The Beatles released their latest official long-player, Beatles for Sale, in England on December 4 of 1964, capping a year of the most extraordinary activity ever seen on the part of a performing group. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., where sales were easily dwarfing the group's U.K. success by sheer weight of numbers, Capitol Records saw no reason to give 14 new songs to the waiting public, especially as they were sitting on one leftover song from the U.K. A Hard Day's Night album, and had a current single whose two sides, "I Feel Fine" and "She's a Woman," they could use to promote whatever they released. The result was Beatles '65, issued a little less than two weeks before the start of that year and ten days before Christmas. This was the first U.S. album on which the commingling of tracks started to wear on the originals. (The Beatles' Second Album had been a miraculous assembly of material from nearly a half-dozen sessions and sources, while Something New was basically the Hard Day's Night soundtrack without "A Hard Day's Night" or "Can't Buy Me Love," but punched up with a pair of hard-rocking covers.) Beatles '65 was essentially the core of the rather dour Beatles for Sale, punched up with the new single and an offbeat but killer remnant from A Hard Day's Night. While it all sounded OK and duly topped the charts, the cohesion was starting to get lost; between the acoustic-textured Beatles for Sale numbers and the feedback-laden "I Feel Fine," the hard-rocking "She's a Woman," and the somewhat less sharp-edged Carl Perkins covers here, there was less and less method to the compiling for the U.S. This came courtesy of Dave Dexter, Jr., a Capitol executive who'd had to be ordered to start authorizing the release of Beatles material by Capitol in America (as opposed to passing on it and letting other licensees handle it), and seemingly spent most of the next two years trying to prove how right he'd been to neglect them. The odd thing was that, despite the weak and odd recouplings of songs, the album did sell, and song for song it was still better than anything the competition was creating -- as long as the singles were everything they should be, the band was on safe ground. With this and its next release, Capitol was starting to figure out just how valuable each Beatles song was by itself, and how far they could go repackaging them, as long as they retained some measure of common sense. They lost that attribute with the U.S. Help! album, courtesy of Dexter, but in the meantime the label did get out flawed if entertaining compilations such as this.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder