The Beatles Decided to Include a Classic Hit on Their Debut Album at the Last Minute

The Beatles stayed late to record the last song on their debut album. While it became a hit, they had no idea what they were going to include.

In 1962, The Beatles gathered in EMI Studios to record their debut album, Please Please Me. While they had been a band for several years, Beatlemania was still a decent way off. Please Please Me was a step toward mass success, though. The last song they recorded for the album became a well-known number for the band. They hadn’t initially planned to include it on the album, though. Here’s how they decided to record it at the last minute.

The Beatles included ‘Twist and Shout’ on their debut album at the last minute

After hours of recording, the studio had officially closed. The Beatles and producer George Martin felt they could sneak in a little more recording time, though. The problem was that they hadn’t settled on the right song to close out the album.

“At about 10 p.m., we all retired to the studio canteen for coffee and biscuits, where we and George Martin began an earnest discussion about a suitable number for the last track,” Paul McCartney said, per Rolling Stone.

Eventually, journalist Alan Smith, who was covering the session, remembered a song he’d heard the band successfully perform: “Twist and Shout.”

“We all crowded in there, and I think it was George who said, ‘What are we gonna do for the last number?’” Smith recalled. “I said, ‘I think I heard you do “La Bamba” on the radio a few weeks ago.’ McCartney looked a bit blank, and then he said, ‘You mean “Twist and Shout”!’ I said, ‘Yeah, “Twist and Shout.”‘”

Martin immediately agreed. He’d seen the band perform the song live and knew the power they put into it.

“John [Lennon] absolutely screamed it,” he said. “God alone knows what he did to his larynx each time he performed it, because he made a sound rather like tearing flesh. That had to be right on the first take, because I knew perfectly well that if we had to do it a second time it would never be as good.”

John Lennon initially felt embarrassed of his vocals on The Beatles’ debut album

After a long day of singing, Lennon prepared himself to perform the song. His throat was already sore, but he gave it everything he had. While he managed to do it in one take, he felt ashamed when he listened to it.

“The last song nearly killed me,” he said. “My voice wasn’t the same for a long time after. Every time I swallowed, it was like sandpaper. I was always bitterly ashamed of it, because I could sing it better than that. But now it doesn’t bother me. You can hear that I’m just a frantic guy doing his best.”

Still, Martin thought it was good enough. He used that first take to close out the band’s first studio album.

Is ‘Twist and Shout’ originally by The Beatles?

While The Beatles recorded a famous version of “Twist and Shout,” they did not write the song. They weren’t even the first group to cover it.

In 1961, American band The Top Notes recorded “Twist and Shout” for the first time. In 1962, The Isley Brothers released their version of the song before The Beatles. Since then, a number of other artists have covered the popular tune.

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