Please Please Me was the Beatles’ debut album, which was released on March 22, 1963. Of the fourteen songs contained on the album, eight were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Since the album was being rush released to capitalize on the UK success of the “Please Please Me” and “Love Me Do” singles, the band had to quickly record ten more songs to complement the two A-sides and B-sides already released on the singles. The remaining tracks were recorded within nine hours and 45 minutes.
Please Please Me opens with “I Saw Her Standing There,” which was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Musically, there is a Chuck Berry influence on the song. Lyrically, the song tells a story about a guy falling in love after meeting a seventeen-year-old. This has become one of several Beatles’ classics that appear on this album. “Misery” is another composition by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The song was originally written for Helen Shapiro, but her manager felt it was unsuitable. Lyrically, the song is about adolescent self-pity.
“Anna (Go to Him)” is a song originally recorded by Arthur Alexander that the Beatles covered on Please Please Me. It’s a soulful song about a man giving up his girl to another man. “Chains” was originally recorded by The Cookies; this cover features lead vocals by George Harrison, as well as the harmonica introduction that was common in the Beatles’ early material.
The next song is “Boys,” which was originally recorded by The Shirelles, and it features lead vocals by Ringo Starr. “Ask Me Why” was primarily written by John Lennon. Musically, it really stands out in comparison to the other material on the album, and you can hear a bit of a jazz influence. The song was originally the B-side for the “Please Please Me” single.
“Please Please Me” was the second single the Beatles released in the UK, and the first released in the US. This song was written primarily by John Lennon, and also features the harmonica. It’s one of the slower songs on the album. This is followed by “Love Me Do,” which was released as the Beatles’ first single in the UK. The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney, and it also features the harmonica. It has become another one the classic songs in the Beatles’ catalog.
“P.S. I Love You,” which was primarily written by Paul McCartney, was originally released as the B-side on the “Love Me Do” single in the UK. McCartney has claimed that the song wasn’t based on anything in his life, that he was simply using a letter as a theme for composing a song. Next is “Baby It’s You,” which was originally recorded by The Shirelles. It’s another song that has a noticeably different sound when compared to the other songs on the album; however, it doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb too much.
“Do You Want to Know a Secret” was primarily written by John Lennon, and features lead vocals by George Harrison. According to Lennon, the song was inspired by “I’m Wishing,” which was from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This is followed by “A Taste of Honey,” which is another cover song on Please Please Me. It’s one of the slowest songs on the album, and probably one of my least favorites.
“There’s A Place” was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; it features Lennon and McCartney sharing the main vocals, with George Harrison singing backup. The song was inspired by “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Musically, it’s an upbeat and fun piece. Please Please Me closes with a cover of “Twist and Shout,” which features John Lennon on lead vocals. This song has become a classic, especially after the song was featured in the 1986 film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s my favorite song from Please Please Me.
While Please Please Me may not rank as one of my all-time favorite Beatles albums, I do acknowledge that without it, we would not have gotten the later material that appears on my favorite Beatles’ album. Please Please Me shows a band that’s a “diamond in the rough,” and you can hear that the Beatles had potential, which was proven as their career continued.