We leave Please Please Me behind and stroll into the world of non-album singles as JG and Andrew get to grips with The Beatles very first number one, “From Me To You”. Does the song deserve its place as the very first of the band’s to top the charts? How long will it take until Ringo gets mentioned? And how good is the “song length to podcast episode length” ratio?
With each individual track now covered it’s time to turn our attention to the album as a whole, as JG and Andrew discuss Please Please Me as a singular work rather than a broken-up series of tracks. How does the album stand up when considered as a whole? Just how much cultural context can be squeezed into one episode before they actually get round to talking about the album this episode is ostensibly about? Where will things go from here? Plus, most gloriously of all, we have the first discussion of The Rutles! You can’t ask for more than that!
We make it to the end of Please Please Me this week with the totemic “Twist And Shout”. Does the song deserve its mythical reputation? Is it the perfect capper to the album? And how many off-the-subject diversions can one episode manage to encapsulate?
We’re nearly there! This episode sees the second-last track on Please Please Me covered, as JG and Andrew chat about “There’s A Place”. How does the song stand up? How are the harmonies? Can anyone find anything to say about this particular track? (glance at the running time and see if YOU can figure it out!)
As we shuffle gainfully (gainfully? Sure!) towards the end of the album we first get to sample “A Taste Of Honey”. How does a ballad like this stack up against the rest of the album? What do liminal spaces have to do with anything? Why is Billy Dee Williams mentioned? And, perhaps most importantly of all, why do our Mexican and Swedish listeners get a shout-out?
Bond themes are, in the end, a curious proposition. They are also pretty much unique in both cinema and music. On the one hand they need to function as part of the film they are attached to – providing an atmospheric accompaniment to whatever silhouette-and-suggestive title sequence has been dreamed up this time. On the other hand they also need need to stand on their own two feet as a song, they are expected to do well in the singles chart, and help to absolutely define the movie they appear in.Lots of movies have memorable songs attached to them but no other movie sequence has that kind of music/film crossover, and no other type of song quite has the same burden placed on it. Get it right – “Goldfinger”, “Live And Let Die”, “Skyfall” – and immortality awaits and you become an essential part of cinema lore. Get it wrong – “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “The Writing’s On The Wall”, “Die Another Day” – and infamy and mockery will follow you forever. It’s a fine balancing act to get right, and not an easy calculation.
It’s George’s turn at the old microphone stand with this Side Two ditty, “Do You Want To Know A Secret”. How does he compare alongside messers Lennon and McCartney when it comes to vocals? Is everything being taken entirely seriously? And why did anyone think it was a good idea to mention the semiotic thickness of the text? These, and many fewer, questions are answered right here!
It seems fairly obvious to start off an article about Otis Redding by pointing out that he has one of the best voices in all of popular music, but here we are anyway. The King Of Soul had a voice that few could match, that few could even try to match. If you’re going to cover a song like “My Girl” you need the pipes for it, and it’s not exactly controversial to point out that Redding had them. And with talent to spare. Yet the truth is, for all that it’s an excellent recording – and it really is an excellent recording – this is, at best, minor Otis Redding. It’s not “Sitting On The Dock The Bay”. It’s not “Try A Little Tenderness”. In fact, it’s so minor it doesn’t even feature on Redding’s Wikipedia page, nor is it on The Very Best Of Otis Redding. And there’s a good reason for that. It’s not the very best of Otis Redding. And yet… it’s bloody Otis Redding singing bloody “My Girl”. It’s great! The fact that a cover this good, and which peaked at our all-important position of Number 11 on the charts, barely even warrants a footnote says something about the strength of the material that does actually warrant inclusion.
Greetings! And welcome to We’re Number Eleven, a follow-up series of articles to the award-winning, genre-defining, penetratingly-observed We’re Number Two (cough). There’s something perennially fascinating about songs which are slightly (excuse the pun) unsung — the ones which almost made it to whatever marker we choose, but not quite. In this case that’s songs which came close to cracking the Top Ten but never quite got across the line. Very much a case of so near, and yet so far.
JG and Andrew continue through Side Two of Please Please Me with “Baby It’s You”. How does the second Shirelle’s cover go (and does the album really call for two of them)? How many sha-la-la-la-la’s are strictly necessary? And just how seriously should those backing vocals be taken?