10 best albums from 1964 might surprise you

1964 in music featured the British Invasion fully taking over the U.S. and was also when albums began to become more important to listeners, though singles still dominated.
The Beatles arrive in the U.S. 1964
The Beatles arrive in the U.S. 1964 / Evening Standard/GettyImages
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1. A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

The first Beatles album that featured no cover songs, this is the album in which the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership began to hit its stride after the duo authored one of the best opening songs on a debut album from the 1960s. Featuring several notable singles, such as the engaging and legendary title track as well as the brisk, entertaining “Can’t Buy Me Love,” the songs on the first half of this album were also featured on the Liverpudlians’ first feature film of the same name.

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What’s surprising about that is that the second half of the album might arguably have a higher overall level of quality thanks to the powerhouse Lennon composition “Any Time At All,” the pensive and thoughtful “Things We Said Today” from McCartney as well as two masterful songs to close the album: “You Can’t Do That,” with its chiming, driving guitar part and the wistful, pained closer “I’ll Be Back.”

The Beatles would certainly delve into far deeper lyrical material as well as more sonically adventurous work on later albums, but this serves as the group’s finest early-career album, and it features all the hallmarks of the band.

Heavenly harmonies can be found throughout the album, though they’re at their best on the flawless love song “If I Fell.” “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” is a showcase for George Harrison’s vocal talents, but also features an interesting, twangy guitar riff. “And I Love Her,” is a striking, moody love song delivered sweetly by the cherubic McCartney with a gorgeous nylon-string guitar solo from George. A flawless album from 1964.

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