The Beatles' “Please Please Me” album, which was recorded 50 years ago Monday, may not have been as complex as their later albums, but it had a lasting impact, Alex Hendler, author of the e-book “Please Please Me,” which examines the album in depth, said Tuesday.
“In terms of pure artistry, 'Please Please Me' is not going to measure up to their mature masterpieces like 'Sgt. Pepper's' or 'Revolver.' However, when you consider the context in which the album was made, and listen to it in that context, your appreciation for the work increases tremendously,” he told Beatles Examiner.
“To wit, they had to break off from their first national tour during one of the coldest winters in British history, and had a single day in which to record the album. Which, as you know, they did mostly live in those days, with very few overdubs. They arrived at Abbey Road not knowing which songs they would be recording – and they needed to record 10 of them. And both Paul, and especially John, were sick, which affected their singing.”
But, he said, the group's talent shined through.
“And yet, when you listen to the singing on songs like 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Twist & Shout,' you can hear the raw urgency of their voices that is pure rock 'n roll, while on the slower songs like 'Anna' and 'Baby, It's You,' John's voice is pure velvet.”
He says George Martin originally considered recording them live at The Cavern Club for their first album to capture the energy of those live shows, but he knew logistically that would have been a nightmare. “In a sense, though, he brought that 'live' concept to the studio recording as many of the songs were captured in only a few takes – so what you hear is pretty much what you would've heard had you seen them live in those days.”
Hendler also thinks the LP was a milestone in the growing collaborative relationship between George Martin and the Beatles.
“If you listen to the outtakes from the nine takes the Beatles did of 'I Saw Her Standing There,' you can hear their growing frustration as they see-sawed through the multiple takes. But Martin was able to give us a rock 'n' roll classic by cutting together Paul's pent-up-frustrated growling of the 'one-two-three-fuhh!' count-in in take nine with take one's energetic, if imperfect, recording of the song.”
Hendler said the cultural force of one of the album's songs says it all.
“The fact that they'll still play 'Twist & Shout' during the seventh inning stretch at Yankees games -- and probably will be a hundred years from now -- shows you just how impactful that single day in rock 'n' roll history really was.”
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