Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: July 23, 1965
Appears on: HELP!
Lead vocal: John
Two weeks before the album came out, "Help!" was issued on 45 in the UK and the US. For some reason it was released a few days ahead in the US. Just six days later, the film HELP! opened worldwide.
The song is John's true cry for help and easily one of his most personal songs. It's the kind of emotional power that lead to his work throughout the rest of the Beatles' career. John always said that he wished the Beatles were able to record it at a slower tempo so people could understand how personal the lyrics actually were. However, this is still 1965, when Beatles songs, especially those with a John lead vocal, are expected to be powerful rockers.
It's a fantastic song with some great vocals. "Help!" also features the unique idea of having the backing vocals sing the line before the lead. That's another one of those Beatle innovations that we take for granted today, but it was (and still is) a very unique thing.
In the US, the HELP! album was released as a soundtrack, despite the fact that Capitol was going to issue it instead of United Artists. Capitol used Ken Thorne's whimsical score between the songs, which makes it more of a soundtrack than UA's A Hard Day's Night, which had newly-recorded George Martin pieces that weren't actually in the film. When you dropped the needle on Capitol's HELP!, the first thing you heard was not The Beatles crying "HELP!!! I need somebody!", but instead you got Thorne's hilarious James Bond-esque intro. This is the way Americans heard it. Even on the US version of 1963-1966 (The "Red" Album), where it opened Side Three, the intro was present. When the compilation was issued on CD, however, it was dropped, not to be heard again until the soundtrack was included in The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2.