It was 55 years ago today (February 11th, 1963), that the Beatles recorded their first album, Please Please Me, in just under 10 hours. The album also featured both sides of their first two singles — “Love Me Do”/”P.S. I Love You,” and “Please Please Me”/”Ask Me Why,” which had been recorded the previous autumn. The session for the album began at 10 a.m. at London’s Abbey Road’s Studio Two — the main studio the group would use for the next eight years — with 10 takes of the John Lennon-Paul McCartney original, “There’s A Place.”
Over the course of the day the group basically performed their stage show as the tapes rolled, recording future Beatles classics like “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Do You Want To Know A Secret,” and “Twist And Shout.” The group’s recording engineer Richard Langham recalled the session in Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles’ Recording Sessions book. He remembered that when producer George Martin and the other engineers announced that they were taking a lunch break, the Beatles chose to stay and rehearse, revealing that, “When we came back they’d been playing right through. We couldn’t believe it. We had never seen a group work through their lunch break before.”
The tracklisting to Please Please Me is: “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Misery,” “Anna (Go To Him),” “Chains,” “Boys,” “Ask Me Why,” “Please Please Me,” “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Baby It’s You,” “Do You Want To Know A Secret,” “A Taste Of Honey,” “There’s A Place,” and “Twist and Shout.”
Geoff Emerick, who worked with the Beatles throughout their career and became their primary engineer with 1966’s Revolver album first met the Beatles in 1962 during his second day on the job, while the group was recording their debut single, “Love Me Do.” He told us that he was immediately struck by how unique their humor and personalities were: “They were down in the studio. ‘Cause it was the second day that I had been there. And I just liked the vibe, y’know the happy vibe. It was completely different, because it’s like their attitude was against the establishment — although (producer) George Martin had some decorum within the control room, an air of decorum. And it’s like these kids down in the studio clowning around, y’know?”
Photo Courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd.