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While reading Cold Splinters, I came upon a link directing me to a post entitled And Then There Were Four. In a nutshell the post juxtaposes the Beatles solo work immediately after their break up in 1970 — i.e., the first singles each member released – and each of the singles individual cover art. Visually, the post notes “how (the Beatles) saw themselves (or wanted to be seen): John the one-man revolutionary army; George contemplating holier things; Paul absorbed in silly love songs to Linda; and Ringo in a cowboy hat and leather trousers.”

The above then reminded me of an excellent post Derek Phillips wrote for Glorious Noise in 2003, Early Nineteen Seventy-Something Pt. 1 & 2, which tells the story of “The making of Come and Get It, the last Beatles album that never was.” It posits “What if the Beatles had made one more album? What would it sound like?” Phillips then goes on to carefully construct his dream “final” Beatles LP using tracks found on the members initial solo ventures. For Beatles fans, his notes on track selection, alone, are worth the read.

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6 Responses to “The Beatles :: After The Break Up – The Singles”

  1. Interesting commentary there. I’ve been slowly working my way through the Beatles and solo catalogs in order, with more to follow this week.

  2. of all the post beatle work, i find john’s to be the most inconsistent. paul mccartney could write a great song in his sleep. his solo stuff sometimes bordered on sacchrine, but it was never bad. it was a consistent mix of good and great.

    george had the most to say given his relative lack of songwriting input throught the beatles glory years.

    ringo…well, he’s ringo.

    john’s songwriting, in retrospect, seemed to benefit the most from the other beatles’ editing. he’s a crazy genius…you have to get through 3 bad ideas to hear one brilliant one. the beatles forced him to choose the best stuff.

  3. George Harrison looks awesome there. Also, while I do agree to an extent that Lennon’s solo career was a bit of a patchwork of ideals spun together, I’d dispute the songwriting claim of the Beatles era. It might have been true that the other three were reining in Lennon’s bizarre tendencies in the early ’60s, but starting with Rubber Soul continuing on to their breakup, the Beatles most interesting, influential and ultimately revolutionary work spawned from Lennon’s unfettered mind, either directly or because of his influence on the music. Take the launch pad of the second-half Beatles, Rubber Soul, specifically Norwegian Wood–Lennon/McCartney were credited, as they are for much of the catalog, but John Lennon was the primary scribe. This was true even of earlier pop ditties, but the albums that resonate so universally–Sgt. Pepper’s, White Album, Abbey Road, Revolver, Rubber Soul–see the other Beatles taking the governor off, increasing George Harrison’s musical contributions and starting to view the world with the same eyes that their weirdo cohort had started to shortly after the British Invasion. You could credit eastern influences, India or Dylan introducing them to pot in ’64, but methinks Lennon brought out the best in his mates, rather than the other way around. Problem his, his peak–his most creatively controlled–was from ’65-’72, beginning its downturn with Some Time in New York City. To be sure, it wasn’t until then that new-agey, revolutionary thought really started to invade his focus. While always a genius, John Lennon after 1972, the inconsistent one, was not the same John Lennon who was in the Beatles.

  4. God, this is great, I could talk about the Beatles all day. I think John’s inconsistant solo work also has to do with competition. He and Paul were sickly competitive people. With eachother, with Pete Townshend, with Brian Wilson, with whoever. So while he may have brought the best out in his bandmates, it was the challenge of writing a song as good as Paul’s that kept him on his game. When that wasn’t around anymore he was surrounded by yesmen telling him whatever he was writing was groundbreakingly fantastic, whether it was or not.

    It wasn’t like today when you hear a band’s studio demo leak on an mp3 blog and then hop into your apartment studio and one-up them and your’s is on the internet an hour later. Ever two years or so when somebody finally cranked out an album, you’d have to take it all in at once and react (like the whole Ram thing).

    One other weird thing about those album photos: holy crap do they look old! I mean they were 31 at the oldest there? Am I right? I hope I don’t look that haggard in 4 years. Yikes

  5. Ringo Starr Dont Come Easy? His second solo album the country one Beaucoups Blues is his best alum.

  6. not a beatles expert in the slightest, so i really appreciate everyone’s input.

    seeing the rolling stone live for the first time last year (or 2 years ago, can’t remember), i couldn’t help but thinking “dear lord, could you imagine if the beatles had stayed together, or even just had a legit reunion?”

    unfathomable. at least we are left with a veritable treasure of studio work from them.

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