the least enjoyable of all. Boy was I wrong matter of fact this one ranks near the top in my opinion of the Beatles catalog. I like it because it is a different style than the others and sounds refreshing to me. And really Mr Moonlight isn't all that bad either. I am pleased. 5 Stars
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on May 6, 2006
...because it felt like it predicted that I'd be listening to the cd someday. I'm referring to the line "The kids of AD 2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well being and warmth that we do today." Now I admit that I was 18 in 2000 so I guess I technically missed the literal kid description by a year, but the more general prediction of the inter-generational, timeless appeal of the Beatles was right on. I didn't see them on the Ed Sullivan show. I was born almost twelve years after they broke up, and about a year after the tragic shooting of John Lennon. But I, like many, many other people born too late to have experienced Beatlemania as it was occuring, have since become a huge fan of all their work.

This album has my favorite of all the Beatle's songs: I'll Follow The Sun. That song alone is worth the five stars, but thankfully the rest of the album is great too. This album gets a little bit too much grief, and it may not be quite as amazing as something like Abbey Road, but it's still better than just about anything else out there.
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Coming on the heels of the highly touted, critically successful album, "A Hard Day's Night", this one pales somewhat in comparison. It is still certainly worthy of note, however, as are all albums put out by The Beatles, and it is a very good album by any measure.
Here, only eight of the fourteen tracks were penned by the McCartney/Lennon songwriting duo, but they constitute an interesting shift in style, showing more depth, maturity, and complexity. From the somewhat dark, pensive " I'm a Loser" to the melodic lament of "Baby's in Black", followed by the pop ballad, "I'll Follow the Sun", it is clear that The Beatles are forging in a somewhat new direction.
The other six tracks on this CD are pop and rock standards upon which The Beatles have placed their signature imprimatur. Juxtaposed with the McCartney/Lennon songs, it makes for an interesting, though quirky, listening experience. As with all Beatles CDs, no music collection should be without it.
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VINE VOICEon March 6, 2006
Beatles For Sale has to be one of the most overlooked albums in The Beatles catalog. This is the record that shows Robert Freeman's fine portrait of four tired men who conquered the world, and just a year before, Freeman captured the same men as young fresh fellows in their boyish bohemian pose on the cover of With The Beatles. While making Beatles For Sale, they went back in forth from the London recording studio to the concert stage in order to complete their tour obligations; No doubt it shows on the record. Who could blame these four Liverpudlians for looking so tired? Yes, this is the roots record, the crossroad record, and another step of the maturation of The Beatle sound. For those familiar with the US albums released by Capitol, a few of the tracks on this record were scattered on Beatles '65 and Beatles VI. The re-mastered version of Beatles '65 can now be found on the Capitol box set, The Capitol Albums Vol. 1, which has eight tracks from Sale that has a better sound quality.

The sounds of the past are heard on 14 of the tracks. Members of the band were greatly influenced by the American rock and roll of the 1950s and the sounds that were hitting the airwaves circa 1964. The record opens with John's composition about indiscretion, "No Reply". But it is the songs that echo the Beatles' rock and roll heroes that resonate on most of the tracks, such as Chuck Berry's "Rock and Roll Music", the jangling twelve-string ric-o-sound is heard on the melodic Buddy Holly composition, "Words of Love", John and Paul do their Everly Brothers-like harmonies on "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party", the Carl Perkins rockabilly meets Chet Atkins styles are heard from Ringo and George's "Honey Don't and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", concert favorite, "Medley: Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey", and the unusual Hamburg staple, "Mr. Moonlight". There is a tinge of folk music a la Bob Dylan on John's, "I'm A Loser". Paul and John duet on "I'll Follow The Sun", "Every Little Thing" and "What You're Doing" sound like they could have been covered by The Byrds. John attempts to add his style of country and western twang-waltz rendering with the oddity, "Baby's In Black". However, the highlight of the record is the sing-able and most memorable Beatles song, "Eight Days A Week" with its handclaps, foot stomping, and "have a good time" attitude.

Beatles For Sale is the record before groundbreaking sounds began to emerge in 1965 on Help! and Rubber Soul. The best way to hear how their sound and songwriting progressed is to hear each record in chronological order. This particular record is recommended listening because one can distinctively hear a hint of their sound holding on to the past, but at the same time moving forward with their musical experimentation.
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on July 9, 2004
By the time that the Beatles recorded "Beatles For Sale", they were fed up. They had been constantly touring and they had just starred a feature film, and yet they were still under the demands of the record company for a new single every three months and a new album every six months. They could cope with this pressure for their previous two albums, but everyone has a breaking point, and so it's no surprise that it came right after the exhaustive "A Hard Day's Night", which they had filled with fourteen new originals as well as having made a movie. Having to follow that up would make any group, even the Beatles, falter slightly.
Critics and audiences alike have already noted the downsides to this pressure. Instead of giving us fourteen new originals like they did on "A Hard Day's Night", they "fill out" the album with covers of their favorite 50s artists. With the exception of particularly energetic performances of "Kansas City" and "Rock and Roll Music", these covers are stale and uninspired. They stick with the arrangement of the original recordings. (Indeed, their cover of "Words of Love" sounds so remarkably like Buddy Holly's original that some casual listeners may confuse the two!). It also must be noted that "Mr. Moonlight" is one of the Beatles most disliked tracks. So, it's no wonder that "Beatles For Sale" is one of their most disliked LP's.
Now, having said all that, this album is extraordinarily under-rated and under-appreciated. The pressure and stress had its benefits, too. John Lennon (and Paul, to be fair, but especially John) had been studying the weary songwriting of Bob Dylan and his strong use of lyrical value. The stress and pressure John was under gave him a perfect excuse to exercise his knowledge of this kind of songwriting. The result: fantastic songs. "No Reply", "I'm A Loser", "Baby's In Black", "Every Little Thing", "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party", and "What You're Doing" are all great songs. True, they are all dark, somber, and sad, but they represent a quantum leap in the songwriting of the Beatles. Musically, they were getting more adventurous with arrangements and were using more interesting chords ("No Relply" utilizes an Fmaj7 and a G6 [often mistaken for a G7] to great effect). Lyrically, their lyrics were more deep and introspective. They (again, mostly John) were no longer singing about the joys of love - they were now singing about its pains (they had done this before, but not so often, and not with such fitting musical accompaniment).
All in all, "Beatles For Sale" is still a five-star album despite its shortcomings. It features great songs and it represents a new level of maturity from the Beatles. Although it doesn't reach my "Platinum Series" status, "Beatles For Sale" is still one of my favorites.
(On a side note - sorry for the long review, but I had a lot to say!)
~John Ballantyne
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