The Beatles, Please Please Me

November 30, 2006

The Beatles: Please Please Me

Please Please Me was the Beatles’ debut album, and an uncharacteristically strong one for a new band. The Fab Four had to prove themselves commercially before moving on to greater things, and so packed the disc with energy and efficiency – the whole shebang recorded in a mere day. There are early glimmers of artistic prowess to come via some Lennon / McCartney compositions, that hold their own alongside the rock-n-roll covers.

I Saw Her Standing There

4 stars = 4 stars

Great album opener and a high-energy showcase for Paul’s strong, confident voice, despite an ordinary song structure and verses that drag a bit. After that initial “one, two, three…” music was forever changed.

Misery

3 stars = 3 stars

A catchy song, but the great intro quickly sinks into something rather ordinary, complete with a drippy bridge featuring a Liberace-style piano riff.

Anna (Go To Him)

3 stars = 3 stars

John delivers this slower song expertly, the best part being a confidently-sung bridge with background vocals lending both musical and emotional support to a lonely lover. Hello, Beatle harmonies.

Chains

2 stars = 2 stars

Despite pretty harmonies and boppy energy, George’s lackluster vocals during the middle section bring things down.

Boys

2 stars = 2 stars

Ringo got to sing a song on each album. A passable cover, and only useful as evidence that each Beatle could carry a tune.

Ask Me Why

2 stars = 2 stars

A demonstration that Lennon / McCartney could write a standard pop song. Don’t care for the ornamentations around John’s vocal melody. Tell Me Why from A Hard Day’s Night feels like a superior version of this.

Please Please Me

5 stars = 5 stars

As close to perfection as I’ve ever heard, and here’s where the album really gets going. The melody is a mousetrap, opening and closing, catching the listener between John and Paul’s diverging voices. Add some neat guitar hooks, surprising chord changes, and some gloriously high harmonies to create the Beatles’ first number one.

Love Me Do

5 stars = 5 stars

Unforgettably classic yet odd, featuring a melancholy, whining harmonica. I’m also peculiarly drawn to the parallel octave harmonies of the bridge – John sang a lot of low parts in the early days.

P.S. I Love You

3 stars = 3 stars

Internet dating has replaced the quaint love letter. One odd chord, and some nice, alternating vocals add some needed pep about 3/4 way through.

Baby It’s You

3 stars = 3 stars

John adds some longing emotion to this cover, particularly on the line “can’t help myself.” His understanding of when to push forward or hold back does wonders at selling the performance. Shame all else is tragically average.

Do You Want To Know Secret

3 stars = 3 stars

George sings this reasonably catchy Lennon / McCartney original (still gets radio play) featuring interesting chromatic melodies and chord changes and a heavy dose of corn – some “doo dah doos” drenched in plate reverb.

A Taste Of Honey

2 stars = 2 stars

Paul sings this extremely corn song, which contains odd seeds of later work – the “I will return” sections inform I’ve Just Seen A Face and even Fixing A Hole.

There’s A Place

3 stars = 3 stars

The wailing, haunting harmonica from Love Me Do makes another appearance, and even at this early stage, Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting demonstrates a careful understanding of ornamentation and precious pauses. A strange parallel to the Beach Boys’ In My Room - John and Paul jump on the bed imitating Elvis, while Brian Wilson closes his door and gets stoned. It bursts with hopeful energy.

Twist And Shout

5 stars = 5 stars

Nothing bad can be said regarding John shredding his voice in sacrifice of rock and roll. Especially neat are the building sections with the cascading “ahs”. Most bands couldn’t build excitement like this, and if The Beatles had subsequently died in a plane crash, their place in rock history would arguably have been cemented with this one song.

Wikipedia: Please Please Me

Next Album: With The Beatles

iTunes Store Link: Please Please Me – The Beatles

Comments

  1. sang says:

    didn’t the Bangles do a cover version of “I Saw Her Standing There”? if not, someone else did. it’s one of those things I’d rather not google — too much precision on the internet and memories should be left uh vague and sometimes inaccurate.

    my favorite Beatles cover is Candyflip’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and Finona Apple’s ‘Hands Across the Universe’.

    nice blog

  2. webomatica says:

    heh … it was Tiffany that did a cover of that song. The cover is terrible. Let’s not revisit that one.

    I think there was a cool video for Fiona Apple’s beatles cover… directed by that Paul Thomas Anderson dude (they were a couple for a while). That might be a memory worth revisiting.

  3. sang says:

    tifanny?? well i’d rather take tifanny over britney spears any day of the week.

    i think i’ll youtube that fiona apple video right now.

  4. sang says:

    that’s possibly one of the best music videos ever…i totally forgot about this!

  5. webomatica says:

    this one, right?

    Yeah that is a pretty kick ass video.

    Here’s another Paul Thomas Anderson video… directed for another musican I like a lot… Michael Penn. This is for the song Try. It’s one of the “one take” type… some pretty cool moments.

  6. sang says:

    nice one, i didn’t know paul thomas anderson was a prolific music video director. his next film is about the gold rush (i hear).

    saw on the sundance channel recently, a documentary series called ‘icon’ featuring fiona and quentin tarantino — i guess they like each other alot. i just can’t stand this bloated tarantino dude trying to mack on pt anderson’s ex missus….

  7. webomatica says:

    heh is tarantino bloated now… the guy was always pretty skinny.

    I should probably create a different post for cool music videos… this thread is getting kind of long and doesn’t have much to do with the beatles anymore.