Please Please Me

The Beatles

Parlophone / Capitol Records, 1963

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Disc reviewing, like disc producing, teaches one to be wary about making long-term predictions.” –Tony Barrow, from the liner notes

The above quote makes me relieved to be reviewing this album in 2013, rather than 1963, when it was first released. Hindsight being what it is, it’s hard to tell what I might have thought of this sound back then. So I guess it’s good that I was born when I was, in 1969! No use in speculating. Since this is part of a “debut album” series, I will judge it on those merits alone.

You could say this album broke the mold when it comes to the modern rock sound we now take for granted. As the template for all bands to follow in its wake, it made its mark like no other. Yes, the songs are sweet, basic and short. Even the provocatively titled “Chains” and “Boys” contain by-the-numbers lyrics that are firmly held in check. There are, however, surprising Latin influences sprinkled like fairy dust and American R&B covers which are expertly co-opted and transformed, not to mention eight McCartney/Lennon originals to savor. Notice the swapped order of names? Only on later albums were the names transposed to the more alphabetically-appropriate and familiar Lennon/McCartney credit.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It’s important to note that here in the States, this album (retitled Introducing...The Beatles) was released around the same time as Meet The Beatles, but was quickly ignored. Americans seemed to prefer the latter album, especially since it contained the instant smash “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Only later would the songs from the group’s debut become hits in their own right, most notably “Please Please Me,” the lead-off cut “I Saw Her Standing There,” and the #1 classic “Love Me Do.”

As groundbreaking as the Beatles would prove to be, the bulk of Please Please Me treads fairly safe and traditional ground musically. That is, until the shocking finale “Twist And Shout” starts playing. Recorded last and in one take, John Lennon delivered a head-turning, vocal-shredding performance that seemed to be like a laying down of the gauntlet. All that’s missing is an all-too-current image of Lennon dropping his mike to the floor today as if to say, “Top that, bitches!” In 1986, the song would make a comeback in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where it would once again steal the show.

With Ringo Starr’s solid backbeat, John and Paul’s strong songwriting chops and the debut of George Harrison’s vocals on the underrated “Do You Want To Know A Secret,” Please Please Me, well, pleased just about everyone who heard it. Everyone except those conservative parents and holdouts from the 1950s who thought they should just stay in England and get haircuts. Sorry Opie, but that was not about to happen. Teenagers were always the best judges of the Next Big Thing. Mop-top jangle-pop was here to stay.

Rating: A-

User Rating: B



© 2014 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Parlophone / Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.