The Beatles – With the Beatles

Typically bands have trouble following up their debut album. So, if you’re the best band in history, how do you respond?

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Typically bands have trouble following up their debut album. The reason for this is simple, they spent years working on the songs for their first album, perfecting them. Once they hit it big, they’re required to put out another album ASAP to follow it. If they don’t have other songs waiting to go, it can be a rough ride.

So, if you’re the best band in history, how do you respond? You open up a musical can of whoop ass, that’s how. FOUR MONTHS after releasing Please Please Me, they go back in the studio and record this amazing album. I don’t think there is a bad track on it, start to finish. Lots of quality deep cuts here. The fact that they wrote these songs while on their insane touring schedule makes it even more impressive. As you can see from Wikipedia, whenever they had a break in touring, radio, and TV spots, they’d go right into the studio and lay down what they could.

Now for the songs…

It Won’t Be Long

Because it’s so hard finding studio versions on YouTube, I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about Across the Universe. From 2008, it’s one of my favorite movies. It is the story of Jude and Lucy as they go through the 60’s, meet each other, fall in love, and then hit a rough patch when the Vietnam war breaks out. The movie is FULL of Beatles references, with the story moving along through musical numbers like the one below. You could watch it dozens of times and see something new. Evan Rachael Wood (Lucy) and Jim Sturgess (Jude) do an amazing job on the songs. There’s even a cameo by Bono.

In this scene, Lucy is excited to hear that her boyfriend, who is in the Army, is getting a weekend pass to come home and see her. Great song, kicks off the album perfectly.

 

Till There Was You

This wasn’t written by the Beatles, but Paul does an amazing job on this song. I think it is a great love song. Paul is giving us a look into what some of his classic love songs will be like on future albums. And the guitar playing on this song is excellent. Way to go George!

 

Money (That’s What I Want)

They got so much crap for this song and they didn’t even write it. Are they so different now than when they wrote Can’t Buy Me Love and All You Need is Love to redeem themselves several years later? Only they could say. It’s still a fun tune. Just enjoy it and quit being so serious!

 

All I’ve Got to Do

This is the second track on the album, but because I couldn’t find it done by the Beatles anywhere on YouTube due to US blocking, I moved it to the bottom. Another quality song. This video is just a guy in his practice room/kids playroom/office with an acoustic guitar, but I think it sounds great. He deserves some props, the dude has real talent. So, Brian Jepson, today is your day in the spotlight!

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through With the Beatles. I’m going chronologically through, so Hard Day’s Night is up next. Until next time….

Never stop the music.

D

 

 

 

 

The Beatles – Please Please Me

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.

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

PleasePleaseMe

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.

D