Help! is the fifth album released by The Beatles, the soundtrack album from their film Help!.
Produced by George Martin for EMI Records, the album (in its original British form) contains seven songs that appeared in the movie of the same name, and seven that did not, including the most recorded song in history; the Paul McCartney ballad "Yesterday".
The critically acclaimed album also features two trans-atlantic Number One singles: "Ticket to Ride" and the title song. The album shows The Beatles, but mainly John Lennon, being influenced by Bob Dylan and folk music, with Lennon's "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" indicating an obvious Dylan influence. Lennon in later years stated that the title track of the album was a sincere cry for help, as the pressures of The Beatles' fame and his own unhappiness began to build, and that he regretted turning it from a downbeat Dylanesque song to an upbeat, poppy Beatles song because of commercial pressures. Lennon also sang the lead on "It's Only Love".
McCartney added "Yesterday", as well as "Another Girl", a fast-moving congo-esque beat pop song; "The Night Before", a standard rock & roll song; and "I've Just Seen a Face", a rollicking Dylanesque folk song often overlooked by Beatles fans (and which, along with "It's Only Love", was on the "Rubber Soul" album in the U.S.).
George Harrison contributed the low-key "I Need You" and the head-strong "You Like Me Too Much".
The album cover features the group spelling out a word in semaphore; the British Parlophone release featured the word 'NUJV', whilst the slightly re-arranged US release on Capitol Records appeared to feature the word 'NVUJ'. However, it may be argued that some of the members of the band have been not only re-arranged but reversed. One finds that, despite The Beatles' poor stature, it spells out 'LPUS' — possibly meaning "Help us", "an LP by us" or "Long Play Us". Also, according to the parody of the Paul Is Dead myth known as "Everyone BUT Paul Is Dead", NUJV allegedly means, "New Unknown John Vocalist", indicating that John Lennon had died and been replaced.
However, research has shown that the cover photo does not spell any message at all in semaphore. The cover photographer, Robert Freeman, confirms this. Freeman wrote: ...I had the idea of semaphore spelling out the letters HELP. But when we came to do the shot the arrangement of the arms with those letters didn't look good. So we decided to improvise and ended up with the best graphic positioning of the arms.
The album was released on CD in 1987, using the 14-song UK track lineup. As with the CD release of the 1965 Rubber Soul album, the Help! CD featured a contemporary stereo digital remix of the album prepared by George Martin. This remix is a bit controversial among Beatle fans — many purists prefer the 1965 mix. Strangely, a few Canadian-origin CD editions of Rubber Soul and Help! accidentally use the original mix of the album, presumably due to a mix-up as to which tapes were sent to the pressing plant. As of 2006, these "mistakes" sell for a fair amount in the second-hand market, when properly identified.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 332 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
There were a few songs which were intended for the film, but were not used due to the Beatles' suggestions. John and Paul wrote "If You've Got Trouble" for Ringo to sing, but he hated it. Paul's "That Means A Lot" was not used because he thought it was never recorded perfectly. John had the same opinion about his "Yes It Is", but the song ended up as the B-side of "Ticket To Ride". "You Like Me Too Much" and "Tell Me What You See" were rejected from the film by Richard Lester, though they did appear on the album.
Much later, in June 1965, the song "Wait" was recorded for the album. However, all four Beatles thought the song was rather dull. "Wait" ended up on the album Rubber Soul when there were not enough songs to be put on the album for a Christmas release.
The US version of the album includes the songs in the film plus selections from the orchestral score composed by Ken Thorne. This album is available on CD as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 2 box set. The semophore cover spells "H-P-E-L".