Music Discoveries: The Beatles Go Solo, part 3


In 1973 and 1974, new albums from ex-Beatles are coming out routinely with each former bandmate putting out two albums during this period. Relationships are thawing among the ex-Beatles but despite hopes of fans, there’s no chance of a reunion, because they’ve all got their own things to do and own demons to excise.

See part 1 for the 1968-1970 period and part 2 for the 1970-1972 period.

AlbumRed Rose Speedway
Artist: Paul McCartney & Wings
Release Date: 30 April 1973
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts:

Paul McCartney’s second album with Wings finds him firmly immersed in creating cheezy 70s pop music.  The oft-played “My Love” is an example of the paint-by-numbers mediocrity of the album as a whole.  The flourishes that echo the greatness of his best Beatles’ songs just makes this album all the more frustrating, because it’s clear he can do better.


AlbumLiving in the Material World
Artist: George Harrison
Release Date: 30 May 1973
Favorite Tracks: Living in the Material World, Be Here Now, Try Some Buy Some
Thoughts:

After a couple years’ absence from recording due to his philanthropic efforts for Bangladesh, Harrison returns with another album exploring his spiritual journey and autobiographical introspection.  The rock band jam sound of All Things Must Pass is replaced by a more orchestrated sound.  Overall the songs are more subdued and there isn’t much variety from track to track. The title track is one of the exceptions, in that it could fit in with the sound of the previous album. Otherwise, I find the calls for global unity cliched and the airing of grievances against the other Beatles tiring.


AlbumMind Games
Artist: John Lennon
Release Date: October 29, 1973
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts:

John Lennon recorded this album while struggling with US immigration, under FBI surveillance, and in the midst of marital strife with Yoko Ono that would lead to an 18-month separation.  So he had other things on his mind while writing songs about common topics: love songs for Yoko, introspection into his own life, and political anthems.  All of this he’d done before and done better.


Album: Ringo
Artist: Ringo Starr
Release Date: 2 November 1973
Favorite Tracks: Photograph, You’re Sixteen
Thoughts:

Ringo’s follows up on his albums of jazz standards and country & western tunes with his first album of pure pop/rock.  Wisely he calls upon his many friends in the music biz to provide the support he needs in songcrafting and recording.  In fact all four Beatles make an appearance on this album!  And I totally called “Six O’Clock” as the McCartney song before I even looked at the liner notes. The album opens with the Lennon-penned “I’m the Greatest,” a fun track that features a John, George, & Ringo reunion.  The other standouts are the hit singles “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen” which I’ve long liked, although the later is rather creepy to be sung by a man in his 30s.  The rest is rather amiable but generic pop, nothing great nothing terrible, but better than McCartney’s albums (albeit I probably have higher expectations for him).

Personal note: I’ve long had a fondness for “Photograph” because it was the #1 song in the United States on the day I was born.


AlbumBand on the Run
Artist: Paul McCartney & Wings
Release Date: 5 December 1973
Favorite Tracks: Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Thoughts:

Folks, Wings is totally a real band and not Paul McCartney’s vanity project.  It says “Band” right there in the album title and the hit song/suite that leads off the album! I jest, but the trio of Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, and Denny Laine at last pulled of a critical and commercial success.  That means that the hit songs on this album have been played to death!  Alas, there are no hidden gems on this album, just filler between the songs I’ve heard a million times before. “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” is pretty spectacular though.


Album: John Lennon
ArtistWalls and Bridges
Release Date: 4 October 1974
Favorite Tracks: #9 Dream
Thoughts:

I get down on McCartney here, but “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” is a song overplayed on classic rock radio that I’ve always found grating, perhaps the worst ex-Beatles’ song of the 1970s (although I have six more years to review).  The other big hit from this album, “#9 Dream,” is eerie and beautiful in its weirdness.  Much of the rest of the album feels bland and uninspired.  Poor John was stuck in a rut.


AlbumGoodnight Vienna
Artist: Ringo Starr
Release Date: 15 November 1974
Favorite Tracks: No No Song
Thoughts:

Another collection of tunes from Ringo & friends, with Lennon, Elton John, and Harry Nillson chipping in, plus some select cover songs. Ringo is really stepping into novelty music moreso than ever on this record.  But anything with Billy Preston on keyboards can’t be all bad. You know, I wonder why Ringo didn’t get into scoring films at this time because this sounds like it could be the soundtrack of a cheesy but entertaining family film from the 70s.  Well, maybe not the “No No Song,” but then I again I loved that song as a kid.


AlbumDark Horse
Artist: George Harrison
Release Date: 9 December 1974
Favorite Tracks: It Is ‘He’ (Jai Sri Krishna)
Thoughts:

Harrison has a new sound that’s jazzier with a little funk. The album was recorded at a trying time when Harrison was divorcing Pattie Boyd (who was having affairs with his friends who nevertheless continue performing with Harrison), he relapsed into substance abuse, and was overcommited to various business ventures.  All of these things become subjects of his songwriting in the tell-all style of early 70s Beatles. Because of overexertion, Harrison injured his larynx while recording this album giving an unfortunate Tom Waits quality to his singing.  There’s not much to like about this album, but I do like the weirdness of the final track “It Is ‘He'” which brings together all the styles and fascinations of Harrison at this time.

Ten years after the Beatles first arrived in America and halfway into the 1970s, each of the Beatles has achieved a #1 song and #1 album, although there’s also a general wave of mediocrity permeating these albums.  On December 29, 1974, while vacationing at the Polynesian Resort at World Disney World, John Lennon became the final Beatle to sign the legal papers officially dissolving the Beatles. The four would continue their solo pursuits.

 

 

 

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