February 11, 2013


It was 50 years ago today that The Beatles entered Abbey Road Studios to record their first album. They worked throughout the day in three shifts: 10:00am-1:00pm, 2:30pm-5:30pm, and 7:30pm-10:45pm, and the group completed an entire album of songs by the end of the evening. Instruments and vocals were recorded on separate tracks of a twin-track machine. And engineer Norman Smith achieved an ambient room sound around the music, creating a thrilling and intimate live experience, by placing the microphones further from the amps than normal procedure. A hit record in one day? Sure, if you're the Fab Four!

During this session, the group recorded 14 tunes for Please Please Me (6 covers and 8 originals), as well as a draft of 'Hold Me Tight', which would appear on With the Beatles. John had a cold on this day in 1963, and they saved the song 'Twist and Shout' for the end, in case his blistering vocal attack would shred his throat and halt singing for the rest of the session. You can hear the congestion in his vocals when you listen to it today. The Beatles' success was not won by resting on their laurels. The group got up the next day, and on February 12th, they performed shows in both Yorkshire and in Lancashire. They were in Hull on the 13th, then back in Liverpool for a Valentine's show on the 14th! Please Please Me was released on March 22nd and hit the top of the charts in May, where it remained for 33 weeks until it was replaced by With the Beatles. Here is one of my favorites from the February 11th sessions, 'I Saw Her Standing There'.

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