Take the video below. I don't know exactly when and where this aired-- there are a few copies on YouTube, but none cite it, so if you're familiar with the source, please share it! But, I mean, how much does Ringo rock on "Boys"? HEAPS. Is the answer.
No, it's no wonder at all they gave this song to Ringo when he joined the band, right as they were signing on with EMI. "Boys" had always been their song-for-the-drummer-to-sing-- Pete Best had owned it prior to being canned. And Ringo had sung it for his previous band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, so he already knew it quite well. It was a huge crowd pleaser, and when they recorded "Boys" for Please Please Me, their first album, it came together in a single take. Because the Beatles were a freaking tight, professional-as-hell live band.
The song itself was originally released as the B-side to the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," their first real breakout hit (and, fun fact, the first rock single by an all-female group to hit #1 in the U.S.). The Beatles were gigantic Shirelles fans, so much so that "Boys" is one of two Shirelles covers to make it to their first album. (The other is "Baby It's You.") And isn't it an awesome song? Paul later explained that none of the Beatles ever worried, or even thought much, about the song being weird for a heterosexual band of lads to sing, just because the music itself was so damned good they had to rock out on it anyway. And clearly, since at least the Hurricanes were performing it as well, they weren't the only band in Liverpool to not care.
So anyway, "Boys" was Ringo's first appearance as a Beatle to be recorded, and it might be one of my favorites of his performances ever. For one thing, it's a great song for a drummer. His drumming is all over the place here-- no chance to be awesome is missed. Listen to the way he plays these crazy triplet-like figures as he eases into the "hey hey" refrain, and then the way he slickly rolls out of the refrain back to the verse. During George's guitar solo (which is also stellar) Ringo's doing stuff at least as awesome on the drums-- mostly he hits the backbeats in classic rocking fashion, but he alternates it with some funky subtly syncopated passages that I blushingly admit to noticing now for probably the first time. (Oh, Ringo, how I have underappreciated you!) It's all completely kickass. But maybe even more surprising is how good Ringo's vocal is-- Ringo isn't exactly given glowing reviews on vocals most of the time, as his range is notoriously small. The refrain of "Boys" sounds like it might almost be the upper limit for him, but maybe that's why it sounds so raspy and hot and awesome. His hollering sort of delivery here is as sexed up as any of John's more passionate vocals, but what Ringo adds is that sense that Ringo gives to so much of what he sings-- that sense that he is having the time of his life playing and singing with this band. It's pretty damned infectious.
Gads, this song rules. I could listen to it for hours.
"Boys," released in the U.K. side A track 5 of Please Please Me, March 22, 1963; in the U.S. side A track 5 of Introducing the Beatles, January 10, 1964.