Which solo Beatles albums are better than actual Beatles albums?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Jerryb, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. sandmountainslim1

    sandmountainslim1 Vicar Of Fonz

    I used to think that but now I find it whiny and drone like. I much prefer RAM and Band on the Run nowadays.
     
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  2. sandmountainslim1

    sandmountainslim1 Vicar Of Fonz

    One shocking thing I have learned from this thread is that you people apparently hear Let it Be in a whole different way than I do. You guys think it is a work of art up there with Abbey Road and Rubber Soul and I hear it as just a bunch of total crap thrown together with strings and stirred up into a big stinking pile of garbage.
     
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  3. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC
    I'd take McGear over ANYTHING put out by Pete Best ... ;)
     
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  4. 3coloursbeige

    3coloursbeige Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    I've finally found the time in my life to give the Beatles' solo records a proper go. I haven't listened to them all, but I find it interesting how they're a viewed in 2018 - without the weight of expectation and removed of context. I think this is why the early McCartney releases suffered at the time, but can be enjoyed on their terms today. Simply put: Paul's music was not heavy/serious. And 1970 was predominantly heavy/serious. If you'd listened to Ram when all around you was Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple it must've sounded like a joke, almost cartoonish - hence the reception at the time. Now, in a post-Britpop world it all sounds absolutely fine. Also, Paul may have benefited from not hyping his releases so much in the press at the time (esp McCartney & Wild Life)

    Aaaaaanyway, I'm waffling. From what I have heard so far, I think Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, All Things Must Pass, Living In The Material World, and Ram are all really good albums - probably stronger than all the Beatles' album releases up to Help!...though it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges. And, although the lyrics are pretty awful (something that as a metal-head I'm conditioned to overlook if needs be) I really liked the oft-derided Sometime In New York City - it has a great energy.
     
  5. AFOS

    AFOS Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brisbane,Australia
    I'd be surprised if more than a few people rated Let It Be as great as Abbey Road. General consensus seems to be a handful of classics and a bunch of ordinary. The great songs though put it ahead of the vast majority of solo albums. Title track,Get Back,Across The Universe,Long & Winding Road and Two Of Us are all above average at least. I Me Mine is also a good song. The rest though are average at best
     
  6. Atmospheric

    Atmospheric Forum Resident

    Location:
    Newberg, OR USA
    It seems to me that the premise is ambiguous.

    There are no solo albums that are overall better than the Beatles best albums. None. Not one. Not even close. Rubber Soul through Abbey Road (OK, parts of the White Album aren't that great, but there's a terrific single album in there somewhere) have not been surpassed (or even equalled) by any former Beatle's solo effort.

    But if the question is, are there any solo efforts better than the Beatles' worst efforts (e.g., Beatles For Sale, Let It Be, Yellow Submarine), then yes I think the hypothetical single album derived from All Things Must Pass probably qualifies.

    One thing I hear in all the solo work is the inability to put together a top-to-bottom terrific album. For me, Harrison is by far the most interesting former Beatle. But his records are very uneven. Note however that I'm not a fan of McCartney's solo work. I'm just not. Even though I can appreciate the craftsmanship involved, it's just so trivial and vapid that I can't take it seriously, and therefore it just doesn't move me at all.
     
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  7. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle The Rock and Roll Chemist

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    For me the only solo albums that are as good, front to back, as Beatles albums are RAM and most of All Things Must Pass.
     
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  8. mmars982

    mmars982 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I think they each have one that ranks up there with the Beatles albums. I don't know if I would say 'better', unless saying they are better than Yellow Submarine and/or Let it Be.

    John - POB
    Paul - BOTR
    Geroge - ATMP
    Ringo - Ringo
     
  9. Tom Daniels

    Tom Daniels Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arizona
    Apple Scruffs? Let it Roll? I Dig Love? My Sweet Lord? There is plenty of lightness and joy and humor.
     
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  10. vegard martinsen

    vegard martinsen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oslo Norway
    FINALLY, someone is saying what I have meant since that album was released!!
     
  11. Tom Daniels

    Tom Daniels Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arizona
    The best of the solo albums can stand aside the Beatles canon. We all have different choices here, but consensus probably gathers around Plastic Ono Band, All Things Must Pass, Ram and Band on the Run. Which, like the Beatles’ albums themselves, are refreshingly diverse, no two alike.

    The problem in the solo work is not the peaks. It is in the surprisingly large volume of dreck like Sometime in NYC, Wild Life, Red Rose Speedway, Dark Horse, London Town, Somewhere in England, Pipes of Peace, most Ringo records, most of McCartney’s self titled debut, most of Mind Games and Extra Texture. There are valleys that the Beatles as a group could never have descended to, if only because even in the worst of the solo years a comp of the BEST tracks would be better than any of the solo records. It is in consistency that the solo careers fall short. There are very boring solo albums. The Beatles didn’t do boring.
     
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  12. hurple

    hurple Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clinton, IL, USA
    None.

    Not a one.

    Not even close.
     
  13. vegard martinsen

    vegard martinsen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oslo Norway
    It is not fair to compare soloBeatles-albums to Beatles-albums. The Beatles-albums are as good as can possibly (but we must keep context: the age of JPGR, the state of the recording technology, etc.)

    No other recording artist have produced albums of the same quality as the Beatles did. JPGR could not do it on their own.

    One can compare soloBeatles-albums with albums by Rolling Stones, Dylan, Bowie, etc., and the soloBeatles-albums are on the same quality as these (I here disregard the literary quality of Dylan, which is matchless in the kind of music/songs we are talking about).
     
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  14. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    I'll grant you I could make exceptions for their 3 soundtrack LPs, but each of those still has half an album worth of material which is IMO unequalled by any album side by another rock artist.
     
  15. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    There is a huge space to occupy without being as great as either version of Rubber Soul before it would risk suffering in comparison to any non-Beatles rock LP.
     
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  16. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    See, I would take BOTR over Hard Day's Night, Please, Please Me or the last two you mentioned.

    And I really like Band on the Run a lot.
     
  17. Fivebyfive

    Fivebyfive Forum Resident

    Location:
    East coast, US
    To each his/her own and all that, but I have never understood how anyone can listen to Ram, for example, and find it "trivial and vapid." It's an intensely personal, emotional album. Sure, if you're expecting blunt obviously confessional lyrics like Lennon screaming for his Mother or George's religious messages, you're not going to get that on a McCartney album. Paul veils things. He's not sure he wants to let you in, which makes his best records all the more fascinating. Of course I know others make this same criticism about McCartney but IMO many of them simply refuse to accept that McCartney IS revealing himself within his lyrics. Some people (not necessarily you) don't hear depth there because they don't want to hear it or they just don't expect that from Paul. It's just bizarre to me how people can't hear that Paul on Ram is in emotional turmoil -- he's angry, he's paranoid, he's in love, he's in lust, he's betrayed, he's happy, he's determined. Ram is every bit as personal as POB -- just in a McCartney way, rather than Lennon's style.

    Or if you just want to appreciate the beauty of the music on Ram, you can do that, too.
     
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  18. Fivebyfive

    Fivebyfive Forum Resident

    Location:
    East coast, US
    I agree with this. They each made some boring solo albums.
     
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  19. vegard martinsen

    vegard martinsen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oslo Norway
    Well, they made some boring songs .....
     
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  20. Atmospheric

    Atmospheric Forum Resident

    Location:
    Newberg, OR USA
    I can't explain it. For me it just is. But I don't think I've ever suggested that my personal taste is any sort of universal truth. In the end the most truthful thing I can say about any music is whether or not it moves me.

    I'm not much of a fan of Lennon's self-indulgent (and often poorly recorded) solo stuff. But I do like some of it; the best of it. If I find McCartney lightweight and vapid, I find Ringo even more so. For me, Harrison's "religious" stuff (which, BTW I don't think is a fair or accurate label because spirituality is not the same thing as religion) is interesting. He's groping, dealing with his own shortcomings and longing for a world in which we all are kinder to one another. He also writes a damned good song on any number of subjects with great melodies, interesting harmonic structures and unexpected grooves and textures.

    McCartney's best Beatles songwriting is a mountaintop experience to be sure (and he's a terrific singer and musician). But aside from Maybe I'm Amazed, I just haven't heard that level of songwriting from him in his solo work. Again my taste.

    If we're going to compare/contrast McCartney and Harrison for a moment. I will say unequivocally that Harrison continued to grow and progress musically when he left the Beatles. McCartney not so much. Harrison's creative upswing drew me into his post Beatles work. I felt part of that journey, whereas McCartney seems to be treading water.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  21. Raf

    Raf Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    So, this thread illustrates that … some albums are better than others.
     
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  22. Rojo

    Rojo Forum Resident

    Some of their strongest solo records (Band on the Run, Tug of War, Plastic Ono Band, maybe some others) are better than some of the weaker Beatles' LPs -- Please Please Me, Yellow Submarine, maybe some others.
     
  23. Indeed. Paul’s albums may indeed be steeped in melody and lack the blunt grit of Lennon’s but that’s,always been his style. Their music reflects their personalities as well. I think dismissing Paul’s albums because of the dense arrangement and craft is akin to dismissing Brian Wilson because he didn’t make albums like The Rolling Stones. It’s the way one expresses himself or herself. Primal scream therapy helped encourage (although he was headed in that directihis n as early as the White Album) Lennon to express himself nakedly. That doesn’t make it less valuable or less. Someone may prefer one style to the other but it’s akin to comparing Faulkner to Steinbeck—the ultimate goals as an artist may be similar but the path they take are different and equally legitimate.
     
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  24. I suspect part of this is each one of them had to determine what parts of The Beatles legacy belonged to them (and either reject or embrace it)and to use that to establish a voice for themselves as solo artists. John was strong out of the (which embraced parts of his Beatles legacy which Harrison and Lennon largely rejected at first) gate as was Harrison who had been attempting to find his voice for sometime. McCartney was always both an artist and an audience pleaser so he would change his approach based on his critics (I always saw “Wild Life”-which has three songs that compare favorably to McCartney’s Beatles work-to be a reaction to the rejection of “Ram” by critics).
     
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  25. Fivebyfive

    Fivebyfive Forum Resident

    Location:
    East coast, US
    Funny, I would argue just the opposite. After ATMP, George, for me, is running in place. His albums all sound like lesser versions of ATMP. He doesn't seem to change musically at all. By comparison McCartney is all over the place musically -- in a good way. He's got low-fi albums (McCartney and Wild Life), lush production (Ram), one-man band experimentation (McCartney II), he's got Thrillington (big band) and the Fireman albums (electronic). I really don't see how all of that suggests he's treading water musically. But again, to each his/her own.
     
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