The Beatles
Please Please Me


4.0
excellent

Review

by danstalcup USER (12 Reviews)
February 11th, 2009 | 9 replies


Release Date: 1963 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A historically important but musically inconsistent album does not a simple review score make.

Please Please Me is a very difficult album to review in this day and age, for a few reasons.

First of all, The Beatles are so intricately woven into the culture of popular music, their impact so enduring, the hyperbole of their genius so rampant, that it's unlikely any small clip of paragraphs such as this review is going have a strong effect on any reader.

Next, this album was not created with the intent of being an 'album' as we know the term nowadays. In the early '60s, music was single-centric, not album-centric. Any LP would have little connection between its songs. Now, albums are their own expressive unit. Then, they were just a big piece plastic to hold a bunch of songs.

Though albums of songwriting depth and thematic vision, such as Pet Sounds, were only a few years away, here we just have a collection of songs. How much you like the album, then, is no more than the sum or the average of how much you like the songs individually.

Historically speaking, this album is a bona fide classic. Were this a discussion of influence and impact, this album would be a surefire 5, eight days a week, 365 days a year. Not only did it kick off the career of the most important, acclaimed, and popular band of all time, but it signaled the beginning of a new era in rock and roll. With these fourteen songs, the distinction between pop singers and songwriters blurred more than ever.

Listening to it about forty-six years after it was released onto an unsuspecting Britain, the whole thing sounds a bit odd at times. It feels rushed; there is an unfortunate number of covers on the album, and the content really stretches thin on the second side; we don't get a great, or even very good, song after PS I Love You, track 9, until the finale, Twist and Shout, track 14.

But the moments The Beatles get right are truly watershed moments of rock and roll. The three best tracks on the album are I Saw Her Standing There, Please Please Me, and Twist and Shout, the latter being the best cover the band ever did and one of the band's most exciting cuts of its career. I Saw Her Standing There, from the "one two three FAH" at the beginning, proudly trumpets the Fab Four's sense of melody, vocal harmony, and performance energy. Please Please Me steps up the vocal harmonies to even higher levels.

Just a small step down from those three is the great but slightly overrated "Love Me Do" which foreshadows the band's folk rock explorations in the future. It lacks a melody as engaging as Twist and Shout or Please Please Me, but it has a convincing swagger that was part of the reason the band took off in the first place.

A step down from there is PS I Love You, the only convincing song on the album that resembles a ballad in any way. Its catchy refrain and memorable title (later used in a chick flick) overcome completely derivative lyrics.

After that, the album starts looking less and less impressive. Boys is decent, but the "bob shoo wah" doesn't work for The Beatles. Misery might be the next best track. It bears the mark of the good Lennon-McCartney compositions in that it's intimately connected The Beatles themselves. The harmonies feel just right for the band. The covers stand out like a sore thumb, mostly for the worse (for the better with Twist and Shout).

Part of the reason the album feels rushed is because it WAS rushed. After The Beatles' early singles were big hits, the majority of this LP was recorded in one day. The session finished off with a take of Twist and Shout. You can tell McCartney was struggling to make it through the song, but it just adds to the charm. He couldn't survive another take.

The rest of the tracks, far from terrible, are listenable but forgettable. Honestly, how significant a piece of The Beatles library are songs like Baby It's You, Chains, or A Taste of Honey?

Influentially speaking, this album is a 5. Musically speaking, a few 5s and 4.5s balance out a bunch of 2.5's and 3's to land somewhere around 3.5. Giving the album an overall 4 sounds like a good compromise.



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3.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jim
February 11th 2009


5110 Comments


Were this a discussion of influence and impact, this album would be a surefire 5, eight days a week, 365 days a year

8 days a week? What??
good review though mang.

danstalcup
February 11th 2009


27 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@bahamut



twas a not-very-sly reference to The Beatles later song "Eight Days a Week"

Jim
February 11th 2009


5110 Comments


oic
keep them coming then i suppose

Mendigo
February 11th 2009


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

nice review. but:

Next, this album was not created with the intent of being an 'album' as we know the term nowadays. In the early '60s, albums were usually called LP's (long plays) for a reason: putting it on a turntable was just playing Beatles music, but longer than you would if it were a single.


wtf? how the hell do you define an album?

also you probably should've mentioned the interesting fact that pretty much all of this album was recorded in just one 13 hour session - which led to John Lennon's creaky voice on the last track Twist and Shout.

this album has a few great, great songs (Twist and Shout and Anna (Go to Him) especially), but all in all it's only a shadow of what they were going to do on Help! and A Hard Day's Night.

gaslightanthem
February 11th 2009


5208 Comments


musically spotty

lexicons
February 11th 2009


144 Comments


musically spotty means sometimes there's music, sometimes there's not music

Mendigo
February 11th 2009


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

that's what lexicons are for.

ninjuice
February 11th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The amount of effort put into this relates directly to the quality of it.

danstalcup
February 11th 2009


27 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Mendigo

Added some clarification

@lexicons

Fine, picked a different word



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