The Beatles- Introducing... The Beatles (1964)
Updated: May 9
Released January 10, 1964
Recorded 1962- 1963
No need for an exterminator- it's time to introduce the Beatles. If you don't know The Beatles, well, for starters, where have you been? - Under a rock? If you have just crawled out from the rock, let's learn about the group that so many of us hold close to our hearts. If there is a world 200 years from now and a guy like me is still teaching music appreciation class at some university on Mars, the one band from this period that will be discussed is the Beatles. I believe that if there were a race to greatness featuring every band that ever existed, the Beatles would win first place by a landslide, and everyone else would be far off the pack and thrilled with a silver medal.
The Beatles’ Origin Story
The Beatles' origin story began in Liverpool, England, in 1957 when 16-year-old John Lennon met 15-year-old Paul McCartney. They quickly shared their love of music and played together in the group the Quarrymen. McCartney introduced 15-year-old George Harrison to Lennon, and by 1958 he was invited to join the band.
By 1959, the Quarrymen had broken up, and with the addition of John Lennon's art school friend Stu Sutcliffe on bass and then drummer Pete Best the group became the Silver Beatles, and by 1960, The Beatles. The five-piece group started working in Hamburg clubs (notably the Cavern Club) and gained a solid local following over the next two years. During this time, they met manager Brian Epstein, who took the group to the next level as their promoter and manager. Sadly Sutcliffe, who was always more interested in painting than music, died in 1962 at age 21 of a brain hemorrhage. At this point, Paul McCartney moved from guitar to bass and shifted, and the band was now a four-piece.
In 1962, producer/musician extraordinaire George Martin of EMI Parlophone records entered The Beatles' universe and began recording and arranging for the group. Martin was a brilliant, classically trained musician who helped shape the Beatles' songs, basically serving as the 5th Beatle when it came to studio work. The group made their first recordings in London on June 6, 1962. Still, George Martin was not happy with the drumming of Pete Best, and the group was already considering replacing him and did so in August 1962 with Ringo Starr, who was working at the time with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. On February 11, 1963, the Beatles recorded ten songs (in one day!), leading to the U.K. debut album Please, Please Me, which was released in January 1963. It went #1 in England. What ensued was "Beatlemania!".
Beatlemania in the U.S.
By 1964, America was anxiously anticipating the arrival of The Beatles. The country desperately needed a distraction following President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963. In late December 1963, the Beatles' single "I Want To Hold Your Hand" became a massive radio hit in the states. Then the albums Introducing…The Beatles and Meet the Beatles! hit U.S. record stores in January 1964. With those releases, American teens lost their minds over The Beatles.
On February 7, 1964, the band landed in the U.S. for the first time at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, and 3,000 fans mobbed the boys. Two days later, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and were watched by 73 million people! Americans got their first look at the group and were intrigued by their sound, energy, and mop-top hairstyles (considered wild for the time.) The interest remained strong as the band continued to produce hit after hit and album after album.
About the Album: Introducing the Beatles
Introducing… The Beatles was scheduled to be released in July 1963. However, negotiating rights between English and American labels became complicated, and the album was released on January 10, 1964. only ten days before the next U.S. release, Meet the Beatles! which sat on the charts at #1, with Introducing—The Beatles at #2. For record collectors, an original (version 1) of Introducing...The Beatles! can sell for big money, but be careful. There are a lot of counterfeit copies. Part of the interest is that the original, limited released versions included the hits "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You," but after Capital Records sued Beechwood Music over publishing rights, they removed the tunes and replaced them with "Ask Me Why, and "Please Please Me." Regardless of the version the album is a fantastic "introduction" to the most impactful band ever!
(Awards: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, and Songwriter's Hall Of Fame (Lennon and McCartney)
Track by Track Analysis
(+ means "recommended track" and * means released as a single)
Track 1- "I Saw Her Standing There" was the B side to "I Want To Hold Your Hand." The song charted as high as 14 on the U.S. Billboard Charts and was number 1 in Denmark, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Yeah, The Beatles were loved everywhere. The tune kicks in with a McCartney count-off, thus giving the music a live vibe. What follows is a shuffle groove anchored by a walking bass line stolen by McCartney from Chuck Berry's "Talkin' About You."
The first lyric, "She was just seventeen, and you know what I mean, and the way she looked was way beyond compare." is a little creepy considering a 21-year-old Paul McCartney sings it. Also, Paul, I don't really know what you "mean ." It is pretty weird to hear McCartney perform the song today: He really should update the lyrics to "she's just 63, just got AARP, she still can walk and still has all of her hair" Regardless of what he "means," the song is hard-driving, has a fine guitar solo, some strong harmonies, a characteristic clapping rhythm, and a tight ending. It's just flat-out great rock and roll. (*+)
Track 2- "Misery" was a Lennon and McCartney collaboration. In 1963 singer Kenny Lynch recorded the tune making it the first recorded remake of a Beatles tune. There would be many, many more. It's about a sadsack whose unhappy because "the world is treating him bad." It's an uptempo number for a song called "Mysery." Be sure to take notice of George Martin playing the piano.
Track 3- "Anna (Go to Him)" is a cover of a song by country-soul singer Arthur Alexander that was often performed as part of the Beatles' early live sets. Lennon takes the lead vocals on this track. Lyrically it's a breakup song in which Anna is given the go-ahead to go date another guy even though the narrator is still in love with her. Lennon supposedly had a bad cold on the day it was recorded, and you can hear him struggling somewhat vocally.
Track 4 - "Chains" was the first time George Harrison was featured as a lead vocalist on a commercial record. The great songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote the tune. "Chains" was a minor hit for the band The Cookies in 1962 before the Beatles recorded it in 1963. The overall feel mixed R&B with rockabilly.
Track 5 -"Boys" was the first recording featuring Ringo Starr on lead vocals on a record. The Shirelles originally recorded the song in 1960 as a B side to the hit "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Somewhat weird that the Beatles chose a song about "boys" as a cover. Ringo often sang the song live with the group early on. George Harrison takes a solo on the cut, one of his earliest on record. The song's chorus sounds very much like Ray Charles' What'd I Say."
Track 6 (Version 1) "Love Me Do" was The Beatles' debut single and was written as early as 1958 by Lennon and McCartney when the boys were teens. It was the group's most impactful early release, peaking at #17 in 1962 in the U.K. and reaching #1 in the U.S. in 1964. There are a few versions of the tune. The first was from June 6, 1962, with original drummer Pete Best (can be heard on Anthology 1 (Apple 1995). It was remade on September 4, 1962, with Ringo Starr, who joined the band two weeks before. It was then decided that the drum part needed tweaking, session drummer Andy White played drums, and Ringo was handed a tambourine (that must have stung).
Despite its rather frivolous lyrics, the tune is perfect. It has a great vocal melody, a cool harmonica line (Lennon), and a solid groove. "Love Me Do" is The Beatles' most important early release because it put them on the map internationally. Due to legal disputes, "Love Me Do" was left off the second pressing of the American album release.(*+)
Track 6 (Version 2) "Ask Me Why" replaced "Love Me Do" on the second version of Introducing. Lennon mostly wrote the tune. "Ask Me Why" was structurally unique for an early pop tune because it contains three verse variants. It also includes some jazzy harmonies. It's a solid tune but not a suitable replacement for "Love Me Do."
Track 1(Version 1)- "P.S. I Love You" was initially released as the B side of the single "Please Please Me." It's a fine example of McCartney's early songwriting ability. Similarly to "Love Me Do," there was an early recording with Pete Best and then a September 4, 1962 version in which Andy White plays drums and Ringo plays maracas. As with "Love Me Do," the tune was removed from the second version of the album. The turn reached #10 in the U.S. (*+)
Track 1 (Version 2)- "Please, Please Me" was a follow-up single to "Love Me Do" and another early original hit for the Beatles, charting at #3. It showed that the group was not a one-hit wonder. The tune was mainly written by Lennon and may have been inspired by Roy Orbison's hit "Only The Lonely." The original version was presented as a slower blues. Producer Geroge Martin helped inspire the group to speed it up and rework the version into a song that is sure to please. (*+)
Track 2- "Baby It's You" was written by songsmith Burt Bacharach and was a hit for the Shirelles in 1961 and the second remake of a Shirelles' tune on the album ("Boys"). Sung by Lennon, the song was released as a single but only charted at #67. Take notice of George Martin playing the celesta during the guitar solo. The celesta is a keyboard-type instrument not often associated with rock and roll. The boys often included the tune in their early live sets. (*)
Track 3- "Do You Want To Know A Secret," who doesn't? Well, when it comes to the Beatles, there are few secrets because they are the most written and analyzed band ever. While not a secret, here are a few things you may not have known. The tune was inspired by "Wishing Well," from the Disney film Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, a song that John Lennon's mon, Julia, would sing to him. The first two lines of the movie "Want to know a secret? Promise not to tell"? are also the first two lines of the first verse. Sadly Julia died in 1958 when she was struck by a car. John was only 17 at the time of the incident. Her death had a huge psychological impact on John throughout his life, and he would sometimes reference his mother in song lyrics and titles. As for the writing, Lennon claims it was his song, and McCartney said it was a collaboration. Either way, it's a great song, although I often felt the bridge sounded a little forced. The track features George Harrison on lead vocals. The track reached #2 on the Billboard Charts (*+)
Track 4 -"There's A Place," shows early depth in Lennon's lyric writing. The song is about overcoming loneliness. The song may have been inspired by "There's a Place For Us" from West Side Story. Musically, Lennon was trying to channel a Motown sound with the tune, and he did so successfully. Released as the B side to "Twist and Shout," the track was not a big hit for the band, reaching only #74 on the charts. (+)
Track 5- "Twist and Shout" was the Beatles' first million-selling single and the group's most danceable tune. Written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns, it might be the Beatle's most celebrated cover. Before the Beatles perfected the tune, it was recorded by the Top Notes in 1961 and then the Isley Brothers in 1962. Remarkably it was recorded in one take, mainly because Lennon blew out his voice during that take. (*+)
With this record, fans everywhere were being "introduced" to the greatest rock band that ever was or will ever be. If the Beatles had only released this one record in 1964, it would have been a fantastic achievement, but they didn't; they saturated the market with brilliant pop music that would soon expand the possibilities of rock and roll as an art form. As you continue reading, every Beatles release will be discussed. These inclusions are not just because I love their music but because their impact is undeniable.
Awards and Positions: #2 Billboard Charts, Platinum Record.