The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963): Review

beatles

Produced by George Martin
Label – Parlophone

Critical evaluation will reveal that “Please Please Me” isn’t the most celebrated Beatles recording. As the story unfolds throughout the decade there would be triumphant moments that would easily surpass this emergent long player and would identify the Liverpool four piece as the greatest pop band in history. However, what is wholly unique about this and all the early recordings is the level of irresistible public recognition they gathered, and this loyal reverence would eventually create the time and space for the band to freely develop their own sonic experiments resulting in masterpieces that would lay the influential bedrock in popular music for the next half a century. Surely few but the band and their driven manager would have recognised the potential at this embryonic stage in their career, but the combination of years of tightly honed performance, three brilliant song writers, Brian Epstein’s sharply focused attention to presentation and hard work, and producer George Martin’s musical vision would eventually lead to the astonishing domination of worldwide charts for years to come.

beatles

The recording of “Please Please Me” was lightning fast, delivered in 4 three hour sessions over a single day, as the band banged out a selection from their high energy live set. Part of the irresistible appeal is the fresh immediacy of the collection, the raw and ragged edges still entwined to add a sense of the urgent intention to capitalise on the successful singles. The stand out songs bookend the record as Paul McCartney counts in the beat for the rousing “I Saw Her Standing There”. Lennon, suffering with a heavy cold at the time, delivers a superbly throat shredding vocal performance on the closer “Twist And Shout”. The title track is an early example of Lennon and McCartney’s perfectly formed realisation of simple but effective harmony vocals to boost a classic melody. There are imperfections but given the rapidity of the recording process one can forgive McCartney’s overtly melodramatic vocal on “A Taste Of Honey” which sounds like an outtake from a Bachelors long player and Ringo’s “Boys” which is just a little too ramshackle to take seriously.

The Beatles path to glory would never be defined by their debut album, but one can’t deny that this hastily put together collection has all the fresh appeal, originality and charm to pave the way for an astonishing future.

8/10

Track Rating
1 – I Saw Her Standing There 10
2 – Misery 8
3 – Anna (Go To Him) 8
4 – Chains 7
5 – Boys 6
6 – Ask Me Why 7
7 – Please Please Me 10
8 – Love Me Do 8
9 – P.S. I Love You 8
10 – Baby It’s You 7
11 – Do You Want To Know A Secret 8
12 – A Taste Of Honey 6
13 – There’s A Place 8
14 – Twist And Shout 10

Love Me Do

Please Please Me

Twist And Shout

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3 responses to “The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963): Review

  1. Please Please Me isn’t my favorite Beatles album, but it’s fun to listen to, and it has some great tracks. And you’re right — it really helped lay the groundwork that allowed the Beatles to make groundbreaking music a few years later.

  2. Have to totally agree with your comments about “A Taste of Honey” and “Boys”, especially when more suitable covers from their back-catalogue and Decca auditions include the bustling “Besame Mucho” and the lively “Ain’t She Sweet”. The speed and raw passion that exuberated from this album set a benchmark which hasn’t been matched before or since, even by the lads themselves in their pre-Revolver days.

    On a side note, always have felt that “Do You Want To Know A Secret” could’ve benefited from a more raucous production and deeper bottom-end, whilst it is a pleasant enough tune – at times carried by Harrison’s forlorn vocal and the charismatic “I’m in love with you, oooooo” line – it does seem like a lightweight throwaway, something which Lennon almost admitted to by saying he wrote it specifically for Harrison as it didn’t have “too many notes in it”.

    Hope you’re well! Josh.

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