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"Love Me Do"

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Discussing "Love Me Do" as the group's first single in September '62, George Martin was rather more keen for them to release "How Do You Do It". It was later a UK number one for Gerry and the Fellow-Liverpudlians; and, judging by The Beatles' cheeky little Anthology run-through, it would have served them equally well.

Nevertheless, with typical Scouse tenacity, Lennon and McCartney — or McCartney and Lennon, as they were still billed at the time — held out for one of their own compositions. Martin conceded, but insisted on using the pre-booked session drummer.

Ladies and gentlemen: John, Paul, George and ... Andy White?!!

The less-than-impressed Mr Starkey was limited to tapping the tambourine both on the single and the album (the same take being transferred); though his stickwork, recorded during the band's second, deal-clinching try-out at Parlophone, is featured on Past Masters 1 and the American Rarities compilation. The version from the first audition, with Pete Best just about still on the stool, can be found on Anthology 1. Our Ringo was, of course, firmly squatted on it by the time they recorded the song at the BBC for Pop Goes The Beatles in July '63. I actually prefer Paul's vocal on that take.

It's a simple enough little number, scarcely hinting at what was to come: aside, perhaps, from its implicit catchiness and those ever-impeccable vocal harmonies. As a 45, it made a respectable if not dazzling Number 17. It got the ball roling, anyway: as well as giving them all the unanimous thrill of their lives of hearing themselves on the radio for the first time. Except for poor old Ringo, of course. No wonder he still hasn't (quite) forgiven Mr Martin!

And there's also the fact that it is absolutely, unmistakably them. The Stones' Brian Jones was curious to know how John had bent the harmonica notes. He did it using the piston on a chromatic mouth organ: hardly blues, by his own admission, but an early indication of how the band resisted being tied down by genres, and would always experiment with anything that 'worked'.

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