Friday, August 22, 2008

1970 - What A Year for Beatles Fans

Between checking out the Lost Lennon Tapes, digging through years worth of Beatles bootlegs and re-buying early 70s Beatles solo albums Ram (McCartney), Plastic Ono Band and Imagine (Lennon) and All Things Must Pass (Harrison), I have to say, those of you who lived through 1970 had a hell of a year, musically.

Me, I turned two on the day that Jimi Hendrix died in 1970. (Oh and as a side story, according to the book The Beatles Complete Recording Sessions, the band recorded the song Birthday on the day I was born - no shit - look it up - 9-18-68).

Anyway, there was obvious uncertainty about the band's future in 1970. Let It Be the film and album were both issued in May. Anyone who has seen that movie can see that the writing was on the wall big time.

But in a bootleg interview with Harrison from 1970, he says the guys are all enjoying the freedom they have to record on their own (even giving McCartney's album a nice plug) and saying that he's sure they'll be back together soon to record a new group album. Of course that didn't happen.

Whatever the case, here is what people got in a 14-month period, full-length album wise, from the fab four:

--September 26, 1969 - Beatles - Abbey Road
--March 27, 1970 - Ringo Starr - Sentimental Journey
--April 17, 1970 - Paul McCartney - McCartney
--May 8, 1970 - Beatles - Let it Be
--May 20, 1970 - Beatles - Let it Be (the film)
--November 27, 1970 - George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (triple album)
--December 11, 1970 - John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band

Notable is how strong Lennon and Harrison's albums were. Lennon ripped the myth off of the Beatles and laid his soul bare on Plastic Ono, and Harrison had three albums worth of backlog to unleash on the world - and almost all of the non-jam songs are classic tunes.

McCartney's album is a surprising piece of crap. I have tried about ten times over the past 20 or so years to listen to it with fresh ears and the only two songs I can stand are Junk and Maybe I'm Amazed - and I prefer later versions of both to the originals.

In the Lost Lennon Tapes, Lennon tells Rolling Stone that he was surprised how bad Paul's album is, and how happy he is about that, as he is self-admittedly very, very competitive.

Ram from March 1971 is better, and I really like all the Wings albums from Band on the Run all the way to the end. I guess it took Paul some time to pick up steam while the others hit the ground running but then petered out later. Paul was for sure the 'bad guy' in the early 70s, and I am sure the pressure was rough, with three Beatles vs. one. He admits this in the truly excellent Wingspan DVD.

A very cool post sent to me by Nedmusic asks the question, what if the band HAD done one more album in 1970 or 1971? Given that the songs would have to be from the 1969-1971 period, the writer put together a pretty cool "lost album" and goes into great detail as to why he chose what he chose (and what he didn't!)

Check that out here.


Bob K said...

I was 16 and it was awesome. I, however, like McCartney's first solo album because it is tuneful (as are all McCartney albums) and it has that wonderful home recording vibe - it felt like you were getting a little bit behind the scenes (something we didn't get from Lennon until his Anthology came out.)

I love the idea of putting together a post-Beatles Beatles album. One more tricky playlist to try to put together!

Isorski said...

Wow, I am jealous. Very cool. I am a big fan of McCartney's bare bones stuff too. For some reason that first album hasn't hit me yet!

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Damn. I was ten but I was heavily into rock and roll at that tender age thanks to my father. He introduced me to The Beatles in '64 when I was just 4 years old! I miss my dad.

Thanks for the reminder of what a phenomenal era that was for Beatles music.

Well now we know why they recorded "Birthday" :)

RIP John and George :(

Don Capone said...

It's incredible what these guys put out in such a short period of time. Can you imagine All Things Must Pass and Plastic Ono Band coming out only two weeks apart? Holy cow.