Despite the fact that "The Beatles for Sale" is often looked upon as one of the lesser Beatles albums, it is still a treasure. The bottom of the Beatles contributions would be the top of any lesser group, anyway, so this C.D. can't be dismissed. Besides containing the hit "Eight Days a Week," it has lesser known gems like McCartney's "I'll Follow the Sun," and a beautifully harmonized version of Buddy Holly's "Words of Love". Although it seems to be a transitional album, it has a consistent country-rock feel to many of the songs, which include a worthy rendition of "Kansas City". In addition, Lennon comes up with a heartfelt confessional song, "I'm a Loser". Containing about half original and half remakes, not all of the songs are great, however. Lennon's "No Reply" and "Baby's in Black" seem substandard, and the remake of "Mr. Moonlight" has some of the most languid instrumental accompaniment of any Beatles' song. Nevertheless, buying this C.D. gives any Beatles fan an opportunity to relish some gems seldom heard on the radio. It is like finding lost treasure.
The Beatles' fourth was rushed out in time for Christmas, and it sounds it. McCartney and Lennon try to build from their admiration of Bob Dylan. Additionally, Lennon crafts some pleasant little pieces of self-loathing (see especially "I'm a Loser"). The album as a whole is thin; the music is unexciting, save for the aggression in "No Reply." As soon as the record ends, I'm reaching for "Please Please Me."
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Banged out in a hurry for the 1964 Christmas market,Beatles for Salesometimes sounds it, loaded with ill-conceived covers and some of John Lennon's most self-loathing lyrics. On the other hand, the people doing the banging-out were the Beatles, whose instincts for what worked musically were so strong that they could basically do no wrong--any record that has "Baby's in Black," "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" and the delectable "Eight Days a Week" on it is only "minor" in the most relative sense. And, though their voices had been frazzled a bit by constant touring, they revved them up for some joyous shouting, and indulged their fondness for American country in subtle, playful ways.--Douglas Wolk