While I’m definitely a rock fan at heart, you’ll see as the list goes on that I also have an affinity for Paul McCartney in balladeer mode. It’s something he’s excelled at in every stage of his career, but “A Taste of Honey” was not the most auspicious beginning. When you listen to the Beatles’ debut album Please Please Me, there are some immediate, unmissable signals that there’s something special about this band. But most of those moments come courtesy of the group’s energetic originals. With one notable exception, the covers here are pretty weak, and “A Taste of Honey” is the dullest of the bunch.
Written for the 1960 Broadway adaptation of a play of the same name, the song started as an instrumental, and the Beatles might have been better off keeping it that way. It’s a dirge of a melody to begin with, but the band does the track no favors vocally. The majority of Please Please Me was famously recorded in a single 13-hour session while John Lennon was dealing with a bad cold, and his indifferent backing vocals may sound like “do-do-din-do” but they’re really saying, “Get me out of here.” (It probably didn’t help that “A Taste of Honey” is exactly the sort of melodramatic cornball song that Lennon was physically incapable of delivering with any sincerity–and I mean that as a compliment.)
One fun fact about this song: the first vocal version was performed by Billy Dee Williams, AKA Lando Calrissian.