Beatles – Twist And Shout ….Under The Covers Week

Usually, I don’t like covers better than the original but with this song I do. John Lennon sounds demented and he pushed his vocals over the edge. Lennon has said he screamed the lyrics more than sang them but it worked. He provided the power to this song with just his vocals. The Beatles didn’t have monitors live…no one else at this time didn’t either so they had to sing loud to be heard.  Author Mark Lewisohn called it “arguably the most stunning rock and roll vocal and instrumental performance of all time.”

This is probably close to sounding like they did live in Hamburg and The Cavern. This session took place on February 11, 1963, at EMI Studios in London, which was later renamed Abbey Road Studios. The Beatles did 10 songs that day, nine of which ended up on Please Please Me, their first UK album. Think about that for a minute… in one day they recorded their debut album except for the song Please Please Me which was recorded later.

When The Beatles played the Royal Command Performance with the Queen watching. During the introduction to this song, John Lennon famously said, “For the people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands and the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry.” He told Brian Epstein that he was going to say “rattle your fu**ing jewelry” and Epstein was on pins and needles worried that John would go through with that…but he didn’t. John wasn’t a fan of playing at these functions.

They actually did two takes of the song and kept the first one. John was sick with a cold and had stripped off his shirt to let himself sweat it out, but he pulled it off. The next day…February 12, 1963 – The Beatles played two shows, one at the Azena Ballroom in Yorkshire and another at the Astoria Ballroom in Lancashire. No rest for the weary.

This was the first song ever written by Bert Burns. He went on to write, Piece of My Heart, Here Comes the Night, Hang on Sloopy, Cry to Me and Everybody Needs Somebody to Love to name just a few. He signed Van Morrison to his first solo deal with Bang Records. Unfortunately, he died at 38 of a heart attack in 1967. Phil Medley did get a co-writing credit on the song.

The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #1 in New Zealand in 1964. The Beatles version was not done yet. In the film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986, the song was used and charted again. It peaked at #23 on the Billboard 100 and #16 in Canada.

The Isley Brothers’ version is great and there have been many other charting versions of it.

Norman Smith engineer:  “Someone suggested they do ‘Twist and Shout’ with John taking the lead vocal. But by this time all their throats were sore; it was 12 hours since we had started working. John’s, in particular, was almost completely gone so we really had to get it right the first time. The Beatles on the studio floor and us in the control room. John sucked a couple more Zubes (a brand of throat lozenges), had a bit of a gargle with milk and away we went.”

Twist and Shout

Well, shake it up, baby, nowTwist and shoutCome on, come on, come, come on, baby, nowCome on and work it on outWell, work it on out, honeyYou know you look so goodYou know you got me goin’ nowJust like I knew you would

Well, shake it up, baby, nowTwist and shoutCome on, come on, come, come on, baby, nowCome on and work it on outYou know you twist, little girlYou know you twist so fineCome on and twist a little closer nowAnd let me know that you’re mine, woo

Ah, ah, ah, ah, wowBaby, nowTwist and shoutCome on, come on, come, come on, baby, nowCome on and work it on outYou know you twist, little girlYou know you twist so fineCome on and twist a little closer nowAnd let me know that you’re mineWell, shake it, shake it, shake it, baby, nowWell, shake it, shake it, shake it, baby, nowWell, shake it, shake it, shake it, baby, nowAh, ah, ah, ah


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

49 thoughts on “Beatles – Twist And Shout ….Under The Covers Week”

  1. Bert Burns – apparently a pretty good songwriter I didn’t know of. I wonder how many (few) people even have a clue that isn’t a Beatles original? Bet you’re right, this is probably about as close to how they sounded in Hamburg or the Cavern circa ’62 as you’ll find on one of their regular albums.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is why I picked Hamburg on TurnTable Talk…they would have been quite energetic and raw to see. Burns was a really good songwriter…he died so young at 38… it’s a shame…but Van would not have stayed on his label “Bang” wasn’t the kind of label you could release Astral Weeks on…it was a pure pop label.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, label wise ‘Bang’ sounds like its policy was ‘crank out something for this week, quick.’ The perfect name for a pop label- you know what you’re gonna get. on that note, there must have been some great label names back then- Bang, Immediate, Karma Sutra… maybe there’s a post in there?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes there is…I love the single art work they had at that time. A lot of songs from back then I can see the label spinning because it was so ingrained.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Really amazing job on this song from JL. Interesting how the recording came about, it explains the rawness of the record. Thanks for that background Max. An interesting fact that the original was by the Top Notes and produced by Phil Spector. Burt disliked it and decided to produce the Isley Brothers version himself. This was the arrangement that the Beatles used, much more dynamic than the original. There’s a biopic out there on Burt Burns/Russell that paints him as quite the character. Despite knowing he had a heart condition he drove himself with a relentless work ethic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll have to check that out…I’ve always wanted to know more about him. He signed Van to his first solo deal but he was not a visionary…he wanted hits. I don’t see Morrison having the albums he did on that label.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I misspoke it’s a doc not a biopic. It is interesting, for all his talent he was in bed with mobsters and had a bit of a thug-like approach himself. Yet ironically he was very well liked and even worshiped by some.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is better…I like docs more! It seems like…and this is not an exaggeration I don’t think…that everyone in the music business from New York at that time was in it. Roulette Records I have read was…


    1. I bet you would probably like the cover they did called “Bad Boy”… yea if I could see them in any period it would be in the Hamburg period.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Beatles really knew how to play rock & roll very well – their gruesome Hamburg days had perfectly prepared them. I love all of their rock & roll covers including “Twist and Shout”.

    Lennon’s announcement in that first clip, which I had seen before, is the equivalent of iconic movie lines like “I’ll be back”, “Hasta la vista, baby” or, “Go ahead, make my day!”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve never thought of this as a cover, but of course it is. It’s one of their best. When they come in with the ‘Ah, ah, ah’ harmonies, that is one of the iconic moments in all of Beatles music, imo.

    Trivia about the ‘Rattle your jewelry’ concert: Elvis Costello says his dad was also one of the performers on the concert bill that night.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Beatles did a damn good job on this. I was used to the Isley Brothers version (my mom being the Motown sound gal…anything blues or Detroit or Memphis). The Top Notes…that version sounds really weird in comparison.

    Found this:

    Liked by 1 person

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