CHART ACTION: #1 UK, US equivalent Introducing the Beatles #2 (more on that later).
SINGLES: Love Me Do (#17 UK, #1 US), Please Please Me (#2 UK, #3 US), I Saw Her Standing There (#14 US), Twist and Shout (#1 US), Do You Want to Know a Secret (#2 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Damn, if you don’t know this record…
LINEUP: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a modest hit and a smash, the Fab Four records 10 more songs in a day and releases a triumphant debut.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In 585 minutes, the Beatles recorded 10 (actually 11 but one was un-used) songs from their stage show to supplement the A’s and B’s of their two singles. Of those 10, six were covers of American R&B and a show tune (Oh, that Paul). The other four, and the four single tracks, were originals.
It was pretty much an instant classic. Oh, you can quibble about “A Taste of Honey” (recorded first by Billy Dee Williams, yes that’s right). You can talk about George’s guitar solos not being the most creative in the world. You can nit-pick some of the vocal hiccups (it was pretty much live to two-track with only a few overdubs). And you can wonder why “Anna”, “Chains” and “Boys” were their picks when you’ve never really heard them on oldies radio.
This is rock-and-roll exuberance and rock-and-roll versatility. Not every band can go from “Ask Me Why” to “Please Please Me”, not even today, and pull it off.
It’s not their best album – not even their best early album. But damn, it’s good. You should have it – and play it so you understand.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: I used Introducing the Beatles (a Vee Jay record release) as the American comp because it contained 12 of the 14 songs on the album, and Meet the Beatles had only one. The Early Beatles by Capitol has 11 of them but that was released after the Vee Jay contract expired.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, except that they released a stereo and mono version of the record on CD. I think mono is better – that’s what George Martin was concentrating on when he mixed the songs.
GRADE: A: Let’s rock and roll!