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The Beatles' "Please Please Me" Review

I live in the Netherlands. And I love to travel. That is when and where knowing languages comes in handy.

Please Please Me


John Lennon, 1963

Paul McCartney, 1963

Monday 11 February 1963. Beatles "Please Please me"

Mark Lewinson describes that Monday in his book The Complete Beatles recording sessions as "There can scarcely have been more productive minutes in the history of recorded music. For in those 10 hours, the John, Paul, John and Ringo recorded ten new tunes for their first album. Together with the previous recordings, the four sides of their first two singles, a 14-song long-player was born"

Of the album's fourteen tunes, eight were penned by Lennon/McCartney, straight evidence that the band was on the brink of forever changing the way the music business was run. Now artists would become self-containing by and, working on their own songs and playing their own instruments on hit records.

In order for the LP to include fourteen songs ten more tracks were required to add to the four sides of the Beatles first two singles recorded and issued previously.

Hence, at 10:00 am on Monday, February 11th of 1963, The Beatles and their producer George Martin began recording what was basically their live act in 1963, and finished 9 hours and 45 minute.

In a mere three sessions that Monday (each going on for approximately three hours) they presented an authentic reproduction of their Cavern Club-era live sound.

George Harrison, 1963

Ringo Starr, 1963

What Else Happened In 1963

In 1963, the UK leadership of both main political parties changes. John Profumo, a cabinet minister for War resigns over his affair with Christine Keeler. After confessing to have deceived the Parliament also made the paper as did the rise of The Beatles. Later the Profumo affair would be made into the movies Scandal with John hurt in a leading role. But I digress.

  • The Winter of 1963 was the worst in Britain since 1946-1947
  • Charles De Gaulle *the french politician with the very large nose and ego vetoes United Kingdom's entry into the EEC.
  • 70,000 demonstrators arrive in London to protest against the growing arsenal of nuclear weapons.
  • The USA, UK and USSR sign a test ban treaty on nuclear weapons
  • The famous Great (Royal Mail) Train Robbery takes place. In the 1965 Beatles film, Help! John Lennon makes a sarcastic reference to that train robbery in Scotland Yard with the quote "Great Train Robbery, how's that going?"
  • The first episode of BBC Television science fiction series Doctor Who is aired.
  • Kenya, Zanzibar and Malaysia gain their independence from the United Kingdom,
  • After an uninterrupted 30-week run at the top of the UK Albums Chart, The Beatles long player Please Please Me is knocked off the top of the charts by the group's second album With the Beatles

Please Please Me with Lyrics

The Beatles Please Please Me Full Album

The Music on the Beatles album "Please Please Me"

In this hub, I am discussing the UK version that features six covers out of 14 songs on the album.

What is really remarkable about Please Please Me is that there are eight originals on the record. Most other groups in that period would have maybe gotten one or two songs on their record, but almost everything they did would have been covers.
In fact, the music business had many songwriters coming up with songs that were eventually played by session musicians and sung by the artist.
What is truly exceptional on here is that the Beatles have so much of their own compositions on their very first album.
The six covers however tell us a something about the influences on the Beatles' music.

  1. Anna was a song that had been originally done by Arthur Alexander.
  2. Chains, a girl group song that had been a minor hit hit the Cookies.
  3. Boys, a girl group sung *by the Shirelles, in fact it as the B side of Will You Still Love MeTomorrow.
  4. Baby It's You, another Shirelles girl group song, that reached he top 10 in the UK.
  5. A Taste of Honey. A Bobby Scott tune from a soundtrack
  6. Twist and Shout by the Isley Brothers sung by John famously at the end of the session.

When you look at the early imaging of the Beatles, one of the changes Brian Epstein made in the bands appearance is he got them out of their leather gear into matching suits, wearing Beatle boots, and showing off their hair cuts.
He really cleaned up their act, and when they are presented live onstage, you will see that the lead singer is always at one mike and the two background vocalists at another mike. Resembling the appearance of the popular girl bands of that era.

As far as the music is concerned you can say that:

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  • All the songs on the album are short, arranged and very polished.
  • The songs are short, very much arranged, and always falling around the two minutes to two minutes and 20 second time line, which is perfect for broadcasting the songs on the radio
  • The vocals are very much up front. These Beatles records are essentially singing records.
  • The songs are not led by like guitar licks or guitar solos. It's all about the singing. Any guitar solo is short and provided for contrast.George Harrison could well be one of the masters of the perfect pop guitar solo.They're not fancy. Just the right thing to fit in the tune in the context of what the Beatles needed.
  • Lot of emphasis on harmony singing, especially the two-part vocals between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, in many ways influenced by the Everly Brothers.

Early Beatles music seems to be extremely influenced by American pop.
It acquires much more Britishness as the Beatles careers develop, but on this album it is an homage to American popular music.
It's simple instrumentation, a couple of guitars, bass, some vocals, drums. Without extensive dubbing.

What you hear is essentially meant to be a snapshot of what you might hear if the group was in front of you playing at that particular moment.

When you compare these, recordings on the albums with the BBC recordings, which were in fact done live, they really do sound very much like each other.

Memphis, Chuck Berry

Please, Bing Crosby

Please Please Me, The Song

The title track is credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

But is is most likely mostly a John song.

In Please Please Me John begins to show interest in tricky things going on in lyrics.
He was fascinated by what Chuck Berry would do with lyrics sometimes.
Like for instance the song Memphis by ChuckBerry with its kind of a surprise ending.
Another illustration is the song by Bing Crosby called Please.

The lyrics having to do in this song with please hear my pleas.

The lyrics of Please Please obviously have some double meanings.
Think of the lines ‘I’ll Keep You Satisfied’ and ‘Please Please Me’ ... like I pleased you.

With all the explicit warnings for language used on many songs these double meaning seem rather innocent. But at that time, they were kinda naughty.

Please Please me had initially been a slower song.

But George Martin didn't like it that slow, so they sped it up, and they got the version that we are used to.

The Everly brothers song Cathy's Clown could have been an influence too on the song vocally.

In retrospect isn't it funny that The Beatles had difficulty getting the album released in the US.

Your Favorite Song

Please Please Me

Please Please Me: The Album Tracks

You can listen and watch several of the 14 tracks by clicking on the videos below. Enjoy!

Below each video is a link more information about each song.

I Saw Her Standing There Track 1 Side 1

Chains, Track 4 Side 1

Boys Track 5 Side 1

Ask Me Why Track 6 Side 1

  • Ask Me Why
    "Ask Me Why" is a song by the Beatles originally released in the United Kingdom as the B-side of their hit single "Please Please Me".
  • Please Please Me
    "Please Please Me" is the second single released by the Beatles in the United Kingdom, and the first to be issued in the United States.

Love Me Do Track 1 Side 2

P.S. I Love You Track 2 Side 2

Baby It's You Track 3 Side 2

A Taste of Honey Track 5 Side 2

There's A Place Track 6 Side 2

Beatles Please Please Me Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who produced the record
    • Norman Smith
    • George Martin
    • Phil Spector
  2. Who sings lead vocals on "i saw her standing there"?
    • George
    • John
    • Paul
  3. Who wrote "anna".
    • Arthur Alexander
    • Carole King
    • Lennon/McCartney
  4. Which Beatle was the oldest?
    • George
    • Paul
    • John
    • Ringo
  5. Which Beatles film was released in 1964?
    • A Hard Days Night
    • Help
    • Yellow Submarine
    • Magical Mystery Tour
    • Let It Be

Answer Key

  1. George Martin
  2. Paul
  3. Arthur Alexander
  4. Ringo
  5. A Hard Days Night

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Raymond Philippe


Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on March 11, 2014:

My pleasure!

Brenda Thornlow from New York on March 11, 2014:

I'm a huge Beatles fan so I really enjoyed this. Great videos! Thanks for sharing!

Ann Carr from SW England on March 10, 2014:

That's better! Thank you for that. LOL

Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on March 10, 2014:

“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”

― Criss Jami

A quote to cheer you up ;-)

Ann Carr from SW England on March 10, 2014:

Now you're making me feel old!!

Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on March 10, 2014:

Hi Ann. I don't mind you going on. More Beatles trivia. Sgt Pepper was released on my 10th birthday ;-)

Ann Carr from SW England on March 10, 2014:

I've got them all! This is when my music life started; I was 12. Their talents of lyric writing and music composition are unique. Their music was so different and they were 'nice' boys! My favourite on this album is 'Love Me Do'; I love the harmonica.

Beatles for Sale is my other favourite album - Eight Days a Week particularly.

I could go on ad infinitum but I'll spare you that.

Great hub! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Ann

Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on February 27, 2014:

Thanks greatstuff for clarifying. That's part of why this hubpage community is so great. !

Mazlan A from Malaysia on February 27, 2014:

I love all the tracks on this album esp. Love me do.

On another matter, allow me to clarify on the independence gained by Malaysia in 1963. Independence was in 1957 for the Federation States of Malaya (FSM), but in 1963 Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined FSM to form a 'new country' and renamed Malaysia. Before that, Sabah and Sarawak were ruled by the British, so in 1963 they got their independence and joined FSM to become part of Malaysia.

Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on February 26, 2014:

You are welcome ;-)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 26, 2014:

Thanks for refreshing the memories.

Raymond Philippe (author) from The Netherlands on February 26, 2014:

Thanks lions44 for the thumbs up. I recently rediscovered the album. Enjoyed playing it at high volume.

CJ Kelly from the PNW on February 26, 2014:

Great article. The album that sort of started it all. Awesome detail. Voted up.

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