Beatles Singles 1962-64

Beatles Creativity Phase Two; Singles Men

Trevor Horn, who in November 1963 was inspired to become a producer when he noticed the difference between the Beatles error-strewn live performance on the Royal Variety Show compared to the exuberant polish of their studio songs, observed that there is always one weak member of a group when it comes to recording; which is why he says he never recorded U2.  George Martin thought the same with Pete Best and, sadly, I think that Pete was a live rock n roll drummer and not cut out for the studio work supporting the song that Ringo delivered at Abbey Road; here are The Beatles trying to find their recording feet whilst auditioning with Pete Best on Love Me Do;  

The Beatles most significant act in 1962, apart from George joking about Martin’s tie, was insisting on recording their own songs. But even the polished final version of Love Me Do didn’t strike gold dust and Martin, master of his domain, insisted that The Beatles should record the future number one (for Gerry and The Pacemakers) How Do You Do It. When you listen to the breezy performance that Gerry Marsden eventually turned in and also to The Beatles own exuberance on Please Please Me, then this polite demo for Martin, in September 1962, where they really didnt do it, can only have been a kind of lazy protest to avoid recording it as a single (this is The Beatles version). How Do You Do It;

One of my tenets about the Beatles is that they were a collaborative craft collective, a Unit 4 plus too many to mention. But at EMI George Martin started off by giving them an education in making hit singles. They had great musical ears, were quick studies and didn’t suffer fools gladly. But they recognised that Martin had something to teach them and they were diligent. Martin himself says in All You Need is Ears that he was “like a school teacher with them.” For their second go at the self-penned Please Please Me The Beatles upped the songs tempo. Martin responded by putting the chorus up front, the band put their live excitement into the music and boom! They learnt how to please the listening public; “Gentlemen You have your first Number 1”;

But whilst they were  being schooled in the arts of hit singles the Beatles were also learning a number of other tricks. Their early b-sides were Latin flavoured, P.S. I love you and Ask Me Why, and they were developing their musical skills in the studio as Ringo quickly proved himself “master of the beat,” as Martin described him, and George learned that less is more on lead guitar. Here is one of their minor songs, written when Paul predicted that the next big thing would be Latin Pop not The Beatles, but one where they all pushed their skills just a little P.S I Love You;

By the time of From Me To You, the follow-up to their first Number One, they had nailed Merseybeat as a recording phenomenon and it sounded like they are repeating it.  From Me To You was Number One in the UK for 7 weeks but by the time they came to record the follow-up George had a new guitar, Ringo had his new, iconic, Ludwig drum kit and John and Paul were evolving their lyrical style to the third person (Paul’s strength). So well were George Martin’s pupils learning about hit singles that this was the biggest selling UK single ever until 1977, (when McCartney overtook it with Mull of Kintyre). And, yeah, they also created a teenage catch phrase, Yeah Yeah Yeah; such a smash it stayed in the top three for six months, She Loves You

The massive success of the Please Please Me LP and She Loves You single put pressure on the Beatles to record a follow-up album quickly even though the LP was number one in the album charts for 30 weeks. Stretched and pushed With The Beatles was partly a polished retread of Please Please Me and partly experimental (such as All My Loving); it became the biggest selling album of 1963 in just six weeks. But the opening trilogy outstrips their debut album by highlighting their emerging songwriting. So much so that they can provide a classic Merseybeat track as an opener and it wasn’t even a single, just comforting their fans with its reassuringly familiar earthy transcendence; It Wont Be Long Yeah!;

Loaded with two very good albums and four great singles the Beatles were equipped to cheer up both teenage and old age America and help them forget Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. In February 1964 they conquered the States and then the rest of the world with their back catalogue from 1963. I only recently found out that I Want To Hold Your Hand was written by Lennon and McCartney in response to Brian Epstein’s request to write a song that would break them in America. So this was a plea for consummation with the country that inspired their music; and they did. I Want To Hold Your Hand;

They returned from the USA to Abbey Road to complete Can’t Buy Me Love, started before their triumphant trip, and studio engineer Geoff Emerick commented on how their confidence had changed after their success on the US Tour and this recording just oozes with confidence. Now a jazz standard, thanks to Ella Fitzgerald, this lead the Beatles charge to the top 5 singles in the USA in April 64. Liberation from the treadmill out here in the fields? Can’t Buy Me Love;

They had mastered chart-based poppery and were beginning to extend its vocabulary, grammar and timbres. And then came Hard Days Night, the first single I personally heard the first time it was played. Phoney Beatlemania had bitten the dust and real Beatlemania set in permanently for the rest of the sixties. Was it just imitation or did we all want to be Beatlemaniacs? Hard Days Night was a film, a single, an album (two in the USA) a real multi-media gem of a creation, box-office second only to the definitive Bond film Goldfinger and defined by that gloriously hanging open chord, written at the request of director Richard Lester. Meet the Fab Four – John Paul George and Ringo; who’s your favourite? Hard Days Night;

Hard Days Night was recently identified by Q as the fifth best British album of all time, which is surprising until you listen to all of its Lennon and McCartney  compositions. It is a complete a representation of all The Beatles had learned by the middle of 1964. Bursting with pride and confidence after conquering the very USA that they had worshipped and adored, they poured it all into the film tracks on Side One and the bonus cuts on Side Two. I Should Have Known Better is both the first pop video by the “father of the music video” jazzer Richard Lester and an acoustic precursor of Rubber Soul (and George’s marriage). Turn left at Marylebone for the very clean Liverpool Shuffle; 

They had moved on from their early aspirational songs, beyond the formulaic Mersey hit Beat and were starting to try fresh approaches. After surprisingly covering five girl group songs on their first album the macho sex warriors revealed they also had a feminine side. John wrote If I Fell and “lucky guy” Paul composed Things We Said Today for Jane Asher so they could remember their love in the 21st Century. It is an open feminine ballad and you can hear it right now. If I Fell;

Amazingly on June 19th 1964, just two weeks before Hard Days Night opened, The Beatles released one of their classic EPs with four new tracks, perhaps reminiscing about Hamburg. EPs were critical elements in cementing The Beatles popularity in the UK as they were much more affordable than albums, which were often bought at Christmas, like With The Beatles, or as presents, in the early sixties. In some ways this is their most democratic recording, they all get a song, it rocks like crazy and sounds like they are a real band. I’m guessing it is a long hard days yelp of release to show they can really move when set free from the limitations of package tours. Paul is simply awesome on Long Tall Sally;

This is the second of six posts on The Beatles Creativity. It is preceded by 1) Beatles Live 1957-63 It is followed by 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65 4) Beatles Psychedelia 1966/67 5) Beatles Apple 1968 6) Beatles Let It Be 1969 Page checked & Updated Jan 6 2013

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18 Responses to “Beatles Singles 1962-64”

  1. These are *so* evocative!
    I remember buying She Loves You when it came out, possibly my first single. There was a mass bunk off school by the older girls queuing up to buy tickets when they came to the Mecca in York end of year 1963. Of course, I wasn’t old enough to go so we pre-teenies experienced it all vicariously at break-times for days afterwards.

    http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/1380630.fab_four_are_topic_of_campus_lectures/

  2. […] Beatles Singles 1962-64 « A Beatles YouTube Album […]

  3. […] Beatles Singles 1962-64 « A Beatles YouTube Album […]

  4. […] Beatles Singles 1962-64 « A Beatles YouTube Album […]

  5. […] Beatles Singles 1962-64 « A Beatles YouTube Album […]

  6. […] feet whilst auditioning with Pete Best on Love Me Do. There is a version of this post on the Beatles YouTube Album. To my ears Love Me Do is the transition song between the live rock n roll band Beatles and the […]

  7. […] Beatles YouTube Album Beatles YouTube Archive « Genius meets Genius! Beatles Singles 1962-64 […]

  8. […] is part four of six posts on The Beatles Creativity 1) Beatles Live 1957-63 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64 3) Beatles Albums […]

  9. […] Soul here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Got To Be FreeEight Arms To Hold YouBeatles Singles 1962-64Forward Into The […]

  10. […] completed; This is part five of six posts on The Beatles Creativity 1) Beatles Live 1957-63 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65 4) Beatles Psychedelia […]

  11. […] is part six of six posts on The Beatles Creativity. It is preceded by 1) Beatles Live 1957-63 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65 4) Beatles Psychedelia 1966/67 5) Beatles Apple […]

  12. indarto Says:

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  15. […] Singles 1963-1964 From Please Please Me to Hard Days […]

  16. […] Singles 1963-1964 Determined to make a hit record during their “pedagogic” phase they did as instructed […]

  17. […] Singles 1963-1964 From Please Please […]

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