When was it recorded? Sept. 30, 1964
When was it first released, and on which album? Dec. 4, 1964 on “Beatles for Sale”
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
Sources say John wrote “No Reply” for fellow Liverpool rock and roller Tommy Quickly, who was also managed by Brian Epstein, but the deal fell through.
“That’s my song. Dick James, the publisher, said, ‘That’s the first complete song you’ve written where it resolves itself.’ You know, with a complete story. It was my version of ‘Silhouettes’: I had that image of walking down the street and seeing her silhouetted in the window and not answering the phone, although I never called a girl on the phone in my life.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
The song John’s referring to is the 1957 hit single “Silhouettes.” Written by Bob Crewe and Frank Slay, it was originally recorded by the New York doo-wop group The Rays and released locally by Slay’s small record label, XYZ. The song soon grew rapidly in popularity, hitting #3 on the Billboard Top 100 and earning a Gold certification from the RIAA. Again, musically it’s not the same, but lyrically the song is quite similar to “No Reply.”
Most of the Beatles first recorded “No Reply” on Jun. 3, 1964. John, Paul, and George demoed the song with an unidentified drummer (possibly Jimmie Nicol) as Ringo was hospitalized due to tonsillitis at the time. According to the Beatles Bible, “This demo was misfiled and became lost in the 1960s, only resurfacing in 1993; it was released on ‘Anthology 1.’”
Ringo returned to record a proper version of “No Reply” Sept. 30. The group recorded eight takes of the song; Take Two also appeared on “Anthology 1.”
Take Eight was used for the final version.
I’m not entirely sure if I love this song because it’s great or if I love it because I got to listen to all that goofy behind-the-scenes chatter during the demos. …On second listen, the song’s definitely closer to “Good” than “Great,” but the outtakes more than make up for it.