The debut album from the most influential band in history. It is really easy to put this album and not think about how ridiculously amazing it is. You just kind of bop along to it and think that's a great little collection of songs. When you really get into it is far more exciting than that.
Mark Lewisohn once wrote: "There can scarcely have been 585 more productive minutes in the history of recorded music." The Beatles' had to produce an album to capitalize on the #1 single, "Please Please Me" and they had very little time or money to do it. In England at the time albums typically had 7 songs on each side, they had 4 recorded. The two singles and there B sides. So they needed 10 more songs. They took a collection of cover and original songs from their live gig at the time and recorded it in a day. Yes, the album that brought about the greatest, most influential band ever was recorded in one day. They did 3 - 3 hour sessions over about 13 hours and aside from a few minor overdubs that were touched up by Martin later, walked out with this album. An album with 8 originals and 6 well selected covers. Listen to the harmonies and the maturity of the instrumental tracks. This is quite the accomplishment. The session ended with the famous one take recording of Twist and Shout. Martin saved it for last because John was getting a cold and was afraid that the song would kill his voice for the rest of the session. He was right, John was completely hoarse by the end. If you listen you can hear the strain and the energy that is pumped into this track. They don't make recordings like this anymore. Everything sounds so clean and processed and perfect. This is practically a live recording with all of the raw energy there was.
The album was recorded on a 2 track reel to reel tape. Vocals on one track and instruments on the other, than mixed down to a single mono track. They did do stereo tracks at the time. To do it they simply put one track in one speaker and the other track in the other speaker. Then added some cross track reverb to try and blend the tracks together and make them sound not so seperated. That is why the early stereo recordings are so poor. In America the stereo ones were released because the record company believed that the American audience wanted the latest and best technology.
Also, I should note that the album wasn't released in the states at all. Instead we got "Introducing The Beatles." Almst the same album. They had to drop a few tunes for various reasons. In amaerica they only had 12 songs on an album and they also had some publishing legal trouble with some of the songs. All told though was the closest the British and American versions of any Beatles record ever got. At least until Sgt. Pepper's of course.
The other important thing to point out about this recording is that it laid the foundation for a simply idea that The Beatles had about a self contained band. An idea that was not very popular or widespread at the time. The idea was that the band would write and perform all of the material themselves. At this point in record history it was standard practice for bands to do a lot of cover songs and to purchase songs from publishing houses like the fames Brill Building where Carole King and her husband Gerry Geoffin worked. Also, a lot of bands at the time were vocal groups and didn't play instruments or they brought in session players to do the recording because a session player caould get the track recorded quicker. Not that the Beatle were the first or the only ones to do this, but being who they were, everyone followed their lead and music evolved in there mold.