“Boys” is a Beatles’ song on their 1963 album, “Please Please Me” but there is also two other versions available.
Release Date: 22nd March, 1963
Recorded: 11th February, 1963
Genre: Rock and roll
Track Duration: 2:24
Record Label: Parlophone
Songwriters: Luther Dixon and Wes Farrell
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
The Shirelles recorded “Boys” as the B-side to their “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” single in 1960. Indeed, their single was a massive success which got to number one in America and number four in the UK.
The Beatles, just like many other bands, would often perform cover songs in order to establish themselves. Indeed, the Fab Four would often sing this song live at their gigs, including at the famous Cavern Club.
In fact, the band were big fans of The Shirelles. So much so, that they even recorded another of their songs for the same album, “Baby It’s You“.
Obscure Songs And B-sides
Fans of The Beatles know that in their early days, they were masters at covering obscure songs as well as the lesser known B-sides. They were able to gain access to different material because manager Brian Epstein had his own record shop in Liverpool. Furthermore, Epstein’s policy was to buy at least one copy of every record release. Of course, many were not hits in the UK or even in the US!
Their live repertoire also included a wide variety of those songs too which gave them much experience. Obviously, over time they would develop their own style. The Fab Four were undoubtedly unique musicians and together with the help from Brian Epstein they were able to channel their energies into becoming the best band on Earth.
The album version has drummer Ringo Starr on lead vocal, of course. This marks the first time that Starr had the lead vocal on any recorded song. However, prior to Starr joining the band in August 1962, Pete Best was the drummer. But, Starr was already performing the song with his old group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. So, the song came natural to him upon joining The Beatles.
Perhaps in hindsight, The Beatles should have changed the lyrics, after all, The Shirelles were a girl group singing about the opposite sex!
“Ringo always used to do a song in the show. Back then he had Boys. It was a little embarrassing because it went, ‘I’m talking about boys – yeah, yeah – boys’. It was a Shirelles’ hit and they were girls singing it, but we never thought we should call it Girls, just because Ringo was a boy. We just sang it the way they’d sung it and never considered any implications.”
In their later years, there were so many conspiracy theorists who read too much into The Beatles’ songs. However, most of the time the lyrics were innocent enough. In fact, some of the conspiracies, such as the “Paul is dead” theory, were way off the mark. In this case, it’s clear that The Beatles were just making music to please their fans, it’s as simple as that!
The Beatles began recording “Boys” on the 11th February, 1963, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London, during their marathon 10am-10.45pm session. On this day they practically recorded the whole of the “Please Please Me” album! The band only needed one take of the song because all band members were so familiar with it. Then there was the time constraints. This song sits on side 1 of the album after track 4, “Chains” and before “Ask Me Why”
In order to please their fans even more, the Fab Four recorded many programmes for BBC Radio. Indeed, they recorded “Boys” seven times for various BBC Radio shows which proves it’s popularity with the band. Their 2013 album, “On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2”, includes a version of the song from the BBC’s “Pop Go the Beatles” airing on the 25th June 1963.
Meanwhile, on their 1995 album, “Anthology 1”, is a version from their one off TV special, “Around The Beatles”. They recorded this show on the 28 April 1964, for airing on the 6th May 1964 in the UK. However, American viewers had to wait until the 15th November to see it. On this album, “Boys” sits on disc 2 after track 14, “Long Tall Sally” and before “Shout“.