Beatles For Sale has always been a pet favorite Beatles record for me, though I completely acknowledge that it's like a great car that keeps stalling just when the light turns green.
After one of the best openings of any of their albums three of John's best and most honest early songs, "No Reply," "I'm a Loser," and "Baby's in Black," each showing a huge leap forward from the band's earlier, more purely "crafted" approach it stops into the Cavern Club for a pint with a cover of Chuck Berry's "Rock & Roll Music."
Now, the Beatles do this song as well as it might be done it's leagues better than Berry's original but it's still a step backward. Several such rockin' stumbles plague the album, which frankly would have been terrific without the covers.
The lovely "I'll Follow the Sun" is nearly blotted out by the blight of "Mr. Moonlight," an overblown and simply bad cover tune that is the worst thing these guys ever put to tape. Salt is thrown into the wound with "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey," which is just corny.
Side 2 immediately rights the ship with the buoyant "Eight Days a Week," always a pleasure to hear. "Words of Love" is a stronger argument for Buddy Holly than any of Holly's actual recordings, as "Honey Don't" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" are for Carl Perkins. Do these make me want to go seek out the original versions? No.
"Every Little Thing" and "What You're Doing" are similar third-tier pop songs that point in the direct direction of Help! nothing great, but still undiscovered enough to provide some private Beatlemania. Both exhibit George's lead guitar skills at their most unintentionally hilarious.
"I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" is classic, no argument there enough potential harmonies to keep me singing along for years, and perfect-pocket drumming from Ringo. To quote a pre-teen's Beatles fan page I just saw, "Drums rock!"
It's a shame, 'cause I always want to push Beatles For Sale as one of the Beatle bests, but then I look at the track listing and do a quick wince, thinking, "Yuck, there's plenty on this that I don't ever want to hear again." But there's much more on it that I do want to hear fortunately, God invented the skip button. Too bad He didn't see fit to send a very young Mark David Chapman into the studio to gun down John as he was laying down the vocal for "Mr. Moonlight."
Review by La Fée