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2 stars If this would have been a rock'n'roll album, which it almost is, it would probably seem as more consequent. The butter-sweet pop songs brings it down a bit since they are far from the quality that was to come later. Hits like "Love me Do" and "Please Please Me" are great, but the quality overall is far below later Beatles standard. It's a shame that the raw and unpolished sound that they had at this point didn't come through when making this album. Because the strength in early Beatles is the rock parts rather than the popsongs. I will probably rate all Beatles albums with four or five stars, but this doesn't get more than 2.
Report this review (#69540)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 1962.

A Liverpudlian act that had been putting in some seriously hard graft on the live circuits for nearly 3 years was given a collective polish by their manager - who some sources say was infatuated by John Lennon. With the now famous haircuts and a nice suit apiece, the band was introduced to the highly talented producer George Martin, after a number of record companies turned them down.

Martin was dubious - the guys were OK, but he couldn't really take the music seriously. But they did write their own songs - which was a bit unusual at the time - one might say progressive, in fact: Most bands played the live clubs, secured a reasonable fan base, then tried to have a hit by recording an established song by a big name act. Once they'd had a hit, the record company would condescend to allow them to record an album.

The Beatles changed all of this - "Love Me Do" was not a top 10 hit, but Martin insisted they record the album anyway - which they did, in a single day.

Their second single though, the title track of this album, went straight to number one, and the record company couldn't get the album out of the door fast enough. It stayed at the top of the charts for an incredible 30 weeks.

More than 50% of the album was original material by the McCartney/Lennon songwriting powerhouse (that's how it was originally credited). And those tracks, on the whole, stand out several miles from the cover material also included on the album - although the Beatles had their own unique way of interpreting the classics, notably their version of "Twist and Shout", the material generally pales beside the originals.

Although this album is in no way Progressive Rock, there is much that was progressive about it at the time - and there are lots of interesting details in the instrumentation and the interpretation of the styles being played in 1962; Mainly entrenched in the multi-part harmony rock and roll of Buddy Holly combined with the rhythmic exuberance of Lonnie Donegan to create that easily identifable "Merseybeat" sound.

It's a hugely enjoyable album and well worth owning no matter what your other tastes in music - and it's historical importance to rock music generally is undeniable.

Sadly, the very most I can realistically award it on this site is 3 stars - but it earns every single one!

Report this review (#70179)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album is not progressive in any way. The Beatles only started moving toward that vein of songwriting once "Help" and "Rubber Soul" came out, in my opinion. Before that, they were just typical pop stars. I'm not saying it's a bad album, it's just not progressive, and features pre-drug Beatles that had much more naive views on the world, and wrote love songs out the ass. It's The Beatles first album, that's all. Nothing great about it other than the genious that was always there from the beggining, but did not begin to truly take shape until the drugs were introduced to their lives. That's the honest truth.
Report this review (#72960)
Posted Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars As I was looking for the Who in proto-prog section, I realised Beatles was added... I checked out the discography whether only their most prog-related albums are added or not... Alas! From their debut on, until Revolver (or let's be generous, up until Rubber Soul) no album has the slightest relation to what wee come to know as "prog" today... This album may only serve as a historical document about a worldwide giant, and for only people who are interested... Newbies in investigating "roots of prog" (and nevertheless I am one, I know about only a couple of bands featured in proto-prog section) must definitely start with Sgt. Pepper, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour or Yellow Submarine, more definitive efforts towards the concept. Please note that my rating is "prog-wise"... Otherwise this album may rank among the classics of rock'n'roll and British psychedelia... Not even for the fans!
Report this review (#73748)
Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Yes. As a previous reviewer wrote, this album was recorded in one day, and with John Lennon having a cold and taking pills for this condition. But their energy was there, despite this, and as an album recorded in one day it is very good, despite the raw quality. The tracks on this album were selected from their live repertoire, so they were played very well, of course, without many recording takes needed to get the best one to end on the album.

The album starts with the energetic "I Saw Her Standing There", one of my favourites from the early years. It starts with Paul counting "one, two, three, four". A very good idea, it calls for the attention of the listener. A very good opener, which Paul also played and maybe he still plays in his solo tours. It was also performed by John Lennon with Elton John in one of Elton`s concerts in November 1974, on which Lennon was invited to play three songs to celebrate Elton`s success with his own single version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and also the success of Lennon`s single, "Whatever Gets You Through the Night", on which Elton also appeared. Apparently, that concert was the last public performance in concert by Lennon, although he later briefly appeared in one benefit event performing "Imagine", in 1975.

"Mysery" is a sad song, really, but very good, too. "Anna" is a ballad, composed by Arthur Alexander. "Chains" is another cover, sung by George Harrison. "Boys", another cover, this time sung by Ringo Starr."Ask Me Why" is a very good ballad, one of their earliest ballads. "Please Please Me" is a song which was released as a single before, and it became their first hit single, reaching No. 2 in the U.K. charts. "Love Me Do" was previously released as their first single, and as history says, there are two versions of this song: one with session drummer Andy White and Ringo on tambourine, and one recorded with Ringo on drums and without tambourine. The most played version was the version with Andy White on drums. "P.S. I Love You" is another ballad, not very interesting. "Baby It`s You" is another cover with good harmony vocals. "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" was composed by Lennon and he gave this song to George. It became a hit when it was released as a single by Billy J.Kramer and the Dakotas. "A Taste of Honey", another cover, is a very good song with very good arrangements. "There`s a Place" has good lyrics and good harmony vocals too. The album`s last song is "Twist and Show", which apparently was recorded at the end of the sessions, with John`s vocals very affected by his cold. It was recorded in one take!

Obviously, this album is not Progressive, but I agree with previous reviewers here that it is "progressive" in the sense that McCartney/Lennon were composers with a very own style, the band was very good from the start which also had their very own style from the beginning, and their charisma was already there. Also, producer George Martin was "progressive" in the sense that he had the talent to see in The Beatles something special. He recognized their potential and gave them support to develop their music. Without Martin`s talent and support, The Beatles maybe could have experiened a harder way to success.

Report this review (#75978)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars What's this now-ancient album doing on a progressive rock website? Well, an arrow seems pretty archaic until you compare it with a basic sharp stick. In 1963 we youngsters in the USA were listening to surf music and Peter, Paul and Mary and I guess in the UK they were listening to Cliff Richard and Lonnie Donegan's skiffle. Pretty unexciting stuff. Then this hit the airwaves and these guys snapped our heads around so forcefully we may have all suffered mass neck injuries. Their sound, their look, their attitudes were so PROGRESSIVE that they changed the freakin' world. Of course later on down the road they would truly experiment with new directions in music and recording that would be more obviously proto prog but it's important to realize that the simple tunes included on this debut LP marked a 90 degree turn in the evolution of modern music. There were no guitar effects, a keyboard was simply an acoustic piano and drums were just skins stretched across wooden tubs. But with this band those instruments became so much more. The Beatles made progressive rock an inevitability. Just listen to the raw enthusiasm on these songs and perhaps you'll better understand the universal attraction that these fab four generated and why there will probably never be anything quite like them again.
Report this review (#80529)
Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Team
3 stars The Beatles' debut takes some heat for being here, and for not being as good as later albums. I'd like to put it in a bit of context. This is a tremendously different group than what was out there at the time. Some of the hits that year were "It's My Party" by Leslie Gore, "I will follow Him" by Little Peggy March, "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton, and several surfing tunes by the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Twist and Shout" must have seemed like they came from another planet. Even their treatments of the covers were different than what their contemporaries were doing with the same numbers.

Now, it wasn't perfect. There are tracks that don't hold up as well as others ("Anna," "Ask Me Why"), but their charm carries it through. This was a group that had just gotten off a grueling touring schedule, and was eager to try many new things. They were still coming into their own. The chops were there, but the direction was unclear. The fact that they were so bold (dare I say even progressive?) was a clue that this was a band worthy of keeping an eye on.

There is a lot to like on this album. You have solid rockers, and beautiful ballads. All wrapped up in a sense of innocence (history would reveal that they were a bit more worldly than we thought). It sounds dated, and was nowhere near the level of what they would achieve. If you can put yourself in the spirit of the time, you can see the value of this important piece of rock music. Without early innovations like this, prog would not have taken the same course. I can only give it three stars here, because it is not an essential album for prog collectors. However, if you enjoy seeing the evolution (as I do), this is a good one.

H.T. Riekels

Report this review (#83465)
Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Beatles debut album can be considered one of their strongest from their early period of simple pop and R&B songs. While it doesn't even deserve to be described as progressive, there's still a nice overall atmopshere and a catchy sense amongst the group, who still hadn't really found their edge quite yet. You won't find epic side long pieces, you won't find thought provoking lyrics, you won't find extended solo sections or even virtuostic musicianship. What you'll find here is well crafted and well conceived pop songs that don't stray out the the classic three chord love song. A little more than half the album is original material from the Lennon/McCartney team and the rest is covers that range from old R&B standards to unrequited songs about love. What is apparent, though, is that the world wouldn't be the same once the Beatles came into the speakers and airwaves.

Rather than talk about every track on the album (which is what I usually do with my reviews), I will talk about the big songs on the album and some of my lesser known favorites. I Want to Hold Your Hand is a simple tune with some interesting chord progressions and some nice harmony vocals as well as a good lead from Lennon. Please Please Me is a bit of an ambiguous song title, but none the less the song has some a great melody and is exceedingly catchy. Love Me Do would be the band's first single, and although at first it didn't really succeed, in the long run it would be massively popular. It has an infectious harmonica rhythm and a nice beat from Ringo and some heartfelt vocals from Paul McCartney. P.S. I Love You is another Paul McCartney led ballad that has a nice chorus and some great harmonies. Do You Want to Know a Secret has some great quasi-scat harmony vocals (the doo dah doos) and a sincere vocal performance from McCartney, but overly simplistic musicianship. There's a Place is my favorite song of the album, a hearfelt ballad of sorts with a very somber mood and some very lush harmony vocals (this must be where Yes got their harmony influence). Finally, Twist and Shout is a rollicking rendition of the classic oldie with some great vocals from Lennon and some out of the normal drumming from Ringo. An underrated piece on the album is Boys, which is the first song Ringo sang with the Beatles, funny how they sang a song called Boys, though, since it was a song by the Motwon group The Shirelles. The rest of the album is ok, but I wouldn't call it memorable.

In the end, the arrival of the Beatles would mark the arrival of arguably the most important band in rock music. Their roots and influences were pretty clear with this album (and the following few albums). Although this album is overly simple and isn't even remotely progressive, it laid the groundwork for the future Beatles albums and eventually they would get a bit of a progressive streak going. In the end, if you're looking into the roots of arguably the great rock band ever, then look no further. Me? It's a good album, but by no means essential to a progressive rock fan. 3/5.

Report this review (#85210)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
2 stars Significant because this is where it all started for the band. 6 of the 14 songs weren't written by the band although of those "Twist And Shout" was really the only one that became a hit. A lot of these songs make me cringe a bit, but this was the popular music of the early sixties.

"I Saw Her Standing There" is probably the one I like the most off of this record. "Boys" isn't bad with Ringo on vocals.The title track features some good harmonies. "Love Me Do" I believe was the band's first hit, and the harmonica is pretty cool. George Harrison's turn to shine on "Do You Want To Know A Secret".

Nothing really here for Prog fans, but THE BEATLES fans and collectors should be interested this one.

Report this review (#110306)
Posted Thursday, February 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars It is too early to speak about progressive rock here, even about its "proto" phase. THE BEATLES' debut is a significant record just because it is the Beatles' debut album. Contains several classic hits of early "beat" sixties. Not important for prog rock, while for the band's opus "Please Please Me" ranks as minor effort.
Report this review (#121623)
Posted Friday, May 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Beatles started making pop albums, 2-minute songs (just like in that period), with several covers in it. Please Please Me is a good summary of this first period, though it's not the best album. It contains all time classics like 'Love Me Do', great songs like 'Please Please Me', 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Misery', and good covers, highlighting 'Chains', original by Carol King and his partner Gerry Goffin, and the classic 'Twist and Shout'.

The song writing credits are McCartney/Lennon, due to the agreement just reached for the upcoming career. Since the second album, "With The Beatles", the credits were changed to Lennon/McCartney.

To those who enjoy the first period of The Beatles, this is a good album, rock & roll oriented, concise, pleasant to hear. Well, that's my case: 3 stars, good but non-essential

Report this review (#137273)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, I listen to the Beatles since I was in my mom's arms, in 1974. Only started to really pay atention to them in the beginning of high school, and ALL their phases are equally apreciated by myself. In a time where american media started to "recreate" rock'n'roll in a more apropriated form to the families (Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka) and the great rock'n'roll creators and starters were losing atention, The Beatles and a lot of British groups came to save the day (and the third quarter of the century). "Please please me" is still fresh and full of vibrating energy: pure rock'n'roll mixed with some good ballads. As always Europe teach to the white americans (the blacks never needed teachers in music) how to capture the strenght of an art that was disappearing in their hands, thanks to the conservative market experts. You can't domesticate rock'n'roll, and The Beatles 'Please please me" is a wonderful ressurection of a genre faded to death, if the american media and music industry could rule in Europe as far as in their homeland (see Elvis albums and career at this point of time).

Of course, there isn't a single prog note on this album. It's a masterpiece of music, but only a "good, but non-essential record" in this site's terms. But any rock fan must own this album.

Report this review (#152112)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars First opus form the Fab Four. Because they ARE fabulous.

But not yet on this release. Still, would you believe that this album is their longest ever that sit at the first spot in the UK ? Topping "Peppers" by three weeks! Probably due to lack of competition I guess. It remained THIRTY weeks as Nr. 1!

Nothing prog here of course. The band is still in its premises and even the ultra talented duo isn't yet composing those lifeless pop anthems we all know and love. The most noticeable here is probably the title track. Their first UK Nr. 1 hit single. The vocal harmonies are already well present and can lift a corner of the veil for great things to come.

This trade mark can also be noticed on "P.S.I Love You" which was the B-side for "Love Me Do" (another of their classic). And this will be the frame for almost each of the Fab Four album.

Even if I really discovered them in 1967 (at the age of .eight), they have written so many songs which seem to exist for ages (and maybe for ever) that to listen to their albums is just a return to the very roots (at least for people of my generation...talking about my genration). It is just a pleasure to listen to "Do You Want to Know a Secret".

Of course, the lyrics are nothing incredible. Childish and respectful. But still, so pleasant music. So full of souvenirs for me. A journey back in time. To be honest, I didn't expect to feel so much emotion when listening to their first album (you can imagine how I will feel while reviewing their whole catalogue.).

There will be some covers on this album (which is normal for the era). The one I prefer by far is "A Taste of Honey". Another classic performed by a timeless band.

If ever you have noticed that John's voice is special on "Twist & Shout", it is just because he had a cold during the day of the recording (yes, one day) and that it was the last song on the programme. The version released was the first take. For the second one, John's voice was gone.

Three stars for these historical debuts. But I'm biased.

Report this review (#155447)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I once had a serious discussion with my brother who taught me prog. It was in 1980 when I was so intense with prog rock and at that time Genesis just released Duke album (oh .. I remember that vividly). The argument was simple: I disagreed with him that The Beatles influenced everything not only rock music but also prog as well. How could it be? Most of The Beatles songs were straight forward pop rock music and there were no indications that the music had some sort of curved lines in their compositions. The discussion came out with a deadlock. Time went by and finally I recognized that he was right. Yes, the more I knew The Beatles and also prog rock music, the more I realize the sheer influence of their music to bands that follow later on. In fact, legendary bands like Yes started their career by playing cover of The Beatles ("Every Little Thing"). The early albums of Pink Floyd also had some psychedelic elements that remind me to The Beatles. In fact, there were later I knew that many modern prog music that still adopted the music of The Beatles - although partly.

"Please Please Me" is the Beatles debut album which I think as debut it did serve well musically. The vintage pop rock and rock'n'roll style is quite obvious. Looking at the songs that this album contains, it amazes me how the band successfully composed wonderful song like "I Saw Her Standing There" with a straight forward lyrics and catchy notes. "Anna" also demonstrates the vintage rock music. It's clear that the Beatles laid very strong foundations that determined the future of rock music which evolved as well with what later known as prog rock music. Neal Morse (ex Spock's Beard) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) adore the music of The Beatles very much. In fact, in Dream Theater's "Octavarium" album there were two tracks: "Sacrificed Sons" and "Cotavarium" which have segments similar with The Beatles.

So, even though this album is not that stand out, however this has laid a strong foundation for further development of rock and prog rock music. You might say nothing so special, musically, about this album but it has historically become a critical phase of rock music. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#156988)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This album was the second from the Fab 4 released in Brazil, with the creative name of Beatles Again, in early 1964, but with a slight different track listing; nevermind, all songs were previously issued here (1962 & 1963) through those small biscuits we knew as singles.

I was a little kid then and had no interest in music, except lullabies maybe and I only visited these tracks in years later. Really amusing and enjoyable but seen from a current perspective this album is heavily dated, with songs edging silliness in terms of lyrics and tunes; in fact, this notion of being dated and even childish had been defined also in the following years, 'cause the mood around 1967, when prog-rock foundations were settled was quite diverse and those that insisted in following early Beatles stuff got themselves lost in time. But at that time, even The Beatles had changed drastically their direction.

Anyway, I can imagine the impact Please Please Me caused when released in Europe and later when its songs reached the other parts of the world - it was something very different and original, being progressive, if one uses this word in its strict aception. Certainly, it shaped many manners for the new acts and set the buttons for what was know as 'beatlemania', but their next release was more influential and adult, doubtlessly.

I believe that all tracks here are well known for the people that care a little bit about music, but in my opinion some are better than others, like the title-track, the romantic 'Anna', the short and interesting 'Misery', the rocky 'I saw her standing there' and the stormy 'Twist and shout'. I like 'There's a place' too, specially that weird time changing (prog?).

And now how to rate an album that's a landmark in the universe of the popular music? Hm, let's see, progsters that are also Beatles' fans have this album in their shelf; some other people will tell you that they don't give a damn about these guys and among so many streams of pros and cons, the only audience remaining are those coming from outer space. Supposing they are eager to know our culture (all times, ages, eras, etc) I'd say to them for leaving this material for a second or third row of purchases. Hence, being good but non-essential, the rating is 3.

Report this review (#169172)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, this is where the people who invented prog started, and boy am I glad they evolved from here. This is typical British Invasion music. It's good rock n' roll, but that's just about it. There's nothing special about it. You can see the Lennon and McCartney are great songwriters on songs like PLEASE PLEASE ME, but I wish they would all be like that. Sure the title track is a typical early 60's song, but at least it's good. A fair amount of the songs are poor Lennon/McCartney compisitions, and the rest are all cover versions of pretty terrible 50's songs. It has some good rock 'n roll songs, and saying that's good enough considering I hardly ever like early 60's stuff at all. Not prog related at all, and is just good rock'n roll, but only the Lennon/McCartney stuff is good, not the covers. So, if you're expecting SGT. PEPPER or ABBEY ROAD, look away.
Report this review (#192056)
Posted Saturday, December 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Please Please Me is the debut album from UK pop/ rock legends The Beatles. After playing lots of shows since their formation in 1958 ( which included two longer touring periods in the infamous Reeperbahn district in Hamburg, Germany) The Beatles made their first album in 1963. Please Please Me is basically a collection of singles put together to form an album.

The music on the album is pop/ rock which is very clearly influenced by American doo-woob and R´n´B. Not a single song crosses the three minute mark. None of the tracks stand out as being much different from each other. They are either slow doo-woob influenced songs or faster R´n´B influenced songs. The two songs I know the best from the album is Love Me Do and Twist and Shout ( a cover song originally recorded by Top Notes). Both songs are among the best songs on the album IMO.

The musicianship allthough a bit questionable at times is pretty good. In those days you recorded almost everything live in the studio and seen in that light the musicianship takes a notch up IMO. The Beatles now classic vocal harmonies can already be heard on this album and it´s hard not to be amazed about how good Paul McCartney and John Lennon sounded this early on in their career ( the extensive touring is probably one of the reasons).

The production is pretty raw and primitive but there´s lots of power and enjoyment to be found anyway. Please Please Me marked the beginning of a very fruitful relationship with producer George Martin.

Everybody knows the fame of The Beatles and I acknowledge the importance of this debut album. But on a personal level there´s not much I like about the album. There are some very memorable melodies and some great vocals but the very simple formulaic song structures and simple instrumentation doesn´t give me much excitement. 2 stars is warranted even though it might seem a bit disrespectful to such a classic album.

Report this review (#202153)
Posted Monday, February 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This Album Without a Doubt is a huge stepping stone for music in fact it is probably the most pivotal album of all time. without this album almost everything on this site would cease to exist.

The Beatles changed the way society saw music with there rebellious haircuts and there obnoxiously loud music. This album broke down barriers and paved the way for rock and roll prog included for decades to come.

The Songs on this album are very good with stand out numbers including

I Saw Here Standing There - a great rocking tune to open up

Anna - a lost love track with great sound and lyrics

Please Please Me - great song

Love Me Do - Great catchy tune excellent use of Harmonica

P.S. I Love You - epic love song

Twist and shout - A great rocking cover to close of the album

This Album brought The Beatles to the world and The Beatles brought the world to music!

Report this review (#209220)
Posted Sunday, March 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is strangely enough the first time I have ever been listening to this album, back to back (which I have now done five times). I am well past my sell-by-date and this album has not landed in my lap before now. Shocking..... Well, Neil Young and Iron Maiden was much more down my alley than The Beatles.

As the debut album of the most important pop band ever, this is a pretty decent effort. But in a prog rock context, this is nowhere near the real thing. This is pretty decent pop with some references to the crooner scene which took over from rock'n'roll when Elvis joined the army, Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13 years old cousin and scores of others died (Cochrane, Holly etc). Inbetween, The Beatles also rocks on a couple of tracks.

The best tracks is off course the title track. A track that is a classic Beatles track by anyone's standards. Love Me Do is also pretty close being a classic with it's harmonica intro. Those are the only good prog-like tracks in a good pop album. It is pretty easy to understand why so many other bands has copied this album and The Beatles. Unfortunate, this naive pop music here is not for me.

2.5 stars

Report this review (#221718)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, I write this review about the album of the Digital Remaster version that was launched in the famous date: 09.09.09. There is some relevant things: 1. The album was recorded in eight hours and contains some of the most beautiful pieces of the Liverpool group. 2. This is the unique album that has a particular and natural sound, almost it sounds like a live album. In 1963 The Beatles was a kids of no more than 23 years old but they sounds like masters since the begining. 3. This album it's the meaning of birth of rock. Remember, The Beatles change all about music.

Finally, I must to say that this last compilation of all Beatles albums it's one of the best productions of all time. Just listen it and discover the most important band of rock history.

Report this review (#238485)
Posted Thursday, September 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#244269)
Posted Sunday, October 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Today it isn't quite evident why The Beatles sound was so inovative and revolutionary. To fully acknowledge that, one has to look back at what was produced in the US and UK at late 50s and early 60s. By that time, rock and roll was most of the time blues-based, danceable songs, with touches of country music.

With the Beatles, it all changed. Not only in the looks or the atitude, not to mention the numbers (popularity, concerts attendance, sales, contracts). The sound changed as well.

This is not to say that the Beatles were the only band to do the kind of sound you find in this album. The characteristic early Beatles records accounted for a music know as "merseybeat" or "merseyside" (reference to the Mersey River that crosses Liverpool). It was an absolutely original and unique sound that mixed early rock and roll, rythm and blues, soul music, doo wop and skiffle. Liverpool benefited from its port status, so new sounds from across the Atlantic landed there earlier. Combined with the monopoly and strict control BBC exerted over the radio waves, Liverpool became some kind of a green house where this new sound developed quietly. It's therefore not surprising, either, that record companies were reluctant to invest in this new kind of sound. When The Beatles, rejected from Decca, signed up with EMI, the merseybeat finally reached the public ears, and rapidly fell in their taste.

The originality of merseybeat becomes even more evident when you compare The Beatles' records to the bands outside Liverpool - like the Rolling Stones - whose sound still relied strongly (and actually almost solely, in my opinion) in rythm and blues. This is to demonstrate how absolutely new this sound was, and why The Beatles were revolutionary from the very start.

Please Please Me is the sum up this early Beatles sound. Though not that appealing today, and pale in comparison to the band's ever-growing achivements in the following albums and years, it has this historical importance. This is not to say that it doesn't have its charm, as well. There are the lovely cover ballads "Anna" and "Baby It's You", both sung by John, the rockers "I Saw Her Standing There" (Paul's lead-singing) and "Please Please Me", this last one a kind of sinthesis of early merseybeat Beatles' sound. Plus, obviously, the screamed "Twist and Shout", a live favorite up until The Beatles quit touring and still a very well-known and appreciated song among both fans and occasional listeners (not quite to my taste, though, to be honest).

If only for its historical importance to rock and roll, it would certainly deserve a 4-star rating. It's not historically important to prog, though, and really not a must among non-Beatles fans. Therefore, 2 stars is a fair rating considering the context of this website.

Report this review (#250412)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Matthew T
5 stars Recorded on 11-2-1963 and released 22-3-1963 over 3 sessions which went for a period of 9 hours and 45 minutes this debut was No, 1 in the UK charts for 30 weeks and only replaced by their follow up With The Beatles. The album was mainly recorded in one day. George Martin needed 10 songs as he had 4 already from the previous singles. The album could be regarded almost as a live album as the band played as a band throughout the recording. George Martin was Producer and the album was recorded at EMI studios which would be later known as Abbey Road.

The album commences with John saying 1,2,3,4 and I Saw Her Standiing There begins the album and it also began the history of modern Rock and Roll and music would never be the same again. The single that was on the record at the time was Please Please Me and the flip was Ask Me Why which had been released before the album. With the sales EMI wanted the album to quickly follow. The other songs used on singles I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout were issued over a year later in the US only on Capital.

The version of Love Me Do is the Andy White one with him on drums.The Ringo version which has tambourine added was the single. There are 14 tracks on Please Please Me and 8 only are originals but the most famous cover from the album would have to be Twist and Shout which was the last track recorded for the day as John Lennon had a cold and George Martin was worried that he voice may not make it through the day.

The cover was taken of The Fab Four looking down the stairwell at EMI headquarters.

Although this is not progressive without this band where would todays music be and for that matter prog. For a debut like no other this in my opinion is considered one of the foundations of modern comtempary music and prog.

The album was originally released in Mono but was also mixed in stereo.

1,2,3,4 was the taken from take 9 and the song used was from the 1st take of I Saw Her Standing There.

Absolute Masterpiece

Report this review (#260401)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The Beatles 'Please Please Me' album is one of the early singles accompaniments, when they were producing single after single and it is evident when they needed to include other songs around these to fill up the album.

The fillers are interesting and rarely heard, such as 'Ask Me Why', 'Boys', 'Baby It's You' 'There's A Place' and 'Anna (Go To Him)'. They are not good songs really, although some fans would say The Beatles were infallible which is pure nonsense, however there is enough on this album to give it legendary status among the Beatles repertoire. The outstanding tracks are obvious; 'Please Please Me', 'I Saw Her Standing There', 'Love Me Do', 'PS I love You' and 'Twist and Shout' which I have heard more times than I care to remember.

But apart from those there are some real treasures to savour that are less known such as my favourites, 'A Taste of Honey' 'Do You Want to Know a Secret' and 'Misery'. Overall this album is flawed but certainly features some of the best Beatles tracks and worthwhile in every respect. 3 healthy stars.

Report this review (#276779)
Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Beatles first album is a very good one in the catalogue. Although this is 'pop' or whatever you want to call it (no side-long suites here!) the music is innovative, lively and enjoyable.

The Beatles themselves are not really musicians, as such, but music fans. At least, that is the way I think of them. Listening to their albums, often it becomes evident that they are not the worlds' best musicians or the like, but they LOVE music. Here, they are trying to pay tribute to the music they love and enjoy, from Girl Groups such as 'The Shirrells' to rock 'n' roll covers and their own brand of vocal group / guitar pop.

There is a sense of excitement in this record, and a raw, youthful energy. Very vibrant, but underneath all the joyous pop of Boy meets Girl, many of the songs have little nuances. Some songs have very original melodies, some songs have eerie, wailing harmonica and there are some interesting chord changes as well.

They have done a haunting rendition of 'A taste of honey', which is enjoyable, and different. I have always liked the heartfelt 'Ask me why', with some excellent guitar playing. The cover of 'Twist and shout' is exuberant rock 'n' roll, John Lennon delivers 'Anna, go to him' with such passion you wouldn't realise he didn't write it! The melodious 'Do you want to know a secret', delivered with devotion by George Harrison, is also a favourite. All the songs are good, however my favourite is 'There's a place', with it's eerie chord changes almost unsettling harmonica, with tonnes of echo added to it.

So the Beatles' first album, Please Please Me, is engaging, enthusiastic, full of beautiful melodies and is quite original, sometimes.

Report this review (#329501)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars The first prog album! Just kidding. I can't believe anyone on this site would give more than 2 stars to this album. Were the Beatles influential? Hell yes! Was this album influential? Hell no! This came out in early 1963, a time when the 45 rpm single was king. It wasn't until 1968 that LPs outsold singles (on both sides of the Atlantic). Before 1965 the majority of albums were just a couple of singles buried in filler. So obviously, the Beatles early success was based on their singles; it wasn't until at least A Hard Day's Night that people really paid any attention to their LPs.

This album doesn't hold any importance even for a Beatles fan. The only real significance of this album is that (unless I'm wrong) this is the only place you can get one of their best early songs ("I Saw Her Standing There") and one of their best early covers ("Twist And Shout"). "Love Me Do" and the title track can be found elsewhere. Realistically, although their early singles were popular, it wasn't until the mid-60s that the Beatles created music that would be influential on later rock music. They influenced a whole generation to want to play guitar and write songs, but it wasn't until say, 1965 that anyone really gave them credit as composers.

One song here that I have always liked, but seems to get ignored, is the Harrison-sung "Do You Want To Know A Secret". John and Paul do some great "do-wah-do" back-up harmony vocals in this song. Apart from the songs I already mentioned, there is nothing else here that really matters. This is only for a Beatles completist and no one else. 1 star.

Report this review (#398929)
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent debut album. I grew up listening to music from the 50's and 60's and there definitely wasn't any band that could perform like these lads could. It may sound dated now (of course, it was released in 1963!) but it was actually progressive in its day because as other reviewers on PA have said, it was far more exciting and energetic than anything else around, bursting with confidence and enthusiasm.

Tracks like the rousing "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Twist And Shout" were a fresh, lively slap in the face and always manage to get your hips moving! Also, listen to the Shirelles number "Boys" for the same effect. The fact that Ringo sings the girls line about boys is quite funny too. The title track is a great little two minute package with nice harmonica between verses. Other faves include "Ask Me Why", "Love Me Do" and "Do You Want To Know A Secret" but I like everything. The musicianship and harmonies are fabulous throughout. John Lennon had an excellent rock 'n'roll voice in particular, and sounded warm and rich in the softer ballads as well. Surely there's no denying the bags of talent here.

Certainly, there were some covers, but they were superb renditions and eight of the songs were written by Lennon/McCartney, inventing the idea of a self-contained rock band, writing their own hits and playing their own instruments.They did indeed need some time to mature as songwriters and they did grow in sophistication within a remarkably short space of time. Still, as "Please Please Me" stands, it's joyful, sensitive in approach and lyrics, coming from a time when the world of music was more innocent, when rock and roll was still finding its legs. Playing live was also more important than studio magic (although, the echoey production on this record suits the songs well). For all these reasons, this album will always have a special place in my heart. It isn't essential prog-rock music but it's on this site anyway and it's cool.

Report this review (#435076)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh dear, what is 'Please Please Me' doing on ProgArchives? I fully understand The Beatles' relevance to progressive rock, but albums like this just don't belong here. To put it bluntly, there is nothing remotely progressive about this album.

The Beatles' debut is an important album indeed, simply because it's a Beatles album. At the time it was released, The Beatles were starting to become popular with singles like Love Me Do and Please Please Me. The LP itself is simply a collection of songs written by Lennon/McCartney, including the singles already released, as well as some cover versions. The 10 songs recorded for the album were famously all recorded in one day!

I was extremely surprised with the quality of the material here! In addition to classic songs like I Saw Her Standing There, Please Please Me, Love Me Do and the timeless cover of Twist And Shout featuring John's raw sounding vocals (since they played this track last on the day), this album contains some top notch lesser-known tracks. Such tracks include the cover of Boys which, despite having homosexual connotations, remains one of my favourite Ringo tracks. It's impossible not to like the incredibly sweet Baby It's You, and A Taste Of Honey is another great tune. The rest of the material has it's moments too! This incredibly poppy album is an intriguing snapshot into early 60s popular music.

Ah, this is interesting. I've noticed that for the proto-prog albums, the ratings guide has been slightly altered to delete the word 'progressive' so it now only reads 'Excellent addition to any rock music collection' for four stars. This perfectly describes 'Please Please Me' and hence I shall give it this rating.

Report this review (#438188)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Though there is no doubt that in the early 1960s this album was a huge deal, I wasn't around then, so I can only judge it as a modern listener with a universe of rock music to choose from. To my mind, it's a perfectly decent rock and roll album that proves that the Fab Four had their finger on current trends and a mastery of the genre - some of the harmonies are worthy of the Beach Boys - but it has few clues to suggest their future greatness.

Part of the album's problem is that half of it consists of cover versions, and the Beatles are clearly far more enthused by their own work. Twist and Shout suffers both from this - and the gruelling recording sessions - the worst, lacking energy compared to the breathtaking original. And of the Beatles' own compositions, only Love Me Do really stands out, though I Saw Her Standing There is superb rock and roll and PS I Love You has a very mild whiff of experimentation about it. The album's a good listen but it doesn't stay with you the way their later classics do.

Report this review (#443879)
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rating: 8.5/10

Great debut, most of all concerning the followings "With the beatles", "A hard day's night", "Beatles for sale" and "Help" (the 1st phase of their career); "Please, please me" beats them all.Of course after that 1st period would come up "Rubber soul", but that's another story.This first release is the best from those first times.

Great songs (Mc Cartney and Lennon start showing up their songwriting skills), colored by perfect tunes in part by the instrumental session (very solid Ringo's drums, stunning Paul's bass marking the pulse of the beat and a warm, delicate work by George's lead guitar and energetic strumming by John's rhythm guitar) and also because of the outstanding and never-before-seen vocal performance and arrangements for a pop-rock band.

Great standards and examples of the album's best attributes are "I saw her standing there", "Ana (go with him)", "Ask me why", "Please, please me", "P.S. I love you", "Do you want to know a secret", "A taste of honey" and "There's a place".

Report this review (#458467)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars She was just seventeen, you know what I mean? ;)

This explosive debut was recorded and mixed in less than 24 hours, that's the time it takes Yes to record a single note (only to discard it again a week later, probably). Well, the quality is still there. This is basically a live show done in a studio, what we would call a "session" nowadays. Of the fourteen songs, only a few do not sound dated in 2011; it's not an issue with the sound quality (which is surprisingly good on the stereo remasters) but just the cliché compositional style that adorned most early sixties pop records. Despite the predictable nature of these tracks however, several of them are very good tunes, such as the two singles 'Love Me Do' and 'Please Please Me', as well as 'Boys', 'Twist and Shout', and my personal favourite 'I Saw Her Standing There', which opens the album with a bang.

Please Please Me blends blues numbers with mini-ballads, and some early 'surf rock' standards, all characterised with that sixties twang on George's guitar. The vocal harmonies are perhaps the most impressive element though. They aren't complicated, but just the fact that four barely-twenty Liverpudlian boys could sing in harmony is a feat in itself. They all sing lead on this album as well, although Lennon takes the lion's share. My main complaint is that every song falls short of three minutes. This is fine in most cases, but there are a few tracks that feel under-developed, just because someone had to touch that fader at 2 minutes 50 seconds, probably because of the rule at the time that all LPs had to contain fourteen songs.

This music isn't totally to my taste, but it is very charming, and I can't ignore how bold a move it was, and how innovative The Beatles were in the way they did things. The musical innovation would come later, but the fact that they were writing their own songs at all was innovative in 1963. Other people are rating this with regard to progressive rock, which wouldn't exist for another six years, so it's pointless to make comparisons. This is a three star album for me, on any website.

Report this review (#499148)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I personally don't care that it's not prog. This fact has nothing to do with the positive impact of this music on me. This is classic early 60's Beatles, and that is all. Hey, if you want prog, then get this: those guys do a bit of blue-eyed soul in their pop music and mix it with R&B (which explains the hints of surf-rock in the guitar work) and western music. Besides, some of the songs are so lightweight that they sound a bit like Hawaiian music. There, a little diversity for you.

This is a nearly flawless collection of good old Beatles songs, some of which remind me of the time when I was 15-16 years old, and some remind me of the time when I was 13. Of course, that means that there is an element of danger when it comes down to rating songs. What I mean by that is that I may give a song a five instead of a four because I used to like it back in the day and still like it now. Don't worry, I got this issue under control. That way 'Please Please Me' and 'Love Me Do' will get a four. Those aren't really mind-blowing songs, but they are just so adequately built, and they are still so fresh after all these years of not listening to them that they easily make these four handsome and gifted-for-melody young lads from Liverpool a top-of-the-line pop band. Ditto for most of the other tracks on the album. If you call yourself a Fab Four fan but you don't have this record, get it before the world finds out about this.

As far as specific ratings for these songs go, I want to get some things clear for you. As you may have noticed by now, I gave 'Ask Me Why' five stars. Why? Well, this song has a bit to do with ambient. How?! Those boys sing and moan with their sweet voices, projecting those vowels in such a manner that they just blow me away. 'There's a Place' has a very small musical and historical value, although I still love the voices of those young men, and I like that harmonica-led intro with a hint of desperation in it. Hence the rating of three stars. Lastly, 'Twist and Shout' gets a three from me for two reasons. Reason number one (which is a bad reason, if you think about it for a minute) is that the excessive airplay of this song today has really "paid off". Reason number two is that I didn't even like the song that much in the first place. So, these two explanations can be considered as a single two-fold idea.

Now that I've been listening to almost every single song on the record to come up with a genuine rating for all of them, I conclude that I should hear this album some more this season.

Ratings/comments (if you have to ask):

1. 'Taste of Honey' - ****

2. 'I Saw Her Standing There' - ****

3. 'Misery' - ****

4. 'Anna (Go To Him)' - ****

5. 'Chains' - ****

6. 'Boys' - ***

7. 'Ask Me Why' - *****

8. 'Please Please Me' - ****

9. 'Love Me Do' - ****

10. 'P.S. I Love You' - ****

11. 'Baby It's You' - ****

12. 'Do You Want to Know a Secret - ****

13. 'There's a Place' - ***

14. 'Twist and Shout' - ***

Stamp: "Highly recommended" (regardless of the reviews with low ratings based on the general idea of PA.)

Report this review (#614001)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is the album that started it all. Unfortunately that is the only claim to fame for this album. Musically, it's as far away from prog or even proto-prog as you can get. Not to mention that the band only wrote half the songs on here. Of the songs they did write, 'I Saw Her Standing There,' Ask Me Why,' and of course 'Love Me Do' all deserve recognition. It's not as if any of these songs are bad, but most of what makes them good is held in their nostalgic value.

Not a bad debut album when taken out of the context of prog rock, but nowhere near their best.


Report this review (#771422)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars This still has no value to the progressive rock at all, sorry but this is my opinion. Well, I don't need to explain about The Beatles, you know everything about them. Even talking about the easy listening rock albums, this one is booring. The first track, I Saw Her Standing There, is a happy pop rock, featuring clapping hands and dancin rhythm, and it's the highlight of the album. It's a funny album, but cliche enough even for the genre. Misery it's just another fine Beatles song. Anna (Go To Him) is terrible! Poor listening. Chains is better than Anna, but it stinks too. Boys is a poor rockabilly track. I'm very harsh with rockabilly and rocknroll since I'm a very fan of the Stray Cats. If Brian Setzer did amazing riffs into the rockabilly sameness, why Harrison couldn't? Ask Me Why is too "normal" for me. And it sounds like a song to old men, to boring old men. Please Please Me and Love Me Do are both cool tracks. Very similar tracks, mainly the intro. Love Me Do is better than the main track, I think. P.S. I Love You is too much like an Elvis hawaian track. It's horrible. Baby It's You is another slow cliche rock. another poor odd. Do You Want To Know A Secret is probably the best track of the album. It's a calm rock, and the melody is catchy for my ears. The song is short, like most of them, so I don't have any problem with the sameness of the track. A Taste of Honey is a forgettable slow rock. There's A Place tries to use the same Please Please Me track formula, but the chords are better than Please Please Me again. Well, Twist and Shout is the finishing track, maybe the most famous, but I don't like it.
Report this review (#1013190)
Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sure, if time didn't exist, this collection of highly infectious (I consider I Saw Her Standing There to be one of the rock-n-rolliest and the rockiest songs ever) but simplistic rock-n-roll and R&B tunes would not even be here. But you have to consider this album in the context of the history of popular music, which after the initial rock-n-roll explosion was growing stale and was revitalized single- handedly by the Beatles, and the band itself - not only the most influential but arguably the proggiess - in the sense of how they progressed in only three years. In terms of energy this is miles ahead of all the popular music of its time. Even the covers by the band sounded much better than the originals. And don't forget the legendary story of it being recorded in only half a day (Beatles were releasing albums twice a year these days - can anyone now believe it?). This is not a masterpiece of course, but in the context of what I mentioned before, is absolutely essential.
Report this review (#1076648)
Posted Thursday, November 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars Despite sounding late 50s / early 60s pop this is really an extremely important album in music history. By playing the musical game and scoring pop hits on the charts THE BEATLES found instant popularity in their native UK before conquering the rest of the world soon thereafter. This is the first step in their conquest of the music charts which allowed them the financial freedom to explore music to their hearts desire just a few years down the road which would jump start the entire musical world and allowing free-form creativity to blossom in myriad directions including progressive rock.

Despite being the debut this album has virtually zero indicators of what was to come as THE BEATLES themselves probably had zero clues of what they were to become. This album finds the band with a brand new drummer by the name of Ringo Starr fresh in the seat of the recently booted Pete Best while the famous John Lennon / Paul McCartney songwriting team was only beginning to get their engines greased and their mojo running with George Harrison in their shadow but still sneaking in a contribution or two.

This album is only half originals with the remaining being covers of various artists. This is a mixed bag. Songs I like include.... "I Saw Her Standing There", "Chains", title track, "Love Me Do", "P.S. I Love You", "Do You Want To Know A Secret", "Twist And Shout." The rest I don't like. That means half this album is good and the rest I could live without. If the album was as good as the half I like I would rate this higher but because a few of these good songs are really great early 60s pop songs and this is THE BEATLES, it seems like 3 stars is a perfect fit for this debut album even though I can't imagine not having it as a part of my greater musical collection. Only good but still very essential for me.

Report this review (#1150178)
Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although I'm not surprised to find The Beatles is mentioned in this site but it is a bit surprise for me to find Please Please Me is included here. We may call this album is the entry point and The Beatles breakthrough to the the world of Rock n' Roll and certainly the dawn of their marvellous year. But I believe it's not their "dawn", since they had been around way before Please Please Me. They had joined forces with Tony Sheridan recording My Bonnie and done some of their recordings: Ain't She Sweet and Cry For A Shadow for instance back in 1960-1961.

From the musical side Please Please Me may be viewed as a simple straight rock n' roll/pop rock album but The Beatles never got stucked with it as they kept evolved musically to become more mature and more complex with every release they offered. So for me this album is very important if we want to see the whole picture of The Beatles and how their music grew from one album to another and another and so on until they called it a day in 1970.

I give it 4 stars, becuase eventhough it's not a materpiece but it's essential at least to myself.

Report this review (#1150569)
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Exactly what can I say about the Beatles that hasn't been repeated 800 million times? They've pretty much always been a favorite, and they'll pretty much always be a favorite. Their popularity is very well deserved in my opinion, and those who "get it" already know why; unlike most other teeny-bopper bubblegum groups in the early 60s, these guys were self-sufficient musicians, due to the fact that they played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. Imagine, a time when real musicianship was appreciated for what it was (there's the "old man" in me talking)! And this isn't even to mention their (at the time) radical experimentation with pop genres and production techniques; like the contemporaneous Beach Boys, these guys would eventually become self-contained in the studio, using their recording environment as an instrument unto itself.

I'm not sure if I really have a unique take on these guys, but I well remember being a devout fan in my youth, absorbing anything Beatles-related that I was able to get my hands on, grateful for anything new to come down the pike from them (which at the time included the Anthology series, the updated Yellow Submarine and 1). Then I became a reactionary "jazz cat" in my late teens and railed against them and their songs being played pretty much incessantly (at least that's how I perceived it). It's only in the last five or so years that I've come back to them and renewed my appreciation for their artistry?and upon revisiting their entire catalog recently, I wonder why I ever went away in the first place. What was I thinking?

Anyway, I'll be starting off my Beatles reviews here, and of course I'll be using the UK discography (the real albums) as my basis for this series. This was the album rubric that I grew up on as a kid, and I'm happy that it has been preserved in the 2009 box sets as well as on this site. I also hope to present some trivia tidbits and new perspectives on the music that may not be obvious at first. Anyway, their debut album, Please Please Me, is a fairly accurate representation of their stage show at the time?in fact most of the record was done in a single day with very few breaks in between songs (including overdubbing time).

We start off with "I Saw Her Standing There," perhaps the definitive Beatles rave-up. One aspect of the "live" feel of this album is reflected in Paul's standard "1-2-3-4" count-off, which under ordinary circumstances would have been left on the cutting room floor. However, this is not your ordinary rock-n-roll record, and these guys knew it. Amazingly, this song was actually played as a ballad on its first gigs (perhaps that's where Tom Hanks got some ideas for That Thing You Do!), but you would never know it from the way it comes off here. Paul handles lead vocals and John harmonizes on the bridge and chorus; their songwriting collaboration was still in full swing by this time. George turns in one of his best solos (he wasn't yet 20!) and Ringo keeps the beat going in his inimitable Ringo way. Great track, and the longest one (2:55) for a good reason.

"Misery" gives the impression of having been written with another artist in mind (which in fact it was). Very quickly put together as most Lennon/McCartney songs were at this time, this song was only two weeks old at the time of this recording. One of the nice things about this tune is the contrast of upbeat music with downbeat lyrics, which would later be used to great effect by Steely Dan (among others). The hoary-sounding piano was overdubbed by producer George Martin and recorded at half-speed initially (on 30 i.p.s. tape instead of 15). Lead vocals are shared and double-tracked by John and Paul.

"Anna (Go to Him)" was the first recorded cover version by the Beatles, even though their stage shows were full of them at the time (as is borne out by several "unauthorized" recordings). Originally written and recorded by Arthur Alexander, this version is faithful to the original while also having the distinctive Beatles stamp of authenticity. A favorite of John Lennon's, he has the lead vocal honors here, and adds a sense of urgency and emotion to the song especially in the bridge ("Every girl I've ever had/Breaks my heart and leaves me sad"). Due to the cold he had during the sessions, his voice is a bit rough around the edges, and this only adds to the humanity in his performance.

Next up is "Chains," another cover version. Speaking of legendary songwriting teams, this one comes from the Gerry Goffin/Carole King hit parade and was given its release debut by the Cookies (how's that for a band name?). George debuts on lead vocals here, helped out by John (who also plays harmonica) and Paul. Not really one of their best efforts, although I appreciate the shuffle groove.

Our third cover song in a row is "Boys," which was always a feature for the drummer on lead vocals. Pete Best sang it when he was with the band in the early days, and Ringo takes over for the album version. He gets into it, too, egging George on just before his solo ("rock on, George"). Even if Ringo isn't the best singer in the world, and even if they failed to reverse the genders on what is essentially a "girls'" song, the whole thing is so bouncy and catchy that it really doesn't matter.

Back to original territory with "Ask Me Why," which is John's tune. This tune was actually around longer than most of the others, having been recorded with the original (with Pete Best) band in 1962 for EMI. Right away the sophistication in the group's compositions is growing, as this is not the standard 32-bar AABA song form; there are odd phrases all over the place. One of the "sleeper" Beatle cuts for sure.

The title track closes out side one and was one of the Beatles' best (and best-selling) singles of the time. More lyrical sophistication abounds via the use of both different meanings of the word "please" in the title and lyric. John appears on harmonica yet again and also shares the lead vocals with Paul while George sings backup. This recording also contains a slight goof in that John accidentally sings different lyrics in the third verse against George and Paul, realizing his mistake and chuckling slightly in the middle of the chorus. After the final chorus, the stereo mix overdubs the harmonica line on top of the track; unfortunately, the drums from the previous take are slightly behind the beat (creating a very weird echo effect) and, obviously in 1962, there was no way to get rid of the leakage. It's the only technical defect on an otherwise wonderfully-recorded and produced album (thank you George Martin).

The first two tracks on side two are the only ones not to feature Ringo playing drums (even though he appears on tambourine); Andy White sat in on tubs, ostensibly to try for a different drum sound. (The Ringo version can be found on various best-of packages.) "Love Me Do" was the very first single our boys ever released, and I have to say it's a far cry from what they would go on to produce, and no, I'm not accepting the fact that it was their debut as an excuse. The music and lyrics are extremely simple and repetitive, but somehow it works in its own way and obviously millions of people feel better about it than I do. I guess it's a good thing this came first, though, since without this, we wouldn't have so many other great songs. (Hey, you gotta start somewhere!)

"P.S. I Love You" is Paul's tune, recorded at the same session as "Love Me Do" two months before the rest of the album. This has a distinctly Latin feel to it due to the percussion used by Ringo (maracas) and engineer Norman Smith (more cowbell!). As usual the backing vocals (John and George) complement the lead very well, even though this is slightly less well-done than the other tracks (but only just). By the way, this track and "Love Me Do" are the only tracks here to exist solely in monaural form, due to the disappearance of the stereo versions after having been mixed down for single release.

Back to the land of covers with the Shirelles' "Baby It's You," originally composed by Burt Bacharach (who, along with his erstwhile lyricist partner Hal David, were basically Lennon and McCartney without a band). The Shirelles also did the original version of "Boys" so obviously they served the Fab Four well on this album. John sings lead here (he always did like soul music) and turns the Beatles' cover into a happier tune than the original by repeating the second verse rather than the first. George Martin returns to the keyboard, this time contributing some celesta (doubling low guitar) on the instrumental verse near the end.

"Do You Want to Know a Secret?" is next, notable for being the very first Lennon/McCartney tune to feature George as lead vocalist. Here he is out front and center for most of the track, unlike the earlier "Chains." This song repeats the same verse three times like "Love Me Do" but has more musical interest to make up for it (like the minor-key, free-time intro which contrasts with the rest of the tune). Listen closely during the bridge to hear Paul screw up a bass note.

Speaking of Paul, he is featured on "A Taste of Honey," double-tracking his lead vocals in the verse but singing harmony with John and George elsewhere. Being that it is a relatively slow, waltz-time number, there has been some criticism leveled at this track for (gasp!) not being an up-tempo rocker like everything else, but so what? I like hearing variety in music (which is one of the reasons I joined a site devoted to prog-rock) and I'm sure many serious listeners would agree. The presence of this tune doesn't detract from the album, anyway.

"There's a Place" is another sleeper track in the Beatles' catalogue, hitting the listener over the head right away with a major-7th harmonica note played of course by John. This track points the way toward the more "existential" tunes that Lennon/McCartney would pen later in the band's career (the "place" is the mind?get it?). One of the two shortest tracks on the album (with "Misery"), it does what it needs to do in the time that it has.

And then there's "Twist and Shout," which has been covered and written about and referenced so many times by others that I hardly need to say anything about it. I've mentioned before that John was suffering a cold while recording this album; this song came right at the end of the session. Listen closely at the very end; John tries to do his scream on the final chord but has already shouted himself hoarse, so you only hear a faint "yeah" and his coughing as the guitars die down. (Headphones are your friend here.)

Although the album is very well-done and the choice of material is nothing to complain about, one almost gets the sense that these guys could just as easily have picked 14 completely different songs (as they certainly had a lot more than this in their repertoire) and it would still have been a smash up and down the land. However, I'm happy with what they have presented here on this, their first go-round on the LP front. Early Beatles music has a definite "party" feel to it, so if you want to hear the "official" beginnings of this great band, and find out what everyone was raving about in 1963, now's your chance. 4 stars out of 5.

Report this review (#1450039)
Posted Friday, August 7, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Album that Started it All.

While the sound quality and composing style can definitely be dated to the early 60s, the appeal of the fab four shines through on their debut album. This album was released in the UK, and also in Canada under the name "Twist and Shout" with the exact same running order. In the US, unfortunately, like many of their other pre-1967 albums, it was not released as such and instead cut up into numerous other albums (found in the compilations section here) with songs from singles and EPs. On this album we find the Beatles recording a number of the cover tunes they had been playing live, as well as some of their early compositions. "I Saw Her Standing There" is one of the highlights of the latter, while "Twist and Shout" is a highlight of the former - with John providing a particularly notable vocal with his unique voice (the kind of vocal sound he later attained on "Revolution" - still one of the most identifiable singers in the lexicon of rock music). While some of the tunes on this album are fairly pedestrian filler ("Anna", "Ask me Why") the album sticks together as an excellent example of early 60s short rock/pop, at which the Beatles were masters. On later albums they would further develop their writing skills though. This album garners 7.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1698680)
Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first album of the Beatles, still in the style of rock and roll of the '50s, consists of 8 original songs and 6 covers, not always famous (sometimes B sides of single rock), well integrated with each other.

It starts with "I Saw Her Standing There" (vote 8+), a great rock and roll song, which has entered into history: a free-range Paul McCartney opens, singing "two-three-four" with a typical Liverpool accent - Paul who will later forget to to have been a rock singer (years 1966-67, but will try to reappropriate his rocketary voice in 1968-69). The piece has a good rhythm, an excellent text with a beautiful allusive incipit (well she was just 17, you know what I mean ...) and a great Chuck Berry style chorus. Only a good guitar solo is missing. It's the best song on the album. "Misery" (vote 7) is mainly from Lennon, a 1950s style rock and roll, and takes advantage of George Martin's piano touches. The song has a text that does not accompany the carefree music, however, it is pleasant, although too short. "Anna" (vote 7+) is the first cover of the album and shows Lennon's vocal qualities: voice explained, total involvement in the vocals. It's a choral ballad with a good dry drum sound, where the voice makes the difference.

"Chains" (vote 6,5/7) is the typical pop-rock song with country influences due to the Lennon harmonica that characterizes the beginnings of the Beatles: it could be a song of theirs, but it's a cover. It is a pleasant ballad sung by George in the solo part, which is flanked by the choirs. "Boys" (vote 7,5), song of the Shirelles, is a divertissement left to sing at Ringo: piece very exciting and rhythmic. Ringo calls George before his solo, in fact the only true album solo. It is one of the best song on the album. "Ask Me Why" (vote 7) is a slow song, but smooth, well sung by Lennon, B side of the single Please Please Me, delicate and romantic, in soul style. The first side closes with the arrogant "Please Please Me" (vote 7,5/8) that, with its pressing rhythm, offers an excellent example of the exuberance of the Beatles first period: fast rhythm, beautiful melody, arrangement with rock guitars and choirs in a complex vocal style (the voice main is John), harmonica to give country nuances. This is the Mersey Beat of the Beatles first version. It feels like it's not just 50s rock and roll.

The second side opens with "Love Me Do" (vote 7,5), album version: compared to the single (where Ringo plays) the rhythm section is more solid (here a session man plays the drums). The song has a text where the same verse is repeated 4 times, so that it is difficult to consider it verse, it would be more a refrain, but as a structure acts as a verse, which alternates only a bridge. Fortunately, the country harmonica conducts well the song, which despite the repetition is very pleasant. "Ps I Love You", side B of the single Love Me Do, is one of the weakest pieces of the album, as follows the tradition of the '50s vocal lenses; the percussive arrangement is hardly sketched and the voice and the choruses are discharged, do not raise the melody that, even nice, especially in the bridge, remains below and mono-tone. In both songs, the main voice is Paul.

"Baby It's You" (vote 6,5/7) is a cover, a fairly slow-song and monotonous ballad where the only variations are the tones of Lennon's voice. The sequence of the last two songs is the weakest on the album. "Do You Want ..." (vote 7,5) is a beautiful guitar ballad written by John and left to sing to George. Very light, with fifties choirs and a somewhat Spanish guitar, it is one of the LP's coolest songs. "A Taste of Honey" (vote 7+) is a new cover with a Spanish guitar, sung by Macca, with much taste. "There's a Place" (vote 6,5/7) back to be a Beatles' song, with harmonica and vocal harmonies, in Motown style, well sung by John, it solves the rhythm of the album, with continuous variations. Unfortunately it is very short. "Twist and Shout" (vote 8+), a striking final ending the album in "crescendo", with the progression of percussions and voices; sung by an almost voiceless and very cooled Lennon, it remains one of the Beatles' masterpieces, in its simplicity and spontaneity due to the scraped voice of Lennon.

On the whole, it being understood that Lennon and McCartney have collaborated almost on a par for "I Saw Her ...", "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do", Lennon is the dominant author of 5 songs, where he has the main voice (except in one where George sings); Lennon also sings in three covers (total 7 songs); Macca is the author and principal singer of 3 songs, and sings in a cover (total 4); George sings in two songs, one by Lennon and one is a cover; Ringo sings in a cover.

The whole album was played almost live, practically live in the studio, and was recorded in a single day with drums, two guitars, harmonica and bass - rarely some other instrument overlaps, then there are choirs and vocal harmonies. Please Please Me is a nice cool album, in rock and roll style but also full of soulful ballads typical of black music, with slow songs alternating with rhythmic ones, with a country touch due to Lennon's harmonica, where the covers are inserted in the original songs, and vice versa, without sometimes distinguishing themselves, except in Please Please Me, which anticipates the times to come.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,286. Vote: 7+. Three stars.

Report this review (#2078032)
Posted Saturday, November 24, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars Please Please Me opens with one of the two best pre-1965 Beatles songs, 'I Saw Her Standing There' (the other is 'She Loves You,' by the way). 'I Saw Her Standing There' was written by Paul McCartney, and two of his other tunes here, 'Love Me Do' and 'P.S. I Love You' - - which together constituted the group's first UK single - - are pretty good. Nonetheless, the Beatles' debut LP was the last time McCartney's compositions would challenge John Lennon's status as the group's key songwriter until their sixth album.

Lennon's contributions to Please Please Me include the title track and 'Do You Want to Know a Secret,' sung here by George Harrison. Lennon also belts out the Medley/Russell-penned Isley Brothers classic 'Twist and Shout,' which is one of six cover songs here.

Please Please Me was recorded by a veteran stage act in three 3-hour sessions, all on one day, and it shows. As it stands, the best available recording technology - - a two-track tape machine - - essentially required a live performance with vocals laid down on one track and instruments on the other. On the other hand, the album is not the product of weeks of careful studio work. Although vocal overdubs would have been possible, only 'A Taste of Honey' includes one. The instrumental balance of each song is whatever producer George Martin could come up with. Of course, the relatively low fidelity and lack of polish has been viewed for half a century as an asset on this album, because, after all, it is the Beatles. But to be fair, the fact that Please Please Me sounds as good as it does is a testament to Martin's skills, both technical and musical.

In short, Please Please Me is a good album, but the Beatles were only getting started.

Report this review (#2237806)
Posted Friday, July 12, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Seeing the Beatles featured on a prog site feels rather odd to be honest. I am of course aware that progressive rock wouldn't sound like it does if it weren't for all the sixties bands, the Beatles included, but as far as I am concerned, only Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road really bear any resemblance to prog. In Sgt. Pepper's case it is mainly due to the conceptual ideas, as well as the musical structure on a song like "A Day In the Life". On Abbey Road we have songs such as "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and perhaps the medley on side 2. But even an album like Revolver, though experimental and containing many psychedelic sounds, contains short and relatively traditional compositions. Then of course there is a song like "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" from the White Album with its changes in tempo and mood, but overall the White Album sounds more like a foreshadowing of alternative rock to me.

But I am a big admirer of the Beatles, so I'd love to take the opportunity to review their studio albums. Now their music up to, and including the Help album is possibly as far from prog as can be: straight forward dance pop and rock'n roll songs mostly with I-love-you-and-you-love-me lyrics, and it wouldn't make much sense to judge it from a progressive rock point of view.

The early Beatles is clearly not as artistically interesting as their later work. It is pop, and it works on pop premises mostly. However it sounded a lot more honest than some of the pre-fabricated machine pop that came before them in the early 60's (Paul Anka, Del Shannon, Cliff Richard etc.), and in that context the Beatles were clearly a breath of fresh air, and much less streamlined. Also their music had some energy that the above mentioned idols didn't have.

The first LP contains their first two singles and their B-sides. The rest of the album was recorded literally in one day, consisting of songs from their live repertoire. The songs were mostly recorded live in the studio with only a few overdubs (the handclaps on "I Saw Her Standing There" and the piano on "Misery"), and the limited amount of time of course means that the performances are not always flawless. It gives the album an aura of freshness and spontanity, but on the other hand some performances sound rather substandard, and even uninspired. This particularly goes for some of the cover versions: "Chains", "Boys" and, in particular, "Baby It's You" (with terribly off-key backing vocals). The one cover version that really shines above the rest is "Twist And Shout" with its raw energy and raw vocal performance by John Lennon. Probably the highpoint of the album.

Then there are the original compositions, and at this point Lennon and McCartney hadn't yet entirely matured as songwriters. The songs, having been written before the band signed with Parlophone, sound a bit unfocused and unfinished compared to their subsequent work. A good example is "Ask Me Why" where the 9th to 12th bar of the verse sound like they are leading towards something that doesn't really come. Also the chorus sounds too much like the verse, and the middle eight ("I can't believe...") doesn't really make a contrast either, containing a cadence that ends with the tonic (main chord). As a result, the song sounds rather monotonous overall. Similar things can be said about "Do You Want To Know a Secret", and even their first big hit, "Please Please Me" lacks the sense of direction that chacacterizes the best work of the band.

The best original songs are "There's a Place" which also goes beyond the lyrical cliches of the other songs (though not exactly in a subtle way) and "I Saw Her Standing There" which is an uplifting and energetic piece of rock'n roll. Kicking the whole album off with the classic 1-2-3-4! it is a perfect opener, just as "Twist And Shout" is a perfect finale. As for "There's a Place", however, the verse ends in a rather unelegant way, both harmonically and melodically with "when I'm alone", but fortunately the intensity of the rest of the song makes it up for that.

Shortly after this album, Lennon and McCartney would improve drastically as songwriters with songs that sound much more accomplished: "From Me To You", "She Loves You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Here at this early stage their genius doesn't really show... yet.

Then there is the musicianship. Clearly the greatest music is not always made by great virtuosos, and it it would be fair to say that the Beatles were not the most virtuose instrumentalists, especially not in the early days. But their abilities work very well for the type of music they are playing, and the energy that they are able to reproduce together is indeed very infective. Judged by their individual playing, however, it is clear that they haven't yet entirely found themselves as instrumentalists. Paul McCartney does little more than keeping the bass note, and Gerorge Harrison has clearly not found his sound yet. The solo on "I Saw Her Standing There", for instance, while energetic, it is also very unimaginative. Harrison would later develop a very personal and poetic style, perhaps most prominently heard in the solo on "Something".

But while the Beatles aren't the greatest instrumentalists in the world, there is no doubt that Lennon and McCartney are excellent singers, and a lot of their special energy and charisma clearly comes from the vocals. "Twist And Shout" is probably the best vocal performance on the album.

So all in all it is a promising debut that doesn't entirely show off their true force. But you have to start somewhere.

Report this review (#2404844)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2020 | Review Permalink

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