Since I enjoyed doing my Stones thread so much yesterday, and it struck just the right amount of nodding agreement and violent disagreement in the Afterword massive, I’m going to do the same thing today (and possibly until the end of the week… or until I get fed up….).
So, again another A List act, and another two LPs I don’t really often listen to from start to end… and which I get mixed up which tracks are on which…
It’s the Beatles! And it’s Please Please Me vs With The Beatles!!!
Once again, tracks marked * are the Good Ones – the ones I would choose to listen to outside the context of the album. And I’ll rate each track out of ten as I listen.
Here we go!
Please Please Me (1963)
A1 – * I Saw Her Standing There – Ah, 1, 2, 3, 4!! 10/10
A2 – * Misery – What a tune… and what harmonies 8/10
A3 – * Anna (Go With Him) – A fabulous Lennon vocal and blistering middle eight rescue this from schmaltziness – 8/10
A4 – * Chains – I have a real soft spot for this one. I think it just bounces along so addictively, and I love the way all the boys keep jumping in with those fabulous harmonies on the word “chains!!” over and over again… incredibly, four lads from Liverpool outdo US girl groups (and not for the last time) – 9/10
A5 – Boys – Ugh, the first duff track – I suppose every Fabs album needs a Ringo track but this is desperate – “boop shoo-wop” indeed…. 2/10
A6 – Ask Me Why – Hm, this band really go from dizzy heights to chronic lows… nope, this song is dire and sounds like a rainy Saturday morning listening to Brian Matthew having an off day 2/10
A7 – * Please Please Me – The “come on! come on!” refrain is fantastic (Interesting – never noticed the additional studio echo on the fadeout before) – not quite a ten but 9/10
B1 – Love Me Do – Decent, and the sound of a great band hitting their stride with their first single… but (shock horror) I think the historical value outweighs the musical value – 6/10
B2 – PS I Love You – Hm…. nah, this is unconvincing… a young Paul showing the occasional lack of taste that would plague him throughout his career (not that Lennon didn’t have the same problem) 3/10
B3 – * Baby It’s You – Again, the Liverpool boys beat the US girls… what a voice Lennon has… this has real groove and soul 9/10
B4 – Do You Want To Know A Secret – No, no I don’t, sorry 3/10
B5 – A Taste of Honey – Ugh 1/10
B6 – There’s A Place – I was all set to hate this, but listening now I rather like the sudden gear change and harmony on the “Aaand it’s my miiiind….! Aaaand there’s no tiiiime!” line…. it’s not bad 6/10
B7 – * Twist and Shout – Now THAT’S more like it, the best two minutes in pop history… take a bow Mr Lennon 10/10
* Verdict – 7/14 (50%) songs I would choose to listen to outside the context of the album, 2/14 (14%) songs are stone cold classics, overall aggregate score is 61% (86/140).
Upon close listening, this is definitely Lennon’s album. He has such a wonderful raw pop-soul voice that you get goosebumps listening to him. BUT crucially (stating the obvious here) you really need the sweet harmonies and the overall swing and verve of the band for contrast. The cloying and kitsch bits date it, however.
With The Beatles (1963)
A1 – It Won’t Be Long – The trouble with such a forward-looking and innovative band is that it really shows when they are just treading water, even for a moment… This is good, but just all right by Beatle standards… 5/10
A2 – All I’ve Got to Do – I know I was praising Lennon’s vocals just a moment ago, but I wish he would give the other lads more of a chance… another “just all right” song, a potboiler… 6/10
A3 – * All My Loving – That’s more like it, give Paul a go… This is nice and frenetic, as if they are scared of dropping the pace for a second… and George’s guitar solo has a nice Duane Eddy twang 8/10
A4 – Don’t Bother Me – Sorry George… nice effort but you won’t really hit paydirt with your songwriting for another three or four years 4/10
A5 – Little Child – They always gave their weakest songs to Ringo, didn’t they? 2/10
A6 – Till There Was You – Noooo…. Soft Paul at his deadly worst (I don’t think Hard Paul really comes out much until ’65 onwards) 1/10
A7 – * Please Mr Postman – Oh YES, this is the band I love… The feeling of desperate pleading in this song is just magical … “De-liver the letter! De-sooner de-better!” 10/10
B1 – Roll Over Beethoven – Hm, the rock and roll covers are starting to seem passe in a band that does modern R and B so well… this song is only about four or five years old and already seems prehistoric… Chuck is infinitely better 5/10
B2 – Hold Me Tight – The boys always tried to innovate with harmonic leaps and unusual chords…. but sometimes that just serves to create a bit of a soup. This song sounds half-written – 4/10
B3 – * You Really Got a Hold on Me – Love the lazy swing of this tune… sheesh, Lennon’s voice again…. 9/10
B4 – I Wanna Be Your Man – Hang on, two Ringo songs on one album? They must have been desperate. He sounds so out of his depth, running out of breath at the end of every line. The song is a bit half-baked as well – they should have left it to the Stones 3/10
B5 – Devil in Her Heart – We are back to Brian Matthew territory here… this just sounds like C-list 60s… Filler, 3/10
B6 – Not a Second Time – Similar to Hold Me Tight, they sound like they are struggling to write a “Beatle song” 3/10
B7 – * Money (That’s What I Want) – yes THAT is what I want! Just when you thought this LP was limping to a lacklustre conclusion, you get one of the best soul covers ever. Clearly trying to match Twist and Shout by closing on a red hot pounding groove. Lennon just knocks it out of the park here. 10/10
* Verdict – 4/14 (29%) songs I would choose to listen to outside the context of the album, 2/14 (14%) songs are stone cold classics, overall aggregate score is 52% (73/140).
An early example of second album syndrome? I respect the Beatles for leaving their singles off of their albums, but it just goes to show that generally (at least in the early days) it meant their albums had all their B-list material. They were clearly overworked here (newsflash, I know) and this album shows tell-tale signs of being a rush-job. Interestingly, or a band known primarily for their songwriting, however, this album shows glimpses of just how good they would have been as a straight R and B cover band. In hindsight, they should have just left the songwriting for the singles (for a year or so anyway until they matured properly) and just done a covers album.
The stats don’t lie!! I value Please Please Me a lot more than With The Beatles. The relatively low scores for both, however, help prove (as I always suspected) that they didn’t really become an Album Band until Revolver. (Other opinions are available, obviously….)