I first heard the Beatles when Please Please Me became the Number One single on the BBC’s chart show Pick of the Pops on a Sunday in February 1963. Having followed the mostly depressing, post-war, pop charts for a couple of years the song grabbed me right away as something urgently different; alive, original and catchy. Immediately you wanted to sing along with them as much as you wanted to admire them. You felt that the future just might be interesting after all. Here’s a good fake video of The Beatles performing Please Please Me. I think it is their first American concert at the Washington Coliseum in Feb 64, looks like and sounds like the US Capitol Remasters of Please Please Me.

The Beatles immediately filled me with excitement and a fresh optimism. They sounded in the moment, were young and British with a certain edge that differentiated them from Cliff and the Shadows and that old man Elvis, but at first it was just one record.  However when From Me To You appeared a couple of months later they already seemed to have this urgent signature style which not only cheerfully grabbed you by the scruff of the neck but also offered lots of originality when you listened closer. Here’s The Beatles performing live in the States about a year after they released From Me to You;

Well blow me where did they come from? Well from about five years of hard work, which made them outlier genius’s. As Bob Spitz documents in The Beatles; The Biography, they already had a live show stopper; I Saw Her Standing There. This became the opening track on the Please Please Me album which was based on their live show. The genius of the album was that it was a studio version of their live performance; George Martin originally wanted to record it at The Cavern. It was the first pop album I had ever heard and we felt like we were at a concert with them; incredibly exciting!  They counted the song, and their first album, in with 1-2-3-4!  This live performance looks like it is at the same concert. I Saw Her Standing There;

As well as inventing what Rolling Stone called the “self-contained rock band”, writing and recording their own material, The Beatles were also huge music fans and covered songs by artists who were unknown in the UK in 1963, such as Motown! Here is my personal favourite off Please Please Me, Boys. Sung by Ringo, paving the way for Don Henley and Phil Collins, and The Ting Tings of course, it is the B-side of the Shirelles hit “Still Love Me Tomorrow” and written by Luther Dixon & Wes Farrell. Boys;

Although From Me To You was at Number One for seven weeks the mass media didn’t pick up on them, their interest being diverted by the sexy Mandy-Rice Davies; well it would be wouldn’t it?  She Love’s You came out the week we all went back to school and blew a summer of sex scandals away. After a performance on TV on October 13th 1963 the national press finally discovered them and identified Beatlemania on November 1st. She Loves You went on to be their best ever selling single in the UK. It was heard everywhere and we all shouted yeah, yeah, yeah just to annoy our parents. Here’s a live version capturing some of their power, oops deleted! Here’s The Hard Days Night version remastered. She Love’s You; 

This was from the Royal Variety Performance, which in many ways was the British equivalent of The Beatles performance on Ed Sullivan. It reached almost everyone in the country as it was widely regarded as the top show of the year. Not only did The Beatles steal the show but Lennon also let us know that The Beatles were republican. This was the climax of the album and the show and the year. Soon Britain would be swinging, well twisting and shouting, and some of us believe we never had it so good. I remember seeing this at the time and loving my father’s discomfort at the culture clash. This was The Beatles going to the Toppermost of the Poppermost. The BBC even started the TV show Top of the Pops just so we could track all their hit records. Twist & Shout;

So that was a quick run through of most of 1963 and Please Please Me, the album. You can read my story about Please Please Me on 9 after 909. Please Please Me was their live show captured in one album of highlights. But here is one more, quite amazing, video where the Beatles play a medley of their best tracks from 1963. It was pre-recorded by them and then mimed for TV when they were in Australia, but never broadcast. Love Me Do & You;

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy my story about hearing Please Please Me for the first time on 9 after 909.

The View from 9/9/9 This is a classic album for me as it is the first one I heard and starts with I Saw Her Standing There and ends with Twist and Shout; stone cold classics. Whilst the mix of originals, covers and show tunes was fascinating at the time it feels dated now. That said if you like that mix, buy the album, if not download seven tracks. Mixed bag 69%

BONUS TRACK; And here is a terrific animation using LEGO of I Saw Her Standing There; very noughties…

One Response to “1-2-3-4”

  1. Good day! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout
    out and say I truly enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics?
    Thanks a lot!

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