“Please Please Me”: 53 Years Ago The World Changed Forever

PleasePleaseMe

On March 22nd, 1963, the Beatles released their debut LP, “Please Please Me”.  That was 53 years ago, and it would signal the paradigm shift in pop culture, global fashion, social perspectives and history in general. That is heavy praise that may be impossible to perceive, but consider this: Reflect back and ponder whether or not the events of March 22nd, 1910 would be deemed relevant 53 years later.

Produced by George Martin and containing the British standard of 14 songs (the U.S. standard was 10), it clocked in at a surprising satisfying 32:45 playing time. It is fairly easy to view this 20/20 hindsight. Although the charm and energy is obvious, there could not have been any precognition of the global hysteria that would follow less than a year later. The Beatles had placed their first single “Love Me Do” in the UK Top 20, and their second one “Please Please Me” went to No. 1. It was that chart achievement that prompted the Beatles’ label Parlaphone/EMI to have a full length album recorded in a rapid turnaround.

The singles and their B-sides would be included, which still left another 10 songs required to fill both sides. In what is historically a jaw dropping feat, the Beatles delivered by recording 11 songs in under just 13 hours, 10 of which were used to turn England (and later the U.S. and more) of its head. This recording marathon took place on February 11th, and on February 20th George Martin himself overdubbed piano and celesta on two of the tracks.

Fully realizing that quality cover tunes would be at a premium, Martin had encouraged Lennon and McCartney to pen their own material. They responded by delivered 9 Lennon-McCartney originals, and recording 5 inspired cover versions of the songs “Boys”, “Baby, It’s You”, “Anna (Go To Him)”, “Chains” and “Twist and Shout”, the final track which has endured to find it’s own legend.

“Twist and Shout” itself was the very last song recorded in the late evening hours. All 4 band members were exhausted, with Ringo Starr having taken one lead vocal, George Harrison two, Paul McCartney three, and then harmonizing with John Lennon (in the style of the Everly Brothers) on another 4. John Lennon himself sang three leads, and his voice was raw from a bad cold, ill prepared to take on a fouth. However he did, and he nailed it on the first and only take. (Note: Listen closely and you can hear how hoarse he had become.)

Before they ceased recording together at the conclusion of 1969, the Beatles would release 13 studio albums. “Rubber Soul, “Revolver”, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road” would forever alter standards and expectations of music lovers everywhere. Even in the U.S., the Beatles first several LPs were re-edited with different 10 song running orders, so their American debut “Meet The Beatles” is a completely different LP. Afford yourself the opportunity to listen to the CD version of “Please Please Me” and try to imagine the world 53 years later without it. It may be impossible.

 

 

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