Stars given twelve hours to replicate Beatles nine hour first LP sessions

by Jeremy Miles

Please Please Me - The Beatles first LP recorded 50 years ago in March

Please Please Me – The Beatles first LP recorded 50 years ago in March

Mick Hucknall and The Stereophonics are among artists gearing up for a special tribute to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first album.

Please Please Me was originally released in March 1963. Now Hucknall, The Stereophonics and other as yet mainly un-named artists are planning to record a cover of the album in 12 hours flat. The idea is to complete the album in the same time that was available to The Beatles half-a-century ago.

The only other performer signed for the project so far is singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin who’s cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Power of Love became a big festive hit after being used in the John Lewis Christmas ads.

The recording of the tribute album at Abbey Road studios next month will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in a show hosted by Stuart Maconie. Jo Whiley will also broadcast from the studio as part of the BBC’s The Golden Age Of The Album campaign.

Please Please Me came out on 22nd March 1963. It was rush-released to capitalize on the success of the Beatles hit single of the same name. A wise move. It went straight to number one and  spent the next 30 weeks on the chart. It was a landmark recording. It contained 14 tracks, eight of which were self-penned numbers. It was one of the first releases by a rock band who wrote, performed and played all their own instruments. Stand out tracks included I Saw Her Standing There, Love Me Do, Ask Me Why, Twist and Shout and of course the aforementioned title track.

The album soon made its mark on Britain’s wider cultural landscape, even getting a somewhat oblique mention in Philip Larkin’s poem Annus Mirabilis in which he recounts his late sexual awakening (at around the age of 40) with an opening stanza that reads:

Sexual intercourse began 
In nineteen sixty-three 
(which was rather late for me) – 
Between the end of the Chatterley ban 
And the Beatles’ first LP. 

Just one thing: the notion that the  Please Please Me album took 12 hours to record seems to be in question. The indication is that it was actually recorded in just nine hours – in three three hour sessions which cost producer George Martin a grand total of £400 in studio time. A very sound investment indeed! Under a Musicians Union agreement The Beatles incidentally were paid £22.10 shillings each for their day’s work.