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

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

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.


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)

30 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!!”

    1. Father McCartney

      I believe someone – possibly John – says the word “Cor!” right at the end after Paul’s “Hey!” You can hear it quite clearly if you listen to the remastered album through earphones.

  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.

      1. Kim Polomka

        Lennon created this group…He invented the name..He was street smart enough to know that it was politically astute to have no leader, but everyone including Eppy and Martin knew who the leader was, this also added to the charm for the public, it was their branding so to speak. This had never been done before. He was also the first to divorce from the group before Paul made his statement. He was the only real rock and roll devotee in the group. Once Lennon was removed from the Beatle Brand by death, the Beatles ceased. He was the first to question the Beatle myth, that there was more to life…Macca on the other hand lives this myth via Wings and current tours, as does Ringo. George was the closest to Lennon artistically. The cake has gone only the icing remains.

  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

  6. cold turkey 1987

    Another example of the beatles using obstacles or mistake s to their advantage with his raspy throat. Being able to make use of accidents or mistakes to work for them was a trait the beatles mastered. 2nd fav closing track.

  7. Paul Smith

    The Beatles Twist and Shout into my life and dreams everytime I hear them. Please, Please me and Play it AGAIN John, Paul, George and Ringo (Richard). P.S. I love YOU all.

  8. Utamia

    If you search youtube for “Please Please me mini documentary” at the end paul says hastily “Thats it, its a master.” Hence they were only able to take two takes of twist and shout johns voice was going and they all knew that. Paul had defended john to say that that was the end of it telling the producers its a master so they dont kill john. The reason I know that this is a small snippet of take two of twist and shout is because if you listen at the very beginning of that snippet at the instrument tone, and you raise the right channel of twist and shout take 1 stereo, the vocal track, at the very very end where its nearly all faded out, if you raise the volume you can hear the same tone, just keep replaying the please please me mini documentary ending and the twist and shout richt channel ending amplification.

    1. PaulK

      They didn’t, as they only signed to Wand Records (the US label that ‘T&S’ was issued on) in 1962 – the original recording (by the Top Notes) was only issued the year before, so 1960 doesn’t even come into it…

  9. Graham Paterson

    One of the great covers. First heard this in the 70’s when I was a kid and always loved it. Got my copy of album ” Please Pleas Me” in early 1980 and also now have this on 45 as a single and on the original British E.P. John Lennon’s vocal is amazing. What a great way to finish the marathon session that produced the first Beatles album. I love Lennon’s rave ups. ” Money” that ends ” With the Beatles” is brilliant and I love ” Bad Boy ” and ” Dizzy Miss Lizzy “.

  10. Dan L

    For its raw, passionate, searing power, I’ve always considered John’s singing on Twist and Shout to be the greatest rock n’ roll vocal of all time. (Runners-up might include Presley’s Jailhouse Rock, Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti, Paul’s Long Tall Sally….other candidates?)

    Had the Beatles never recorded again, this performance alone would have immortalized them.

  11. SaxonMothersSon

    The greatest rock parentheses I ever experienced: The Beatles opened their show on Sept. 13, 1964 with Twist & Shout by John and closed the show with Long Tall Sally by Paul. As I believe George said: “A good little rock n roll band!” They kicked butt!

  12. Dagfinn Moe

    This recording that evening has everything. The desire, the joy of music and rock and roll, high performance quality and some madness. Together this performance is a moment of a lifetime. I use this performance in my work as a neuroscientist to tell people about how the brain is working during such an ultimate performance. You have to search in your life for situations where you can play twist and shout like this.

  13. Julie

    “The Beatles recorded Twist And Shout nine times in total for the BBC, none of which appeared on the Live At The BBC collection.”

    But it WAS on Volume 2. 🙂

  14. manteau

    I bow to you, paulK, you are right, it was written in 61 and released in 62, sometimes I’m wrong, I hate to admit it, but you’re absolutely right !

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