- Published on 1963
- Author: Medley/Russell
- Track 14 on “Please Please Me“
What the Beatles said about “Twist and Shout”
JOHN 1963: “I always hate singing the song, ‘Twist And Shout’ when there’s a colored artist on the bill with us. It doesn’t seem right, you know. I feel sort of embarrassed… It makes me curl up. I always feel they could do the song much better than me.”
JOHN 1971: “The more interesting songs to me were the black ones because they were more simple. They sort of said shake-your-arse, or your prick, which was an innovation really. The blacks were singing directly and immediately about their pain, and also about sex, which is why I like it.”
JOHN 1976: “The last song nearly killed me. My voice wasn’t the same for a long time after– everytime 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 I’m just a frantic guy doing his best.”
PAUL 1988: “There’s a power in John’s voice there that certainly hasn’t been equaled since. And I know exactly why– It’s because he worked his bollocks off that day. We left ‘Twist And Shout’ until the very last thing because we knew there was one take.”
RINGO 1994: “We started (recording the album) about noon and finished it at midnight, with John being really hoarse by ‘Twist And Shout.'”
Info about “Twist and Shout”
“Twist and Shout” is a 1961 song written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (later credited as “Bert Russell”). It was originally recorded by the Top Notes, but it did not become a hit in the record charts until it was reworked by the Isley Brothers in 1962. The song has been covered by several artists, including the Beatles, Salt-N-Pepa, and Chaka Demus & Pliers, who experienced chart success with their versions. The tune was likely copied from, or at least heavily influenced by, the 1958 Ritchie Valens version of “La Bamba”.
The Beatles’ rendition of “Twist and Shout” was released on their first UK album Please Please Me, based on the Isley Brothers’ version. John Lennon provided the lead vocals and initially felt ashamed of his performance in the song “because I could sing better than that, but now it doesn’t bother me. You can hear that I’m just a frantic guy doing his best.” A second take was attempted, but Lennon had nothing left, and it was abandoned. The Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout” has been called “the most famous single take in rock history.” Mark Lewisohn calls it “arguably the most stunning rock and roll vocal and instrumental performance of all time.”
The song was released as a single in the US on March 2, 1964, with “There’s a Place” as its B-side. It was released by Chicago-based Vee-Jay Records on the Tollie label and reached No. 2 on April 4, during the week that the top five places on the chart were all Beatles singles. It was the only million-selling Beatles single in the U.S. that was a cover song, and the only Beatles cover single to reach the top 10 on a national record chart. The song failed to hit No. 1 because the group’s own follow-up single “Can’t Buy Me Love” held the spot.
In the UK, “Twist and Shout” was released by Parlophone on an eponymous EP with “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, “A Taste of Honey”, and “There’s a Place” from the Please Please Me (1963) album. Both the EP and album reached No. 1. In Canada, it became the title track to the second album of Beatles material to be issued by Capitol Records of Canada on February 3, 1964.
The song was used as the Beatles’ closing number on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in October 1963 and at The Royal Variety Show in November 1963; the Royal Variety performance was included on the Anthology 1 compilation album in 1995. The Beatles performed the song on their Ed Sullivan Show appearance in February 1964, and they continued to play it live until the end of their 1965 American tour. Additionally, they recorded “Twist and Shout” on nine occasions for BBC television and radio broadcasts, the earliest of which was for the Talent Spot radio show on November 27, 1962.
- John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass
- George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr: drums