On the 22nd March 1963, the Beatles first album, Please Please Me was released by EMI in Britain. It then stayed at the top of the chart for 30 weeks, before finally being replaced at number one by With The Beatles.
Please Please Me
In America, though, the initial story was slightly different. Capitol Records, EMI's American subsidiary, in their wisdom chose not to release either the first four Beatles singles; "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me"1, both of which appeared on the "Please Please Me" album, nor "From Me To You" and "She Loves You".
They also declined the chance to release the Please Please Me album either. This was based on the view that British groups would not prove popular in America. Alan Livingstone, Head of Capitol, decided, “We don’t think the Beatles will do anything in this market."The Beatles, unable to get their albums released in America through EMI's subsidiary, tried smaller record labels. However, Capitol Records was not the only label to pass on the Beatles. Please Please Me was also rejected also by the Liberty and Laurie labels, and it was finally released by Vee Jay, a small label based in Chicago that specialised in Rythem and Blues and Gospel records, which was no-where near Capitol's league and did not have large marketing or printing resources.
Alan Livingstone, President of Capitol Records through much of the 1960s, has said,
"The man who reviewed records came in and said, "They're a bunch of long-haired kids, they're nothing, forget it." RCA then got a crack at them, turned them down, CBS got a crack at them and turned them down, and Decca turned them down. And they were forgotten. I had never listened to them - they were an English group and English records weren't selling, so I didn't pay too much attention. Then I got a call one day from Brian Epstein in London... He said, "I don't understand, Mr Livingstone, why you don't sign The Beatles" and I said, "Well, I haven't heard them." He said, "Well, will you please listen and call me back?"...
I decided on the first record and I took it home to play to my wife Nancy. She said, "I want to hold your hand!?" Are you kidding?"I thought, "Well, maybe I made a mistake,” but I went forward with it, and of course the rest is history."
Introducing The Beatles
Having acquired the rights on the 10th January 1963 to what was a Best Selling album in Britain, Vee Jay released Please Please Me initially in July 1963 under the title Introducing The Beatles. This was curiously without the album's British title track, and number one single, Please Please Me. This had not sold well when Vee Jay had released it as a single in February 1963, but neither had From Me To You which was released a few months later. So poorly had both Please Please Me and From Me To You sold that Vee Jay declined to acquire the rights to the Beatles’ third single, She Loves You, which instead was released by a small Philadelphia label, Swan. Swan Records timed its release to coincide with Capitol Record’s release of I Want To Hold Your Hand. Their gamble paid off - it later reached Number 1 following on from “I Want To Hold Your Hand”'s success
However, in November 1963 Capitol Records finally signed a contract with the Beatles, and announced plans to release the Beatles’ single I Want To Hold Your Hand2 in December 1963 as well as their second album, With The Beatles, in January. Vee Jay realised that they owned the rights to what was potentially a lucrative album, and prepared to re-released "Introducing The Beatles", this time including "Please Please Me", but excluding "Love Me Do"3.
The reason for the change was that Beechwood Music Inc., Capitol Records' publishing subsidiary, now owned the American publishing rights to "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". After contact with Beechwood Music's lawyers, Vee-Jay quickly reconfigured Introducing The Beatles. The new album removed the contentious "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" and replaced them with "Ask Me Why" and "Please Please Me".
The Early Beatles
In January 1964, not only had "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had been released in America, the Beatles were finally being supported by Capitol Records.
Regretting that they had let the rights to Introducing The Beatles slip through their fingers, and annoyed that Vee-Jay’s re-release of Introducing The Beatles was timed just ten days before their release of Meet The Beatles!, Capitol Records sued Vee Jay. Capitol claimed that their contract with EMI gave them exclusive rights over all Beatles music in America, and on the 13th January 1964 tried to file an injunction preventing Vee Jay from releasing the Introducing The Beatles album. Vee Jay defended themselves by stating that their 10th January 1963 licensing agreement was still in effect.
A settlement was reached in which it was agreed that Vee-Jay owned the rights to 16 Beatles songs until the 15th October 1964, after which time all rights to those songs would transfer to Capitol Records. Vee Jay was then, on the 27th January 1964, able to re-release Introducing The Beatles, which finally became a number one seller in America, topping the Record World chart.
In March 1965, after all the copies of Vee Jay’s Introducing The Beatles album had sold, no more copies being allowed to be printed after October 1964, Capitol Records decided it was time for them to release a copy of the Please Please Me album in America that they had fought so hard to acquire the rights to. Because by this time over two years had passed since these songs had been recorded and released in Britain, Capitol titled and released the album as "The Early Beatles". However, it was too little too late. The Vee Jay version had earnt the success that their faith in the Beatles had placed in them, and Capitol's late attempt to cash in, containing many of the same songs, merely reached 29th in the Record World chart and peaked at 43 on Billboard’s Top LPs Chart.
The Early Beatles contained three less songs than its British counterpart, missing "Misery", "There's A Place", and Paul McCartney's classic "I Saw Her Standing There", which was later released on "Meet The Beatles!". It also opened with two songs that had been successful singles, “Love Me Do”4 and “Twist And Shout.”5
The Early Beatles album cover shows the four Beatles in an autumnal pose on the front with the words, "Eleven of their 1964 American Hit Recordings Now On Capitol". This was inaccurate as the recordings were made in England in late 1962. The back of the album was even worse, as it boasted
”Great hits by John, George, Paul and Ringo, newly released on Capitol Records.
Early birds all over the United States – millions of them – got the bug for the Beatles in the first weeks of 1964. The eleven great songs in this album were among those that launched the Beatles. They appeared then on another record label. They appear now for the first time on Capitol – added, with pride and pleasure, to the fine Capitol treasury of Beatles recordings which, together, constitute and [sic] unprecedented phenomenon of entertainment history.
Proof reading and telling the difference between “an” and “and” were not among Capitol Records’ skills. Nor, as we shall see, was numeracy.
Here, then, are the three American versions of the "Please Please Me" album as well as its British original.
|UK - March 1963||US - July 63||US - Jan 64||US - March 1965|
|I Saw Her Standing There||I Saw Her Standing There||I Saw Her Standing There||Love Me Do|
|Misery||Misery||Misery||Twist And Shout|
|Anna (Go To Him)||Anna (Go To Him)||Anna (Go To Him)||Anna (Go To Him)|
|Ask Me Why||Love Me Do||Ask Me Why||Ask Me Why|
|Please Please Me|
|Love Me Do||PS I Love You||Please Please Me||Please Please Me|
|PS I Love You||Baby, It's You||Baby, It's You||PS I Love You|
|Baby, It's You||Do You Want To Know A Secret||Do You Want To Know A Secret||Baby, It's You|
|Do You Want To Know A Secret||A Taste Of Honey||A Taste Of Honey||A Taste Of Honey|
|A Taste Of Honey||There's A Place||There's A Place||Do You Want To Know A Secret|
|There's A Place||Twist And Shout||Twist And Shout|
|Twist And Shout|
Meet With The Beatles
Following the phenomenal success in Britain of their initial album, Please Please Me, the Beatles quickly followed up with a successor, With The Beatles. Recorded in July 1963, EMI found itself in the position where they sales of Please Please Me were still going so well, they chose not to release With The Beatles until the sales of the first album began to die down. Thus, With The Beatles was not released in Britain until November 1963.
In America, the success of the American album's opening track, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in the beginning of 19646, meant that Capitol was at last willing to invest in the Beatles and release their albums. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was to stay at number 1 in America for 7 weeks between 1st February and 20th March 1964. Meet The Beatles! was released in America on the 20th January 1964, a week before Vee-Jay re-released Introducing The Beatles. Thus in America, the Beatles were met and introduced at the same time7.
Considering Capitol Records had a budget of $40,000 to promote Meet The Beatles and the “I Want To Hold Your Hand” single, it is extremely curious that none of the actual money seemed to have been spent on researching the album sleeve notes. The sixteen paragraph introduction of the Beatles begins,
"A year ago the Beatles were known only to patrons of Liverpool pubs. Today there isn't a Britisher who doesn't know their names, and their fame has spread quickly around the world."
This paragraph not only ignores their Hamburg sessions but also the fact that a year before the album's release they had their first number one hit with "Please Please Me" and were undergoing UK tours only to suitably large theatres, and had given up performing in ballrooms and bingo halls, let alone pubs.
The notes do not improve by the time of the last paragraph, which reads,
"The Beatles all hail from Liverpool... they wear pudding basin haircuts that date back to ancient England, and suits with collarless jackets."
The Beatles had long-since given up wearing collarless jackets, having abandoned them in mid 1963. The comment that they wear "pudding basin haircuts that date back to ancient England" is also wrong, as it was a hybrid from the long-haired rocker look crossed with the German Exi haircut popular among the German students in Hamburg.
The Album Playlist
|UK - November 1963||USA - January 1964|
|It Won't Be Long||I Want To Hold Your Hand|
|All I've Got To Do||I Saw Her Standing There|
|All My Loving||This Boy|
|Don't Bother Me||It Won't Be Long|
|Little Child||All I've Got To Do|
|'Til There Was You||All My Loving|
|Please Mister Postman|
|Roll Over Beethoven||Don't Bother Me|
|Hold Me Tight||Little Child|
|You Really Got A Hold On Me||'Til There Was You|
|I Wanna Be Your Man||Hold Me Tight|
|Devil In Her Heart||I Wanna Be Your Man|
|Not A Second Time||Not A Second Time|
|Money (That's What I Want)|
Although they share the same cover photograph,Meet The Beatles! has seven different songs on it than With The Beatles. Of the three songs on the American version not on With The Beatles, "I Saw Her Standing There" would not be on The Early Beatles, and, as The Beatles often did not include their singles on albums in the UK, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was not released on an album until December 1966's A Collection Of Beatles Oldies album, and its B-side, "This Boy", did not appear on any UK album until Past Masters: Volume 1 was released in 1988. “Please Mister Postman”, "Roll Over Beethoven", "You Really Got A Hold On Me", "Devil In Her Heart" and "Money" were all released on The Beatles' Second Album.The BeatlesHow The Beatles Did Not Get Their NameBeatles for SaleSergeant Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club BandYellow SubmarineMagical Mystery TourGet Back - The Lost Beatles AlbumLet It Be... Naked - The AlbumPlastic Ono BandBand On The RunThe Paul McCartney Death CluesJohn LennonYoko OnoGeorge HarrisonThe Travelling WilburysLiverpoolRingo Starr