When was it recorded? Feb. 17, 1965
When was it first released, and on which album? Aug. 6, 1965 on “Help!”
Who wrote it? McCartney
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
“That’s Paul again. I’ll just say it’s Paul, meaning I don’t remember anything about it except it was in the movie ‘Help!’” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
Indeed, Paul wrote “The Night Before” (where else) at Jane Asher’s parent’s home in London. As Alan Pollack wrote, “At a high level, this song thematically belongs to one of the archetypal sub-genres of the two-minute pop song: the one in which the protagonist, post-breakup, acknowledges what a good thing he had in retrospect and expresses the fond hope and prayer for a reconciliation.” Uniquely, the song features a double-tracked, two octave guitar solo played by both Paul and George.
The Beatles recorded “The Night Before” in two takes on Feb. 17, 1965. According to the Beatles Bible, “The session began at 2pm and ended at 7pm.”
The Fab Four recorded a live version for BBC Radio’s “The Beatles Invite You to Take a Ticket to Ride” on May 26, 1965. This aired Jun. 7 and apparently hasn’t appeared on any official “Live at the BBC” compilation.
“The Night Before” also appeared in the 1965 “Help!” movie. (The video says “rare,” but it’s not. Sorry for the logos on it though.)
Rolling Stone ranked “The Night Before” at #49 on their list of the 100 best Beatles songs. The site further noted, “For any other band, a pop gem as magnificent as ‘The Night Before’ would have turned into a career-making hit single, if not the foundation of a legend. But for the Beatles, it was just another great album track, slipping through the cracks as they sped from ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ through ‘Help!’ on their way to ‘Rubber Soul.’ The band was writing and cutting masterpieces faster than fans could even absorb them.” I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s pretty damn good.