Although The Beatles had technically been around since 1957 as The Quarrymen, it would be five years until they would release their first singles, “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me.” These singles performed extremely well on the charts, and seeing the potential in these guys, Parlophone forced the band to rush-release an albums worth of material. The album was largely recorded in one day, and it featured the band’s usual concert set.
As for the album, it was clear at this time that The Beatles were not very sure of themselves in the studio, and as a result the album is certainly tamer than their live shows, giving the album a sort of lightweight feel. Also, the album is a product of its time: a couple hit singles, a couple covers, and a lot of filler added on at the last minute. Of course, considering that this was recorded in one day, this is excusable, but there’s still no denying the amount of filler.
The album kicks off with “I Saw Her Standing There,” which remains one of the bands best early rockers, with its opening “1-2-3-4!” its great lead vocal from Paul, and its great teenage related lyrics. “Misery” is a winner, with its great piano from George Martin, and so is “Anna (Go to Him)” with its great lead vocal from John, and its great harmonies. However, the next three songs, “Chains,” “Boys” and “Ask Me Why” represent what I mean when I say there’s lots of filler; they’re all pretty forgettable. Fortunately, the next four songs are good. “Please Please Me” and “Love Me Do” are Beatles classics, both featuring unforgettable harmonica hooks and great group harmonies. Also, “P.S. I Love You” is a sweet ballad from Paul, and “Baby It’s You” features great “sha-la-la” background vocals. After that great run of songs, we get some more filler with the George-sung “Do You Want to Know a Secret” and “A Taste of Honey.” However, the album does finish on a high note with “There’s a Place” and the all-time classic “Twist and Shout,” by far the most famous single take in rock history, which completely ruined John's voice.
All in all, “Please Please Me” doesn’t feature a lot of stand-out tracks, and at times the filler can get a bit excessive, but in the end, “Please Please Me” is an impressive debut album, and it has clearly stood the test of time.
I Saw Her Standing There
Please Please Me
Love Me Do
Twist and Shout