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"Please Please Me"
Memories of the Beatles


by Roger Lee Hall

 

 

 

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Parlophone/EMI/Capitol album,
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Obviously, this is a milestone for all Beatles fans. Many have worshipped this album ever since it was released in June of 1967.

But is there a need for so much recycling of this album? There are four separate releases of this 1967 album this year. How about a 6-disc set including a DVD for over $150? This seems like another cash grab for companies that keep recycling this music by the Beatles, who remain popular many years after they disbanded as a group. They are, after all, the most popular rock band from the past.

As a songwriter who began in the 1960s, I'm impressed with the creative evolution of Beatles songs. They progressed from relatively simple songs like "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" to more sophisticated and sensitive songs like "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life." Their recordings have a growth in terms of performances and technology. That is largely due to their brilliant record producer, George Martin, who had a keen ear for quality and experimentation in studio productions.

I remember buying the original LP album and not being very impressed with the total album but especially enjoying a few songs which I have listed below. At that time I worked in the audio-visual department at the local public library. I was very surprised when my boss, Mr. Jackson, a classical music lover who adored Mahler's classical music, told me he loved the Sgt. Pepper's album. I told him I had preferred the previous Beatles album, Revolver, and my favorite song on that album is "Here, There and Everywhere."

Yet, I agree that Sgt. Pepper had the greatest impact of any rock album from the 1960s and I do enjoy still listening to it.

So, on its 50th anniversary, I offer my favorites from the Sgt. Pepper's album, listed in order of my preference:

1 -- "SHE'S LEAVING HOME" - a sad melancholy story song beautifully accompanied.
2 -- "A DAY IN THE LIFE" --builds to the powerful ending with long sustained E chord.
3 -- "WHEN I'M SIXTY-FOUR" -- funny old-time y song with clever lyrics.
4 -- "WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS" - song with an upbeat message.
5 -- "LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS" - not about drugs, based on a boy's drawing

 

Read more about the early Beatles
and a song inspired by them...

 

2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the Parlophone album, Please Please Me, released on March 22, 1963.

What follows are a songwriter's memories when he first heard of The Beatles while stationed near Frankfurt, Germany and also his visit to Hamburg.

 

 

1961

The music from the UK was exciting to listen to for someone like me who had been raised on American rock n' roll of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and others.

Of all the songs I wrote during the early 1960s, the one that pleases me the most is “The Soho Serenade.” I began the song in October of 1961 after hearing a Polydor 45 RPM record with two old standards: “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” on the A side and "The Saints (When The Saints Go Marching In)" on the B side. The songs were released on a Polydor record with a solo by Tony Sheridan,

From The Complete Beatles Chronicle
by Mark Lewisohn (1992/2004)

 

“My Bonnie” was a big hit in Frankfurt mainly because it was very good for the Twist dance then in vogue in Germany as well as in the States. But it was also a good solid up-tempo record. I was impressed by the backup group for “My Bonnie,” but didn't know their name at that time. The lead singer, Tony Sheridan, was very good and sounded very much like Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis, and his use of the "woo" shout on records like "When The Saints Go Marching In" (recorded in Hamburg in 1961) was a forerunner of the same shout used later by The Beatles in songs
like "She Loves You."

 

1962

Front entrance of The Star-Club in Hamburg

 

In August of 1962, I was on vacation on my way to Copenhagen and stopped off for a few days in Hamburg, Germany. One night with an Army buddy, we went to the Reeperbahn, the notorious district filled with strip clubs, prostitutes, drunks and rock n' roll venues. One of the best known was The Star-Club where the Beatles played in 1961 and 1962. As George Harrison said in a 1969 interview:

And probably, in my opinion anyway, we reached our stage peak in Hamburg. That was well before we were famous, and so the people who came to see us were drawn by our music, or whatever atmosphere we created...we got very tight as a band in Hamburg.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear them in Hamburg but did hear their name mentioned by a young German rock n' roll fan we talked to there. He said: "this group playing isn't as good as the Beatles." That was the first time I had heard their name.

Later on, in late 1962 and early 1963, I heard the first two Beatles hit records, "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me." These songs were played a lot at a favorite club I went to in Frankfurt. It was fascinating to hear their unusual vocal harmonies and the prominent use of the harmonica. As quoted in Chris Ingham's informative The Rough Guide To The Beatles (3rd edition), their brilliant record producer, George Martin, said this about "Love Me Do," recorded in September of 1962:

It was John's harmonica that gave it its appeal.

The same was true for for "Please Please Me" which I especially liked with the harmonica intro and those pleading lyrics of "come on, come on, come on, come on " followed by the suggestive line: "Please please me oh yeah like I please you." I thought this was more sophisticated songwriting than most rock n' roll groups were singing at that time.

1963

I had listened to a lot of pop singers from the UK on Radio Luxembourg including Adam Faith and Cliff Richard. I even purchased the Epic LP album which had four songs by Cliff Richard and The Shadows from the film, SUMMER HOLIDAY (1963), which I saw at the local cinema on Rhein Main Air Base. I also heard one of the UK groups at The Rocket Club. They were called Sonny Stewart and The Dominos and they were a great sounding group. When I returned to the U.S. after being discharged from the Army in 1963 I told my friends about the Beatles. All they could say was -- "never heard of them. Who are they?" I told them to just wait until the Beatles get some attention in the U.S.

1964

Then came their American live television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. I was there, not in the theater, but watching with millions of others on TV as The Beatles captured the hearts of young and old.

During that same year I copyrighted my early song, "The Soho Serenade," which had been inspired by the early Beatles songs I heard while stationed in the Army in Germany in the early 1960s.
I had a demo record made in 1965 and here I am proudly holding that framed 45 RPM record:

"The Soho Serenade,"
inspired by the early Beatles, is available as a single from CD Baby at this link:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethel Regan: The Soho Serenade

 

Read more about Roger Lee Hall's song at

"The Soho Serenade" -
A songwriter's fifty year journey

See also...

"Till There Was You" - A Paul McCartney Tribute

 

 

 

If you have any comments about the Sgt. Pepper album or other Beatles albums send them in -- click here

 

 

There are early Beatles recordings on these CDs...

 

The Beatles featuring Tony Sheridan
In The Beginning

 

 

The Beatles With Tony Sheridan: First Recordings 50th Anniversary Edition

The Beatles With Tony Sheridan: First Recordings
(50th Anniversary Edition)

 

 

 

Also this interesting DVD -


The Beatles with Tony Sheridan -
The Beginnings in Hamburg

 

Other stories
by Roger Lee Hall...

"Dream World"
Songs, Poems and Stories

"Free As The Breeze"
A Songwriter's Songs and Sorrows

"Shake, Rattle and Roll"
Electric Elvis and Bill Randle

 

 

 

 




 

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