Here are a trio of Beatles albums from the 1963-64 era reviewed together, ‘Please Please Me’, ‘With The Beatles’ and ‘A Hard Days Night’. These were the first three LP’s for the band.
A quick note to say that these reviews are based on the UK versions of the albums, which in the early days varied considerably between different countries.
Written by: Explorer
The Beatles – 1963 Please, Please Me
Having had success with the singles ‘Love Me Do’ and more importantly ‘Please, Please Me’, the Beatles went into the studio (in those days it was simply EMI Studios before being renamed Abbey Road) to record their debut album. Producer George Martin (effectively the Fifth Beatle) asked the band what they had for putting down onto vinyl.
The result, well in essence their stage act which then contained a mixture of originals and carefully chosen covers. So on Monday, 11th February 1963, yes we can be that accurate, The Beatles began working their way through their live set song by song and finally finishing up at 10:45 pm – less than 13 hours later, quite incredible!
The results are astonishing and there are songs that to this day still resonate with the record-buying public. The storming opener ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and the visceral ‘Twist And Shout’, but elsewhere there are some many gems from the hummable ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’ and the first go at a Beatles ballad, ‘Misery’.
This record laid down the foundations for the albums to come over the next few years when Beatlemania became a cultural phenomenon practically worldwide and saw the band reach incredible heights both artistically and commercially.
The Beatles – 1963 With The Beatles
The second album from the band coming just 8 months after their debut platter, and it shows. This album had the feel of a record rushed somewhat but that’s not to say it was a disaster. Far from it. There are no singles included on this album, can you imagine that happening today? But that just demonstrates how prolific the band at that time were at assembled their own material.
Again, a record with a mixture of originals and covers. We get the timeless ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ and ‘Money’, I defy anyone not to know these songs, the exuberant ‘All My Loving’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, a song that a fledgling Rolling Stones covered with great success.
The album is notable for the first writing credit for George Harrison with ‘Don’t Bother Me’ which is a fairly unexceptional number, but in the years to come Harrison would become a formidable songwriting foil for Lennon and McCartney.
Some of the material lacks the vitality of the debut, but that’s hardly surprising as the band back then were practically working every single day, either recording or touring, but the next album was for me anyway, the real game-changer.
The Beatles – 1964 A Hard Day’s Night
From the film of the same name, or is it the other way around? ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ sees The Beatles really hit their creative stride. A full album of originals which back then was unheard of. Released, once again a mere 8 months after ‘With The Beatles’, but this time showing no signs of fatigue, hell they even managed to take part in the film of the same name during that time period, which really does seem incredible by today’s standards!!
The first seven songs make up the soundtrack to the film, with the Iconic title track as well as the gorgeous ‘If I Fell’, and the full-on power pop of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘Tell Me Why’. The second side (in old money), is just as good with classics everywhere, ‘Any Time At All’ and ‘You Can’t Do That’, to name but two, there’s not a single track that could be considered as filler.
This album really did in terms of creativity turn it up a few notches and frankly left most of their contemporaries floundering in their wake. As for the film itself is was effectively a day in the life of the band cleverly put together by director Richard Lester which also set new standards, and was one of my own earliest musical memories, and had me enthralled from the off.
A Hard Day’s Night
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[Dave T] I love The Beatles early albums right before Rubber Soul. They wrote the Pop bible through originals and covers on those 5 recordings. Amongst them, A Hard Day’s Night is a perfect album in my book.
I’m not saying I don’t like their more mature and experimental albums; but that pureness and magical, yet simple Pop perfection was an irresistible one-off.
Thank you Malc for these reviews.