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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Beatles (No. 1)

The third British EP from the Beatles was released on November 1st, 1963.  This one returned to the first LP Please Please Me as its source and took the first four tracks from that album, issuing them in the same exact running order.

SIDE ONE

I Saw Her Standing There
Misery

SIDE TWO

Anna (Go to Him)
Chains

Since this is the third EP, the significance of the title (No.1?) remains mystifying.  The front cover used a different shot by Angus McBean taken at the same photo session which had yielded the cover of the group's first LP.  And, as usual, the back cover featured more hype from publicist Tony Barrow.

As with the Twist and Shout EP, fans were treated to lead vocals from three different Beatles, showing off the band's range in a way that the singles simply could not do.  Side one kicked off with the tremendous opening track I Saw Her Standing There by McCartney - the band's first original rocker.  This was followed by Misery, a composition credited primarily to Lennon, though it is sung as a duet by John and Paul. Despite the title, the song is delivered in an upbeat, tongue-in-cheek manner by the boys, who seem to be on the verge of laughter during the fade-out.

Two cover versions make up the second side of the record, the first being Anna (Go to Him).  With backup from Paul and George, John delivers a heartfelt vocal performance of this torch song by one of his personal favorites, Arthur Alexander.  The final number, Chains, is by the famous Brill Building songwriting team of Goffin and King.  George takes the lead vocal on the verses of this tune which had originally been recorded by the American girl group the Cookies.  The refrains feature one of the earliest examples on record of the superb three-part harmony that John, Paul and George had perfected through countless hours of live shows in Liverpool and Hamburg.

This release stopped just short of the top spot on the Record Retailer EP chart, peaking at number two.  Either not enough fans were still looking for material that had now been available for eight months or, perhaps, they were saving their money for the forthcoming second LP With the Beatles, which was due out in a mere three weeks.

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