Album facts: Please Please Me

Please Please Me is the debut LP by The Beatles. The album consists of songs both written by Lennon/McCartney and covers from some of their favourite artists of the time. The track list is basically a mirror of their live repertoire from the Cavern Club. Parlophone Records rush-released the album out to capitalise on the success of the band's second single.

Please Please Me album cover, 1963. 

Please Please Me album cover, 1963. 

Track list

  1. I Saw Her Standing There
  2. Misery
  3. Anna (Got To Him)
  4. Chains
  5. Boys
  6. Ask Me Why
  7. Please Please Me
  8. Love Me Do
  9. P.S. I Love You
  10. Baby It's You
  11. Do You Want to Know a Secret
  12. A Taste of Honey
  13. There's a Place
  14. Twist and Shout
John Lennon and Paul McCartney at EMI Studios, September 4th 1962. 

John Lennon and Paul McCartney at EMI Studios, September 4th 1962. 

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Recording

On February 11th 1963, producer George Martin booked The Beatles into EMI Studios for a gruelling recording session that would last nearly 13 hours; from 10:00am till 10:45pm. On this day The Beatles recorded 10 of the 14 songs on Please Please Me.

George Martin had originally planned to record the album live at the Cavern, but due to technical limitations and time constraints he decided to just record a live set at the studio.

The last song The Beatles recorded was Twist and Shout. John Lennon was suffering with a bad cold on the day and George Martin feared if he sang Twist and Shout early on it would spoil his voice.

Lennon had to pull it off in one go as his and the other Beatles' voices were all but spent. In the EMI canteen he sucked on a few cough drops, gargled milk and belted out the scorching performance we know and love.

At this same session The Beatles also recorded Hold Me Tight, but this was kept off Please Please Me and later re-recorded for their second album With the Beatles.

"He (George Martin) had a very great musical knowledge and background. I mean, he taught us a lot and I'm sure we taught him a lot by our sort of primitive musical ability." - John Lennon
"I think George quite liked the way we had about us. I don't think he was that convinced about our musical ability just then." - Paul McCartney
"We'd all said, 'Well what about this? What about this?', cos basically this album was just what we did live in the clubs." - George Harrison
"I personally love George because he gave us a shot at putting down on a piece of vinyl. No one else would really have wanted to put us on the label. George, George Martin, said yes." - Ringo Starr

Front cover  

The iconic front cover was taken at the headquarters of EMI Limited at 20 Manchester Square, London. EMI remained at this office block until 1995; after moving to London's West End they took the famous balcony railing with them. 

An unused photograph from this shoot was later used for The Beatles' retrospective albums 1962–1966 and 1967–1970also known as the Red and Blue albums.

Early Beatles' photo shoot, 1962. 

Early Beatles' photo shoot, 1962. 

Release

Please Please Me was rush-released by Parlophone on March 22nd 1963, to capitalise on the success of the band's second single. It reached the top of the UK Albums Chart on May 5th and remained there for 30 weeks before being replaced by With the Beatles.

At the time the UK Albums Chart was largely dominated by easy listening and soundtrack albums so it was surprising when Please Please Me reached the number one spot. 

It wasn't until 1987, when The Beatles' catalogue was first issued on compact disc, that US fans could buy the album; although most of the songs on Please Please Me were already released on Introducing... The Beatles (1964) and The Early Beatles (1965).

Early Beatles' photo shoot, 1962. 

Early Beatles' photo shoot, 1962. 

Personnel

The Beatles

  • John Lennon – lead vocals, background vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, hand claps
  • Paul McCartney – lead vocals, background vocals, bass guitar, hand claps
  • George Harrison – background vocals, lead vocals on "Chains" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret", lead guitar, acoustic guitar, hand claps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, hand claps, lead vocals on "Boys"

Additional musicians and production

  • George Martin – producer, mixer, additional arrangements, piano on "Misery", celesta on "Baby It's You"
  • Norman Smith – audio engineer, mixer
  • Andy White – drums on "Love Me Do", percussion on "P.S. I Love You"