Deep Dive: Beatles first studio album
This post will be a deep dive into the Please Please Me album by The Beatles. Released in 1963, this album marks the first of twelve official UK album releases by the group. It has been said that it was recorded and produced in a very rushed fashion following the nearly immediate success of “Love Me Do.”
The album is most widely recognized not only for being the first Beatles album, but also for its sound quality. Sonically the album undertones the “live performance sound” they became so known for in the early days of playing at Liverpool’s The Cavern Club.
Like most all of The Beatles albums, all songs were written and credited to the lead men of the group, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. No “credited” George or Ringo moments on this one. Boo.
The album opens with “I Saw Her Standing There.” The emotion and rock and roll vibe is so classic Beatles. Hearing this song live is concert is always an unreal experience. My favorite to date was at Madison Square Garden where Paul brought out Bruce Springsteen. They played this song in full, together, twice in a row. The crowd was going absolutely wild and I am so fortunate that I was able to witness that, in such a legendary venue. (That’s a whole ‘nother blog post in itself.)
“Misery” is the next track. It definitely changes tone from the upbeat rock and roll song prior. It picks up with the guitars but the message is still so blatantly there. I love John’s leading vocals on this song. It’s short and sweet.
A cover of Arthur Alexander’s song is the third on this album. “Anna (Go To Him)” is another sad, broken heart song led by John. This song became distinctive for The Beatles with George’s lead guitar. It also is a pivotal mark for the four as it shows a successful delivery of a cover song.
The next song, “Chains,” is a cover, too. “Chains” was actually written by Carole King and Gerry Goffen, for Little Eva’s backup group called The Cookies. Kinda confusing, huh? But I first learned this song off Please Please Me and I really like the way they deliver it. Interestingly enough, George sings lead vocals on this one.
Next up is Ringo’s time to sing “Boys.” I actually saw Ringo perform this in Atlanta last year, which...was something. Cool to see. But don’t need to see ever again. Anyways, this recording is another cover song. Whenever I hear this song, I instantly picture Ringo on the drums singing and bobbing his head from side to side and flipping his hair. Young Ringo.
”Ask Me Why” is another love song on this album. Lead vocals are by Lennon. I love the truth and honesty you can hear in his singing. Especially the lyrics, “If I cry it’s not because I’m sad, but you’re the only love that I’ve ever had!” I think this song is cute. And I love John’s voice.
And now...the title of the album makes sense. “Please Please Me” is an upbeat rock and roll anthem, classic Beatles. I enjoy the call and response part “come on, come on” and just the overall rhythm of the song. The vibe of this song is great.
"Love Me Do” is another one that I’ve seen Paul do live multiple times. He always shares a funny story about it, too. He explains how John had to play the harmonica and sing lead vocals on this one, and John was having a hard time singing “love me dooooo” after the harmonica piece...so, legend Beatles’ producer, George Martin, asked Paul to give it a try. Paul was so nervous, he claimed, and he says to this day he can still hear his voice shaking as he sang that. How funny is that to think? Paul McCartney got nervous. This was their absolute debut single.
I love this song. “P.S. I Love You.” It’s just so cute. This was the b-side to the single release of “Love Me Do.” My favorite part of this song is the interaction between John and Paul. They both sing their share, and I especially love at the end of the track where Paul sings in a higher pitch “you know I want you to.” They’re essentially ad-libbing, for a few seconds. And I love it!
“Baby It’s You” is straight up a John song, though it is a cover of a Shirelle’s song. I love the animated vocals John sings. His voice sounds SO GOOD.
This next song is one of my absolute favorites off this album, and has been since my first listen of the album. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” has George, again, singing lead vocal. I have this album on a vinyl picture disc and I just remember watching it spin, listening to this song. I think this song made me really like George.
Honestly, I never was super into this song. It is definitely one of the only Beatles songs that I can list in that category. “A Taste of Honey” is a song I could do without. It’s a super short song, but I do like the Paul vocals on here. But yeah, not my favorite by any means.
Now this one, “There’s a Place,” is another of my favorites on this album. It’s a fun song. You can hear them laughing recording this, and I love that quality so much.
"Twist and Shout” is obviously a very well-known track...but it’s not an original Beatles song. It’s a cover of The Top Notes song (originally), but was also later more known by The Isley Brothers. Either way, The Beatles close Please Please Me with this track. It’s a fun, upbeat, classic young Beatles rock and roll song. Also a great hair shaking song as well.
So, what's the consensus? Overall, I love this album and think it’s pivotal for the Fab Four and establishes their grounds as the rock and roll legends that the group was. This album is great as it showcases each Beatle singing at least once...kinda rare, but I love it here. And this album proves that these young lads from Liverpool can both write their own songs AND cover songs successfully. They can also shake their hair while they do it. And have every girl obsessed with them. So yeah, I’d say these guys did "pretty good" with this album.