I would say The Beatles are my all time favorite band. Not that I’m going out on a limb by saying it, because they’re one of the most popular of all time. But, when you really dig deep into their music and story, you find a group of four extremely hard working and talented young guys who loved music. They worked hard at their craft and their sound evolved and changed as they matured and experimented with different instruments and song writing ideas.
When you follow their discography, they put out an amazing amount of material in a very short amount of time, much to the world’s benefit. Their creativity was running at a mile a minute. You’ll find several stories like this, about how they wrote the song Hard Day’s Night. George Martin told John and Paul that they needed a title track for their movie album and the next morning they walk in with that classic. Probably took them 15 minutes to get it all down.
Because of this rich history and my love of every one of their albums, I’m going to slow down and dedicate one post to each of their albums. That way I can take my time with each and give them the attention I believe they deserve individually.
Please Please Me
The Beatles had been a very successful live club playing in Germany and then returning to London for their epic tenure at the Cavern Club, where they started to gain a following. According to Wikipedia, Please Please Me was basically a live recording of one of their Cavern Club sets. It only took 3 recording sessions, a total of 9 hours and 45 minutes to record this classic. In studio time, that’s a ridiculously short for an album of this quality. There were very few overdubs, just the performances recorded onto a two track tape recorder.
Some interesting facts about this album:
- It wasn’t released in the US until 1987, when the Beatles catalog was converted to CD. Some of the songs were released on other LPs, but the full album was not
- The classic John Lennon vocals for Twist and Shout were done on the very first take, at the end of the day. He had a cold and they worried recording this song would shred his vocal chords, which it did
- The photo on the album cover was taken in the stairwell of EMI Records. If you’ve seen the retrospective albums 1962–1966 and 1967–1970, you’ll recognize this photo was repeated several years later and the two were used on the album covers. Very cool touch.
On a personal note, I didn’t actually hear this album until 1995, when I slowly collected The Beatles’ full discography, one used CD at a time. I recognized all of the hit songs, as my dad listened to the retrospective albums all the time as I was growing up. The big realization to me, was that the entire album was very good. Even the tracks that never made airplay were excellent.
Here’s some of my favorites, all of which have become iconic songs from this time period.
I Saw Her Standing There
Wow, what a way to kick off an album.
Please Please Me
This is a very upbeat and fun song. I couldn’t find an album version anywhere out there, so here’s a restored version of the song live in Washington DC. Like most Beatles concerts it’s nearly impossible to hear the band over the screaming of the girls in the audience.
Twist and Shout
Here’s that classic vocal performance from John Lennon with perfect harmonies by Paul and George. Just makes you want to shout along with them at the ending part. They didn’t write this song, but it is an amazing performance. Like the other, I couldn’t find the album version out there, but this is a famous performance, done in front of the Queen. That joke about the cheap seats is a famous one.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the songs. With the Beatles is up next.