Les Beatles No. 1 (Please Please Me)

29 Jun

please

A French pressing of the Beatles first LP on the Odeon label, bought as a souvenir of a trip to Paris in about 1969.  At the time, I probably didn’t know the chronology of Beatles albums – I just wanted a bunch of songs I knew and this seemed a great deal as  I was familiar with all of them since the Beatles were a big part of the soundtrack to my childhood. In fact, probably my first musical memory ever is of singing  ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ in the playground of my infants school in 1964! 

Anyhow, this debut pressing, recorded in just one day. contains fourteen tracks, none over three minutes. Eight are by Lennon and McCartney themselves (something of an innovation to have a pop band writing its own material), the remaining six by America songwriters. Four of these are rather good:  Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s ‘Chains’ (sung by George),  Arthur Alexander’s ‘Anna’ and of course the closing track, ‘Twist and Shout’ (the latter two sung by John) especially, along with ‘A Taste of Honey’ taken by Paul. The other two are OK  but fillers in my mind.

It’s the Lennon and McCartney numbers which make the album though – fresh, rawly energetic and confident with the talent shining through. The outstanding numbers are the upbeat rockers ‘Please Please Me’, closing side one and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ which opens it. These are timeless classic pop. ‘Love Me Do’ with it’s harmonica riff is also up there with the best, along with my personal favourite, ‘There’s a Place’ – with its dual vocal and, once again, harmonica.

I guess it’s getting harder to get across nowadays the place the Beatles occupied in popular culture in the 1960s in Britain – and perhaps I over-exaggerate it in my mind because by the time I hit adolescence, they’d gone their separate ways, leaving a hole no-one has filled since. But even so, these are the guys who broke the mould of what could be expected from young English musicians.

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