Please Please Me

The release

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Please Please Me was released by EMI subsidiary label Parlophone, in mono (PMC 1202) and stereo (PCS 3042). The mono version was issued six weeks before the stereo. It was also issued in 1963 on 4" 3¾ ips twin-track reel-to-reel tape, in mono only, as TA-PMC 1202.

At the time of Please Please Me's release, Parlophone was in the process of changing its label design. Early pressings of the vinyl disc's label featured gold writing on a black background. This version is now highly sought after, and, due to low public demand in 1963, the stereo version is particularly valued by collectors.

The labels on the very first pressing carried a publishing credit alongside each of the McCartney-Lennon originals, which said "Dick James Mus. Co." - apart from Love Me Do and PS I Love You, which were published by Ardmore & Beechwood Ltd.

A second pressing also featured the gold-on-black lettering, but the publishing credit had changed to "Northern Songs Ltd." These releases are equally as valuable, and it is believed that fewer than 1,000 copies of the mono and stereo versions were made.

From the third pressing Parlophone switched to the standard yellow-on-black block letter variation that was used by the company until 1969.

In the US the album was released on 10 January 1964 by the Vee-Jay label, under the title Introducing The Beatles. It lacked the songs Please Please Me and Ask Me Why, but the tracklisting was otherwise identical.

Please Please Me was first released on compact disc worldwide on 26 February 1987, along with With The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night and Beatles For Sale, all in mono.

Chart success

Although it would eventually sell millions of copies, Please Please Me wasn't an instant hit. It took six months for sales to top 250,000, although it did top the New Musical Express, Melody Maker, Record Retailer and Disc Weekly album charts.

Please Please Me entered the charts on 6 April 1963, remaining on the rundown for a total of 70 weeks. It reached number one on 11 May, where it stayed for 30 weeks.

Sleeve notes

The sleeve notes for Please Please Me, as with The Beatles' subsequent two UK albums, were written by the group's press officer Tony Barrow.

Pop picking is a fast 'n' furious business these days whether you are on the recording studio side listening out, or in the disc-counter side listening in. As a record reviewer I find myself installed halfway in-between with an ear cocked in either direction. So far as Britain's record collecting public is concerned, The Beatles broke into earshot in October, 1962. My natural hometown interest in the group prevented me taking a totally unbiased view of their early success. Eighteen months before their first visit to the EMI studios in London, The Beatles had been voted Merseyside's favourite outfit and it was inevitable that their first Parlophone record, LOVE ME DO, would go straight into the top of Liverpool's local hit parade. The group's chances of national chart entry seemed much more remote. No other team had joined the best-sellers via a debut disc. But The Beatles were history-makers from the start and LOVE ME DO sold enough copies during its first 48 hours in the shops to send it soaring into the national charts. In all the busy years since pop singles first shrank from ten to seven inches I have never seen a British group leap to the forefront of the scene with such speed and energy. Within the six months which followed the Top Twenty appearance of LOVE ME DO, almost every leading deejay and musical journalist in the country began to shout the praises of The Beatles. readers of the New Musical Express voted the boys into a surprisingly high place via the 1962/3 popularity poll...on the strength of just one record release. Pictures of the group spread themselves across the front pages of three national music papers. People inside and outside the record industry expressed tremendous interest in the new vocal and instrumental sounds which The Beatles had introduced. Brian Matthew (who has since brought The Beatles to many millions of viewers and listeners in his "Thank Your Lucky Stars", "Saturday Club" and "Easy Beat" programmes) describes the quartet as visually and musically the most exciting and accomplished group to emerge since The Shadows.

Disc reviewing, like disc producing, teaches one how to be wary about making long-term predictions. The hit parade isn't always dominated by the most worthy performances of the day so it is no good assuming that versatility counts for everything. It was during the recording of a Radio Luxembourg programme in the EMI Friday Spectacular series that I was finally convinced that The Beatles were about to enjoy the type of top-flight national fame which I had always believed that they deserved. the teen-audience didn't know the evening's line-up of artists and groups in advance, and before Muriel Young brought on The Beatles she began to read out their Christian names. She got as far as John...Paul...and the rest of her introduction was buried in a mighty barrage of very genuine applause. I cannot think of more than one other group - British or American - which would be so readily identified and welcomed by the announcement of two Christian names. To me, this was the ultimate proof that The Beatles (and not just one or two of their hit records) had arrived at the uncommon peak-popularity point reserved for discdom's privileged few. Shortly afterwards The Beatles proved their pop power when they by-passed the lower segments of the hit parade to scuttle straight into the nation's Top Ten with their second single, PLEASE PLEASE ME.

This brisk-selling disc went on to overtake all rivals when it bounced into the coveted Number One slot towards the end of February. Just over four months after the release of their very first record The Beatles had become triumphant chart-toppers!

Producer George Martin has never had any headaches over choice of songs for The Beatles. Their own built-in tunesmith team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney has already tucked away enough self-penned numbers to maintain a steady output of all-original singles from now until 1975! Between them The Beatles adopt a do-it-yourself approach from the very beginning. They write their own lyrics, design and eventually build their own instrumental backdrops and work out their own vocal arrangements. Their music is wild, pungent, hard-hitting, uninhibited...and personal. The do-it-yourself angle ensures complete originality at all stages of the process. Although so many people suggest (without closer definition) that The Beatles have a trans-Atlantic style, their only real influence has been from the unique brand of Rhythm and Blues folk music which abounds on the Merseyside and which The Beatles themselves have helped pioneer since their formation in 1960.

This record comprises eight Lennon-McCartney compositions in addition to six other numbers which have become firm love-performance favourites in The Beatles' varied repertoire.

The group's admiration for the work of The Shirelles is demonstrated by the inclusion of BABY IT'S YOU (John taking the lead vocal with George and Paul supplying the harmony), and BOYS (a fast rocker which allows drummer Ringo to make his first recorded appearance as a vocalist). ANNA, ASK ME WHY, and TWIST AND SHOUT also feature stand-out solo performances from John, whilst DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET hands the audio spotlight to George. MISERY may sound as though it is a self-duet created by the multi-recording of a single voice...but the effect is produced by the fine matching of two voices belonging to John and Paul. There is only one 'trick duet' and that is on A TASTE OF HONEY featuring a dual-voiced Paul. john and Paul get together on THERE'S A PLACE and I SAW HER STANDING THERE: George joins them for CHAINS, LOVE ME DO and PLEASE PLEASE ME.

Tony Barrow

21 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.

    1. Tony

      As most singers of any genre know, having a cold not is not necessarily detrimental to the voice; quite often it actually enhances it as long as the throat or chest and chest are not affected.

  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.
    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.

  7. Graham Paterson

    Please Please Me is one of the great debut albums of all time. I got my copy of this in early 1980. It begins with a Paul McCartney classic rocker in I Saw Her Standing There and ends with one of the great covers of all time , the iconic Twist and Shout that John Lennon/ The Beatles made his/their own. Lennons vocal on this with the answer-call with Paul and George is brilliant. There are many great numbers on this record, their first single Love Me Do and the follow up , the title track Please Please Me,which was such a huge leap forward in early 1963. George Martin deserves alot of the credit with his decision to speed this song up. P.S. I Love You, Ask Me Why, Theres A Place and Ringos belter Boys , great songs. Thats not to forget Do You Want To Know A Secret? This is my favorite debut album by a group of all time. Second place goes to the Rolling Stones self titled British first album release- The Rolling Stones. This came out in 1964,the year after Please Please Me. I got my first remastered copy belatedly in 1989.

    1. Oh!

      Because From Me To You wasn’t written until after the Please Please Me album was completed and sent off to be pressed. The album masters were completed on 1963-02-25, and From Me To You was written three days later. I don’t know when Thank You Girl was written, but both songs were considered candidates for the follow-up single at one time or another. Singles were more important than albums back then, so even if those two new songs were around at the time of recording the Please Please Me album, my guess is they would have held on to them to release as a single anyway.

  8. Steve

    For their second Single George Martin had wanted them to cover a Mitch Murray song laden with double entendres called “How do you do what you do to me’ which they refused to record. John went away and wrote Please Please me. It was no coincidence that this was also a song equally laden with double entendres. It’s worth listening to Gerry and the Pacemakers subsequent version of the Murray song to see how it clearly influenced Johns Lyrics.

    1. antnego

      Actually, they did record “How Do You..,” which can be heard on Anthology 1. The Beatles refused to RELEASE it as their second single. It became a demo of sorts, which Gerry and The Pacemakers built their recording on.

  9. Peter Harris

    I have a single which would have been in a juke box years ago, and both sides have the same label on, Ask me why, every thing including the numbers are the same, only one of the sides is Please Please me, anyone else came across this ? Jj

    1. Joe Post author

      Just for consistency’s sake, across the site. Some of the songs on PPM (Love Me Do, PS I Love You) were credited to Lennon-McCartney when first released, and it might have got confusing if I reversed the credits on those pages because of how the album displayed them. But it’s a perfectly valid point to raise.

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