Talent and sophistication
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the Beatles' foremost strengths was the diversity of their
songs and their reluctance to repeat themselves. Each record
was different, since the Beatles always searched for new
sounds and new ways to express themselves. The musical development
from the group's first release, to the complexity of later
recordings, showed a great ability to continuously reinvent
themselves, while simultaneously staying loyal to their
unique musical talent and sophistication.
debut album in the UK, Please Please Me, consisted of 8
Lennon/McCartney songs plus some cover songs. Although it
cannot be ranked as one of their finest albums, it nevertheless
showed promising signs. The album was recorded in just over
nine hours, or 585 minutes to be precise. The date of recording
was February 11 1963. It was winter in England and John
Lennon suffered from a strong cold.
10pm that evening the Beatles had almost finished recording
the entire album. They needed to record one more song though,
but were not sure which one to do. Someone suggested that
they could record Twist And Shout, an old Isley Brothers
number. The Beatles decided to go ahead with it, with John
taking the lead vocal.
shattered and had a soar throat, but that didn't stop him.
He gave everything and nailed the song in the first take.
Producer George Martin tried to record a second take, but
John's voice had gone by then. That didn't matter, of course.
Lennon had already delivered one of the best vocal rock
and roll performances ever!
Please Me was released in April 1963, and topped the UK
charts for 30 (!) weeks. In the US, it was released in July
the same year, but with the title Introducing
The Beatles. The American version did not include the
songs Please Please Me or Ask
Me Why and failed to make it to the charts. When the
album was re-released in the US in January 1964, the two
"missing" songs were included, and the album went
to number two on the charts.
The Beatles had been released on the little-known Vee Jay
label in the US, but all other Beatles records in the US
were released on Capital Records, sister company to EMI
(until 1968, when the Beatles started the ill-fated Apple
project, their own record label.) In the UK, Beatles records
were released on Parlophone, which was owned by EMI.
the albums were released by different record companies in
the UK and in the US, and also because the Beatles shot
to fame later in the US, the records had different content:
different songs, different titles and different cover photographs.
That changed in 1967, however, with the release of Sgt.
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. From then on, Beatles
records in the US and UK contained the same songs. Today,
it is the UK versions of the records that are available
on Compact Disks.
follow-up to Please Please Me was entitled With
The Beatles. It was released in the UK in November 1963.
This record is a milestone in popular music. It featured
7 Lennon/McCartney songs plus a fine number by Harrison
(Don't Bother Me). The sheer quality of the compositions
put the Beatles light years ahead of many other contemporary
bands. The vocal performances were at times mind blowing,
and the arrangements, crafted with invaluable support from
producer George Martin, were spot on.
US, the same record was released with the title Meet
The Beatles! in January 1964. It went to number one
on the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Beatles' success continued with A
Hard Day's Night, released in July 1964. Every song
on the album was a Lennon/McCartney original, and many of
them were written for the movie with the same title, in
which the Beatles themselves played leading roles. The album
was a good mix of up-beat rock songs as well as more tender
and reflective songs such as Things
We Said Today and I'll
single to be released from A Hard Day's Night was McCartney's Can't
Buy Me Love. It sold more than two million copies within
a week in the US. In the UK, advance orders alone passed
the 1 million mark.
version of A Hard Day's Night only featured seven sound
track songs plus I'll Cry Instead. The rest of the album
was, for some reason, made up by producer George Martin's
orchestral versions of Beatles songs. It still topped the
US charts for fourteen weeks.
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