50th anniversary of the recording of The Beatles album “Please, Please Me” at Abbey Road Studios today 11th February 2013
BBC Radio 2 are broadcasting live footage of the stars working on the 10 tracks at London’s Abbey Road Studios. Musicians including Stereophonics and Mick Hucknall are attempting to recreate The Beatles’ 10-hour recording session for their debut album “Please Please Me” to mark its 50th anniversary.
When I heard about the plans by BBC Radio 2 to do this, the memories came flooding back to me. This was right in the middle of the worst winter for half a century or more and I must have traveled that day by train in a heavy snowbound London! I was on my way to the bank where I worked and to think that just 3/4 miles away The Beatles were doing their stuff! Later I remember when I saw a large notice board promoting a Beatles’ concert at the Wimbledon Theatre in South London and to my deepest regret I did not go along!
BUT there was a small consolation in 1978, whilst on business at an exhibition in Monte Carlo, I met Ringo Star and his entourage in a night club. We had a brief chat and I remember he invited my attractive interpreter to have lunch with him at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, not me!
The Liverpool band recorded almost all of the record in one day-long recording session on 11 February 1963.
“The great thing about the early albums was the sound of a band capturing their raw energy”.
The sessions for Please Please Me saw The Beatles playing live renditions of the songs which had formed the core of their recent live shows. The tracks were recorded largely as they were performed, with few overdubs or layering of instruments – which became common features of their later work.
The final track to be committed to tape was “Twist And Shout,” which had been held back over fears that John Lennon’s sore throat may not hold out if he performed it earlier in the day. Lennon sang the huge hit topless but was unable to go for a second take, so the initial recording was used. Ian MacDonald, the late chronicler of Beatles recordings, wrote: “Trying for a second take, Lennon found he had nothing left and the session stopped there and then – but the atmosphere was still crackling.
“Nothing of that intensity had ever been recorded in a British pop studio.”
Initially, the band’s producer George Martin had considered trying to capture the band’s stage show by making a live album at the Cavern Club, but the plan was dropped.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr already had four tracks they could put on the album – the singles Love Me Do and Please Please Me, plus the B-sides.
They needed 10 more to complete the album and were booked at Abbey Road amidst a hectic live schedule. They had 30 gigs to perform in February including a tour with Helen Shapiro, plus a radio and TV show.
They started recording at 10am and their first song was There’s A Place, which they managed in 13 takes.
Next was I Saw Her Standing There and several other followed in quick succession. Hold Me Tight also took 13 takes but it was dumped from the album, only to revived for their second album With The Beatles. Although just two three-hour periods were booked for the recording, the band added a third which ended at 10.45pm.
Mark Lewisohn in his book The Complete Beatles Chronicle, wrote:
“There can scarcely have been 585 more productive minutes in the history of recorded music.”
Coming up on Jeremy’s show Stereophonics performing “I Saw Her Standing There” live. Here’s the rehearsal:
Inspired by official news extracts with many thanks.
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