by Billy J. Shears
The song Twist and Shout appears as the closing track on the first Beatles Album Please Please Me, and to many younger fans it is often discarded as merely a cover song to finish off the Album. It is seen as a good early rocker or a pot boiler as George Martin often termed it.
Well the point of this article is to clarify the songs importance in the Beatles repertoire.
My opinion of the song has a few contradictions for a start I consider it to be by far the best and most important cover song in the Beatles history. It optimises the whole Beatlemania ethic with the total excitement created in concert of the song including the head shaking and the famous harmonised hook line. The Beatles took the original Isley Brothers recording and totally reshaped it as there own.
A great strength of their early songs was the Lead/ answering backing vocals, usually John singing lead with George and Paul Backing i.e. Please Mister Postman, It Wont Be Long, Soldier Of Love etc. Twist and Shout is the first time they try out this winning formula to great effect. It set the blue print for The Beatles style for the next couple of years. It is also the only song in the Beatles recordings where the live versions and B.B.C. Recordings are vastly superior to the Studio version.
So what's wrong with the Studio version?
Well for a start John had a very bad cold while they were recording the Album and as history clearly tells us ,the whole Album was recorded in a day with Twist and Shout being left to last. So by the time they recorded Twist and Shout Johns voice was totally shot, he is clearly struggling with it on the recording and by his own admission in the Beatle Anthology John says that he couldn't hit the notes.
Besides the gravely lead vocal the track also suffers a bit from being recorded in a silent studio as opposed to a stage situation and it sounds a little lifeless because of that. But along with Hold me Tight on the With the Beatles Album, both songs should have been re-recorded.
As I said earlier, my review has a few contradictions because a listen to the B.B.C. Versions of the song show the total opposite to my criticism. The performance on Swinging Sound 63 is really fantastic as John doesn't only sing it correctly he hammers it !! His vocal delivery really does send shivers up the spine and the whole song rocks uncontrollably in front of a radio audience. The closing shake it, shake it, shake it baby now ! section is really amazing and it
is possibly the most exciting track in the Beatles History.
This is The Beatles at their very Best. Also John Lennon at his very best showing what a great live performer he could be.
Another fantastic version appears on the Lost Paris Tapes Bootleg where again John really goes for it and the whole thing rocks along. There are many other great versions available including The Beat Show, Easy Beat and Pop Go The Beatles and all are vastly superior to the studio cut. It is also worth noting that The Beatles themselves must have thought very highly of the song as it stayed in their live set until the final 1966 tour.
So there you are ,some food for thought, Best cover song but the worst recorded cover song ?,
Has anybody else got a view on this subject ??