Beatle Lessons of the Please Please Me Period

1962 June 06 - 1963 February 11
by Ken Westover
rev: 2012May23

This page is a miniscule look at material typically found in the book Songs of The Beatles' Please Please Me Period.

Period Overview

This Period marks the birth of the Beatles' recording career. It starts with their first recording session and exteneds through the recording of their first album (LP), Please Please Me.

The previous six years had seen the birth of the band and its development from quite poor to one of the best in their home town of Liverpool, England. They attracted the attention of Brian Epstein, who became the band's manager. (They were the first band he ever managed.) Brian approached - and was rejected by - virtually every record company around London until he met producer George Martin. Martin was head of Parlophone, a record label owned by EMI. He agreed to audition the Beatles, the date of that audition marking the start of the Please Please Me Period.

Three records containing 14 songs were released from this Period. (Another four songs were recorded but went unreleased.) The first was a single which was noteworthy in that the band composed both songs. The single (also called a "45") was marginally successful, briefly entering the UK record charts. Their second single also contained two originals written by Lennon & McCartney. It was a #1 hit on the charts, an impressive accomplishment for a new act.

The success of the single demanded an album be recorded and released to take advantage of the 45's popularity. Producer George Martin booked the Beatles into an EMI studio for one day to record enough songs to fill out an album which included the four songs on the first two singles. The Beatles' debut LP was named after the hit song, Please Please Me.

Please Please Me Period Releases

1962 Oct 05
1963 Jan 11
  Please Please Me (UKLP-1)
1963 Mar 22
Song Side
Love Me Do A
P.S. I Love You B
Song Side
Please Please Me A
Ask Me Why B
SongLP Side-CutCD Track
I Saw Her Standing There 1-11
Misery 1-22
Anna (Go To Him) 1-33
Chains 1-44
Boys 1-55
Ask Me Why 1-66
Please Please Me 1-77
Love Me Do 2-18
P.S. I Love You 2-29
Baby It's You 2-310
Do You Want To Know A Secret 2-411
A Taste Of Honey 2-512
There's A Place 2-613
Twist And Shout 2-714


It was standard practice in 1963 for a band to have a hit record before they could make an album. The Beatles were treated no differently. They had to have a hit single before they could make their first LP. As it turned out, it took them only two records to make the grade.

UK45-1: Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You

Recorded: 1962 September 04, 11
Released: 1962 October 05

Their first record did well enough to make it into the Top 30, but for just one week. A respectable showing for a first release, especially since both songs were written by members of the band, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

UK45-2: Please Please Me / Ask Me Why

Recorded: 1962 November 26
Released: 1963 January 11

Another Lennon/McCartney original, but this one turned into a #1 hit. Producer George Martin knew it was a hit as soon as the recording was finished, and started planning to record an LP to capitalize on it.

George Martin: "Once we had our first number one under our belt with 'Please Please Me', Brian and I worked out a grand plan of campaign. A single would be released every three months and an album every six. I quickly realized I had to have an album. I knew the boys had a big repertoire from the Cavern and from their knowledge of American records. I said: 'I'll just record everything you've got.' That's how the first album was made. We started at ten in the morning and finished at eleven at night. We recorded eleven tracks."

The Beatles were extremely experienced live entertainers who gave exciting performances. Martin wanted to capture that energy on record. The Beatles appeared regularly at a cramped, underground bar called The Cavern Club, where they had a loyal following. Martin visited the Cavern in December in hopes of taping a live performance there as their first LP, but the acoustics were horribly unrecordable. They would have to go into the studio.

A studio date was set for 13Feb11. The Beatles were in the middle of a tour, backing up Helen Shapiro. They took Sunday off from the tour to prepare for Monday's session in London.

UKLP-1: Please Please Me

Recorded (mostly): 1963 February 11, Monday
Released: 1963 March 22

LPs were not "works of art" - they were made to take advantage of a hit single. The hit single was put an LP that had the same name as the hit song, and the rest of the LP was filler - songs that didn't matter. It was made as cheaply as possible to make as much profit as possible.

Producer George Martin was willing to bend the unwritten rules a bit. All the songs needed to fill the album (10) would have to be recorded in one day. However, Martin was willing to extend the session into the evening if necessary. He would further bend the rules by letting Beatles record Lennon and McCartney originals for the album, unheard of at that time.

Recording started on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. It was winter, the Beatles had been touring as a warm-up group to Helen Shapiro, and they all had colds. John's was especially bad. But illness would not stand in the way of the Beatles recording their first LP.

Song Selection

Since the album was to reflect their live performances, the songs would be those the Beatles usually played live. They played songs for George Martin, who said "yes" or "no" to including that song on the LP.

Martin had decided when he first signed the Beatles that no one Beatle would be the star. He liked them as a group, so the songs were picked to highlight the abilities of the group. Every song had at least two Beatles singing on it, but one could come to the fore to sing a section. That's what "lead" vocal means in this context. Martin also thought John's harmonica gave the band a unique sound that should be included:

Features Song
John Anna, Baby It's You, Twist & Shout, Ask Me Why
Paul I Saw Her Standing There, A Taste Of Honey
George Do You Want To Know A Secret
Ringo Boys
Harmonica Chains, There's A Place, Love Me Do, Please Please Me

Over the course of the day, songs were recorded in this order:

Please Please Me LP Session: Chronological
Song Original Cover
There's A Place L&M  
I Saw Her Standing There ("17") L&M  
A Taste Of Honey  cover
Do You Want To Know A Secret L&M 
Misery L&M 
Hold Me Tight L&M 
Anna (Go To Him)  cover
Boys  cover
Chains  cover
Baby It's You  cover
Twist And Shout  cover

Producer Martin gave the band a chance to record their originals up through 'Hold Me Tight' (which didn't make this LP). After that, time was running out so they quickly recorded five cover songs they often played at live shows. None of these songs required more than four takes. There were few Beatle overdubs. (George Martin did add a celeste to 'Baby It's You' some days later.)
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Song Details

George Martin was in complete control of the contents of this album. He picked the songs, oversaw the editing and mixing, and determined the order the songs appeared on each side (the "running order"). Martin believed an album should start with an upbeat song, which may be one of the reasons he put the fastest song on the LP first.

Please Please Me LP Contents
Song Side-Cut Composer Vocal
Side 1
I Saw Her Standing There 1-1 L&M Paul (John backing)
Misery 1-2 L&MDuet: John & Paul
Anna (Go To Him) 1-3 coverJohn (Paul & George backing)
Chains 1-4 coverGeorge (John, Paul & George backing)
Boys 1-5 cover Ringo (John, Paul &George backing)
Ask Me Why 1-6 L&MJohn (Paul & George backing)
Please Please Me 1-7 L&MJohn (Paul & George backing)
Side 2
Love Me Do 2-1 L&MDuet: John & Paul
P.S. I Love You 2-2 L&MPaul (John & George backing)
Baby It's You 2-3 coverJohn (Paul & George backing)
Do You Want To Know A Secret 2-4 L&MGeorge (John & Paul backing)
A Taste Of Honey 2-5 coverPaul ballad (John & George backing)
There's A Place 2-6 L&MDuet: John & Paul
Twist And Shout 2-7 coverJohn (Paul & George backing)

Side One

I Saw Her Standing There

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: Paul.

A Wonderful Start! The very first thing on the Beatles very first LP was the "count-in" to the first song on side one, the "1, 2, 3, faw" leading in to 'I Saw Her Standing There'. When recording, every song has a count-in (so the band starts the song together), but it's always mixed out so it's not heard on the record. But someone came up with the idea to start the LP this way, and Martin did it. Further, we now know that Martin took the count-in from a different take than was on the LP - he specifically took the best count-in (from take 9), and spliced it in front of the best take of the complete song (take 1 of 3).

The handclaps, which added excitement to the song, were overdubbed.

This song was called "17" on studio documentation through the final mixing session. Exactly when the released name was chosen is unknown, but it was probably George Martin's decision.


by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: Duet by John and Paul.

Written for Helen Shapiro.

Anna (Go To Him)

by Arthur Alexander

Lead vocal: John.


by Gerry Goffin & Carole King

Lead vocal: George Harrison.

George gets to step forward vocally.


by Luther Dixon & Wes Farrell

Lead vocal: Ringo.

Ringo sings lead. No one seemed to mind the gender reversal.

At this point, George Martin chose to end Side One with the two songs from the Beatles hit single: Ask Me Why and Please Please Me. He believed the side of an album should have a strong, upbeat finish. Please Please Me fit his requirements.

Ask Me Why

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal:

'Ask Me Why' was one of four songs recorded at the Beatles' first recording session on 62Jun06. This version was not released. A proper recording was made during the same session during which 'Please Please Me' was recorded.

This song was written in the Spring of 1962 by John and Paul, and is credited mostly to John.

Please Please Me

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal:

Written mostly by John, who was writing in the style of Roy Orbison. John's first version was too slow for George Martin, so John went back to Liverpool and added some pep and harmonies.

Side Two

When Martin first heard The Beatles' demo tape, two things that caught his attention:

George Martin: "There was an unusual quality of sound, a certain roughness that I hadn't encountered before. There was also the fact that more than one person was singing, which in itself was unusual."

Martin highlighted those features on side two.

Love Me Do

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal:

Side Two starts with the two songs off the Beatles' first single. Although the first song on Side Two doesn't seem to fit George Martin's design of starting with an upbeat song, it is, in fact, the second fastest song on the LP (Song one on side one is the fastest).

This version of 'Love Me Do' has Andy White playing drums. Ringo is playing tambourine.

When released in the US, 'Love Me Do' reached #1.

P.S. I Love You

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal:

Paul sings lead, and we hear him ad-libbing during the second B-section - a definite Paul tendency.

Andy White is playing drums on this song. Ringo is playing maracas. These first two songs on side two not only had a non-Beatle playing drums, both were produced by Ron Richards, not George Martin. George Martin produced the rest of the album as well as the rest of the Beatles' studio career.

When released in the US, 'P.S. I Love You' reached #10.

Baby It's You

by Hal David, Burt Bacharach, and Barney Williams

Lead vocal: John sings lead, backed by Paul and George.

Cover version of a girl-group song done by The Shirelles.

In was the next-to-last song recorded, so John was vocally warming up to do 'Twist And Shout' (though he didn't know it at the time).

George's guitar solo in the middle is doubled by a celeste overdubbed by George Martin after the session.

Do You Want To Know A Secret

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: George sings lead with John and Paul singing back-up.

John wrote the song, inspired by a song in the Walt Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He wrote it soon after getting married while living an a new apartment with his wife. One should not assume the song is about his wife.

A Taste Of Honey

by Ric Marlow and Bobby Scott ©1960

Lead vocal: Paul sings lead - twice! (He's double-tracked.) John and George sing backup.

Cover song from a musical play by the same name.

The girls in the audience liked it when Paul sang this sappy kind of stuff. It's a credit to John and George that they pitched in and made the song as good as possible, regardless of how they felt.

They were rewarded, however, not only with many more female fans, but the tacit approval of parents everywhere. While other rock acts played songs that adults didn't like, or even found threatening, hearing and seeing The Beatles performs songs like 'A Taste Of Honey' and 'Till There Was You' gave adults access to the band.

There's A Place

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: Duet sung by John and Paul.

The lead writer of this song is disputed. John thought he wrote it while trying to do a Motown kind of song. Paul thought he lead the writing, inspired by a song from the musical West Side Story.

Personally I don't care much for this song. But at least one other author thinks it's one of the best songs on the LP. This is the strength of the Beatles song selection - it appeals to a broad audience, honed by years of stage experience.

Twist And Shout

by Bert Russell and Phil Medley

Lead vocal: John, backed by Paul and George.

At 10:00pm, everyone took a break to decide what the last song should be. There are various stories floating around, but a newspaper account at that time from a reporter who was there says that 'Twist And Shout' wasn't initially being considered. Once suggested, all agreed it would be good IF John could get through it.

'Twist And Shout', as it appears on the album, it the first take, live, with no edits, overdubs, or any studio tricks. The last song of the day was the last song on the album. An bit of trivia: Paul started the LP with the count-in to 'I Saw Her Standing There'. You can also hear Paul in the deep background yelling a satisfied "yeah" as the band lands on the final note.

An Astounding Ending!

For more details about the Please Please Me LP, its history and songs, visit the Wikipedia Please Please Me web page.