Friday, June 14, 2013

What If The Beatles Never Broke Up? - My Beatles Solo Mixtapes

Apparently there was a book called “Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of The Beatles' Solo Careers” that went and presented a parallel universe where The Beatles didn’t break up and used their solo material to construct post-Abbey Road Beatles album.

Well I decided to join in the fun and create my own fan fiction of the alternate history where they decided to release The Beatles album out of my favourite songs from their solo career. Of course someone may argue this is a pointless task as lot of these songs were written under the context of being independent from The Beatles and would have never been written if The Beatles didn’t break up but that would just be taking this too seriously. This is simply elaborately creating a mixtapes of my favourite solo songs.

So in this history, The Beatles did temporary break up (this will have some relevance in some of the songs being released) but they manage to resolve some of their differences and reform. They operating under the same principle as The White Album where they just record songs separately but collate the song together and release it as a Beatles album. Also I have a rule where there must be equal Lennon and McCartney songs in all of these hypothetical albums. I also kept in mind that this is the vinyl era and I had to organized tracklisting so there is a maximum of 25 minutes per side.

1970 – All Things Must Pass
So The Beatles reformed and release All Things Must Pass in 1970. This is the first Beatles album where George Harrison has an equal share in songwriting with Lennon and McCartney. The singles to promote this album were My Sweet Lord/God, Instant Karma/Apple Scruff, Maybe I’m Amazed/Cold Turkey and Give Peace A Chance/Man We Was Lonely.

There are four songs from Lennon, McCartney and Harrison and 1 Ringo song.

This would be The Beatles most introspective album mostly in the singer-songwriter genre of music. This album seems to have the general theme of loss and grief and learning to accept it. Hell I could even construct a concept around it although I admit it does bring up some Oedipus/incestual tones as I’m reinterpreting conventional love songs to be about motherly love.

Side A: 23:46
The concept starts with the protagonist feeling remorse and grief due to the death of his mother.
Continues on that theme - "what is life without your love, by my side",

This requires a bit of re-interpreation of the song. Instead of a love song, it's now the protagonist fantasising about his relationship with his mother (bit of Oedipus complex here) being amazed by the way his mother loves him like he wish she would if she was still alive. "Maybe Im amazed at the way I really need you" that finish the song could mean that he is surprised by how much he needs her presence.

4. Every Night by Paul McCartney
"Every Night' is about wanting to lay in bed in depression and it even reference mother again "Believe Me Mama ooh".
The reason why he is lying in bed in depression is because the protagonist regretting the arguments and fighting he has with her mother in the past. 

Side B: 23:18
1. Isolation by John Lennon
The song in the context of the album is about the feeling of loneliness and isolation due to the grief of losing a love one.

2. That Would Be Something by Paul McCartney
"That Would Be Something To meet you in the falling rain, momma" The isolation and loneliest in the previous song led the protagonist imagining seeing her mother  alive even though he know she is dead.
The protagonist is trying to hold on to his sanity (reflecting on him hallucinating his mother) and not slip too far in despair.
I re-interpret the song about going through the stuff (junk) that his mother own and reflecting on her life.

The protagonist is singing about love in the most simple term reflecting on the bond between mother and son.
This is about the protagonist reflecting about how life isn’t easy. However the lyrics also reflects recovery and hope for the future that things will get better. 
"Forget about the past and all your sorrows,
The future won't last,
It will soon be over tomorrow."

George Harrison discussing "The Art Of Dying" and speculate that she is reincarnated.

8. All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
Recognizing the impermanence of life and that everything must eventually pass away and finally accepting her death

I think you will have a pretty great album there and it would be pretty distinctive to any Beatles album as it is the most solemn and most introspective album of their career. This will continue the trend of moving to different directions that The Beatles were famous for.

1972 – Gimme The Truth
The Beatles 2nd post Abbey Road album containing songs from 1970-1972 is called Gimme The Truth.

During this time The Beatles made a live comeback for fundraising for cyclones victim in Bangladesh.

The first half is more of a collection of songs but the Side B is the miniconcept album about how the band members are sick of each other and hate each other and was an off shoot of how the band temporary broke up.

In my reimagining, Ringo is telling the band members to Back Off (legends was that song was about telling Paul McCartney for suing the rest of The Beatles although Ringo denied it), George Harrison’s Wah-Wah complains about McCartney whinging, McCartney singing about how Lennon destroyed something good in Too Many People and Lennon is asking McCartney “How Do You Sleep?”

Afterwards ‘Ram On’ symbolising the idea that the members of the band are ramming on each other and we should ‘give your heart to somebody soon right away” as the band realise the destructiveness of the feud and kiss and make up.

Then Lennon finishes off the album with an ironic “Imagine” about imagining the world in peace without conflict

Side A 24:27
Side B 24:30

1973 – Living In A Material World
The 3rd post Abbey Road Beatles album containing songs from 1973 is called Living In A Material World.

This album I choose to divide equally between every member of The Beatles. Every member sings 3 songs sung this album.

The single of this album would be one of the more bizarre moments in music history in the Irish themed Give Ireland Back to the Irish/Sunday Bloody Sunday, Mind Games/You’re Sixteen, Give Me Love/Get On The Right Thing, Live And Let Die/Intuition

I have to say this would probably by the weakest collective point of The Beatles career so far and the fact that the 3 Ringo song probably improved the album says something. I think Red Rose Speedway is a very good album and Living In A Material World is a decent album. Mind Games is mediocre and Ringo is surprisingly fun to listen to but none of those are great albums. However combining the best of the three albums make it a pretty excellent album to listen to but it’s still isn’t up there to their regular high standard and it’s their weakest album of their career since Please Please Me.

Side A: 24:39
Side B :24:18

1975 – Band On The Run
The 4th post Abbey Road Beatles album was their last album before the parental break by Lennon.

So this album will be call “Band On The Run” and it’s a double album containing solo material from 1973-1975.

This album will be a pseudo concept album where there is a band within a band theme (similar to Sgt. Peppers). There is a very loose themes of the band on tour (Band On The Run) the weariness of the busy tour (Whatever Gets You Through The Night), the stress of fame on relationship (Bye Bye Love),  the downside of fame (Nobody Loves You When You Are Down And Out) and the solace and strength you receive from your love ones to cope with the situation (Stand By Me). Although not every song follows the concept.

 I tried to make the covers that Lennon did on “Rock And Roll” suited the album because the “Band on the Run” are playing “Rock Shows” so of course they would be playing some classic rock and rolls song (that’s the reason why Be Bop A Lula is following Rock Show in the tracklisting)

This is back to the return to dominance of Lennon/McCartney partnership as Harrison only gets a few songs in the album. The in story reason is because George Harrison had laryngitis  which limited his input in the album but the out of universe reason is that I’m just not a fan of this era Harrison’s work (I think Extra Texture is a decent album but I’m not fond of Dark Horses). I have 4 Harrison songs and 2 Ringo songs which is the same amount of songs they had in their previous double album “The White Album” and the rest with equal Lennon and McCartney songs.

I ended the album with Goodnight Vienna (reprise) because I think it would jell on with the Band On The Run theme with The Beatles saying Goodnight to Vienna with the audience is applauding suggesting that the Beatles will leave and be a Band on the Run to their next destination and you can hear Ringo say “Don’t forget the band will be back on in 15 minute ready to do it to you one more time”. This brings out the idea that the band will come back for the hinted encore.

After this album Lennon goes on a parental break and The Beatles enters a five year hiatus before the tragic comeback.

Vinyl 1
Side A: 23:58
1. Band On The Run by Paul McCartney 

1982 – Real Love
The last of the post Abbey Road album from the Double Fantasy era and this will continue my obsession of turning unrelated Beatles solo songs into a concept album and this album is called “Real Love”. In fact this album is two concept in one album (with one concept for Side A and one concept for Side B and hence contains two short story).

So after John Lennon went on a parental break (although this wasn’t an amicable break with McCartney being against it causing friction), The Beatles went on a hiatus for 5 years with the other members releasing solo albums but saving the best songs (just so happen songs I think are the best) for The Beatles album when they will eventually reunited. So hence the song I chose songs from the selection of McCartney/Ringo/Harrison songs from 1976 to 1982 plus Double Fantasy/Milk And Honey by John Lennon. However during the recording of the album, tragedy stuck as John Lennon was shot dead and not all the songs were finished recording. Paul McCartney then wrote Here Today and that was released in the Hear Today/All Those Years Ago single. That’s the reason why I chosen 1982 as the cutoff point as that was the first album after Lennon death and therefore I wanted songs from that album to be included. They also finished recording Real Love (although in this universe Lennon intended those two songs to be Beatles songs and therefore McCartney and Harrison and Ringo were just finishing the job they intended to do) was released in the Real Love/Free As A Bird single.

This album had Lennon coming back from his break with “silly love songs” about marital bliss and McCartney decided he had to compensate by writing a) hard rock songs (Old Siam Sir), b) serious songs about conflict (Tug Of War) and c) Writing Jealous songs where McCartney does a bit of screaming reminiscent to Lennon earlier work (Beware My Love). Essentially most of the album is a reversal of the “serious” Lennon and “sappy’ McCartney reputation.

The concept of Side A is basically similar to the “A Quick One” rock opera. A guy love this girl and then find out there was an affair but eventually forgives her although this is from the guy perspective. Side B is about the relationship between Lennon and McCartney.

The singles promoting this album is Coming Up/Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), Not Guilty/Nobody Told Me, Real Love/Free As A Bird, Here Today/All Those Years Ago, Woman/Silly Love Songs, Watching The Wheels/Wanderlust

Side A: 23:57
1. Old Siam Sir by Paul McCartney – This song sets up the scene of a lady from the village in Old Siam who found herself in the UK in an effort to find her man.

2. Cafe On The Left Bank by Paul McCartney - It’s about the protagonist in the cafe on the left bank “touching all the girls with your eyes” where he dance their after midnight and there’s an implication that he met the girl from Old Siam there.

3. Woman by John Lennon – Lennon sings about the protagonist in love with the couple

4. Beware My Love by Paul McCartney – McCartney cynical songwriting decided to disrupt the bliss of ‘Woman’ where the protagonist found out that the girl from Old Siam is cheating on him and put on the facade that he is accepting it (although McCartney anger throughout the song shows that he isn’t accepting it) and just leaves her a warning that he’s not the one.

5. Not Guilty by George Harrison – Harrison plays the character of the person she is cheating and claiming that he’s not guilty and that he’s not trying to steal your vest. That he only wanted what he can get. There is an implication that he didn’t know that she had another boyfriend. In the end he just say “I won’t upset the apple cart’ to imply that he is not going ot pursue the relationship any further (proving McCartney right that he’s not the one as he isn’t willing to fight for her).

6. I’ll Still Love You by Ringo Starr – So Ringo sings about how the protagonist still loves her despite of it all.

Side B: 23:11
1. (Just Like) Starting Over by John Lennon – So this song serves a dual purpose, it concludes the first concept of the album whilst simultaneously introduce the second concept. The first concept is concluded that the relationship has stabilised and that they feel like they are just starting over. The second concept is introduced with the implication of Lennon returning to The Beatles and with the confidence that it’ll just like starting over without all the bitterness that their previous problems and conflicts.

2. Tug Of War by Paul McCartney – However McCartney isn’t convince (yep McCartney is playing the cynic for this album) because he believes that those two are naturally competitive. That perhaps in another world “we could stand on top of the mountain with our flags unfurled” but in a time to come “we will be dancing to the beat played on a different drum” with the implication that those Lennon and McCartney are two very different people.

3. Watching The Wheels by John Lennon – Lennon insist that he is ‘just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round” and not competitive and realised that “I just had to let it go”

4. Borrowed Time by John Lennon – Lennon is then elaborating that he feels that life is short “living on borrowed time” and that he no longer has the illusion of freedom and power and that he is willing to live for the moment “without a thought for tomorrow”. This songs signify Lennon and McCartney happily working together.

5. Here Today by Paul McCartney – Of course this peaceful Lennon really was living in borrowed time and didn’t last as he was shot and killed. Here McCartney grieves about his death and also with a bit of regret that perhaps they didn’t work together longer and the previous Tug Of War relationship.

6. Real Love by John Lennon – Of course that would be a terrible sad way to end The Beatles career so the album had to end in an upbeat note. This is one of my favourite Lennon songs and I get a teary eye whenever I hear this song as I always imagine this song to be Lennon as a ghostly figure (the demo sounding voice in contrast to the clear instruments by the rest of the band adds to this illusion) telling people who were left behind that he is ok as he experienced “Real Love” either for his wife, for the rest of the surviving Beatles and for humanity. In the concept of this album it sounds like Lennon is telling the grieving McCartney from Here Today “no need to be afraid” as “it’s real love”. Also this song contributes to the overall love and peace message from The Beatles as the idea that people will feel just feel as peaceful and content about life if they embrace “Real Love” as well. That’s why I named this parallel album “Real Love” as it summarised this album and the career of The Beatles

So that’s the conclusion of The Beatles career. What would you choose for the hypothetical Beatles


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  2. Lol I actually had something similar to my 1970 Beatles album, you wanna listen to it?