The first individual recordings by the Beatles bear a striking resemblance to the last of the music they made together – only they weren’t actually together. In fact, some of the songs begun during the Fab Four’s final sessions show up on those early solo efforts – including the title track from George Harrison’s first album and Paul McCartney’s quite silly “Teddy Boy.”
Make no mistake, though. Their early efforts represent the full flowering of the four Beatles stereotypes: John Lennon was fearlessly cathartic, making the most piercing music of the four; McCartney continued his flirtation with mawkishness, but often achieved stratospheric beauty; Harrison was thoughtful, even mystical, but his simplicity was occasionally simplistic; Ringo Starr was ever agreeable, open and kind.
In combining tracks from the Fab Four’s first early solo works, however, you could put together a pretty astounding follow up to 1970′s “Let It Be,” if you were so inclined – one that had all the whimsy, heft and meaning of the next imagined Beatles CD, with a little 1970s cynicism thrown in for good measure.
We are so inclined.
Presenting “Isolation,” the Next Beatles Album (play along at home!):
1) Oo You (Paul, “McCartney”)
2) Isolation (John Lennon, “Plastic Ono Band”)
3) What is Life (George, “All Things Must Pass”)
4) Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul)
5) Working Class Hero (John)
6) It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo, single)
7) Mother (John)
8 ) The Lovely Linda (Paul)
Here, we work both sides against the middle in traditional Beatles fashion. After Paul’s upbeat rocker “Oo You,” we get into John’s gritty piano-driven introspection, then let George wail away on the impossibly big “What Is Life.” Paul’s improvisational “Lovely Linda” provides the expected brush-off of those serious sentiments in “Mother” – similar to “Maggie May” after “Let It Be” or “Her Majesty” after the closing “Abbey Road” medley.
On to … SIDE TWO
1) Every Night (Paul)
2) Love (John)
3) My Sweet Lord (George)
4) Junk (Paul)
5) Early 1970 (Ringo, single)
6) God (John)
7) All Things Must Pass (George)
Ringo gets his moments in the sun – but this time, one is about the Beatles … and the other one’s a hit! Paul remains in that simple, inward mood – one which here, at its best, skirts the cloying. Coupled with the hardness of John’s first solo work, you almost get the balance that made Beatles albums great.
George finishes off with a spirited example of his immediate brilliance in those post-Beatles musings, “All Things Must Pass.” It was, in fact, one of three songs George first recorded on his 26th birthday. The others? “Old Brown Shoe” and “Something.” Not bad.