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Please Please Me isn’t a great album and you can live without it. However it is an awesome album considering it was recorded in one day! Just 13 hours and the best track was recorded last and in one take. As would become clear throughout the sixties the Beatles were breaking new ground and the album was more significant at the time than it sounds now. Please Please Me is a coherent album, uneven perhaps, a version of their stage show, but a set of songs performed in the distinctive emerging Mersey Beat style; breakthrough stuff in early 1963. Its’ nearest rival at the time, Summer Holiday by Cliff and the Shadows, had launched three number one singles in early 1963 but reflected the limited thinking of the music industry. It was the then perfect combination of soundtrack, love songs and dance tunes. I went to see the film with my Mum and enjoyed it immensely. Cliff was a family entertainer doing what the industry wanted and I wasn’t a teenager yet. Significantly The Beatles had enough self-belief to insist on doing their own songs and so changed the rules of the recording industry, but they also promoted the music they loved because they were music fans; soul music in particular, Motown, Arthur Alexander and also Bacharach and Goffin and King. More detail on each song on Wikipedia.

As the story indicates I actually went to someone’s house to listen to the current No1 single, From Me To You and was stunned that he also had The Beatles album which he then played me and 1! 2!! 3!!! 4!!! I Heard It Sitting There. As Bob Spitz points out in The Beatles; The Biography, I Saw Her Standing There was already a live showstopper in 1961, so when I heard it for the first time in May 1963 it wasn’t exactly new. The thing is though that people didn’t buy albums by pop groups as a listening experience then but as a fan experience. But when the pre-teen me listened to Please Please Me it was, in effect, like going to my first live show by a group; obviously signaled by opening with I Saw Her Standing There, which along with Twist and Shout was the track that got the word out on the street. Most albums then, and the big hit albums were soundtracks, were souvenirs of another experience, but Please Please Me actually felt like an experience in its own right and there was absolutely no competition. They had taken the game away from Cliff and the Shadows at the peak of their success, like Usain Bolt in an Olymic 100m final. The Rolling Stones first album was still 13 months away and they were still waiting their leg up from The Beatles with I Wanna Be Your Man (never released on a Greatest Hits album by the Stones). From the release of Please Please Me until the end of 1963 Mersey Beat groups managed by Brian Epstein and recorded by George Martin had an unsurpassed run of hit and number one records and Mersey Beat dominated the UK Music Scene.

So not a great album but a game changer.

Oh and let me know your reaction to the album in the poll below. You can also view some of the tracks discussed here on A Beatles Youtube History before voting.

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3 Comments

  1. Mike Grimshaw said,

    July 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t like the other tracks! I loved every track on the album, but when you saw the Fab 4 performing Twist & Shout, it was just so exciting.

  2. fred6368 said,

    July 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Mike, I agree!
    I saw The Royal Variety Performance when Lennon asked for jewelry to be rattled and loved it. The Twist and Shout EP was my first Beatles record too.

  3. August 2, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    […] of most of 1963 and Please Please Me, the album. You can read my story about Please Please Me on 9 after 909 and vote for your favourite track if you want […]


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