on September 14, 2009
There's only so much that audio engineers can do with material that was frankly rather sloppily recorded four and a half decades ago. Back in the 1970s, I owned a high-end audio store, and as familiar as I was with the Beatles' U.S. releases, I still purchased all the Beatles LPs on British Parlophone anticipating the "real thing." However, none of those LPs, including this album, were anything great in terms of fidelity. The sound was generally thin, brittle, weak, and lacking in detail. The U.S. versions, with all their weaknesses, were better. But keep in mind that high-quality audio systems were very rare in 1962, and the engineers did the mastering, equalization, etc., with "record players," not audio systems, in mind. It should not be surprising that the early Beatles' recordings didn't hold up so well on top-quality audio equipment.
Whatever else they have done to their manufacturing capability over the past few decades, the British have remained extremely important in terms of audio engineering. Bowers & Wilkins 801s are still damn fine speakers a quarter century after they first appeared. The British masterings of Frank Sinatra's 1950s output simply blow away the American versions. While the American engineers worried about removing hiss, the British engineers went after capturing the music, the comparison to modern digital recording be damned.
What the engineers have done with this album, and I assume the others, is dig as deep as they could into the master tapes and get us as close to the music as possible. Beware that this is not as close as possible to the sound that we heard from our GE or RCA portables. It is what we wish they could have sounded like back then. It is the Beatles reworked for the modern age and, to my mind, very successfully.
Compare this remastered version to the old LP or the early CDs. It's no contest. It's not a matter of whether the harmonica sounds squeaky or the voices on occasion sound hard. That's on the tape and can't be changed. It's a matter of detail, and balance, and definition, and capturing the music. Eight remastered CDs arrived today. I can't wait to hear the rest.
With "A 1,2,3,4," history was made with the rousing opening number, "I Saw Her Standing There" from Please Please Me, the debut album of the best group the world has had the pleasure to experience.
"Misery" has the rhythm guitar that became part of the Beatles' signature style. At least in the early days. I wonder if Helen Shapiro set fire to her coiffure after turning this great number down--it was originally offered to her.
"Anna (Go To Him)" is an archetypal 60's type ballad originally done by R&B singer Arthur Alexander. Beatles renditions of other Alexander songs appear on the Live At The BBC album.
Their rendition of the Cookies' "Chains" shows they do justice to the works one of America's best songwriters, Carole King and Louise Goffin.
"Boys" is classic rollicking rock and roll and sung by Ringo, and one of two Shirelles numbers done here--the other is the slow and languid "Baby It's You," the song beginning with "Sha la la la la la la."
The centerpiece of this album is the title track, which became the Beatles' first #1 hit on the British charts--it only reached #3 in the U.S. Anyone who wonders why the Beatles made it big need only hear this song. Love that harmonica inbetween the verses!
The "Love Me Do" version here is not the originally recorded single version which reached #17 on the British charts and #1 on the Billboard Singles Chart. Rather, this has Andy White on drums while Ringo is relegated to tapping a tambourine. For the version that hit the single charts, get Past Masters Volume I. I like both versions all the same.
"P.S. I Love You" is sung by Paul and is the first song on where he sings solo--he sings with John on the previous songs. The other song where he sings solo is on the ballad "A Taste Of Honey," singing of honey "tasting much sweeter than wine."
It's George's turn to sing lead on "Do You Want To Know A Secret." The backing vocals after the second verse provide a nice touch.
Two rollicking numbers signal the close of Please Please Me, both sung by John. They are "There's A Place" and the definitive rendition of the Isley Brothers' "Twist And Shout." I wonder how long it took John's vocals to recover after nearly singing himself to shreds.
Many artists would not have come to be without the Beatles, and we have this album to thank for.
This was the album that thrust the Beatles into the spotlight in England. [It would be almost another year before America would embrace the lads from Liverpool.] After honing their skills in Hamburg and gigging around England, they shot to No. 1 in the U.K. with "Please Please Me" and followed up with this LP.
Eight of these songs are Lennon-McCartney originals, the rest were taken from their live show repertoire. Of the former, "I Saw Her Standing There" is a terrific Little Richard-inspired rocker and "Love Me Do" (their first U.K. single) features some wonderful harmonica by Lennon. Of the latter, Lennon turns in a fine performance on Arthur Alexander's "Anna" and the definitive version of "Twist and Shout"--two minutes and thirty-three seconds of primal rock 'n' roll. [And all done with two guitars, a bass and a drum kit! When was the last time you heard music like THAT on the radio?]
This was the Beatles at their most innocent and arguably their most enthusiastic. This album belongs in any serious music fan's collection. ESSENTIAL
on February 12, 2000
After two hit singles(Love Me Do & Please,Please Me which eventually became the albums title track) an album was inevitible.But since The Beatles didn't have the clout for even a budget sized production,this album was recorded in one day.In these days of artist spending millions,and taking years to complete an album,PPM is amazing in the fact that they practically banged this one out and 37 years later dispite many rough edges,it still sounds fresh.Another amazing facet was that 60% of the album was self composed,especially at a time when musical acts recorded other writers songs suggested by their producer.This was essentially their stage show in the studio,where they even topped it off with their no holds barred performance of Twist & Shout.The originals(especially I Saw Her Standing There,Ask Me Why,PS I Love You,& Do You Want To Know A Secret) follow up on the precedent that the two aforementioned lead singles had set.The cover songs aren't no slouches either(the sweet Anna,Boys,A Taste Of Honey and of course Twist & Shout).Some of todays mainstream music listeners may be put of by the rough edges,flubbed notes and shaky vocals,but its those flaws that give PPM its charm.
on August 19, 2005
One afternoon after school, you take a walk to you local record shop. You walk over to the counter, and ask the salesman - "Do you have that new record by the Beatles?"
And the salesman smiles, and says: "Sure do, son; got a new shipment today. They've been selling like hot cakes".
And you give him 75p (or whatever a record cost back then) and he hands you the record. And you go home, and close the door to your room, and place the record on your gramophone, and place the needle on the record.
And you hear a click and some hisses, and then a young man with a heavy Liverpoolian accent yells out "One, two, three, four!", and an electric guitar starts playing. And your life is changed forever.
It may be, as Jack Black's character in High Fidelity would say, painfully obvious and trite to say it, but 'I Saw Her Standing There' is still one of the best opening tracks on a rock album, ever. Even now, with all the distance the music business had come, it's hard to resist the sheer contagiousness of the song's rhythm and of Paul's youthful energy. Even though the song shows heavy influences of the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and especially Little Richard - who were, of course, among the Beatles' idols - the observant listener could have heard even then, in 1963, that this was something new, something that would change the course of musical history. The true British rock n' roll was born with Please Please Me.
Although I was born a full two decades after this album was released, so I can only guess at the thrill of hearing the Beatles for the first time, back then, that is without all the myth and glamour that have been attached to them in the years since; and although I know, like everybody knows, that the Beatles created their best music after 1965, right about the time they quite touring; and despite the dated sound quality and all the other flaws that it has - flaws that are inherent in a recording made by a band where the oldest member is twenty three, at basically zero budget, in less than twenty hours, with a classical music producer working as engineer and a record shop owner working as a manager; despite all that, Please Please Me is an album that never fails to astound and amaze me. Though the sound is certainly dated, it stands the test of time like few albums from the 70s and 80s do, and appeals in so many different levels.
Lennon and McCartney were at this point not entirely confident in their abilities as songwriters - they rely heavily on cover versions to their own favorite songs - but the few originals that they did write for the album - other than the opening track and the title track there are also 'Love Me Do', 'P.S. I Love You', 'Ask Me Why', 'Misery', 'There's a Place' and 'Do You Want to Know a Secret', performed by twenty year old George Harrison - are all classics, and some of the cover versions are also worthy of praise - especially John's unforgettable delivery of 'Twist and Shout', which became one of their most popular songs and left the original version far behind.
It's difficult to let go of everything you know about the last forty years and listen to an album in the context of its own time, but if, for the thirty-something minutes of Please Please Me you can close your eyes, lay back, and pretend that it's 1963, you're in your room, with the door closed and that record spinning away... You'll enjoy it so much more. It may be true that the Beatles created their best music after 1965, but don't pass the old albums by, especially not Please Please Me, which has a unique and undisputed place in the history books... and with good cause.
on March 6, 2001
Almost everytime that a band releases their first record, the enthusiasm and the excitement can be felt around it the first times you hear it. With "Please Please Me", though, that youthful spirit of non-expert, energetic and absolutely talented musicians has survived through the years, transforming the first album ever recorded by The Beatles (in 585 minutes) into a piece of joyful and cheering music that can be heard by any generation, extracting the same warmth and sense of quality that the people in the 60's saw in the talents of this band.
The power and the sparkling energy displayed through the songs of these innovative boys was quickly appreciated not only by the huge bunch of screaming fans, but also by the critics, who saw in themusic of The Beatles, beyond the social change that it could create, an important creative contribution, since they were transporting rock'n'roll, originally a part of the young culture, to the spirit of a whole country, and later, of the world.
The LP itself is quick and breath-taking since its starting, and can be easily enjoyed now by fans of any generation. Eight original McCartney/Lennon songs (the only CD which displays this credits and not the familiar "Lennon/McCartney" ones) form it, starting with "I Saw Her Standing There", one of Paul's most notable rock'n'roll pieces, with a stunning bass part, and energetic lyric and a fun, timeless recording. "Misery" shows the sentimental side of John Lennon, who's perceived as the most-talented lyricist in the group, writing a melancholic song supported by the invariable instrumental basis and George Martin's piano; and also shining on "There's A Place", maybe the first time he tried not to write a simple love song, but an introspective one, changing the traditional way of writing that rock'n'roll composers had at the time. It also contains the background of harmonies that would eventually become the trademark of the early Beatle recordings. "Do You Want To Know A Secret", beautifully sung by George Harrison, is another Lennon number, this time an innocent and sweet love ballad about a boy who falls in love with a girl. This is a particular favourite of mine, and I think the strength of thissong lies in the luminous melody and the geniously arranged background harmonies. The rest of the originals were already known by singles: the different version of "Love Me Do" and its B side "PS I Love You" (a McCartney number with great vocals); "Please Please Me" (the current hit with original and out-of-the-common lyrics) and its B side "Ask Me Why" (an unfairly forgotten Lennon/McCartney song). The covers are so well-chosen that you can't reject them. John's rendition of "Anna" is better than Arthur Alexander's, as you can feel by the first his painful throat shouting for a girl he loves. "Chains" is a three-part harmony number written by Carole King and husband, and directed by George Harrison, who sings the lead part (although he's not credited!). Another chance for John to show his harmonica-playing, and another great song. "Boys" is Ringo's turn to sing, a song that really fits into his personality, and that shows The Beatles really seemed to be enjoying what they recorded. "Baby It's You" is another love ballad driven by John's dramatic vocal. "A Taste Of Honey" seems to be the weak point in the album, although is a good way to appreciate Paul early as a standard pop ballads singer. "Twist And Shout" is known by all because of its simplicity and John's destructed but amazing lead vocal George and Paul's tired but luminous background harmonies that made The Beatles' version to this american original a stand-out and brilliant live number.
There were many eras in The Beatles' early years. This record recovers their first-time attempts, with the inexperiences and mistakes, but also with their indisputable talent. I'm 18, and I think this CD can go through all the ages, and make a good impression. That's why the music of The Beatles is so important. The recording of this album was, indeed, "a bundle of joy" for them. They really enjoyed it, it was their big change, and they made it with all their energy and sense of humor. Buy it, and it will surely represent "a bundle of joy" for you too.
on June 27, 2000
This is about as basic as Rock and Roll gets. These were the early and fun days of Rock. Bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones covered the songs of their Blues And R&B heroes from The States. These songs carried them through tours of their homeland and some European locales. In the case of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, there was an ace up their sleeves: great songwriting. Of the eight songs here that bear their imprint, five are considered classics by any measuring stick: "I Saw Her Standing There," "Please Please Me," "Love Me Do," "P.S. I Love You," and "Do You Want To Know A Secret." Considering the impact of these songs, the big upset would have been had this duo NOT reinvented the classic rock songbook. It is also easy to see that the American girl group sound was a big influence on The Beatles. They did male versions of three girl group classics on this album, and it would not be the last time they mined this source for material. In
addition are well-known covers of Arthur Alexander's "Anna" and the Isley Brothers' hit, "Twist And Shout." You won't find any message songs here. These Beatles were young, having a good time, and looking for an even better one! The fast numbers here can still jumpstart any Rock And Roll party, even after all these years. My only complaint about this album, and all the other CD releases of The Beatles'early albums, is that more music could have been included. It would have been easy to add "From Me To You" and "Thank You Girl" to this CD as bonus tracks. I know some of you purists will say it's better to issue the albums as The Beatles might have intended. But a couple of albums titled "Meet The Beatles" and "Introducing The Beatles" managed to hold down the top two slots in the U.S. lp charts for most of 1964, though their content varied from the U.K. releases "Please Please Me" and "With The Beatles." So there is precedent. The Beatles showed they were here to stay with this winning first lp effort. And they would never be so young, so innocent, so unpretentious, and so much fun, ever again.
on November 10, 1999
It's a mistake to compare this album to any other in their catalog. Of course it's not Seargent Pepper, thank God. Nothing against that album, but I bet Lennon listened to this one a whole lot more than Pepper. And for good reason. I disagree that this album sounds primitive. The Beatles had plenty opportunity to polish thier act in Hamburg and the Cavern. Their youthful, exuburent vocals shine all the way through this disc. Lennon's vocals, particularly, amaze. I don't know if he ever sang better. I've always thought that this album "sounded" great, probably because it was mastered directly from the 2-track session tapes. It kicks much harder than their next three studio albums. Anyway, forget all the rubish that begins "not as good as." If you love pop/rock/vocal, you'll love this album. And don't feel guilty when you reach for this one instead of 'The White Album.' There's good reason
on October 17, 2009
If you enjoy the stereo effect of "music on the left, vocals on the right"...then this is right up your alley...
This recording lacks the drive The Beatles were known for.
I did what many of you did back on Sept 9th....purchased the entire STEREO catalogue of remasters...and then proceeded to listen to them....only to be very disappointed with many of the stereo mixes
My solution was to go ahead and purchase the MONO REMASTER BOX....it contains the first 10 Beatle albums (up thru the WHITE ALBUM) in true MONAURAL sound...They sound the way The Beatles intended you to hear them...and they capture all the energy and definition of a real Beatle performance.
The benefit of having the STEREO REMASTERS....the enclosed booklet and outer jacket are easily worth the $12....
They should have included BOTH stereo and mono mixes in the remaster package..sort of how they did with the CAPITOL ALBUM BOX SETS
on March 15, 2001
This is my favorite Beatles CD. It has two of my favorite songs, "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Twist and Shout". As the reviewer says, this is the real deal, raw and alive. If you want to hear what the Beatles were all about in 1963 and why they changed music forever, buy this CD.