It was 50 years ago today (well, 11 February 50 years ago) that the Beatles went into Abbey Road studios to record their debut album. Twelve hours later they emerged with the finished product.
Now, as part of a wide-ranging season celebrating “The Golden Age of the Album” across BBC Radio 2, BBC 6 Music and BBC4, contemporary artists are rising to the challenge of re-recording the album in the same time frame, in the same studios. So far Stereophonics, Mick Hucknall, Gabrielle Aplin, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook are some of the big names to have stepped forward to see if they can match the Fab Four’s stamina.
The results will broadcast live on Radio 2 in exact order and timing on Monday 11 February, starting at 10am and finishing at 10.30pm, with Stuart Maconie hosting the day from Abbey Road and Jo Whiley joining him to broadcast her show from the studios.
Bob Shennan, Controller Radio 2, 6 Music and Popular Music, said: “The re-creation of Please Please Me promises to be one of Radio 2’s stand-out moments of 2013. Hearing those tracks brought to life again with a contemporary twist will have the network buzzing as much as the original did. It’s one album that changed the world of pop music and I think the 50th anniversary is a timely moment to remind everyone why.”
Also in the Golden Age of the Album season is a BBC4 documentary on Friday 15 February, which will look at both the original recording of Please Please Me and the attempt to re-create it.
The needle drops on the season on Tuesday 5 February with a three-part BBC4 series, The Great Album Showdown, in which Danny Baker will argue the toss over which are the best albums in pop, rock and R&B with guests such as Boy George, Mica Paris, Grace Dent, David Hepworth, Martin Freeman, Jeremy Clarkson and Trevor Nelson.
Jo Whiley will also join the debate on Radio 2, inviting listeners’ to nominate their favourite LPs – there will also be an online poll to fin Radio 2’s Best Album.
On 6 Music Steve Lamacq will be asking listeners to reimagine the covers of their most treasured album in Album Grand Redesigns, posting their artwork on the network’s FaceBook pages or tweeting them to @BBClamacqshow. Listeners’ contributions will be judged by former Designer of the Year, Mark Farrow and a winner crowned on Friday 8 February.
On 8 February BBC4’s Golden Age of the Album explores one of the most important periods in popular music history when, from the late 60s to the early 80s, when artists realised the full potential of two sides of a vinyl disc.