I managed to listen to every album that George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney released between 1968 and 1980 as documented in part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5. But my review of ex-Beatles’ musical output was missing something, including some of the best songs they recorded during this period, and that is the non-album singles. So, to complete this music discovery, I listened to the following songs:
1969 – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – “Give Peace a Chance”
One of John’s political anthems that is more fun than preachy. It still resonates today even if I can’t understand the
1969 – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – “Cold Turkey”
I’m surprised I’ve never heard this one before. It has a rockin’ riff, but otherwise is dull.
1970 – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – “Instant Karma!”
An all-time classic, and one with a great backstory of how it was created in (nearly) one day.
1971 – Paul McCartney – “Another Day”/”Oh Woman, Oh Why”
“Another Day” is a perfectly fine McCartney ballad, but feels a bit watered down compared to his best love songs. The b-side is just blah.
1971 – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – “Power to the People”
More anthemic but less resonant that “Give Peace a Chance.”
1971 – George Harrison – “Bangla Desh”/”Deep Blue”
The charity single is born, and like “We Are the World” later on, it has good intentions with cheezy lyrics. Harrison should be remembered for his dedication to the cause though, that likely had greater real world effect than Lennon’s sloganeering. “Deep Blue” is a folksy-blues tune about Harrison grieving his mother that ties in personal tragedy with the global catastrophe of the A-side.
1971 – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
The reuse of the tune for “Stewball” and its frequent repetition every December since its release makes this song feel an oddity. But the Harlem Community Choir is genuinely charming and it works as both a Christmas pop song and an anti-war anthem.
1972 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Give Ireland Back to the Irish”
I find it interesting that Lennon & McCartney both recorded political songs about the Irish Troubles at this time. The Irish issue didn’t seem to be much of interest to either of them at any other point in their life. McCartney is not known for political anthems and it humors me that Great Britain actually banned the song despite its milquetoast lyrics.
1972 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Mary Had a Little Lamb”/”Little Woman Love”
Holy crap, an ex-Beatle totally recorded “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and released it as a single! The B-side is a fun rockabilly number, but nothing special.
1972 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Hi, Hi, Hi”/”C Moon”
1972 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Live and Let Die”
McCartney at his most bombastic perfectly suits the UK’s bombastic James Bond film series. I like this one despite myself.
1974 – Paul McCartney & Wings -“Junior’s Farm”/”Sally G”
McCartney tries on 70s arena rock and it’s not too shabby. The b-side is a nice bit of twangy country. This is McCartney at his competent, okay-ness.
1974 – Paul McCartney & The Country Hams – “Walking in the Park with Eloise”
An instrumental ragtime tune with country twang. Not bad, but sometimes I wonder if McCartney ever wanted to be a rock star.
1977 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Mull of Kintyre”
Another song that I never heard until recently despite that fact that it was one of the biggest singles in UK history. I’ve heard better pop songs with bagpipes.
1978 – Paul McCartney & Wings – “Goodnight Tonight”/”Daytime Nighttime Suffering”
Wings does disco, fulfilling an ancient prophecy.
1979 – Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime”/”Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae”
I’ve actually successfully made it through this holiday season without ONCE hearing “Wonderful Christmastime” for the first time in decades, so I’m certainly not going to listen to the Worst. Christmas. Song. Ever. on purpose. I listened to the B-side so you wouldn’t have to. It’s an instrumental reggae version of “Rudolph” played on violin. For realz!
Best Album – All Things Must Pass
Runner Up – Wonderwall Music
Worst Album – Extra Texture (Read All About It)
Best Song – “What is Life?”
Best Album – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Runner Up – Imagine
Worst Album – Mind Games
Best Song – “Instant Karma”
Best Album – Ringo
Runner Up – Goodnight, Vienna
Worst Album – Ringo the 4th
Best Song – “Photograph”
Best Album – Back to the Egg
Runner Up – Venus and Mars
Worst Album – London Town
Best Song – “Maybe I’m Amazed”
The Ex-Beatles Greatest Hits
To finish off, here are the 22 best songs by former Beatles up to 1980:
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band :: Give Peace a Chance
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band :: Instant Karma!
Paul McCartney :: Maybe I’m Amazed
George Harrison :: What is Life?
John Lennon :: Working Class Hero
John Lennon :: Imagine
John Lennon :: New York City
George Harrison :: Living in the Material World
Ringo Starr :: Photograph
Ringo Starr :: You’re Sixteen
Paul McCartney & Wings :: Live and Let Die
Paul McCartney & Wings ::Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
John Lennon :: #9 Dream
Ringo Starr :: No No Song
Paul McCartney & Wings :: Silly Love Songs
George Harrison :: Not Guilty
Paul McCartney & Wings :: Getting Closer
Paul McCartney :: Coming Up
John Lennon & Yoko Ono :: (Just Like) Starting Over
John Lennon & Yoko Ono :: Watching the Wheels
John Lennon & Yoko Ono :: Woman