First release on EMI Records of The Beatles, and also their second single. Marked a new standard of filling albums with original songs, instead of the musical standard fluff common on other artists' releases.

Excluding "Misery", written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney for Helen Shapiro (and not The Beatles), only half the LP was made up of originals. "Anna": an Arthur Alexander song. "Chains": by the Brill Building team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. "Boys" was co-written by Wes Farrell, later of The Partridge Family team. "Baby It's You": from Burt Bacharach and Hal David. "A Taste Of Honey" was pop crap, "Twist And Shout" an Isley Brothers classic. The Fabs showed promise, and good taste.

Most of this album was actually recorded in one marathon session at Abbey Road. The session took place over the course of twelve hours. (In later years, they would record a single song in this amount of time). They recorded nearly all of the songs during this session, including Twist and Shout, a song that can be very trying on the vocal chords. This particular session was on February 11, 1963.

At this time in The Beatles' career, John sang nearly all the songs. He had been drinking warm milk to try to make his voice feel better before they head into the recording session for the last song. They hadn't previously known what they were going to do going into this song. They decided to chose a song that always got the crowd going at live shows, Twist and Shout. This song was particularly taxing on John's poor voice. But, he managed to sing the song in one raucous take, that was as good as he had ever sung the song. According to Revolution in The Head, this prompted Paul McCartney to yell "Hey!" at the end. He tried to do another take anyway, but simply couldn't, and so this version was put on the album.

Another song on this album with an interesting recording history is the title track. Many have heard that when they first finished, George Martin got on the intercom into the studio and said, "Congratulations gentlemen, you've just made your first number one." This prediction proved true. But, another interesting story (also gleaned from Revolution in the Head) is what John's Aunt Mimi said about this song. After she heard Love Me Do, she said that he was mistaken if he thought the track would make him any money. About Please Please Me, however, saying, "That's more like it. That should do well."

A few random facts. Since at this point, George had not yet started to write songs, he was given one to sing, Do You Want to Know a Secret. The Ringo song on this album was Boys, something that always embarassed him. Most of the songs from the album were released in America on Introducing the Beatles. Finally, the song Hold Me Tight was recorded near the beginning of the 12 hour session, but didn't end up appearing until With The Beatles, released later that year. John and Paul never particularly liked it.


Most of my information came from Revolution in the Head, by Ian MacDonald.

Here, I will focus on the instrumentation and other technical details of The Beatles' first album (Britsh Release):

Overall: Recorded all in one session on February 11, 1963 (Except for Love Me Do, P.S. I Love You, Please Please Me and Ask Me Why, which were already recorded as singles) in about 13 hours (sources vary wildly from 9 -16) at Abbey Road Studios. Rush-released on March 22, 1963

  1. I Saw Her Standing There...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road.
  2. Misery...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road
    • McCARTNEY: bass, lead vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar
    • STARR: drums
    • George Martin: piano
  3. Anna (Go to Him)...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road
    • McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
    • STARR: drums
  4. Chains...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road
    • McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, harmonica, harmony vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, lead vocal
    • STARR: drums
  5. Boys...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road
    • McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, backing vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
    • STARR: drums, lead vocal
  6. Ask Me Why...Recorded on November 26, 1962 at Abbey Road. Released as a single as the B-side to Please Please Me on January 11, 1963.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, harmony vocal
    • STARR: drums
  7. Please Please Me...Recorded on November 26, 1962 at Abbey Road. Released as a single on January 11, 1963
    • McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, harmonica, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, harmony vocal
    • STARR: drums
  8. Love Me Do...Version 1 recorded on September 4, 1962 at Abbey Road, and Version 2 recorded on September 11, 1962 at Abbey Road. Version 1 was released as a single on October 5, 1962, and Version 2 was put on the album and later pressings of the single.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, lead vocal
    • LENNON: harmonica, Rickenbacker Capri 325 guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: acoustic guitar, harmony vocal
    • STARR: drums (Version 1), tambourine(Version 2)
    • Andy White: drums (Version 2)
  9. P.S. I Love You...Recorded on September 11, 1962 at Abbey Road. Released as a single October 5, 1962 as the B-side to Love Me Do.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, lead vocal
    • LENNON: acoustic guitar (electrified Gibson J-160E), lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar (electrified Gibson J-160-E)
    • STARR: maracas
    • Andy White: drums
  10. Baby It's You...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
    • STARR: drums
    • George Martin: piano
  11. Do You Want to Know a Secret...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, backing vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, lead vocal
    • STARR: drums
  12. A Taste of Honey...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road
    • McCARTNEY: bass, lead vocal (double-tracked)
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, harmony vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, harmony vocal
    • STARR: drums
  13. There's a Place...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road.
    • McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, harmonica, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar
    • STARR: drums
  14. Twist and Shout...Recorded on February 11, 1963 at Abbey Road:
    • McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
    • LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
    • HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
    • STARR: drums

Other singles from this period:

My sources are Beatlesongs by William J. Dowlding1989) and The Beatles Anthology, by "The Beatles" (©2000).

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