Twist And Shout

Please Please Me album artworkWritten by: Medley-Russell
Recorded: 11 February 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 22 March 1963 (UK), 22 July 1963 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
Please Please Me
Anthology 1
On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2

The thrilling closer to the Please Please Me album, Twist And Shout showcased The Beatles at their primal, glorious, rock ‘n’ roll best.

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Twist and Shout was written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell. It was originally recorded by the Top Notes in 1961, although a version by The Isley Brothers released the following year became more popular.

It entered The Beatles’ live repertoire in 1962 – a live version from Hamburg’s Star-Club in December that year is available on bootleg recordings. The earliest known version, however, was recorded for the BBC’s Talent Spot radio show on 27 November 1962 at the corporation’s Paris Studio, London.

Unfortunately the recording has since been lost. The Beatles recorded Twist And Shout nine times in total for the BBC, none of which appeared on the Live At The BBC collection.

The best-known version, of course, was recorded for the Please Please Me album. The session took place on 11 February 1963, when it was the last of 10 songs recorded for the album that day.

Twist And Shout continued to be part of The Beatles’ live set following the album’s release. It was the final song at their Sunday Night at the London Palladium performance on 13 October 1963, widely held to signal the start of Beatlemania.

They also performed the song at the Royal Command Performance on 4 November 1963, and for their February 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

For our last number I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewellery. We’d like to sing a song called Twist And Shout.
John Lennon
Royal Command Performance, 1963

The Beatles continued to perform Twist And Shout until the end of their August 1965 US tour, which culminated in a performance at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, on 31 August. An incomplete recording of the song, taken from a radio report of the show, survives on bootleg.

In the studio

Twist And Shout was recorded on 11 February 1963 after 10pm, the time the Please Please Me album session was scheduled to have ended. Producer George Martin wanted a show-stopper with which to close the album, and he had just one song in mind.

I knew that Twist And Shout was a real larynx-tearer and I said, ‘We’re not going to record that until the very end of the day, because if we record it early on, you’re not going to have any voice left.’ So that was the last thing we did that night. We did two takes, and after that John didn’t have any voice left at all. It was good enough for the record, and it needed that linen-ripping sound.
George Martin
Anthology

Over coffee, biscuits and warm milk, The Beatles and the production staff decided that the only option was the band’s biggest crowd-pleaser: their cover of Twist And Shout, a hit for The Isley Brothers from the previous year.

With time against them and Lennon’s voice on the verge of giving up, they knew they had to get it right first time.

By this time all their throats were tired and sore – it was 12 hours since we had started working. John’s, in particular, was almost completely gone so we really had to get it right first time, The Beatles on the studio floor and us in the control room. John sucked on a couple more Zubes [throat sweets], had a bit of a gargle with milk and away we went.
Norman Smith, engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles treated the control room staff as their audience, pretending they were in a live performance and hyping themselves up accordingly.

John was stripped to the waist to do this most amazingly raucous vocal. The next morning Norman Smith and I took a tape around all the studio copying rooms saying to everybody: ‘What the hell do you think of this!’
Cris Neal, engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

John Lennon gave the throat-shredding performance of his career. McCartney and Harrison joined for the harmonies, and all the band – not least Ringo, with his powerhouse drumming – played with an intensity that still sounds remarkable. Culminating in McCartney’s triumphant ‘Hey!’, the exhilarating recording was the closest The Beatles ever got to matching the intensity of their club shows of the time.

The last song nearly killed me. My voice wasn’t the same for a long time after; every time I swallowed it was like sandpaper. I was always bitterly ashamed of it, because I could sing it better than that; but now it doesn’t bother me. You can hear that I’m just a frantic guy doing his best.
John Lennon, 1976
Anthology

Only two takes of Twist And Shout were recorded. The first made it to the album; by the second Lennon’s voice had gone, and the session came to a halt.

Chart success

Twist And Shout was released as a single in the US on 2 March 1964 by the Tollie label. It reached number two on the Billboard chart.

In the UK the song was the title track of The Beatles’ first EP, which topped the charts following its release on 12 July 1963. The other songs on the EP were A Taste Of Honey, Do You Want To Know A Secret and There’s A Place.

In Canada Twist And Shout was the title track of the second Beatles album released by Capitol. It was issued on 3 February 1964.

Lyrics

Well, shake it up, baby now (shake it up baby)
Twist and shout (twist and shout)
C’mon c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, baby now (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out (work it on out, whoo)

Well, work it on out honey (work it on out)
You know you look so good (look so good)
You know you got me going now (got me going)
Just like I knew you would (like I knew you would)

Well, shake it up, baby now (shake it up baby)
Twist and shout (twist and shout)
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, baby now (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out (work it on out, whoo)

You know you twist it little girl (twist little girl)
You know you twist so fine (twist so fine)
Come on and twist a little closer now (twist a little closer)
And let me know that you’re mine (let me know you’re mine, whoo)

Well, shake it up, baby now (shake it up baby)
Twist and shout (twist and shout)
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, baby now (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out (work it on out)

You know you twist it little girl (twist little girl)
You know you twist so fine (twist so fine)
Come on and twist a little closer now (twist a little closer)
Aand let me know that you’re mine (let me know you’re mine)

Well shake it, shake it, shake it, baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it, baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it, baby now (shake it up baby)

10 responses on “Twist And Shout

  1. mithveaen

    I’m not sure.. but at the end of Twist and Shout… in PPM’s Stereo Boxset there’s a “gasp” at the end of the song.. has anybody noticed it? It’s around 2:29 or 2:30…. just after Paul’s “Hey!!”

  2. M. Whitener

    The most powerful song they ever recorded. And also the most energetic finale track in their catalog. They tried to duplicate the intensity of this one as an album closer all the way until Revolver. But I can’t blame them for not being able to do it again, this was magic.

    Lennon delivered one of the great vocal efforts in rock history & all their playing was amazingly in tune. Add in the great matching harmonies, one of Paul’s best screams in the middle of the climbing peak of the song & John’s howling end vocal where’s he’s pulling his last bit out his soul & you’ve got the club Beatles sound perfectly recorded forever.

  3. Johan

    Am never clear on exactly how they recorded the first album. Most of the comments from George Martin, Emerick, and The Beatles are that they were recorded “live”. Does anyone know whether that means rhythm and vocal tracks at once or were the rhythm takes perfected and then vocals overdubbed? The quote here from Cris Neal about John being stripped to the waist for his vocal makes it sound like they’d recorded the rhythm track and then overdubbed the vocals on the second track.

    1. Jordy

      Correct me if I’m wrong, anybody, but I do believe that “live” in terms of studio recording means that the whole band played together at the same time.

  4. Bob Dalziel

    Does anyone know if the Version they recorded in april 1964 for the AROUND THE BEATLES British TV Special has ever been released Officially ? Ive heard it in its original Form …………before it was mimed with the crowd screams added , and its A GREAT Performance. If it hasnt been officially released it NEEDS to be.

  5. Donald Kirkbride

    if you listen carefully to the please please me album twist and shout track you can hear lennons voice getting raspier near the end of the song

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