Please Please Me

Please Please Me album artworkRecorded: 11 September 1962-20 February 1963
Producers: George Martin, Ron Richards
Engineers: Norman Smith, Stuart Eltham

Released: 22 March 1963

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, handclaps
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass, handclaps
George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, tambourine, maracas, handclaps
George Martin: piano, celesta
Andy White: drums

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Tracklisting:
I Saw Her Standing There
Misery
Anna (Go To Him)
Chains
Boys
Ask Me Why
Please Please Me
Love Me Do
PS I Love You
Baby It’s You
Do You Want To Know A Secret
A Taste Of Honey
There’s A Place
Twist And Shout

The Beatles’ first UK album was released on 22 March 1963, following the success of the singles Please Please Me and Love Me Do.

Eight of the album’s 14 songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (credited as McCartney-Lennon). At the time it was unusual for a group to write their own material; The Beatles, however, swiftly revealed to listeners that they were anything but a run-of-the mill band.

In early 1963 pop acts commonly released three-minute 45rpm singles, or occasionally four-song EPs. The long-player was normally beyond the fiscal reach of most teenagers, and the LP as art form was yet to emerge; albums tended to be a handful of hits and a selection of filler songs.

The Beatles were not immune to this trend – the cover of Please Please Me even carried the tagline “with Love Me Do and 12 other songs” – but the quality of the songs on the LP was testament to their ambition and musical knowledge, and the willingness of Parlophone staff producer George Martin to try to get the best from them.

And this he did, effectively capturing highlights from The Beatles’ live set. The sound that had wowed audiences in Liverpool, Hamburg and beyond was most evident in the album’s frenetic closer Twist And Shout, full of boundless energy and with famously hoarse vocals from John Lennon.

The group’s versatility, meanwhile, was shown by R&B ballads Anna (Go To Him) and Baby It’s You, and McCartney’s love for pop standards ensured a place for A Taste Of Honey.

But it was with the original songs that set The Beatles apart from their peers. Opening song I Saw Her Standing There was one of Paul McCartney’s earliest songs, yet after dozens of performances in sweaty basement clubs and dance halls it was something of a rock powerhouse.

There’s A Place and Ask Me Why showcased their talents for melody and harmony, PS I Love You and Do You Want To Know A Secret displayed the group’s lighter side, while the title track was simply one of the most exciting pop songs that 1960s listeners had heard.

In the studio

Please Please Me was recorded on a two-track BTR recording machine, leaving little opportunity for overdubs or elaborate arrangements.

The album contained both sides of The Beatles’ first two singles – Love Me Do, PS I Love You, Please Please Me and Ask Me Why – plus 10 new recordings made on 11 February 1963. That day’s recording cost just £400 and lasted for 16 hours.

There wasn’t a lot of money at Parlophone. I was working to an annual budget of £55,000.
George Martin

The Beatles were also entitled to collect fees of £7 10s for each of the day’s three sessions, under the terms of a Musicians Union agreement.

The stereo mixes, made on 25 February 1963, had one track on the left channel and the other on the right, with a small amount of reverb added to blend the two together.

The stereo version of the Please Please Me song was made from a different take to the mono version, and featured a fluffed line on the third verse (“You know you never even try”/”Why do I never even try?”).

Furthermore, the version of Love Me Do on the album is the one featuring Andy White on drums; the version with Ringo Starr was used for the original single only, and is now available on the Past Masters compilation.

The title and cover

George Martin initially wanted to call the record Off The Beatle Track; Paul McCartney drew some cover ideas, although the idea was soon dropped. Martin also had ideas for the cover artwork which failed to come to fruition.

I was a fellow of London Zoo and, rather stupidly, thought that it would be great to have The Beatles photographed outside the insect house. But the zoo people were very stuffy indeed: ‘We don’t allow these kind of photographs on our premises, quite out of keeping with the good taste of the Zoological Society of London,’ so the idea fell down. I bet they regret it now…
George Martin
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The cover photograph was eventually taken by Angus McBean at EMI’s headquarters on London’s Manchester Square. Other shots that were considered included a picture of The Beatles on a spiral staircase outside the HQ, and the group kicking their legs while jumping from the steps outside the Abbey Road studios.

We rang up the legendary theatre photographer Angus McBean, and bingo, he came round and did it there and then. It was done in an almighty rush, like the music. Thereafter, though, The Beatles’ own creativity came bursting to the fore.
George Martin
The Making Of Sgt Pepper

10 responses on “Please Please Me

  1. Brian J Lenny

    The Beatles information you have is 100%, and excellent to view, I have all many origional “The Beatles” items and have a problem that I can not sell them, I love all The Beatles from 1960.

  2. Amphion

    I love Please Please Me, partly because of its innocence. Partly because, in retrospect I know that when the group were recording this album, which was in fact a collection of songs from their live act, little could they truely have envisaged the effect they would have on the world, on popular culture and on innovation. Don’t underestimate this album. The Beatles were in 1963, as John has said ‘capable of blowing any other act off stage’. What they developed in Hamburg and the Cavern was a sound unlike anything that had been generated before, or even since. It is one regret that I never actually got to see the group. If I could choose a time to see them, then it would probably have been just before they hit the big time at the toppermost of the poppermost!!!

  3. brian

    While it’s fairly well known and even obvious to the listener that John had a heavy cold on the day ‘Please Please Me’ was recorded it amazes me that they couldn’t have waited a few more days for his condition to get better. Granted, they had a full schedule with not even a day off in February, 1963 but today no band or individual singer would have allowed it! Such were the conditions The Beatles worked under until they gained more control over their schedule.

  4. M. Whitener

    In my opinion, they never opened and closed another album better than this one.”I Saw Her Standing There” roared out the gate & is still one of the best examples of McCartney & Lennon singing off each other that ever recorded. Then the pure riot like energy of Twist & Shout to close the album leaves you the same place you started from. What more can you ask from a debut album?

    1. Eric

      Totally agree…ISHST has an amazing arrange… I don´t care if The Beatles were o are the best band.. they wer great and they ARE the standard other bands compare with… that’s the very thing…

  5. Angelo

    I always look for articles about the Fabs’ debut album. I own a great copy of the legendary Black and Gold with the Northern Songs correct credits, and it’s important that you confirm this issue to be even more valued and rare than the Dick James one. The best buy of “the real McCoy” should be the one I have especially if you tell me numbers do not exceed the thousand.
    Regards,
    PS Excellent website

  6. BB

    This album was magical to me way back then. I had never heard anything like it before and I was amazed that they wrote their songs (not all, but a lot), something very rare at that time except for Chuck Berry another favorite of mine.

    1. Joe Post author

      Not true. They had a policy of not releasing singles containing songs that had previously been on albums, but were happy to do so before (eg Ticket To Ride) or on the same day (Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby). The only time this broke down was Something/Come Together, which was released after Abbey Road. Allen Klein normally gets blamed for that decision.

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