The individual 1970 recordings by the Beatles bear a striking resemblance to the last of the music they made together. The only problem, at least for fans of the Fabs, being that they weren’t actually together.
In fact, some of the songs begun during the Beatles’ final sessions show up on these solo efforts — including the title track from George Harrison’s triple album and Paul McCartney’s quite silly “Teddy Boy.”
Make no mistake, though. These projects represent the full flowering of the four Beatles stereotypes: John Lennon was fearlessly cathartic, making the most piercing if uneven 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 too simplistic; Ringo Starr was ever agreeable, but then occasionally so inoffensive as to be uninteresting.
Combining tracks from the group’s immediate post-breakup solo works, however, results in a surprisingly cohesive follow up to their admittedly scattershot 1970 finale Let It Be. Our combined playlist has all the whimsy, heft and meaning of an official release, with a little ’70s cynicism thrown in for good measure. (Don’t believe in Beatles, eh John? We’ll see about that!)
Presenting, the Next Beatles Album …
Oo You (Paul, McCartney)
Isolation (John, Plastic Ono Band)
What is Life (George, All Things Must Pass)
Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul)
Working Class Hero (John)
It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo, 1970 single)
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.
Every Night (Paul)
My Sweet Lord (George)
Early 1970 (Ringo, 1970 b-side)
All Things Must Pass (George)
Ringo gets his moments in the sun. Only this time, one song 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 songs like “God” from Plastic Ono Band, it’s a canny reproduction of the recipe that made their best albums as a foursome such balanced triumphs.
George finishes off with another spirited example of late-Beatles-era brilliance, “All Things Must Pass.” It was, in fact, one of three songs Harrison first demoed on his 26th birthday. The others? “Old Brown Shoe” and “Something.” Not bad.
Isolation, in the end, would have been a worthy return to form for the Beatles, as it includes the charttopping “My Sweet Lord,” the No. 4 favorite “It Don’t Come Easy,” and “What Is Life,” which went to No. 10. “Maybe I’m Amazed,” though in a live take from McCartney’s post-Beatles band Wings, also became a Top 10 U.S. hit in 1977.