The Beatles' very first album, Please Please Me, was released 50 years ago today in the United Kingdom. The 14-track collection arrived as the Beatlemania craze was beginning to spread throughout the Fab Four's homeland. Packed with such classic John Lennon-Paul McCartney compositions as the title track, "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You," plus several memorable cover tunes, Please Please Me only served to escalate the fans' fervor for the group.
The album was put together to capitalize on the band's popularity in the wake of the chart-topping success of the group's "Please Please Me." With a hectic touring schedule limiting their time, The Beatles decided to record the 10 songs they needed to complete the album in just one day, which they accomplished in a marathon 10-hour session at London's Abbey Road Studios on February 11, 1963.
Speaking with ABC News Radio, respected Beatles author and scholar Bruce Spizer says one of the reasons for the record's fresh and dynamic sound was that, with the exception of some minimal overdubbing, The Beatles were playing and singing live in the studio. He added that the crafty Abbey Road engineers aided the recording's sonic quality by placing "the microphones a little bit further away from the amplifiers, so they not only picked up what was coming out of the amplifier, but also the ambient sound of the studio itself."
One of the most memorable tracks on Please Please Me is the band's rendition of the rocking Isley Brothers tune "Twist and Shout." The song, which closes out the album, also was the final track laid down, and for good reason. The song called for some serious screaming from Lennon who, says Spizer, already had been suffering from a "horrible sore throat," so producer George Martin thought it best to hold off on recording it until the end of the day.
"By the time they did 'Twist and Shout,' [Lennon's] voice was just about shot," explains Spizer. "And when you listen to it, you can hear the strain in his voice. So, between the strain in John's vocal cords and the passion he gave it, it becomes what I would consider to be the greatest rock and roll vocal of all time."
Recounting a somewhat gruesome story involving "Twist and Shout," the author notes that after the recording, "John picked up a glass of milk and drank it, and when he put the glass of milk back down on the table, there was blood in the milk."
Spizer suggests that one of the most significant achievements of Please Please Me was that it helped the album overtake the single as the dominant music format.
"People were running out and buying the album itself because of the quality of all of the songs," notes Bruce. "[So] it taught the record companies in the U.K. and, later, the United States that a well-crafted album was something that teenagers would be willing to purchase."
Please Please Me eventually went on to hit #1 on the U.K. albums chart and remained on top of the tally until it was replaced by The Beatles' second long player, With the Beatles, later in 1963. A few months after that, The Beatles similarly would conquer the U.S.
In an interesting note, Please Please Me actually wasn't officially issued in the U.S. until February 1987, when The Beatles catalog was standardized for the debut release of the band's albums on CD.
Find out more about Spizer and his Beatles-related endeavors at Beatle.net.
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