My current obsession with The Beatles continues and I apologise to no-one for this…. This is a bit of fun, so please just look away if you’re fed up talking about the Best Band Ever (TM)…
This week, I’ve been wondering what their album in 1970 would have sounded like if they had stayed together just a little while longer. I think I’ve figured it out.
Let me take you back to late summer 1970….
George Martin is out of the picture (so gone is the polish of the Abbey Road LP), but Lennon and Harrison have both been recording with Phil Spector. They both still love Ringo, who acts as a bridge between them. Ringo puts his own solo career on hold for a chance at one last Beatles LP. And Paul decides, on the eve of putting out a press release saying he’s left the band, to hold off for just a few more months and donate a few tracks to the project. (Paul refuses to work with Phil Spector, however – so all his tracks are solo-produced. He even falls out with Ringo over the fact that he wants to play all his own drums).
I think the resulting LP is rather good. It has the rawness of the white album, and showcases George as probably the most mature songwriter. (It was important for the LP to open with a real rocker, and neither John or Paul at this point had anything as kicking as George’s opening track here, Wah-Wah). John is on top form throughout, playing some blistering guitar, and the album has some of Ringo’s greatest drum grooves (clearly overjoyed to be jamming with Lennon and Harrison again). It’s all definitely a step up from the lacklustre Let It Be LP anyway, which it quickly overshadows on release in October 1970.
The overall mood is very funky and downbeat on the whole. It definitely feels like the White Album part two, with the heavier and darker bits contrasting with the jokey sections and novelty songs. (It even directly references the White Album, closing the first half with a virtual rewrite of Julia – Look At Me). It also sounds all a bit glam – there’s definite shades of T-Rex and Ziggy Stardust, not to mention ELO and Wizzard.
And they made a bold and genius move to make the penultimate song God, culminating in Lennon’s provocative “I don’t believe in Beatles” line. This is tempered beautifully by McCartney’s gospel-like Maybe I’m Amazed as the closer.
There’s no doubt that overall this works as a cohesive album. A last hurrah from the four lads before they each go their separate ways forever.
A couple of Lennon and McCartney harmonies would have made the whole thing just perfect, but they were hardly speaking to each other at this point.
(A pity there is also no Ringo stuff anywhere on there, but his stuff in 1970 was actually rather poor).
(1) Wah-Wah (Harrison)
(2) Isolation (Lennon)
(3) Every Night (McCartney)
(4) Well Well Well (Lennon)
(5) Junk (McCartney)
(6) Look At Me (Lennon)
(1) Let It Down (Harrison)
(2) I Found Out (Lennon)
(3) I Dig Love (Harrison)
(4) Remember (Lennon)
(5) That Would Be Something (McCartney)
(6) God (Lennon)
(7) Maybe I’m Amazed (McCartney)