Beatles. Four of them. John, Paul, George and Ringo. Their first proper British long player. Please Please Me. I understand the title has earned them a fair amount of scorn from the British suffragettes. These women’s rights groups aren’t without merit in this case, gents. After all, it’s one thing to whisper about but quite another to be so frank with your intentions. That said, I think most right thinking people would agree that the average suffragette is simply looking for her husband to chase her around the dining room table now and again. But, this is a record review and not a social commentary. Good thing, that.
To my ears these Beatles mix their styles and play with a ferocity not heard since the blues and their little baby cousin – rhythm & blues – was accidentally overheard by some young white kids in a west suburban cul de sac. Call it what you will – Merseybeat, folk-rock, pop-rock, British Invasion, rock & roll – I say it’s simply not that bad by today’s standards.
A man on holiday in Dover said Ringo never missed a beat and I’ll be darned if I’ll be the one to disprove it! Those wonderful (if unconvincing in their attempt to mimic American English) vocal harmonies by Messrs. Lennon and McCartney! The lead(ish) guitar from George Harrison is formidable at minimum and could quite possibly cure leadminer’s complaint in due time!
Now, let’s get down to some specifics so I can convince you I’ve actually listened to the album in its entirety! First out of the gate is I Saw Her Standing There. With its opening line “Well she was just seventeen and you know what I mean” it’s hardly difficult to see what they mean (They mean she was legally able to see popular art films). That tune – a McCartney-Lennon original – sets the tone for the record. That tone is both hard driving and original for at least one more song – Misery, which is believable in its portrayal of a young man who’s been treated poorly by the whole world. Ha ha ha. Who hasn’t, chumps? It’s at this point the record takes a decidedly unoriginal turn with the following toe-tappers – Anna (Go To Him), Chains, and Boys – all obviously unoriginal since other people wrote them and had hits with them long before. To be fair, The Beatles take the mickey out of them and make them their own. They’ll never know how much I respect them for that. Ask Me Why is the sixth song on the album and that seems fair.
The seventh track is Please Please Me. Some people would say it’s the song in the title of the album but I’m unsure of such an obvious move. These guys are intellectuals. Either way, it’s a real rocker and cuts right into the heart of modern romance like a knife sold by a door-to-door knife salesman. P.S. I Love You is nothing more than a post script really. Which seems about right. It’s great. Baby It’s You (another cover!) has a lot of sha-la-la-la-las in it to lull you into a false sense of security. It’s then that they tell us she’s a “Cheat! Cheat!” Just what a hopped up teenage head needs to hear! Thanks a farthing’s worth, Beatles! Though, they didn’t really write it. Some American guy named Bacharach did. Let’s blame him. Do You Want To Know A Secret doesn’t have a “?” which is confusing to me. But I listened to it anyway. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the secret after hearing all that bad news about the girl in the song before. But, it’s a really good song as it turns out. Somewhat sparse really – sounds more like a trio but it is rollicking number. A Taste Of Honey is what The Beatles serve up next. It’s a cover. Are you getting the pattern here? Write a few songs, cover a few ringers, grow your hair out and cop some accent and the girls will swarm you. Even more if you talk bad about them! Well it IS a good song. There’s A Place is a McCartney-Lennon song that’s not unlike something Greenwich Village folk huckster Bob Dylan would write. Not surprisingly, the “place” is a made up place in their minds! Big thinkers. The last song on this 14 song long-player is Twist and Shout which is a real shredder. Man, I wish the album was full of songs like this. Yes, for you scorekeepers, it’s a cover version. But, boy is it convincing. In my opinion it’s as good as the Isley Brothers version. Which is to say very good indeed.
If I were you I’d purchase this album from your local furniture store. Or ask me if you can borrow it.
For weirdos Only: Please Please Me was released on the EMI subsidiary Parlophone. Which is funny because Parlophone was a label devoted to comedy recordings. The Goons – including future Beatle friend Peter Sellers - recorded for Parlophone.