Please Please Me


One…two…three…four!  Aww, the mop-top Beatles.  So young, so innocent (well, maybe not so innocent…Capitol records wouldn’t release the song “Please Please Me” in the U.S. because they thought it was about oral sex)…so different than the psychedelic Beatles.  And honestly, I never liked the mop-top era nearly as much as the psychedelic era.  I don’t know…it’s just too lovey-dovey.  But I guess everybody has to start somewhere, and the Beatles pretty much started here.  This was their debut album…in England.  Actually, the first two Beatles albums (this and “With the Beatles”) were not officially released in the United States until the advent of the CD in the late 80s.  I’ve read differing accounts of why this happened, and one is that Capitol records, their U.S. label (Parlophone was their lable in England), wanted a more sanitized content (she was just 17 would make her underage in most states…except West Virginia).  The other plausible reason is that there are 6 covers apiece on the Beatles first two albums and Capitol did not want to pay royalties to the other artists.  Either way, the U.S. would have to wait a year until Capitol released “Meet the Beatles” (although a Chicago label called VeeJay Records released a record called “Introducing the Beatles” 4 months after this album was released).

So I picked this up for $5 at Used Kids back in October after work and before a class I was taking.  Right away I noticed that the young Fab Four wore their influences right on their sleeves…this album sounds like 50s sock hop rock.  Chuck Berry’s influence is all over this record, as well as Buddy Holly’s and even a little Elvis Presley.  There are several covers (presumably because they hadn’t written enough original material for a full-length record yet), the highlight of which is John Lennon’s scorching rendition of “Twist and Shout” (forever immortalized in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”).  Okay, its a little weird when Ringo sings the Shirelles’ “Boys”, but whatever…it’s Ringo.  The historically important thing here is the formation of the McCartney/Lennon songwriting team.  And while the songwriting still had a long way to go at this point, you can hear the beginnings of the great vocal harmonies for which the Beatles became famous.  You can also feel a youthful energy on this record, seemingly of four guys who just were happy to be playing rock ‘n roll (well, 4 guys on the tracks that George Martin let Ringo play more than just the tambourine).

Other lists: “I Saw Her Standing There” is #140 and “Please Please Me” is #186 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.  Also, “I Saw Her Standing There” is #16, “Please Please Me” is #20, and “Love Me Do” is #87 on the list of the 100 Greatest Beatles Songs.  Finally, the album ranks 17th on Rolling Stone’s relatively new list of the 100 Greatest Debut Albums (released this year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of “Please Please Me”).

My favourite track: “I Saw Her Standing There”

Honourable mention: “Twist and Shout”

Quote: “In my mind there’s no sorrow.  Don’t you know that it’s so there’ll be no sad tomorrow?”