Some time before all music was available for download or streaming, young me decided that while there were some good songs here and there, the magic died out after the Beatles broke up and stopped having George Martin produce them, and their solo stuff just wasn’t worth exploring that deeply. The Beatles were then and are now my absolute favorite band, the music I love and return to the most often again and again throughout my life. I went through a phase in my teens where I was primarily listening to grunge, alternative, and industrial music, and as I’ve gotten older my tastes have really expanded, finding something to like out of nearly all genres. I’ve gone back further than the Beatles listening to artists as far back as the 30s, I’ve dug deeper into some of their contemporaries’ catalogues, and I learned to appreciate some modern genres that I previously dismissed as junk. So why exactly have I still assumed that this little “fact” was true? It was established at the same time that I decided I had to dislike Elvis and the Rolling Stones out of “loyalty” toward the Beatles, and I know now just how foolish that is to believe. So it’s high time I put this theory through a full and rigorous challenge.
The internet being what it is, someone else has already compiled a list of all Beatles solo albums as well as their collaborations with others (Wings, Traveling Wilburys, etc.) so my plan is to go through that list in chronological order. Thank you, stranger from the internet! I’ll be posting my reviews of each one through this blog, along with some history both on the albums and any prior history I may have with them. I also plan to share any art or craft projects I work on while I listen, since being creative while listening to music goes hand in hand for me.
One thing I have to admit is that I’m going to be going against my chosen title slightly in the very beginning. There are a few solo projects the Beatles completed while they were still together. So they aren’t technically “after The End” i.e. recorded after the Beatles finished Abbey Road; they are works that they intentionally did outside of the group. Reviews will be posted here on a weekly basis, starting next week with George Harrison’s soundtrack for the film Wonderwall.
I have actually reviewed all the Beatles’ albums song by song previously back in 2013. Reading through them I was actually tempted to change some of my responses. I was apparently going through some kind of strange phase where I was mad at Paul or something. It’s funny to see how your feelings on things can change over time though. If you’re curious to read them, you can find them over on my old Blogger page:
- Please Please Me
- With the Beatles
- A Hard Day’s Night (album and film)
- Beatles for Sale
- Help! (album and film)
- Rubber Soul
- Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Magical Mystery Tour (album and film)
- The Beatles aka The White Album
- Yellow Submarine (album and film)
- Let It Be (album and film)
- Abbey Road
I also thought it might be fun to share right now what I see as my favorite solo song by each member before heading on this journey.
John – “Imagine” – Let’s be real here, it’s not even a contest. There’s a reason that almost every Beatles tribute band I’ve ever seen play often also includes this in their set. Not only is it recorded relatively close after their breakup, but its message of peace makes it feel like it would have been his contribution to the next Beatles album had they found a way to continue on. It almost feels like I should pick my favorite besides “Imagine” because it’s too obvious, but no, I’m going to save the others I like for future posts.
Paul – “Mistress and Maid” – And now I’m probably throwing in a curve ball here, but this is my favorite and not what I think to be his best. Off the Ground is one of the few Beatles solo albums I owned, and the rhythm of this one has always really appealed to me, and is one of the first few I think of off the top of my head when I’m thinking of Beatles solo work. There are lots of other great songs he’s done, and lots of far more popular ones, but this collaboration with Elvis Costello is one I’m very fond of.
George – “Got My Mind Set On You” – I am going to save most of my trip down memory lane on this one until whenever I get to Cloud Nine, but my love of this song was largely concurrent with my love of the Beatles as I was exposed to both at an early age. Seeing that video of him sitting in the chair with the squirrel playing the sax solo on the pipe tickled me to no end back then and I still find it incredibly cute now. I also love how the lyrics can easily be interpreted to setting your mind on a goal, not just trying to win the love of a person.
Ringo – “It Don’t Come Easy” – I’m honestly not much of a fan of Ringo’s solo efforts. I love him to pieces as a person, but a lot of the music I’ve heard sounds really generic, not much to it to get me excited. That said I’m very eager to challenge those beliefs and see if I can find some gems mixed in it all. And I will say that I do truly enjoy this song and think it’s a great one. Of course, George helped him write it, so…
Feel free to share your own personal favorites of their solo efforts in the comments!