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Please Please Me

Please Please Me, the Beatles’ debut studio album, was released on 22 March 1963. As intended, this album launched the band that transformed the Western world, which in turn transformed the East. Unlike all of the talent whom George Martin had chosen to produce before, based on his own discretion, the Beatles were assigned to him, and were to be his top priority. He was given a tape recording of the band performing at the Cavern Club, and then met them all in person. Although he was not impressed with the quality of their work, he did appreciate their charisma and sense of humor.   

From the Beatles’ small collection of songs, Martin selected “Please Please Me,” originally written by John (credited to Lennon–McCartney). In the studio, the first recordings were rough enough to convince Martin that he needed to completely overhaul the song before beginning to record it for the public. He had all copies of the original recordings destroyed, and set 11 September 1962 to be the date that the Beatles would begin working on the version of this song that would be their first enormous hit, launching the band. Holding the band to a considerably higher standard of perfection than they had ever attempted before, “Please Please Me” was released as a single on 11 January 1963 (UK) and on 7 February 1963 (US).

With the great success of that Beatles single, George Martin was congratulated for what he accomplished, and was pressured to produce enough Beatles tracks to fill an entire album. Capitalizing on the success of the song, “Please Please Me,” he eventually decided to use it as the album’s title song. Martin booked sessions in EMI Studios in Abbey Road, and had the Beatles record their Cavern Club songs.

Martin improved the product by making new arrangements for their songs, by coaching the band, and by using recording technologies that were impossible in live performances. For example, he gave “A Taste of Honey” a fuller sound by double-tracking Paul’s vocal. Martin also added more instruments, such as having John add harmonica to “There’s a Place.” With overdubbing, Martin added his own piano playing to “Misery,” and also played the piano for “P.S. I Love You.” On “Baby It’s You,” Martin played the celesta. Also uncredited on the album, Andy White played the drums on “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” while Ringo was given other percussion instruments to play for those songs. Every song was elevated beyond the Beatles own skills. And yet, all of this work on this remarkably album was completed in under 13 hours of studio time!

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