Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Beatles - Love Me Do

(Tollie, 1964)

The first British single, yes, but not released on 45 in the United States until 1964’s frenzied post-Sullivan cash-grab. “Love Me Do” is an uncomplicated, harmonica-heavy number with a clomping beat, and it’s bluesier and far more constipated-feeling than the songs that defined the classic early “Beatle sound” soon to be in place. (The absence of tambourine on the recording indicates that Tollie chose to issue the Ringo version of the song; an alternate take, with Andy White playing drums, was – and still is – simultaneously available on the international market in LP and 7” form.) The smooth “P.S. I Love You,” on the other hand, feels a bit more assured, with the group coasting through this balls-free love song under some fine vocalizing by McCartney, who even cuts loose with a little soulful ad-libbing at the end. Certainly both sides of this disc are rudimentary efforts – the cave paintings of Beatle art – and better marked as safe pop-combo pap than funtime rock ’n’ roll, yet they’re still satisfying on their own merits, simply because these guys always knew how to write a catchy song, sophisticated or not. And that’s the name of the game, yeah?

It’s worth noting that, much later, two Beatles would revisit these tracks with embarrassing results: Ringo released a lame, gimmicky cover of “Love Me Do” on his Vertical Man album in 1998, while Paul, on the Flowers in the Dirt tour, combined both sides of the single into an atrocious dancepop number called “P.S. Love Me Do.” Recordings of that travesty appeared on a UK single and various live bootlegs, all of which should be avoided.

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