A Hard Day's Night is the third studio album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 10 July 1964, with side one containing songs from the soundtrack to their film A Hard Day's Night. The American version of the album was released two weeks earlier, on 26 June 1964 by United Artists Records, with a different track listing. In contrast to their first two albums, all 13 tracks on A Hard Day's Night were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney showcasing the development of their songwriting talents. The album includes the title track, with its distinct opening chord, and the previously released "Can't Buy Me Love", both transatlantic number-one singles for the band.
The title of the album was the accidental creation of drummer Ringo Starr. According to Lennon in a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine: "I was going home in the car and Dick Lester [director of the movie] suggested the title, 'Hard Day's Night' from something Ringo had said. I had used it in 'In His Own Write', but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny ... just said it. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title.'"
In 2000, Q placed A Hard Day's Night at number five in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2012, A Hard Day's Night was voted 307th on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". The album was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Musically, A Hard Day's Night eschews the rock and roll cover songs of the band's previous albums for a predominantly pop sound. Sputnikmusic's Dave Donnelly observes "short, peppy" pop songs characterised by layered vocals, immediate choruses, and understated instrumentation. According to Pitchfork Media's Tom Ewing, the lack of rock and roll covers allows listeners to "take the group's new sound purely on its own modernist terms", with audacious "chord choices", powerful harmonies, "gleaming" guitar, and "Northern" harmonica. Music journalist Robert Christgau writes that Lennon–McCartney's songs were "more sophisticated musically" than before.
Side one of the LP contains the songs from the movie soundtrack. Side two contains songs written for, but not included in, the film, although a 1980s re-release of the movie includes a prologue before the opening credits with "I'll Cry Instead" on the soundtrack.
A Hard Day's Night is the first Beatles album to feature entirely original compositions, and the only one where all the songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Lennon dominates the songwriting, being the primary author of nine out of the thirteen tracks on the album, as well as being the lead singer on these same nine tracks (although McCartney sings lead on the chorus part of the title track which otherwise is strictly Lennon territory). Lennon and McCartney co-wrote "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You", while McCartney wrote "And I Love Her", "Can't Buy Me Love", and "Things We Said Today". This is also one of three Beatles albums, along with Let It Be and Magical Mystery Tour, in which Starr does not sing lead vocal on any songs. Starr sang the lead vocal on "Matchbox" during the sessions; it appeared instead on the Long Tall Sally EP.
According to music critic Richie Unterberger, "George Harrison's resonant 12-string electric guitar leads were hugely influential; the movie helped persuade the Byrds, then folksingers, to plunge all out into rock & roll, and the Beatles would be hugely influential on the folk-rock explosion of 1965. The Beatles' success, too, had begun to open the US market for fellow English bands like the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Kinks, and inspired young American groups like the Beau Brummels, Lovin' Spoonful, and others to mount a challenge of their own with self-penned material that owed a great debt to Lennon-McCartney."
On 26 February 1987, A Hard Day's Night was officially released on compact disc in mono, along with Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and Beatles for Sale. Having been available only as an import in the US in the past, the 13 track UK version of the album was also issued in the US on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987. Stereo mixes of "A Hard Day's Night", "Can't Buy Me Love", and "And I Love Her" had been made available on the first compact disc issue of 1962–1966 in 1993. Most of the rest of the tracks appeared in stereo on compact disc for the first time with the release of the box set The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 in 2004.
On 9 September 2009, a remastered version of this album was released and was the first time the album appeared in stereo on compact disc in its entirety. This album is also included in The Beatles Stereo Box Set. A remastered mono version of the original UK album was part of The Beatles in Mono box set.
All tracks written by Lennon–McCartney.
The American version of the album was released on 26 June 1964 by United Artists Records in both mono and stereo, the fourth Beatles album in the United States. The album went to number one on the Billboard album chart, spending 14 weeks there, the longest run of any album that year.
All seven songs from the film, the first side of the UK album, were featured along with "I'll Cry Instead", which, although written for the film, was cut at the last minute. The American version also included four easy listening-styled instrumental versions of Lennon and McCartney songs arranged by George Martin conducting an orchestra of studio musicians: "I Should Have Known Better", "And I Love Her", "Ringo's Theme", and "A Hard Day's Night". After EMI acquired United Artists Records, this album was reissued in August 1980 on the Capitol label, catalogue SW-11921.
While the stereo version of the album included the instrumental tracks in true stereo, the Beatles' own recordings appeared as electronically rechannelled stereo recordings made from the mono releases. The 1980 Capitol Records release used the same master tape as the original United Artists stereo release, despite the availability of several tracks with official stereo remixes by that time. True stereo versions of most of the songs appeared on the Capitol album Something New, released in July 1964. "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Should Have Known Better" finally appeared in stereo on the Apple Records compilation Hey Jude in 1970. The song "A Hard Day's Night" did not appear in stereo in the US until the compilation LP Reel Music in March 1982. In 2014, the American version of "A Hard Day's Night" was released on CD individually and in a boxed set of all the other US Beatles albums to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles first US visit. This CD reissue features all of the songs in both true stereo and mono mixes.
The BeatlesGeorge Harrison – vocals; acoustic and electric (six and twelve-string) guitars; claves
John Lennon – vocals; acoustic and electric (six and twelve-string) guitars; piano; harmonica; tambourine
Paul McCartney – vocals; acoustic and bass guitars; piano; cowbell
Ringo Starr – drums and percussion
Additional personnelGeorge Martin – piano, production