The Beatles' debut album Please Please Me. 60 years old today.
It is hard to look over our shoulders and see Please Please Me on the day of its release and realise how rebellious, raucous and revolutionary The Beatles’ first LP was.
When we think of rock n roll we go back maybe 7 years earlier to Elvis and Heartbreak Hotel, Jailhouse Rock and Blue Suede Shoes. For sure that was a beginning. The beginning that influenced The Beatles.
However, that beginning had taken a great dilution. Elvis joined the army and came out a film star and balladeer, almost part of the establishment.
1962’s big hit was Frank Ifield’s I Remember You and though Elvis was still knocking out hits Good Luck Charm was no All Shook Up, nor was Cliff Richard’s Young Ones exactly Livin Doll.
It is easy to see Please Please Me, that four Liverpool unknowns laid down in just about a day, as a second birth for rock n roll. Just a year later they would play The Ed Sullivan Show in New York and thereafter most of our future rock heroes like Petty, Springsteen, Joel and Hynde cited this night as a changing of the world.
First up on Please Please Me was the strong original I Saw Her Standing There with its driving beat and sensual lyrics blowing out all the early sixties cobwebs. This was a new and fresh wind blowing in from years of rehearsing in Hamburg clubs. Over the next months and short few years it would whip into a storm that changed the entire world.
Please Please Me is a template of what the band would do on their early records. A few Lennon and McCartney songs of their own alongside rock n roll covers they’d worked up in all their gigs over the past 4 years. One of those covers Twist and Shout would become a staple song in the live set, almost made their own.
As I look back, I got the album as a 14 year old in 1976 when I swapped a load of singles for Please Please Me, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale and Help. By then The Beatles were history, history as in over and history as in part of actual modern history.
As I look back at it now it is amazing that Please Please Me, I Saw Her Standing There and Do You Want To Know A Secret were on that record. Three sure signs of the talented songwriters within. The energy, the positivity as Steve Turner would later call it, was also there in abundance.
Oh it would not be long until The Beatles had hone the raw musical gifts on show on their debut, would warrant more time in the studio, and would make albums so much better in every way than Please Please Me.
Today, however, 60 years from its release I look at it very fondly. Looking ahead as it hit the record stores, who knew. Looking back, it seems inevitable. Something had been set free, a black and white world went colour.