Sound — 8
"Help!" is the Beatle's transitional LP and their nod to the 1965 folk-rock craze. It finds John Lennon's moods continue to darken, and his two confessional songs here are among the albums' strengths. Paul brings a few good pop songs as well as the most famous pop song bar none. We also have George return to the song writing game. Many people do see this album as being on the other side of a divide with Rubber soul, which directly followed it, but it is truly a transition toward the complexity and maturity that characterized that work. from the opening plea of the title track to the booming "Ticket To Ride" through "Yesterday" this is an enjoyable album and a step toward ever bigger things for the Fab Four.
Lyrics — 7
As far lyrics go, Help features some of the weakest the band would put out, (and that is very relative) but these are luckily balanced out by a few absolute classics. Yesterday, the title track, and ticket to ride all hit #1 on at least one side of the atlantic, and along with "hide your love away" are all deserving of adulation. The rest of the material, while mostly far better than what others where putting out, is not exemplary. "I Need You", "The Night Before", and "Lose That Girl" are very good, but a notch below the others mentioned. "You Like Me Too Much", "Tell Me What You See", and "Another Girl" all suffer, either from mediocre lyrics (the first 2), or a bad concept ("Girl"). It's only love isn't the most complex song lyrically, but fares a little better. "I've Just Seen A Face" is an acoustic song in the folk style, whose tempo and harmonies suggest a country influence as well. As for the covers, "Act Naturally" provided another successful vehicle for Ringo, while "dizzy miss lizzie" was another John screamed larry williams tune. Overall out of 14 tracks that's maybe 8 or 9 that are outstanding. Only with the Beatles could that be construed as disappointing! Johns voice turns up rough here on many tracks, but that only heightens the dylan influence on "Hide" "It's Only", etc. the acoustic nature of much of the album (indeed, 3 are totally unplugged) brings out more subtle inflections in the voices and playing of the group (perhaps with an amiable exception for Ringo).
Overall Impression — 8
Help! was the last beatle album to feature covers and any hint of their early merseybeat style. It isn't as consistent or as polished as Rubber Soul, and the folk rock style certainly places this album in the summer of '65. This one certainly falls in the middle of the pack as far as rating their albums, but it's cache of classics and assortment of shimmering pop and folk rock make it a must-own even for the non beatlemaniac.