The Beatles - Please Please Me  » Music  »
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  • I Love You and Ask Me Why, gave the band a total of four recorded songs
  • Throughout their career, the Beatles often had interesting and creative background vocal parts in their songs
  • I believe the sound of the early-60s girl groups was, at least in part, the inspiration for this
  • This was the last song recorded that day, after more than nine hours of recording, making the amount of energy in this performance even more amazing

    • by H Seldon
      TRUSTWORTHY

      all reviews
      With the Beatles catalog recently released in remastered form, the time is right to take another look at these albums and see how they hold up. In this review I’ll discuss the Beatles first album, “Please Please Me”.

      With the song “Please Please Me” at number 1 on the UK charts, Parlophone wanted to get an album on the market as quickly as possible. The Beatles had released two singles, “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me”. The B-sides of those singles, “P.S. I Love You” and “Ask Me Why, gave the band a total of four recorded songs.

      Pop albums in the UK at that time tended to have 14 songs, so 10 songs had to be recorded, and quickly. Producer George Martin had the idea of simply recording the Beatles at the Cavern and releasing a live album. Conditions at the Cavern were unsuitable, however, so studio time was booked.

      All ten songs were recorded on February 11, 1963, in one all-day session. The beauty of this approach is that the album is essentially the Beatles playing live in the studio. Very few overdubs were


      added. The “Please Please Me” album is the closest we can come to hearing what the Beatles sounded like as a live band in the early days.

      The other thing I love about this album is that, because Lennon and McCartney hadn’t written very many songs at that point, we get to hear the Beatles playing the songs that influenced them. The album is a selection of songs the Beatles were playing in their live shows at the time. These are the songs that they loved, and which helped shape them as songwriters and musicians.

      As with all Beatles albums, “Please Please Me” contains a wide array of musical styles. Rock and Roll, American girl groups, R&B, pop, and even doo wop can be heard. From the very beginning, the Beatles were never a musical one-trick pony.

      Let’s take a look at the tracks.

      The album opens with 2 Lennon-McCartney originals. “I Saw Her Standing There” is a timeless rocker, and Paul still includes this one in the set list when he goes on tour. “Misery” is a lesser-known Lennon-McCartney composition, but it’s catchy enough.

      “Anna” is a song written by R&B singer Arthur Alexander. Though not a very well-known performer, Arthur Alexander was quite popular with the British rock groups at the time. The Rolling Stones and the Hollies also covered his songs. The Beatles included several other Arthur Alexander songs in their live shows, including “A Shot Of Rhythm and Blues” and “Soldier Of Love”. These are all great songs, and Arthur Alexander was clearly an influence on John Lennon’s songwriting.

      The Beatles cover the American girl groups next. George Harrison is the vocalist on “Chains” (originally recorded by the Cookies), and Ringo sings “Boys” (originally recorded by the Shirelles). Throughout their career, the Beatles often had interesting and creative background vocal parts in their songs. I believe the sound of the early-60s girl groups was, at least in part, the inspiration for this.

      The next track, “Ask Me Why”, is another Lennon-McCartney original. The Beatles had been playing “Ask Me Why” live for some time. A 1962 recording from Hamburg, Germany includes the song. I hear a doo-wop influence in this song, in passages such as “I love you, woo, woo,


      • The Beatles - Please Please Me
      woo, woo”.

      The number 1 hit “Please Please Me” ends side one. This song has some nice guitar riffs and vocal harmonies, and sounds like a sped-up combination of Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers.

      “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”, the A and B-sides of the Beatles first single, begin side two. Lennon and McCartney were still fledgling writers when they composed these, but “Love Me Do” does have some nice harmonies and a bluesy-sounding harmonica riff, and “P.S. I Love You” has some jazzy chords and an interesting Latin beat.

      Lennon gives a powerful vocal performance on “Baby It’s You”, another song originally recorded by the Shirelles. “Do You Want To Know A Secret” is a Lennon-McCartney song, given to George to sing. Again, I detect a doo wop influence (”Listen - doo, dah, doo - do you want to know a secret - doo, dah, doo”).

      “A Taste Of Honey” is perhaps the weakest song on the album, but it does show the Beatles’ affinity for pop standards. Songs such as “A Taste Of Honey”, “Till There Was You” and other standards were

      always part of their live shows. Both Lennon and McCartney were clearly influenced in their own songwriting by the beautiful melodies and sophisticated chord changes of such songs.

      The Lennon-McCartney original, “There’s A Place”, is next. The introspective lyrics, about retreating into one’s mind to escape emotional pain, are not typical of 1963 pop music, and hint at the more sophisticated lyrics the Beatles would become known for.

      The final track is “Twist and Shout”, a song from the Isley Brothers. This was the last song recorded that day, after more than nine hours of recording, making the amount of energy in this performance even more amazing. The band must have been tired, and Lennon’s voice was nearly gone, but the band was used to marathon sessions, having performed for long hours in Hamburg, and they pulled it off brilliantly.

      The Beatles would take months to finish some of their later albums, but in 1963 they were a very tight band, and they were able to do something that most bands, before or since, could not have even dreamt of. They recorded a classic album, in a day.




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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in December, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 141712924050331/k2311a1217/12.17.09
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