Please Please Me, The Beatles’ debut album, was released 50 years ago today
On March 22 1963 The Beatles’ released Please Please Me, their first studio album. The release was recorded quickly to capitalise on the success of the single Please Please Me, which had come out two months earlier, and went to number two. Please Please Me changed the face of modern music, and cemented The Beatles as a phenomenon. At a time when the UK album charts were dominated by film soundtracks and easy listening vocalists, this pop record stayed at number one for 30 weeks in 1963, only to be replaced by the band’s second album, With the Beatles. Of the album’s fourteen songs, eight were written by Lennon–McCartney (originally credited “McCartney–Lennon”). In 2012, Please Please Me was voted 39th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
Please Please Me original front and back album cover: Photographer Angus McBean was asked to take the distinctive colour photograph of the group looking down over the stairwell inside EMI’s London headquarters in Manchester Square. George Martin was to write later: “We rang up the legendary theatre photographer Angus McBean, and bingo, he came round and did it there and then. It was done in an almighty rush, like the music.
Here are some little-known facts about Please Please Me:
1. The band’s marathon recording session lasted nine hours and 45 minutes, starting at 10am on a Monday morning. This exceeded record producer George Martin’s expectations, who had originally only booked two sessions for the band – they ended up running into a third one in the evening.
2. Twist and Shout, a cover of the Phil Medley and Burt Russell song, was the last track to be recorded because John Lennon had a cold on recording day; Martin feared the song’s challenging vocals would ruin Lennon’s voice for the rest of the recording if it was performed earlier.
3. The total session time cost £400, the equivalent of £10,000 in 2013. Each Beatle was paid £7.50 for each three-hour session.
4. Martin originally wanted The Beatles to pose outside the insect house of London Zoo for the cover of Please Please Me. However the Zoological Society of London refused and the shot ended up being taken over a stairwell inside EMI’s London headquarters.
5. The original vinyl release of Please Please Me is the only Beatles album where the original songs are credited to McCartney-Lennon. Afterwards, including on CD releases of the album, the songs are attributed to Lennon-McCartney.
6. Please Please Me’s sleeve notes were written by the band’s press officer Tony Barrow, and mention The Beatles’ rivals at the time, The Shadows.
7. Please Please Me was not released in America until The Beatles’ catalogue was standardised for CD, in 1987.
8. The album was almost recorded at the Liverpool venue the Cavern, in front of a live audience. However, due to time pressures the EMI studio was booked instead.
9. Please Please Me was nearly called Off the Beatle Track instead, but this changed with the release of the single of the same name.
10. One of the original tracks on the album, Misery, was written for British teen sensation Helen Shapiro to perform, but her producer, Norrie Paramor, turned it down.
SEE THIS SHORT DOCUMENTARY ABOUT PLEASE PLEASE ME RECORD:
TWIST AND SHOUT, BABY!
Please Please Me, live at the memorable Washington concert in february 1964.