Music Discoveries: The Beatles Go Solo, part 4


The era of disco and the era of punk rock is upon us!  How will this affect our ex-Beatles as they continue their solo careers five years on from the Beatles’ break-up?

AlbumRock ‘n’ Roll 
Artist: John Lennon
Release Date: 21 February 1975
Favorite Tracks: Stand By Me, You Can’t Catch Me,
Thoughts:

The heart of punk rock was a back to basics movement, emphasizing the rebellious simplicity of the 1950s and early 1960s rock and roll.  In essence, John Lennon fits right into this zeitgeist with this album of cover songs from his youth, albeit at the age of 35, he was a bit young for nostalgia.  Playing old rock & roll tunes with some friends seems to rejuvenate his spirit.  On the other hand, he wouldn’t record again for another five years, so it was probably a sign that he was tapped out on creating his own material.


AlbumVenus and Mars
Artist: Paul McCartney and Wings
Release Date: 27 May 1975
Favorite Tracks: Treat Her Gently – Lonely Old People
Thoughts:

Paul McCartney is also in a nostalgic mood.  Although he starts with a “Rock Show,” soon the album is delving in to jazz standards, blues, and musical styles.  Or at least McCartney’s interpretation of such.  While most of the individual tracks don’t stand out to me, I do think the overall quality of this album tops all the other Wings recordings to date.  I also ended up streaming the 2014 Deluxe Edition and discovered that the bonus tracks are far better than what was released on the original album.  Why is that?


AlbumExtra Texture (Read All About It)
Artist: George Harrison
Release Date: 22 September 1975
Favorite Tracks: Tired of Midnight Blue
Thoughts:

A melancholy album that dabbles in a classic soul album and once again features lyrics griping about somebody else, this time the critics of the Dark Horse album and the ensuing tour. There’s not much to like about this album, except the funny packaging


AlbumWings at the Speed of Sound 
Artist: Paul McCartney and Wings
Release Date: 25 March 1976
Favorite Tracks: Silly Love Songs
Thoughts:

Confession: If you asked me at the age of 8 or 9 what my favorite song is, I probably would’ve told you “Silly Love Songs.”

Another confession: I still like “Silly Love Songs.” Written as a response to criticisms of McCartney’s hokey sentimentality, it actual turns out to be an effective pop song about love.  It also appears to be the first ex-Beatles’ song to incorporate some disco, at least in the string arrangement.

This Wings album includes songs written by each member of the band with each band member getting a turn on lead vocals.  Which doesn’t mean it suffers any less from mediocrity than its Paul-heavy predecessors.


AlbumRingo’s Rotogravure
Artist: Ringo Starr
Release Date: 17 September 1976
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts:

Ringo once again puts together an all-star band to record some mediocre covers and mediocre originals of songs written by the likes of Eric Clapton and all four Beatles.


AlbumThirty Three & 1/3
Artist: George Harrison
Release Date: 19 November 1976
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts:

Harrison continues to have troubled times – hepetitis, a plagiarism lawsuit, record label problems – but despite all that, this is a cheerful album with upbeat and comic songs.  His friendship with Monty Python cast members plays a part. Too bad the music is rather bland jazz/funk.


Album: Ringo the 4th
Artist: Ringo Starr
Release Date: 20 September 1977
Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts:

Ringo eschews his tried and true model, brings in some new artists to record with, and writes many songs himself in tandem with Vini Poncia. And of course Ringo is the first former Beatle who decided to “disco up” his music. I’m surprised it took this long. And it’s as terrible as you’d imagine.


The former Beatles from 1975-1977 are not producing quality output by any measure.  I can’t imagine this music getting out there if they weren’t riding on the laurels of their Beatles’ history.

 

 

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