22 March 1963: The album that started it all – The Beatles’ debut release
At this point it’s basically superfluous to write another culture column about the impact of The Beatles. Yet here we are looking down at the 60th anniversary of the debut album from the Fab Four.
The journey John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison took to reach their debut album is well documented with the Liverpudlian boys doing extensive residencies in a Hamburg club.
As they built up a fanbase in their UK home, The Beatles hit the Abbey Road studios in 1962 for the first time to record what would become their first single ‘Love Me Do’. The recording process was a troubling time and original drummer Pete Best was fired and replaced with the final piece of the puzzle – Ringo Starr.
I wrote about the complex history behind recording ‘Love Me Do’ for its anniversary here.
Today though, let’s focus on the entire first album ‘Please Please Me’.
The process from recording to release was a quick one. The band entered the studio on 11 February 1963 and recorded 10 tracks in a single session.
The marathon approach to recording the album was intended to replicate the exciting sound that came with hearing the band perform live. On the day, Lennon battled a sore throat and the band decided to save their cover of ‘Twist and Shout’ for last. Recorded in one take at 10pm, the song, as expected, wrecked Lennon’s delicate voice.
“The last song nearly killed me. My voice wasn’t the same for a long time after; every time I swallowed, it was like sandpaper,” he said.
While the band would later become known for their formalistic experimentation, ‘Please Please Me’ is the band at their purest, with Lennon and McCartney writing by instinct in the vein of their favourite stars.
An instant success, ‘Please Please Me’ was the first of 11 consecutive number one albums in the UK. The band had already achieved their first number one single with the release of the track ‘Please Please Me’ in January.
More singles from the album were released as the band confirmed their stranglehold on the charts.
It might not contain the psychedelic atmosphere that became the band’s trademark in later years, but the astonishingly joyful pop tracks across ‘Please Please Me’ still betray the iron-wrought songwriting skills of the Lennon-McCartney duo.
Give it a whirl again today.