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The Beatles - Please Please Me CD (album) cover


The Beatles



3.05 | 466 ratings

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4 stars And so it began...

As I begin running through this catalog there is something I have to mention. These early Beatles albums should be rated as "proto" releases and not compared to 1970s rock or prog albums. One has to remember that the year is 1963 and approach your rating accordingly. It's sad to see some reviews on several early Beatles albums that seem to chastise the work not based on the quality of the music or performance, but on the fact that it "isn't prog" or that it is "just pop music." Early pop/rock and "proto" albums should be considered in the appropriate context. But context or not the Beatles debut is a wonderful collection of songs for all ages.

The simple fact is that The Beatles never made a bad album, although the follow-up to this one was certainly a let down. This first disc was recorded and mixed in about 24 hours according to George Martin and the results are a wonderful forbear of things to come. Yes it is early rock, with that late '50s / early '60s quality that is easy to belittle so many years later, the kind of music we imagine as the soundtrack for so many first kisses in cars that were machines to be reckoned with. And yet even this far back you can hear the raw talent in the vocal harmonies and the personality of the members. You'll appreciate the beginnings of the slightly rebellious twang in those ringing guitar chords that would soon lead to Taxman and then Revolution. And you will get to appreciate the work of one of the greatest songwriting teams the world has ever known. This very first attempt already has some solid classic songs adorning it: I saw her standing there, Misery, Please please me, Love me do, and Do you want to know a secret. Even cover tracks like Anna & Twist and Shout showcase the remarkable ability of Lennon to deliver an emotional vocal, one reserved and romantic, the other rowdy and explosive. McCartney's double-tracked vocal on "A Taste of Honey" has his intimate stoicism and shows his own increasing confidence that would eventually propel him to co-leading the band with Lennon. Nice pieces of harmonica and piano embellish here and there but mostly it is the pure charm of the melody and the vocal that makes these tracks memorable. Just a few months after the release of this set the band was moving nationally and days of being just another group from Hamburg or Liverpool were over. Aunt Mimi was wrong when she said to John "that guitar is okay but you'll never make a living with it."

What is ironic is how fresh these early recordings feel to me while others obviously see them as old-fashioned. I suppose we've come full circle in some ways. For me much modern music can seem homogeneous and uninspiring, while the simple raw talent and harmony here almost sounds revolutionary. This first album has a certain vibe and energy above some of the other early ones and will be appreciated by any serious rock fan. A necessary title for good rock music collections, and 4 stars without shame.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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