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#askNat – concerning the earliest slow-tempoed “Please Please Me”

On #askNat this week I’m addressing a message from Brian in Pompton Lakes New Jersey that goes like this:

I’ve heard and read lots about the original, slower version of “Please Please Me,” and was shocked when that didn’t show up on Anthology. Does a recording of that version exist?  Thanks!

Good one Brian! It was September 4th, 1962 when The Beatles convened at EMI Studios for the first time with their new drummer Ringo Starr. Their previous session at EMI had been three months earlier on June 6th when Pete Best was still in the drummer’s seat. On that day they recorded “Besame Mucho” and “Love Me Do.” These two recordings appear on the Anthology 1 CD set. On September 4th, The Beatles were intent on recording their first single. Neither of the tracks offered at the earlier session was strong enough for a single release and therefore producer George Martin insisted they record Mitch Murray’s “How Do You Do It.” The Beatles recorded this one first but really wanted another shot at a “new-improved” rendition of their own composition “Love Me Do.” Of course, we all know that the story pans out for the group. They recorded “Love Me Do” that day and it was released as their first single. A remake of “Love Me Do” was recorded the following week on September 11th that used session man Andy White on drums and Ringo on tambourine. This take was used for some later copies of the single and the Please Please Me LP issued in 1963. Due mainly to his early opinion of Pete Best, George Martin took a couple of sessions before he was completely sold on Ringo’s drumming skills.

The Beatles at their Sep. 4, 1962 session at EMI.

The Beatles at their Sep. 4, 1962 session at EMI.

During a six song warm-up rehearsal at the September 4th session the group played “Please Please Me” but at this time the song had a slower tempo with dramatic crescendos reminiscent of a Roy Orbison-type song. George Martin despised the arrangement and told them to pep the song up and add some harmonies. Unfortunately, since this was only during their warm up, the tape was not rolling during this early performance.

The Beatles did exactly what George Martin told them too and by the time of their September 11th session were ready to record the improved version of the song. George Martin, still not completely sold on Ringo’s drumming, had Andy White play drums on this one. He liked the newer version of the song much more but decided that there was still room for improvement. John Lennon later remembered this attempt at the song and said that they were all feeling tired at this point in the day and just couldn’t seem to get it right. George Martin decided to save it for the next session since they were running out of time. This September 11th performance of the song also appears on the Anthology 1 CD set. The next session was not held until November 26th, 1962 and that was when they recorded the finalized rendition of “Please Please Me” prompting George Martin’s legendary quote “Congratulations, gentlemen, you’ve just recorded your first number one single!” George was proven right three months later when “Please Please Me” reached number 1 in the U.K.’s Melody Maker singles chart on March 2nd, 1963. It remained there for two weeks before dropping to number 2.

Thanks Brian for a great question! If anyone has anything to add, I welcome your comments below.


Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions! Keep #askNat going by sending your questions to me in any of the following ways:

1) There is a designated form that you fill out right on the website where you can give your name, location, email address and submit your question. The form is right here and is the same form used to submit requests for BROWs (Beatles Rarity Of The Weeks), but modfied to do both BROW requests and #askNat questions.

2) If you are a Facebook user, you can submit your question right on TheBeatlesRarity FB wall at www.facebook.com/beatlesrarity. If you think about it, try to remember to flag your question with “#askNat”.

3) Similarly, if you are a Google+ user, you can submit your question on TheBeatlesRarity Google+ page at www.gplus.to/beatlesrarity. Google+ supports hashtag searchability so it will be helpful if you preface your question with “#askNat” here too.

4) For you Twitter users, www.twitter.com/beatlesrarity gets you to the right place. Post your question and be sure to add “#askNat” somewhere in the tweet.


Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase music related to this post:

1) Please Please Me – 2009 stereo remaster of the first LP by The Beatles. Includes finalized versions of “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me.”

2) Anthology 1 – 1995 2-CD compilation of Beatles out-takes and extras from the earliest days up through 1965. Includes recordings of “Besame Mucho” and “Love Me Do” from first session with George Martin and Pete Best on drums. Also includes an early version of “Please Please Me” with session drummer Andy White and “How Do You Do It” recorded on Sep. 4, 1962, at the same session the “Love Me Do” single was recorded.

3) Beatles Music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

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9 Comments

  • YouKnowMyNameLookUpThe# says:

    It’s funny to think about it in terms like expensive, but tape was expensive. Recording was still pretty much relegated to professionals so it’s not like tape was all over the place like it is today (albeit it’s no longer in vogue, but it’s still readily available). So, wasting tape on a pop band in 1962/63 Britain was even worse than California or New York City! lol Nobody knew every utterance was going to become historical documentation of pure musical greatness!

    Maybe it’s another track or two but I thought they had run tape but ran back over it because of cost conscious engineers and producers? I know that’s why they don’t have a complete take of I’m Only Sleeping on Anthology 2. And that was 1966!! Still watching their pennies.

  • YouKnowMyNameLookUpThe# says:

    Unless… Nat has a complete take and that was but a mere fib on their part? Hmmm???? lol

  • duane says:

    Was George Martin’s quote caught on tape? I’ve never heard it on any of the zillions of bootlegs. (Congratulations, gentlemen, you’ve just recorded your first number one single!”).

  • Pat says:

    What a shame Roy Orbison never recorded a slow version of “Please Please Me.” After all he met the Beatles in 1963 and he would later become a Traveling Wilbury in the ’80s with George. You would think somebody would have mentioned to him that “Please Please Me” was originally conceived with an “Orbison” arrangement. I bet if “Lefty Wilbury” had lived he would have eventually done a cover of “Please Please Me” with the Wilburys!

  • Mark Boersma says:

    Look, it’s not the Beatles, but the obvious Beatle-freaks Bleaker Street Cowboys (including Andy Bopp of Myracle Brah / Love Nut / Alto Verde “fame”) recorded a version in the slowed-down Orbison-based vein and I think it represents. You can download it for free at: http://www.popgeekheaven.com/music-discovery/bleaker-street-cowboys-surprise-box-74
    You do have to join Pop Geek Heaven, but it is also free, so….go get it.

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