Maybe I'm Cold Turkey Imagine My Sweet Boogaloo On The Run
April 23, 2010 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Help me find the best albums The Beatles never made.

I recently dove headfirst into the solo careers of the four Beatles and find myself idly assembling the best of their solo material into makeshift Beatles records. This feels like a pretty common reaction to their solo material and I'd love see what others have come up with. Especially if they really put their research into it. i.e. "Mull of Kintyre" wouldn't have been on a Beatles record because Denny Laine actually wrote it, or "Cold Turkey" was originally presented as a Beatles single and absolutely would have been on their next record...that sort of thing.

Googling for "Beatles 13th album" brings up a couple of hits, and I've seen the "Beatles Never Broke Up/Everyday Chemistry" site, but I feel like I'm missing the obvious. I'm not familiar with the predominant (if any) mash-up or mixtape communities - ditto for Beatles fan sites - and I'd love some direction in that regard.

I'm especially interested in anything that extrapolates Beatles albums all the way out to 1980 and Lennon's death. (And if you've done this kind of thing yourself, feel free to me-mail me the results!) Thanks!
posted by greenland to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Well, here are my suggestions for the first two Beatles albums if they had stayed together. I'll try to come up with some later albums, later.

My general assumption has been that the first solo album from each of them would correspond to the first "lost Beatles album," and so on, but I've strayed from this when it's useful. After all, this is all counterfactual -- we don't know how their songwriting progress would have been affected if they had stayed together, so there's no reason to stick to a rigid timeline.

I haven't included any Ringo songs since I don't know many of his solo songs, but I've noted some non-Ringo songs that they could have had him sing (which was their usual practice; Ringo only wrote 2.5 Beatles songs).

Lost Beatles album #1
1. Give Peace a Chance (John)**
2. Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul)
3. What Is Life (George)
4. Working Class Hero (John)
5. Dear Boy (Paul)*
6. Isolation (John)
7. I’d Have You Anytime (George)
8. Every Night (Paul) (could be sung by Ringo)
9. Cold Turkey (John)**
10. Junk (Paul)
11. I Found Out (John)
12. All Things Must Pass (George)**

(Sources: Paul McCartney - McCartney and *Ram. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band and **singles. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass.)

Notes: "Teddy Boy" would not likely have been included; the Beatles recorded it, and John was apparently unenthusiastic about it based on his performance in the Anthology. "Mother" and "God" are too confessional/personal and John-oriented to have fit with the Beatles (even if you fixed the lyrics to "God"). I've arbitrarily taken one song from Paul's next album to compensate for the dearth of strong songs on his first album. (You could use "That Would Be Something," but I don't think it would have made the Beatles' cut.) This album is heavy on George, but not more so than Revolver. I'm not using "My Sweet Lord" because John said in an interview that George should have known it would get him in legal trouble due to plagiarizing "He's So Fine."

Lost Beatles album #2
1. Too Many People (Paul)
2. Imagine (John)
3. Living in a Material World (George)
4. Ram On (Paul)
5. Crippled Inside (John)
6. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (Paul) (could be sung by Ringo)
7. Remember (John)*
8. Wah-Wah (George)**
9. 3 Legs (Paul)
10. Monkberry Moon Delight (Paul)
11. Isn’t it a Pity (George)**
12. Jealous Guy (John)

(Sources: Paul McCartney - Ram. John Lennon - Imagine and *Plastic Ono Band. George Harrison - Living in the Material World and **All Things Must Pass.)

Notes: They definitely would have used "3 Legs" because John said in an interview it was one of the few Paul solo songs that he liked. This list shows that I'm not much of a fan of the Imagine album aside from the title track and "Jealous Guy." I compensated for this by carrying over "Remember" from his first album (which would have also made the previous album too John-heavy). You could add "Oh! Yoko" from Imagine but I don't think the Beatles would have used something that was so focused on one of their wives by name. The Beatles obviously wouldn't have used "How Do You Sleep?," John's vicious attack on Paul. I've been pretty free in saving up George's songs because I figure he was more willing to keep things stored up in his backlog (as the world found out when he released All Things Must Pass as a triple album). This album is, again, heavier on George than most Beatles albums, but his solo output is just too strong not to take advantage of.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:48 PM on April 23, 2010 [13 favorites]

(On post-view, no need for the asterisks after "All Things Must Pass" on the first album.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:51 PM on April 23, 2010

It's an interesting counterfactual, but hard to think about, because the way the Beatles wrote was so dependent on each other (e.g. Ringo was a sounding board for the other three and if Ringo didn't like their initial song-sketches they'd usually drop them, another example is that all the way to the end, both Paul and John would work with each other's half-formed ideas if the other couldn't make it work).

Another important issue to consider is that there were singles that never ended up on any of his albums. I'm pretty sure that John got a kick out of Paul's Give Ireland Back to the Irish (I'm fond of this live version). Another Day is also quite good, and very Beatlesy, somehow. The b-side, Oh Woman, Oh Why, is good too. I think all three of these songs are strong contenders for a "lost Beatles album."
posted by Kattullus at 5:00 PM on April 23, 2010

Ringo had the first number one hit after the beatles broke up. "Photograph" actually written mostly by George. That could definitely be on the first album. I have a ipod mix called And In the End, the best of solo beatles. There's a lot of material there. George's Double Album All things must pass could surely produce more than Wah Wah, although. I loooove Wah Wah. Paul was doing another theme album like pepper with Wings. That would have limited other material by other beatles like the original pepper. You didn't mention "Nobody Loves you When you're down and out" in my humble opinion the best solo thing John will except for Imagine and Nobody Told Me. Whatever gets you through the night would definitely make, as it was John's only number one hit after th beatles, yes the only one. If you never listened to RINGO, ringo's 1972 album it's basically a beatles reunion, with each beatle contributing a song, John's I'm the greatest, is a fantastic fun song. That's as close as a complete post beatles album that you'll get. Also you should consider some of John's best writing he with held for solo projects during the late beatles, like instant karma. I'm betting the Best of John Lennon album with be nearly the same now if they stayed together with John scraping the dregs for the group and taking his best stuff for solo workwith ono.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 6:25 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've had a playlist called "Life After the Beatles" on my iPod for years that just groups together all the tracks I like from their solo careers. Of course the point of this is that when their songs follow each other it really sounds like they're still together.

Here's what's on it:

All Those Years Ago - Harrison
God - Lennon
My Sweet Lord - Harrison
Junk - McCartney
Imagine - Lennon
Awaiting On You All - Harrison
What Is Life? - Harrison
Crippled Inside - Lennon
How Do You Sleep? - Lennon
Let Me Roll It To You - McCartney
Live and Let Die - McCartney
Isn't It A Pity - Harrison
Early 1970 - Starr
Silly Love Songs - McCartney
Oh Yoko - Lennon
Jealous Guy - Lennon
It Don't Come Easy - Ringo Starr
Coming Up - McCartney
Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) - Harrison
Give Peace a Chance - Lennon
Band on the Run - McCartney
Figure of Eight - McCartney
My Brave Face - McCartney
Photograph - Starr
Beware of Darkness - Harrison
Dark Horse - Harrison
No No Song - Starr
Cheer Down - Harrison
No More Lonely Nights - McCartney
Woman - Lennon
Watching the Wheels - Lennon
When We Was Fab - Harrison
Free As A Bird - Beatles Anthology
Real Love - Beatles Anthology
All Things Must Pass - Harrison

It's not spectacularly well-researched or anything, but it works for me.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:36 PM on April 23, 2010

Oh I forgot Nobody Told Me by Lennon which should go between Cheer Down and No More Lonely Nights.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:38 PM on April 23, 2010

Oh and another thing, I don't include it in my playlist because the other voices would kind of throw things out of whack, but the Travelling Wilburys track "Handle With Care" is great and I can easily imagine each of the four Beatles singing the various parts. George would do his part obviously, and Paul would do Roy Orbison's part, and Lennon would do the Petty/Dylan parts, Ringo would play drums (which I think he does on the original track anyway) and harmonize a little.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:43 PM on April 23, 2010

Don't forget some of those Lennon and McCartney songs they wrote but never recorded. They are not all gems, but then again sometimes Beatles songs sat around for a few years before getting a good reworking...
posted by quarterframer at 10:22 PM on April 23, 2010

I've never actually tried to do this kind of thing until I read your post. Here goes:
(Going with the old-school Beatle album of 14 tracks plus a single with two non-album songs.)
Side 1
1. The Art Of Dying (George, I think written in '66)
2. Instant Karma (John, early '70)
3. Every Night (Paul, he sings it during the "Let It Be" sessions in 1/69)
4. It Don't Come Easy (Ringo, recorded early 1970)
5. Gimme Some Truth (John, he & Paul sing it during the "Let It Be" sessions in 1/69)
6. Apple Scruffs (George)
7. Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul)
Side 2
1. Working Class Hero (John)
2. Wah Wah (George)
3. Oo You (Paul, he sings it during the "Let It Be" sessions in 1/69)
4. Back Off Boogaloo (Ringo, a cheat 'cos it's from '72)
5. All Things Must Pass (George)
6. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (Paul, another cheat from early '71)
7. Cold Turkey (John)
+ the single (a double A-side, as usual):
Isn't It A Pity/Back Seat Of My Car (both songs performed 1/69)

That's their X-mas '70 gift to the world. The next year, of course, saw them stage their highly-regarded return to the stage with the Concert For Bangladesh, meaning it wouldn't be until 1972 that their next album comes out (I'm The Greatest, Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Give Me Love, Imagine, Luck Of The Irish).
Ahem. Sorry about that. It's been a hard day. Anyhow, you might want to check out Beatlesource. It's got a LOT of neat stuff.
As for mashups, well, I think there recently was a post about them on here fairly recently.
I really like the Beatles/Beastie Boys "Beastles" (info only), "Hate" is good. (Feels weird to say that.)
Thanks for prompting me to do a little mental exercise for the evening. Cheers!
posted by frodisaur at 10:38 PM on April 23, 2010

Two more relevant links: Mighty God King's speculative fiction imagining a universe where The Beatles reunited at Saturday Night Live, and another about a parallel universe where the Beatles recorded a final album.
posted by waxpancake at 11:24 PM on April 23, 2010

I'm pretty sure the "hands across the water" part of Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey would be too high for Ringo to sing.
(disgruntled bass who likes rock music)
posted by wittgenstein at 10:23 AM on April 24, 2010

I'm pretty sure the "hands across the water" part of Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey would be too high for Ringo to sing.

Yeah, and parts of "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "What Goes On" are out of Ringo's range to, but that's not a problem. They'd just get Paul and/or John to take over the main parts. Ringo could switch to a low part or drop out entirely -- this would hardly be noticed. Anyway, it's just one section of an elaborate song; a change in lead vocal would actually be useful to add variety.

the way the Beatles wrote was so dependent on each other (e.g. Ringo was a sounding board for the other three and if Ringo didn't like their initial song-sketches they'd usually drop them, another example is that all the way to the end, both Paul and John would work with each other's half-formed ideas if the other couldn't make it work).

I'd be interested to see a source for this ... I've read a lot about how the Beatles wrote songs, and this doesn't ring a bell for me. The idea that there was a "Lennon/McCartney" songwriting team became mostly fictional from Rubber Soul onward. There are outstanding exceptions -- "A Day in the Life," "We Can Work It Out," "I've Got a Feeling" -- but these just prove the general rule that the band was very fractured by the end.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:19 PM on April 24, 2010

I suppose the ultimate working-with-half-formed-ideas was side 2 of Abbey Road. Here's Alan W. Pollack on the medley/sequence/thing.
posted by Kattullus at 1:42 PM on April 24, 2010

(to = too)
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:35 PM on April 24, 2010

WAMU special -- l33tpolicywonk's link, corrected. And Jaltcoh, IMO Teddy Boy, definitely included -- dunno about John on the Anthology version but IMO they didn't use the best version, which we heard on the original (and then withdrawn) "Get Back" (and you can find taht on Youtube).
posted by Rash at 3:26 PM on April 24, 2010

Very good stuff here, just came in to add that "I'm the Greatest" has to be on the list.

The wiki article is very interesting.
posted by anastasiav at 7:16 PM on April 24, 2010

Response by poster: Jaltcoh: I didn't know that re: John's comments about "3 Legs" and "My Sweet Lord". Very interesting! I'd argue that "My Sweet Lord" would still get a pass, as George steals a LOT and The Beatles didn't seem to care. "The Inner Light" was someone else's poem. He had a collaborator on his late 60's solo Moog record who performs the entirety of side B and goes uncredited by George. "Something in the way she moves" was a line lifted from then-Apple Corp. labelmate James Taylor.

Kattullus: Paul's "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" pairs up with John's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in a really fantastic way. This aspect of their solo careers interests me the most. The fact that even when they're completely at odds, the solo Beatles still have the same valleys and peaks in material, like the narrative unity of The Beatles continues to leak through.

For my own part, I took their material year by year. Here's my line-up for late 1970:

Love (Lennon)
My Sweet Lord (Harrison)
Every Night (McCartney)
Instant Karma! (Lennon)
Mother (Lennon)
Isn't It A Pity (Harrison)

Cold Turkey (Lennon)
Beaucoups of Blues (Starr)
Beware of Darkness (Harrison)
Maybe I'm Amazed (McCartney)
Look At Me (Lennon)
All Things Must Pass (Harrison)

None of the songs are from past November 1970. As I started to map this one out it became apparent that this was going to be The Saddest Album Ever. Even Ringo is blue! That determined a lot of what I ultimately included. I've done the same thing for all their solo material up to 1980. You get some surprising parallels.

Thanks for the links, everyone! Keep 'em coming!
posted by greenland at 7:54 PM on April 24, 2010

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