"Please Please Me" Still Jolts Almost Fifty Years Later!
Of course the recording was produced that way to allow George Martin to properly balance the instrumentals with the vocals. The stereo LP was produced from the two track master with some reverb thrown in to better integrate the two tracks. "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" were apparently recorded in mono because there are no stereo mixes of those two early tunes. The original pressing electronically processes them for fake stereo while the reissue wisely uses the real mono versions.
The album was a mix of high energy by "McCartney-Lennon" and covers of songs by American artists the boys loved like The Shirelles ("Boys"—the "B" side of their hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" and "Baby It's You" written by Burt Bacharach, Mack David [Hal's older brother] and Luther Dixon who produced the Shirelles).
The album also contains the late great Arthur Alexander's "Anna (Go To Him). Both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were fans. Shame on you if you don't have any of his albums in your collection—CD if need be! The Beatles also cover "A Taste of Honey" taken from a play and then movie of the same name and later covered by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The cover of "Twist and Shout" was the last song recorded because George Martin worried that it might destroy Lennon's voice and it closes the album. Listening to it you'd never know John had been singing for nine hours before hitting it out of the park.
But it's the originals that are the most stunning "Misery", "Please Please Me", "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" "There's A Place" (which covers the same theme as Brian Wilson's later "In My Room") and of course "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You".
Some of these fourteen tunes were first heard in America on the Vee-Jay albums. It's important to remember that most Americans never saw this cover for years or even knew of the record's existence, so isolated were we in America and so limited was access to the Internet. Only Al Gore was allowed on.
Seriously, when some Americans became aware of imports this record was a mind-blower even though the term had yet to be invented and even though many of the songs were familiar. How could it be otherwise? This was what The Beatles themselves envisioned as their first album.
This reissue is among the box's most successful. Like the rest of the newly remastered albums it's got more bass than the original. It's also slightly drier. The dryer environment and the EQ balance helps emphasize the rhythm guitar that was kind of buried in the original's wash of reverb. "Do You Want to Know A Secret?" is very wet on both versions but the stick really sticks out and sounds more woody on the original.
The reissue's reverb throughout doesn't translate into as much physical depth as on the original but were you to prefer the reissue to the original, I wouldn't put up much or an argument, though the original cut from a fresh tape has more "life" and is somewhat more immediate sounding and transparent on top. There's a greater thrill in hearing the voices on the original—as if you have your ear next to the microphone— though the reissue is pretty good there too with a slight bit of grain thrown in.
The reissue uses the original black and gold Parlophone album used for a very short time before Parlophone switched to the more familiar yellow, silver and black one with the £ on it.
I once saw a guy at a Beatles Convention in Secaucus, New Jersey walking around with an original. I'd never seen one and he didn't know the EMI pressing codes so I showed him, curious to see if in fact it was an original original and sure enough it was YEX94-1 on side one and YEX95-1 on side two. Both sides were first mother (1) and first stamper (g). It was the real deal! He wasn't selling but I bet it's now worth well more than $1000. My copy is -1 on both sides, mother 1 and stamper 32 (AR) with the yellow, silver, black label, which is early enough for me!
If you're of a certain age, every listen will take you back to the supercharged excitement these exotic lads brought to a then lame pop music scene and if you aren't singing along you should be.