Please Please Me

Please Please Me is the debut studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. Produced by George Martin, it was released on EMI's Parlophone label on 22 March 1963 in the United Kingdom, following the success of the band's first two singles "Love Me Do", which reached number 17 on the UK Singles Chart, and "Please Please Me" which reached number 1 on the NME and Melody Maker charts. The album topped Record Retailer's LP chart for 30 weeks, an unprecedented achievement for a pop album at that time.[5]

Please Please Me
A photo of the Beatles – Ringo, Paul, George, and John – looking down over a stairwell railing
Studio album by
Released22 March 1963 (1963-03-22)
Recorded11 September 1962;
26 November 1962;
11 February 1963;
20 February 1963
StudioEMI, London
ProducerGeorge Martin
The Beatles chronology
Please Please Me
With the Beatles
Singles from Please Please Me
  1. "Love Me Do" / "P.S. I Love You"
    Released: 5 October 1962
  2. "Please Please Me" / "Ask Me Why"
    Released: 11 January 1963

Aside from their already released singles, the Beatles recorded the majority of Please Please Me in one long recording session at EMI Studios on 11 February 1963. On 20 February, Martin added overdubs to "Misery" and "Baby It's You". Of the album's 14 songs, eight were written by Lennon–McCartney (originally credited "McCartney–Lennon"). Rolling Stone magazine later cited these original compositions as early evidence of the Beatles' "[invention of] the idea of the self-contained rock band, writing their own hits and playing their own instruments".[6] In 2012, Please Please Me was voted 39th on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[7] It was voted number 622 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[8]


Nationwide interest in the Beatles had been piqued with the success of their second UK single and Parlophone, hoping to take advantage of this, promptly decided to follow it up with an album. Consequently, their record producer, George Martin, urgently needed ten more tracks if he was to include the four sides ("Love Me Do" / "P.S. I Love You" and "Please Please Me" / "Ask Me Why") of the group's first two singles: "I asked them what they had which we could record quickly, and the answer was their stage act," Martin said (the norm for British 12" vinyl pop albums in 1963 was to have seven songs on each side whereas American albums usually had five or six songs per side). Martin considered recording live at The Cavern Club, but on deciding the venue was unsuitable for live recording purposes, a session was booked at EMI Studios in London.[9] Martin said, "It was a straightforward performance of their stage repertoire – a broadcast, more or less."[10] Initially, a morning and afternoon session only were booked; the evening session was added later.[11]

Therefore, at 10:00 am on Monday, 11 February 1963, the Beatles began working their way through their live set song by song, the number of takes varying on each, and finished at 10:45 pm – less than 13 hours later – capturing in essence an authentic representation of the band's Cavern Club-era sound. The day ended with a cover of "Twist and Shout", which had to be recorded last because John Lennon had a particularly bad cold and Martin feared the throat-shredding vocal would ruin Lennon's voice for the day. This performance, caught on the first take, prompted Martin to say: "I don't know how they do it. We've been recording all day but the longer we go on the better they get."[11] Mark Lewisohn later wrote: "There can scarcely have been 585 more productive minutes in the history of recorded music".[12] Paul McCartney double-tracked his vocal on "A Taste of Honey" and Lennon added harmonica onto "There's a Place" during these sessions. On 20 February, Martin overdubbed piano on "Misery" and celesta on "Baby It's You", during which the Beatles were not present.[13]

The song "Hold Me Tight" was also recorded during the sessions, but proved "surplus to requirements" and was not included on the album.[11] "Hold Me Tight" was recorded again on 12 September 1963 for With the Beatles.[14]

The whole day's session cost approximately £400[15] (equivalent to £8,600 in 2020).[16] Martin said: "There wasn't a lot of money at Parlophone. I was working to an annual budget of £55,000."[17] This budget had to cover all of the artists on Martin's roster. Individually, under a contract with the Musicians' Union, each Beatle collected a £7 10s (£7.50 or £161 in 2020)[16] session fee for each three-hour session (10:00 am – 1:00 pm / 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm / 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm).[18]

Before deciding on the title Please Please Me, Martin considered calling the album Off the Beatle Track, a title he would later use for his own orchestral album of Beatles songs.[19] The album was recorded on a two-track BTR tape machine with most of the instruments on one track and the vocals on the other, allowing Martin to better balance the two in the final mono mix.[13] A stereo mix was also made with one track on the left channel and the other on the right, as well as an added layer of reverb to better blend the two tracks together. The two tracks generally divided the instrumental track from the vocals, with the exception of "Boys", in which the close proximity of Ringo's drums to his vocal microphone placed the drums (but not the other instruments) on the vocal channel.

Two tracks, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You", were only mixed for mono for the single's release and no stereo versions were ever made, so, for the stereo version of the album, during the mixing sessions on 25 February 1963, Martin created "mock stereo" versions by emphasising low frequencies on one side and high frequencies on the other.[20] These versions would continue to be made available via compilation albums (such as 1962–1966), and on Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs' half-speed mastered vinyl releases (catalogue number MFSL-1-101)[21] sourced from EMI's original stereo master tapes, until the Beatles' catalogue was standardised and issued on compact disc in 1987, starting with the first four UK albums being issued in their mono versions. However, when Capitol Records issued the second volume of American Beatles albums on compact disc (The Capitol Albums, Volume 2) in 2006, the same mock stereo versions that appeared on The Early Beatles were included. When the entire catalogue was remastered for release in 2009, the mono mixes were chosen for inclusion on the stereo reissues, and appear on all releases since, including newer compilations and variations.


Please Please Me, side 1, with original Parlophone gold and black label

Please Please Me was released as a monaural (mono) LP album on the Parlophone label in the UK on 22 March 1963, and has remained on UK catalogue continuously since 1963. The stereo version was released on 26 April, over a month after the mono version.

In the United States, most of the songs on Please Please Me were first issued on Vee-Jay Records' Introducing... The Beatles in 1964, and subsequently on Capitol Records' The Early Beatles in 1965. Please Please Me was not released in the US until the Beatles' catalogue was standardised for the 1987 CD.[22][23]

In Canada, the majority of the album's songs were included upon the Canadian-exclusive release Twist and Shout, which featured "From Me to You" and "She Loves You" in place of "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Misery".

In New Zealand, the album first appeared only in mono on the black Parlophone label. The following year (1964) EMI (NZ) changed from black to a blue Parlophone label and the album was again available only in mono. Due to constant demand, it was finally made available in stereo, first through the World Record Club on their Young World label in both mono and stereo,[24] and finally on the blue Parlophone label.

The album was released on CD on 26 February 1987, in mono, as were their three subsequent albums, With the Beatles, A Hard Day's Night and Beatles for Sale. It was not released on vinyl or tape in the US until five months later when it was issued for the first time in the US on LP and cassette on 21 July 1987.[citation needed]

Please Please Me was remastered and re-released on CD in stereo, along with all the other original UK studio albums, on 9 September 2009.[25] The 2009 remasters replaced the 1987 remasters. A remastered mono CD was also available as part of The Beatles in Mono box set.[26]

Artwork and packagingEdit

George Martin was an honorary fellow of the Zoological Society of London, which owns London Zoo and he thought that it might be good publicity for the zoo to have the Beatles pose outside the insect house for the cover photography of the album. However, the society turned down Martin's request, and instead, Angus McBean was asked to take the distinctive colour photograph of the group looking down over the stairwell inside EMI's London headquarters in Manchester Square.[19] Martin was to write later: "We rang up the legendary theatre photographer Angus McBean, and bingo, he came round and did it there and then. It was done in an almighty rush, like the music. Thereafter, though, the Beatles' own creativity came bursting to the fore."[27] In 1969, the Beatles asked McBean to recreate this shot. Although the 1969 photograph was originally intended for the then-planned Get Back album, it was not used when that project saw eventual release in 1970 as Let It Be. Instead, the 1969 photograph, along with an unused photograph from the 1963 photo shoot, was used in 1973 for the Beatles' retrospective albums 1962–1966 and 1967–1970. Another unused photograph from the 1963 photo shoot was used for The Beatles (No. 1) (EP released 1 November 1963).

Sleeve notesEdit

As consistent with all early 1960s albums made in the UK, the rear of the album sleeve has sleeve notes. The Beatles' press officer Tony Barrow wrote extensive sleeve notes, which included a brief mention of their early 1960s rivals The Shadows.

Release and receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [28]
The A.V. ClubA[29]
Consequence of SoundA–[30]
The Daily Telegraph     [31]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [32]
MusicHound     [33]
Pitchfork Media9.5/10[35]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [36]

Please Please Me hit the top of the UK album charts in May 1963 and remained there for 30 weeks before being replaced by With the Beatles. This was surprising because the UK album charts at the time tended to be dominated by film soundtracks and easy listening vocalists.[37] Please Please Me was the first non-soundtrack album to spend more than one year consecutively inside the top ten of what became the Official UK Albums Chart (with 62 weeks).[38] This record run of consecutive weeks in the top ten for a debut album stood until April 2013, when Emeli Sandé's Our Version of Events achieved a 63rd consecutive week.[39]

In a 1987 review coinciding with the album's CD reissue, Rolling Stone magazine's Steve Pond recommended Please Please Me "for the Beatles' unfettered joy at making music".[40] In 2012, Please Please Me was voted 39th on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[7] It was ranked first among the Beatles' early albums, and sixth of all of the Beatles' albums, with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Revolver, Rubber Soul, The Beatles (also known as "The White Album") and Abbey Road ranked higher.

Rolling Stone also placed two songs from the album on its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time": "I Saw Her Standing There" at number 140, and "Please Please Me" at number 186. According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic, "Decades after its release, the album still sounds fresh", the covers are "impressive" and the originals "astonishing".[28]

50th anniversaryEdit

In 2013, the album's 50th anniversary was celebrated by modern artists re-recording the album in just one day, as the Beatles recorded it 50 years earlier.[citation needed] Stereophonics recorded a cover of the album's opening track, "I Saw Her Standing There". It and the other recordings were broadcast on BBC Radio 2, and a documentary about the re-recording of the Beatles' debut album was broadcast on BBC Television.

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted[41].

Side one
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."I Saw Her Standing There"McCartney with Lennon2:55
2."Misery"Lennon with McCartney1:49
3."Anna (Go to Him)" (Arthur Alexander)Lennon2:55
4."Chains" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King)Harrison2:23
5."Boys" (Luther Dixon, Wes Farrell)Starr2:24
6."Ask Me Why"Lennon2:24
7."Please Please Me"Lennon with McCartney1:59
Total length:16:49
Side two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Love Me Do"McCartney with Lennon2:21
2."P.S. I Love You"McCartney2:04
3."Baby It's You" (Mack David, Barney Williams, Burt Bacharach)Lennon2:40
4."Do You Want to Know a Secret"Harrison1:56
5."A Taste of Honey" (Bobby Scott, Ric Marlow)McCartney2:03
6."There's a Place"Lennon and McCartney1:51
7."Twist and Shout" (Phil Medley, Bert Russell)Lennon2:32
Total length:15:27


According to Mark Lewisohn:[42]

The Beatles

  • John Lennon – lead vocals, backing vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, hand claps
  • Paul McCartney – lead vocals, backing vocals, bass guitar, hand claps
  • George Harrison – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, hand claps, backing vocals; lead vocals on "Chains" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret"
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, hand claps; lead vocals on "Boys"

Additional musicians and production


Chart performance of Please Please Me
Chart (1963) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[43] 4
UK Albums (OCC)[44] 1
Chart (1987) Peak
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[45] 24
Chart (2009) Peak
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[46] 75
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[47] 76
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[48] 78
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[45] 89
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[49] 25
Italian Albums (FIMI)[50] 64
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[51] 32
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[52] 29
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[53] 53
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[54] 27
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[55] 74
Chart (2010) Peak
US Billboard 200[56][57] 155
Chart (2022) Peak
Greece Albums (Billboard)[58] 6


Sales certifications for Please Please Me
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[59] Platinum 60,000^
Australia (ARIA)[60] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[61] Gold 50,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[62] Platinum 20,000 
New Zealand (RMNZ)[63]
Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[64]
sales since 2009
Platinum 300,000 
United States (RIAA)[65] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

  BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.[66]

Release historyEdit

Region Date Label Format Catalogue
United Kingdom 22 March 1963 Parlophone Mono LP PMC1202
26 April 1963 Stereo LP PCS 3042
United States 26 February 1987 Capitol Records Mono LP C1 46435
Stereo LP
Cassette C4 46435
CD CDP 7 46435 2
Worldwide re-release 9 September 2009 Apple Records Remastered stereo CD 0946 3 82416 2 1
Remastered mono CD
13 November 2012 Remastered stereo LP 0946 3 82416 1 4
8 September 2014 Remastered mono LP


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External linksEdit