55 years ago today marks the release of The Beatles first full length studio album, Please Please Me, a candid record that popularized the group to the point of religious exaltation (frontman John Lennon was quoted in a 1966 interview, saying “We’re more popular than Jesus”). The Liverpool four-piece rock band pulled giant crowds of deafening teenage girls night after night after the release of Please Please Me, especially with the dance-a-billy chart topper, “Twist And Shout”. The mop top boy band had taken over the industry in the matter of 14 tracks and a couple tours, and spread their artistic license with a side of psychedelia, across the globe.
While Please Please Me took The Beatles from a late night bar-band to world’s biggest phenomenon, the genre-bending records that followed changed the course of music history. The Beatles were only a touring band for three short years after the release of their first record, due to the inability to hear themselves play over screaming fans and the difficulties in translating their chopped-and-screwed production techniques to the live setting. Despite this, their consistently superb discography has remained unrivaled 18 years into the 21st century.
After the release of Please Please Me, The Beatles dropped Revolver. At its core, the garage rock album displayed growth from each individual Beatle, from Paul McCartney’s effortless walking bass lines to George Harrison’s love affair with the sitar. “Taxman,” with its deceivingly simple and stunted rhythm, still sounds refreshing 52 years later, and “I’m Only Sleeping” carries more emotional melancholia than Mac DeMarco could dream to muster up. Revolver was the Beatles’ first dip into true, unfiltered experimentation, only three years removed from being a glorified boy band and one year removed from crafting two of music’s greatest masterpieces to date.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour played an authoritative role in the world of psychedelic rock music. Tame Impala, Pond, even King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard took liberally from these floaty, tripped-out records. Truly, “Strawberry Fields Forever” spawned hundreds of bands and informed generations of the heavenly heights pop music could reach. At points during the 60s, the only true contemporaries of the Beatles were Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys, and even then the longevity and immediate commercial success of the Beatles dwarfed Wilson’s seminal Pet Sounds.
With the advent of hip-hop as America’s most popular genre, and the recent cynicism towards guitar-laden rock music, the Beatles may remain the most popular rock band of all time. Their ability to marry widespread accessibility and influential experimentation has come to define great pop music, and for a short time, starting with Please Please Me, The Beatles were at the top of this pop chain.
Sit back, relax, and reminisce with all your favorite Beatles records from Please Please Me and more.