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Monday, October 26, 2015

Twist and Shout

The group's first EP arrived in stores in the UK on July 12th, 1963, featuring one of their most popular stage numbers as the title track.  Whether or not it was a conscious choice, the line-up just happened to be the last four songs from the debut LP Please Please Me, which had been available for four months at this point in time, though those songs appeared here in a different order than they did on that album.

SIDE ONE

Twist and Shout
A Taste of Honey

SIDE TWO

Do You Want to Know a Secret
There's a Place

The front cover used one of the earliest iconic photographs of the Beatles (so iconic that director Richard Lester made the boys perform similar jumps for a slow motion sequence in the film A Hard Day's Night) while the back cover contained some extensive and effusive hype by the band's press officer Tony Barrow, who points out that Do You Want to Know a Secret had also recently been a hit for Billy J. Kramer.

For fans who had only bought the group's first three singles, this disc presents an opportunity to hear the Beatles as more than just a hit-oriented unit.  Side one opens with the raucous number which had closed the first album, one of the surest crowd-pleasers in the band's repertoire.  The boys had not rocked this hard on any of the singles to date, nor had they presented a crooner the likes of the next number, A Taste of Honey.  Going from John's screaming of the Isley Brothers' rock classic to Paul's smooth take on a romantic ballad allowed the group to demonstrate their versatility to fans who did not own the debut album.

And, once the record was flipped over, a new treat awaited the uninitiated - a third lead vocalist singing Do You Want to Know a Secret.  George's handling of the sweet and simple tune Lennon had given him may have been awkward in comparison to Billy J. Kramer's delivery of the same material, but it showed the depth of the Beatles, a depth few other groups possessed by limiting themselves to having only one front man defining their sound.

The final tune, There's a Place, is written by Lennon, but he and Paul sing most of the song as a duet, with some plaintive harmonica fills already so familiar from the three hit singles.  While fairly straightforward, the composition reveals another kind of depth in the songwriting ability of the young Mr. Lennon who is dealing with something more here than the standard love song and (unconsciously, of course) hinting at the possibilities to come.

Note that three of these songs would appear on singles in America in March of 1964, with A-sides Twist and Shout and Do You Want to Know a Secret both reaching number two on the Billboard chart.

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