The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2012

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The best side one we’ve ever heard! Side one was so amazing, clearly a step up over any side of any other copy we played, that we felt obligated to award it our “Four Plus” (A++++) grade. Out of the thousands of Hot Stampers we’ve listed over the years, about twenty have earned Four Pluses on any side. That alone makes this a very special copy indeed.

And side two was right up there with the best we played this time around as well, finishing in second place with a grade of A++ to A+++. Both sides are so RICH and TUBEY MAGICAL you will not believe this is the same A Hard Day’s Night that has always sounded so hard, harsh and aggressive.

Years ago I would have kept a copy like this for myself, but I found I never had the time to play my own records; they just sat on a shelf and collected dust. With such amazing sound we know this copy will go to a good home and hopefully get played often and loud.

Drop the needle on any song on the first side to see why we went crazy over this one. The emotional quality of the boys’ performances really comes through on this copy. They aren’t just singing — they’re really BELTIN’ it out here! Can you imagine what that sounds like on the title track? We didn’t have to imagine it, WE HEARD IT!

Side two is a KNOCKOUT as well, rating A++ to A+++. We guarantee you’ve never heard these songs sound remotely as good as they do here or your money back. Two sides this good back to back? The Audio Gods must have been smiling when this one was pressed.

Side One

Side one is OFF THE CHARTS, with superb clarity, tonality, and immediacy. The vocals are rich, breathy, and full-bodied. The bottom end is rock-solid. On a super transparent copy like this one, the vocal harmonies are just OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Our shootout notes say this side one had absolutely the most ENERGY and CLARITY of any side we played, with the BREATHIEST voices. We’ve never heard any side of any copy of the album sound better. That’s what Four Pluses is all about.

Side Two

Side two is a big, rich and tubey as they come, with none of the unpleasant edge on upper part of the vocals that ruin so many copies. And I Love Her sounds amazing! I Should Have Known Better, one of the toughest tracks to get right (having a marked tendency to sound strident) is near perfection on this copy. A tiny bit veiled compared to the shootout winner, this side two is guaranteed to blow any copy you may own right out of the water.

Quiet Vinyl

Most of the later pressings of The Beatles’ catalog that we’ve determined have the best sound — having played them by the hundreds — are pressed on very quiet vinyl, grading Mint Minus or something very close to it. This copy is no exception.

Overall Sonic Grade:

Side One – A++++ 
Side Two – A++ – A+++

Vinyl Grade:

1) Mostly Mint Minus with a noisy edge.
2) Mint Minus

Cover Grade: 8 out of 10


Side One

A Hard Day’s Night
I Should Have Known Better
If I Fell Track Commentary

This is a wonderful example of The Beatles’ harmonies at their best. Toward the end of the song, during one of their harmonic excursions, you can hear John’s voice drop out when something apparently catches in his throat, and I could swear that you can hear Paul McCartney react to it with a little laugh.

If their voices sound warm, sweet, and transparent on this track, at the very least you have a contender, and possibly a winner. Not many pressings are going to bring out all the qualities of their voices.

I’m Happy Just to Dance With You
And I Love Her
Tell Me Why
Can’t Buy Me Love Track Commentary

Always starts with a bit of grit and grain, but sounds better by the second verse.

Side Two

Any Time at All
I’ll Cry Instead Track Commentary

This track has a tendency to sound a bit aggressive on even the best copies. The copies with extended highs and a tonally correct midrange are really going to excel on this track.

Things We Said Today Track Commentary

This track is really rich and full-bodied on the best copies. It’s got wonderful Tubey Magic that is positively intoxicating.

When I Get Home Track Commentary

Another one with a lot of potentially aggressive qualities. If you can play this song good and loud, you must have an excellent copy. (More cowbell!)

You Can’t Do That
I’ll Be Back

AMG Review

A Hard Day’s Night not only was the de facto soundtrack for their movie, not only was it filled with nothing but Lennon-McCartney originals, but it found the Beatles truly coming into their own as a band. All of the disparate influences on their first two albums had coalesced into a bright, joyous, original sound, filled with ringing guitars and irresistible melodies. A Hard Day’s Night is where the Beatles became mythical, but this is the sound of Beatlemania in all of its giddy glory. Decades after its original release, its punchy blend of propulsive rhythms, jangly guitars, and infectious, singalong melodies is remarkably fresh. There’s something intrinsically exciting in the sound of the album itself, something to keep the record vital years after it was recorded. Even more impressive are the songs themselves… [E]verything on the record is performed with genuine glee and excitement. It’s the pinnacle of their early years.