Beatles recording session for debut album Please Please Me to be recreated
The Beatles’ 10-hour recording session for their debut album Please Please Me is to be recreated by musicians including Stereophonics and Mick Hucknall to mark its 50th anniversary.
The Beatles recorded almost all of the record in one day-long recording session on February 11, 1963.
BBC Radio 2 will broadcast live footage of the stars working on the 10 tracks at London’s Abbey Road Studios.
Gabrielle Aplin and I Am Kloot will also be part of the sessions.
Chart topping newcomer Gabrielle Aplin was the first to arrive at the legendary studio, with Radio 2 breakfast DJ Chris Evans and Welsh rockers the Stereophonics arriving in the same car minutes later.
Evans then joined frontman Kelly Jones outside the studio for a short busking session.
The DJ was in fine voice, despite fluffing some lines in their cover of The Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There – which the band will perform in the studio later.
Kelly Jones said his favorite Beatles’ record was “probably Abbey Road” but “the great thing about the early albums was the sound of a band capturing their raw energy”.
The sessions for Please Please Me saw The Beatles playing live renditions of the songs which had formed the core of their recent live shows. The tracks were recorded largely as they were performed, with few overdubs or layering of instruments – which became common features of their later work.
The final track to be committed to tape was Twist And Shout, which had been held back over fears that John Lennon’s sore throat may not hold out if he performed it earlier in the day.
John Lennon sang the huge hit topless but was unable to go for a second take, so the initial recording was used.
Ian MacDonald, the late chronicler of Beatles recordings, wrote: “Trying for a second take, Lennon found he had nothing left and the session stopped there and then – but the atmosphere was still crackling.
“Nothing of that intensity had ever been recorded in a British pop studio.”
Initially, the Beatles’ producer George Martin had considered trying to capture the band’s stage show by making a live album at the Cavern Club, but the plan was dropped.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr already had four tracks they could put on the album – the singles Love Me Do and Please Please Me, plus the B-sides.
They needed 10 more to complete the album and were booked at Abbey Road amidst a hectic live schedule.
They had 30 gigs to perform in February including a tour with Helen Shapiro, plus a radio and TV show.
John Lennon had a cold and was drinking tea, milk and smoking while sucking lozenges for his throat.
They started recording at 10 a.m. and their first song was There’s A Place, which they managed in 13 takes.
Next was I Saw Her Standing There and several other followed in quick succession. Hold Me Tight also took 13 takes but it was dumped from the album, only to revived for their second album With The Beatles.
Although just two three-hour periods were booked for the recording, the band added a third which ended at 10.45pm.
Mark Lewisohn, in his book The Complete Beatles Chronicle, wrote: “There can scarcely have been 585 more productive minutes in the history of recorded music.”
Broadcaster Stuart Maconie said it was hard to imagine the original sessions.
“I got here this morning and what struck me was that there are so many people here – bands, crews, journalists – and how different it must have been that morning 50 years ago when the Beatles arrived in their van.
“I’m fascinated whether they knew they were changing the history of the world. Did they have an inkling? I wonder if McCartney knew?”