The Beatles- Please, Please Me
Written on January 2, 2010
Is it possible? Could they have known?
When the Beatles walked into Abbey Road studios at 10am on Friday March 11, 1963 to record their debut album, could they have known the impact they would immediately have on rock music?
Personally, I think they knew they were going to be great, but on that day in 1963, I can only surmise that they weren’t thinking about their future or the profound impact that they would have on the rock world— they were only thinking about the task at hand, which was to record 10 new songs in one day which is quite an undertaking.
Coming into the studio, the Beatles had already released “Love Me Do” as a single with “PS- I Love You,” as its B-side. Additionally, they had also already released “Please Please Me” as a single with “Ask Me Why” as its B-Side. At that time in the UK, 14 songs were standard for an album, so as mentioned, they needed 10 more songs to fill out the complete album. They ended up recording 4 more original tracks, and then 6 covers to complete the album, and they managed to do it in the extremely narrow time slot that they had access to the studio. With that being said, they had very little time to do multiple takes on songs, so the album was really recorded as a live in the studio album, with a few overdubs here and there. However, the sound of the album is crystal clear and the production is phenomenal. So although they rushed through the songs to make their deadline, the finished product doesn’t sound rushed at all, and it demonstrates the talent the Beatles had in the studio even at this early stage on their debut album.
For the most part, The Beatles originals are the best tracks on the album, with “Please Please Me” being a true highlight, but “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Love Me Do,” and “P.S. I Love You,” are all great as well. As for the covers, “A Taste of Honey” is also a standout, as it is sounds completely different from the rest of the songs on the album, and it is one of the few early Beatles songs that doesn’t contain lyrical content focused around relationships or love, which makes it very unique. Then you have The Beatles’ cover of “Twist and Shout,” which is arguably the best track on the album. It was the last song they recorded for the album, and they did it in one take because Lennon’s voice was shot from the 11-hour recording session. Plus, he had a cold that had been worsening throughout the day. Lennon’s vocals are noticeably rough on the song, but I think it is that roughness that makes the song work so well. This version of the song is absolutely the seminal version of the song, and Lennon’s vocals are really what make the song stand out from the many other versions of the song by other bands including the Isley Brothers, The Searchers, The Mamas & the Papas, Chuck Berry, and The Who—just to name a few.
Please Please Me is not even the first chapter, or even the first page, in The Beatles’ metaphorical history book; however, it should be in every record collector’s stack of albums, for it is not only the album that started it all for The Beatles, but in many ways— it is the album that started the whole modern rock phenomenon.
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