This microscope hasn't got a run for a while, since there's been a couple of comments about Help on other threads I thought I'd put down my thoughts.
Help does seem to get ranked relatively low in the Beatles discography. It doesn't have the fresh exuberance of A Hard Days Night, the consistent songwriting of Rubber Soul or the technical whizzbangery of Revolver and Peppers.
Still. It has four Beatle classics in Help, Ticket to Ride, You've Got to Hide Your Live Away and of course Yesterday. Admittedly Yesterday does divide Beatle fans. It is way overexposed and I can't blame anyone for being sick of it. But at its heart it has a gorgeous melody and simple but poignant lyrics which helps explain its wide popularity and longevity.
In addition Help has Youre Going to Lose That Girl which, while maybe not quite making it too classic status, is a great girl group pastiche. It's hard not to sing along with it. John does a great vocal on it as well.
The rest of the album does have a bit too much filler. But Beatle filler is usually better than for many other bands, given the care they put into arranging. So filler isn't always the criticism it might be.
The two George songs are interesting studies in themselves. They certainly show George is coming along pretty well in the songwriting stakes given these are his number two and three recorded songs. I Need You is a tightly written, almost folk rock sounding, piece. It suffers a bit from George's tendency to write downbeat melodies but I do like it overall. It's structured well and has some nice melodic moments.
George threw pretty much everything into You Like Me Too Much, the bluesy piano intro, the Al Jolson moment before the bridge, the Cole Porter moment at the end of the bridge, a separate lead break over a different chord pattern with the piano and guitar trading phrases. You could almost hear him willing this to be his first hit song. As it is it seems to be less then the sum of those parts. It's fun and a bit goofy. Not typical George fare. Pleasant enough but I've always found it easy to skip.
If nothing more these songs show George certainly wasn't just whacking four chords together and calling it songwriting. Perhaps his main problem was, at this stage, he was writing melodies he could sing; his range was considerably less than John and Paul and so his melodies were a bit confined.
The "Paul" songs aside from Yesterday stray a little close to toss-offs. I've Just Seen a Face is a notable exception. It sounds a basic tune but there is some inspiration there that lifts it. I can see why he revived it on tour with Wings.
The Night Before is a decent, almost gritty, sort of R&B number. Paul sings it well and it comes off as a song that would have made a good live tune if the Beatles had been a normal band still doing club dates. As for Another Girl, it never really grabbed me and is one I can skip. Paul's weird bending guitar fills I find a little irritating. Like some manic insect hovering around.
John got the best of this album with his title track, YGTHYLA and the large share of credit for ticket to ride and YGTLTG. That left him with Its Only Love as his toss off. He always dismissed it and the lyrics certainly don't match up to the standards he was setting with other songs on the album. But i've always liked the tune. The verse melody has a slinky sinuous quality that draws you in. The chorus isn't earth shattering but is catchy enough. A lot of people would have been happy to write this tune i think. The guitar sound has almost a sitar quality to it.
Tell Me What You See strikes me as maybe the most fillerish original. Still the arrangement makes it listenable. The refrain harmonies give it some drama. I like that low vocal line on "look into these eyes now". I don't seek this song out. But I don't skip it either. Paul didn't rate it highly. He amusingly tried to give John 40% credit; John wasn't having any of that. It was Paul's as far as he was concerned.
That leaves the two covers. Act Naturally is just Ringo. He pulls it off with his usual panache. The song is fine for what it is. But with the Beatles increasingly writing in the new world of rock, as opposed to rock and roll, these simple country rockabilly numbers come up sounding a bit one dimensional. Still, its carried off well. George's guitar is neat throughout. He usually sounded comfortable in this genre.
And then there's Dizzy. I still think this is better than most of the covers on Beatles for Sale. But that's not a high bar. Why was it there?. Was it because, A Hard Day's Night aside, this was part of the Beatle formula? Ending on a raucous classic cover, usually by John (although George got it on Beatles for Sale). Were they out of material? Did they just like it? Who knows. They did have Leave my Kitten Alone in the can from Beatles for Sale, I suppose the same reasons for not using it previously still held. It would have been a better finish to the Beatle's cover era. As throat shredding covers go it was always going to be pretty much impossible to top Twist and Shout. Money came reasonably close. John does a pretty serious vocal on this, its not phoned in. Ringo's drumming is strong except for the constant cymbal banging on through the song which makes the song sound ragged. The guitar riff gets old very quickly too. The overall sense is a hurried job. This was probably a great live number though.
So all in all the amount of less than great tunes does lower this in the Beatle rankings. It has its good qualities. To me there's 7 or 8 really enjoyable tunes on it. And nothing too offensive. Which means I'm happy to listen to it when the mood takes me. It's interesting to hear John's lyrics developing more and more. Paul still sounds like he's writing lyrics to get a song finished with "moon and June" type lines. John means his.