Checking my WordPress stats on Saturday, I decided to take a look at the “Tag Surfer” function. Basically, it’s a search of WordPress.com blogs, and if you give it a tag to search for — like, say, “Beatles” — it will pull up a list of recent posts written on wordpress.com blogs categorized as “Beatles.”
Because, obviously, I’ve been on a Beatles kick, what with Geico’s world famous biscuits and gravy and all. Wait. That doesn’t make sense. Geico? Biscuits and gravy? Sorry.
As I was saying, I’ve been on a Beatles kick, what with the Lennon Listen and all.
And the first post that I saw, on the WordPress Tag Surfer? Imaginary Next Beatles Album, by Maximum Bob. He was “proposing a track listing for an imaginary ‘next Beatles album’ as if they hadn’t split up in 1969, and hadn’t all released solo albums in 1970.”
What if the Beatles hadn’t broken up? What kind of album would they have produced for release in the fall of 1970? It’s not the first time I’d seen something like this. There’s Stephen Baxter’s album “God,” from his short story, “The Twelfth Album,” for one.
I had some issues with Baxter’s choices. For 1970, the album he put together simultaneously looked backward (to Rishikesh with songs like “Junk” and “Child of Nature”) and forward (to 1971 with songs like “Back Seat of My Car” and “Gimme Some Truth,” though the latter is arguable). Though I’ve come to like that playlist, even feel like it’s “right,” I’d never really thought about putting one together myself.
Then, of course, I saw Maximum Bob’s. He had some rules. They numbered six.
- No more than 25 minutes per side (because that’s about the limit for a vinyl album).
- At least one track with a Ringo vocal.
- No more than two tracks with a George vocal.
- The rest made up of Lennon or McCartney tracks.
- Songs should be from first solo releases.
- You’re allowed one cheat track.
I’d never played this game before, so I spent some time, put the thinking cap on, and went to work.
I made several assumptions. First, I assumed that songs like “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma!” had been released as Beatles singles, perhaps as McCartney’s way of keeping Lennon in the Beatle fold. (Also, I’d think the “Something”/”Come Together” single probably happened, giving Harrison his first Beatles A-side.) Likewise, I imagined that the single preceding this late 1970 album was probably “My Sweet Lord” as the A-side and either “God” or “Working Class Hero” as the B-side. (Actually, I think “My Sweet Lord”/”God” would work fantastically well together, given the completely opposite messages of the two songs.) In other words, there are some really strong songs that I assumed were going to be singles, not album tracks.
What I produced was this, an album I call “Hot As Sun” (the title taken from an article Rolling Stone ran in 1970 about a mythical lost Beatles album):
- Oo You (McCartney) — This sounds like an opening track, from the fade-in to Paul’s spoken “More guitar.” This track starts the album off with some kick, having a meaty sound to it. Honestly, until I put together Maximum Bob’s playlist I’d completely forgotten this track. Like a lot of Paul songs from the “White Album” onwards, this song isn’t so much about the lyric as it is about the sound, much like Abbey Road‘s “Oh, Darling” or the “White Album”‘s “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” It’s got a bluesy rock-n-roll groove, and it has a callback to “Blackbird.” The album starts out with some energy, and that leads us to…
- It Don’t Come Easy (Starkey) — Like Stephen Baxter, I’m getting Ringo out of the way early. But this isn’t unusual for a Beatles album; look at Sgt Pepper or Abbey Road with Ringo coming early on side one. After an up-tempo Paul song, we have Ringo doing an up-tempo number. But this song also starts one of the key themes of the album, the idea that life (and love) is difficult.
- That Would Be Something (McCartney) — I considered leaving this off completely, as I don’t like this song. Yet, George Harrison did, believing it to be a fine piece of work. What would the Beatles have done with this? I can only guess. Maybe it would have been heavier, maybe Paul would have let rip with one of his patented throat-ripping vocals (like on “Long Tall Sally” or “Oh, Darling!”). It’s a fluff piece, but one with some energy behind it. Paul’s penchant for silliness gets out of the way early. And it eases us into the next song.
- Isolation (Lennon) — Now, after Ringo says that “It Don’t Come Easy,” John sings, “We’re afraid to be alone, everybody got to have a home.” This is John being philosophical about the inherent loneliness of human existence, about the uncaring nature of the universe. And he lets rip with some primal screams against the unfairness of all it all. And since I decided to call the album “Hot as Sun,” this song references the album title in a way with the lyric, “The sun will never disappear, but the world may not have many years.” And then, we’re alone, just in time for…
- Every Night (McCartney) — Pairing this up with “Isolation” works. If John’s song is about the loneliness of human existence, Paul’s song reinforces that with lines like “Every night I just go out, get out of my head. Every day I don’t want to get up, get out of my bed.” But then the song says, essentially, fight that by connecting with someone — “Every night I want to stay home and be with you.”
- What Is Life? (Harrison) — Then George Harrison has to chime in on the problem of existence and his solution — love. “What is my life without your love?” he asks. The song is a cry for connection, “Tell me who am I without you by my side?” What matters, says Harrison, isn’t so much who we are, but the person those who love us see as us. And like Abbey Road, side one ends with a wall of sound.
Side one of “Hot as Sun,” then, has the message: Life is hard, we need to connect, we connect through love. These are Beatle-y messages. Wasn’t it Paul who said in the Beatles Anthology that the Beatles songs were about peace, love, and understanding? Side one hits all those points. 🙂
Run time? 18 minutes 32 seconds.
- Love (Lennon) — And side two fades in with one of John Lennon’s best — and most heartfelt — solo tracks, “Love.” The lyrics are simple, the vocal plaintive, and the message about what love is profound in its simplicity. Probably like “Julia” on the “White Album,” this track would have been done by John alone, with none of the Beatles, leaving it much as we hear it on Plastic Ono Band. 🙂
- I Live For You (Harrison) — This is the “cheat” track, per Maximum Bob’s rules. Not only did this track not appear on Harrison’s first solo album (it wasn’t released until the 30th-anniversary edition of All Things Must Pass in 2001), but this track gives Harrison three tracks on the album. But that’s somewhat justifiable, as Harrison had three tracks on Revolver. But why is it here? If “Love” speaks to what love is, then “I Live For You” speaks to its importance. Or, more specifically, what another person means — and can mean — to someone. Along with “Something,” this is one of Harrison’s better love songs.
- Valentine Day (McCartney) — And now we have an instrumental. It has a nice groove to it. The Beatles had worked on instrumentals before, releasing only “Flying” during their heyday, but I can picture the four Beatles pulling out an instrumental and working it into shape. Some of the other instrumentals on McCartney wouldn’t have worked — “Singalong Junk” is too lightweight, “Momma Miss America” is way too freakin’ long. “Valentine Day” is a brisk 1:45, and its groove sounds very compatible with the song that follows. This one’s a keeper.
- Well Well Well (Lennon) — This is an odd song on Plastic Ono Band, as the lyrics don’t really mean anything. The first verse is nonsense, and the song turns into an excuse for John to scream “Well” at the top of his lungs. And just as “Oo You” calls back to “Blackbird,” “Well Well Well” calls back to “Revolution” in the lyrics. Like “Valentine Day,” this seems like the kind of song that the Beatles would have enjoyed working on in the studio, much like “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”
- Apple Scruffs (Harrison) — Now that John has that out of his system, George turns toward one of his sillier songs, “Apple Scruffs.” And it is a silly song, being about the female fans that besieged the Beatles’ offices. There’s nothing profound to this song, it’s just an excuse for George to have some fun and bring the boys along for the ride.
- I Found Out (Lennon) — And after George’s silliness, John lets rip with a self-referential rocking number. In many ways, “I Found Out” is a song about having to learn how to live with one’s self, which makes a nice contrast to the general theme of love and connection on the album. Which leads us into the album’s final track…
- Maybe I’m Amazed (McCartney) — Baxter and Maximum Bob both closed their Beatles ’70 albums with “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and I’m not one to argue. It’s the perfect closing song. Because it is a song about love, about finding someone, and why that’s important. And, just as “Oo You” sounds like a song to open an album, “Maybe I’m Amazed” sounds like a song designed to close an album. I think it’s one of McCartney’s best songs, and it closes “Hot As Sun” on a hopeful, optimistic note.
Side two starts out quiet, continues the theme of life and love, builds energy as it progresses, but it’s also doesn’t take itself seriously, then ends of a positive, uplifting note.
Run time? 25 minutes 25 seconds.
How did I do by Maximum Bob’s rules?
- Side one is under twenty minutes. Side two is over by twenty-five seconds. With different fade-outs, it’s not even an issue.
- “It Don’t Come Easy” is the Ringo track.
- George has three tracks — “What is Life?” “I Live For You,” and “Apple Scruffs.” So, I broke rule three, to have only two George Harrison tracks. :/
- Everything beyond “It Don’t Come Easy” and George’s three tracks is a Lennon or McCartney song.
- Everything is taken either from the first post-Abbey Road solo album produced by the Beatles or is taken (like “It Don’t Come Easy”) from a 1970 single. Except for “I Live For You,” which was from the All Things Must Pass sessions but not released until 2001. So, in that sense, I broke rule five. :/
- I have one “cheat” track — “I Live For You” — even if it breaks two rules.
I think I skirted by on a technicality! :cheers:
I’m not a mix-tape kind of guy. It’s not something I’ve ever done. But you know what? I like this track line-up for “Hot As Sun.” It feels cohesive to me, in a way that Stephen Baxter’s “God” didn’t. More importantly, for the purposes of the exercise, it’s feels Beatle-y.
Perhaps if they had gotten together in Abbey Road studios in August and September 1970, the Beatles would have put together an album much like this.
It’s a nice dream, anyway. Color me pleased. 🙂
11 thoughts on “On “Hot As Sun””
Superb. Will definitely try this. I respect the Harrison choices. You’re right, anyway. Something would have had to give: George needed more equal treatment from about 1966 onwards, once he hit his songwriting stride. Still, he did make a boo boo with My Sweet Lord.
Thanks, MB. 🙂
You’ll notice that the track listing I posted on your blog isn’t what I described here — after considered thought I moved “That Would Be Something” from track 5 to track 3, as that put a run of three songs about life, love, loneliness, and connection together to close out side one.
I had to listen to All Things Must Pass to decide which tracks to use. I knew I absolutely wanted to use “What Is Life?” — it’s one of my favorite Harrison tracks. And it seemed like a perfect side closer, and what would make a good match to that? So I thought in terms of doing something like Abbey Road — end with a “Wall of Sound,” then open the next side with something quiet and introspective. Which led me to “Love,” one of my favorite Lennon tracks. Once I had that axis — end side one with “What Is Life?” and open side two with “Love,” then it was trying to figure out the pieces that worked best around them.
I can remember when I heard “I Life For You” for the first time, back in 2001, and I couldn’t imagine what possessed George to leave it off All Things Must Pass. I love that song, and when I realized that it would fit alongside “Love” the pieces started snapping into place.
That’s the thing. If you think in terms of LEGO (and I describe a lot of things in life in terms of LEGO), then you could say that there are lots of Beatles pieces that say “1970” on them, and it’s just a matter of snapping them together. 🙂
Who would have produced Hot As Sun? George Martin or Phil Spector?
Hi there folks – I found “Hot as Sun” et. al. after starting to compile my own “imaginary 12th” Beatles record. I wanted to see if anyone else had tried this – and lo!
Once I discovered the ‘rules’ I tried to keep as close as possible to them. I did okay, all things considered – see what you think.
The result is an ‘album’ that I simply call “Sun” – a suitably simple-yet-messianic title for a self-aware final album. I imagine it being released instead of “Let It Be”, at around the same time and recorded during the summer of 1970.
In my imaginary world George Martin is at the helm and the result is a fusing of ‘Revolver’s pop coherence with the individualism/acoustic feel of much of “The Beatles” (white album). While it is more likely the band would have indulged in long rock dirges and random noodling, these are the kinds of Beatle songs I prefer, so…
Sun – The Beatles (1970)
1. Instant Karma! (We all shine on)
I figure Lennon would have insisted on some kind of primacy in the billing. Probably would have been a single as well (q.v. Come Together). Has Harrison on guitar, too.
2. My Sweet Lord
Continues the ‘spiritual’ theme; a strong, uplifting Harrison number to carry things along. probably the second (of three) single as well.
3. Every Night
Enter McCartney. A big guitar sound, and upbeat feel to flow on from the preceding number. Lyrical themes of disquiet emerge.
4. It Don’t Come Easy
Obligatory Ringo. Not rocking the boat on this one. It’s got Harrison all over it, and a strong up-tempo feel which also carries on the emerging lyrical theme, so I think it works well here (early on). Note the first four tracks feature each of the Beatles doing the lead vocal in turn. I quite like that.
5. Too Many People
McCartney again. This is my cheat song as it’s on Ram (1971). There’s a problem balancing the raw, bitterness of Lennon’s “Plastic Ono Band” set with the looser whimsy of “McCartney” (underlining exactly why this record was impossible, really) hence this McCartney rocker has been drafted in to give Macca a bit of edge. Fifth uptempo number in a row makes SUN quite a superficially sunny record thus far, but the lyrical themes are becoming progressively darker. I also like the way Ringo proclaims “you know it don’t come easy” in the previous song, and then McCartney comes in singing “piece of cake…!”.
Lennon returns on piano and immediately switches the tempo down a notch, but manages to match (or exceed) the intensity of the preceding McCartney number (note the contrast: too many people vs isolation. Do I sense discord in the ranks?).
7. Teddy Boy
A bit of Macca whimsy, but with a touch of edge with the lyrical theme of familial discord. Keeps things up-tempo to round out the side.
(8. My Mummy’s Dead
‘hidden’ track on my record, and not listed on the sleeve at all. This is a short Lennon demo which flows very neatly from the “teddy don’t worry your mummy is here…” lyric. Closes the side, and on the CD version provides a conveniently long lead-out to differentiate the two sides).
Total: 24.1 minutes. No problems there.
1. Maybe I’m Amazed
A good closer, but an even better opener for mine. Utterly reinvigorates proceedings. This would be the record’s third single, and gives Lennon and McCartney a side opener each. There’s more than just a note of redemption in the lyric.
2. Look At Me
“Okay? Yes, thank you”. Lennon’s sardonic wit intrudes on this acoustic existential navel-gaze. Note the redemptive tone in the latter part of the lyric (“Just you and me…” someone understands you at last, John). And yes, a very White Album-sounding track.
3. Man We Was Lonely
Another White Album-esque little number. I like the two acoustic guitar tracks sitting together here. More redemption in the lyric (“…but now we’re fine all the while”).
Lennon’s centrepiece. Shifts the gear and inaugurates the album’s closing sequence. Redemption is here completed and fulfilled.
McCartney’s swansong, a gentle and poignant number with a metaphoric lyric likening life with junk in a shop. A real twilight feel. We approach the end with this short song.
But then here comes Lennon to burst everyone’s bubble with this raw denunciation of just about everything. A nice bookend to the ‘spiritual’ themes of the opening two tracks. The dream is well and truly over.
7. All Things Must Pass
I don’t know how George Martin managed to do it, but somehow he convinced Lennon that “God” was not the best way to close the final Beatles album. Instead, Harrison gets his second track. I like the Beatley horns here. A rich, warm, wise and beautiful end to the record – and The Beatles.
(8. Singalong Junk
But what’s this? Macca gets the last word in after all with this second bite of the cherry. Another uncredited, unlisted track. Believe me, this works a treat. I would have liked a longer fade-out, but you can’t have everything).
Total: 25.7 minutes (just over, but not too much, especially if you fade out track 8 a little earlier).
There you go – the final Beatles album, released to widespread critical and commercial acclaim along with the three singles:
A: Instant Karma! (We all shine on) / B: That Would Be Something
Released before the album itself.
A: My Sweet Lord / B: Working Class Hero (controversial!)
Released a few months after the album. The Lennon B-side banned by the BBC, of course, but does a roaring trade regardless. The band then announce their split and release:
A: Maybe I’m Amazed / B: Apple Scruffs
A fond farewell. Best selling Beatles single of all time. The band members then go on to record their known solo output. “Let it Be” the album is released along with the rest of the Anthology series.
The rest is history.
Obviously, I’m biased; I’m far too in love with my own playlist for a post-Abbey Road album. 🙂
Yet, I find that, unlike some other lists (like my venting about one put forward by a BBC disc jockey called “Finishing School“), this one gels.
I’m honestly not excited by any post-Abbey Road album with “Instant Karma!” on it. Nothing against the song — I like it quite a bit — but there are some things that the band has to get through in August and September 1969 so that they’re still recording together in early 1970. Getting John into the band in early ’70 is the trick; Beatles recordings (and single releases) of both “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma!” seem like the best way to get there. Holding one of those songs for a later album might cause John to bolt the band; it’s basically a rerun of what happened with “Revolution 1,” as John wanted that to be the single that “Hey Jude” eventually filled.
However. I don’t let the presence of “Instant Karma!” make me say, “Oh, dang, not again.” To keep John in the band, compromises would have to be made. And after Abbey Road, that means giving George a better shake, too.
Nice list, JE. I’ll have to listen to it a few more times to really get a “feel” for it as a unit.
And, here’s an interesting link for the day. Doctor Who novelist Jon Blum did something similar, but for the Anthology era. If “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” had sparked an album, what might it have sounded like? I have to say, I really like what Blum came up with. The only change I’ve made to it is to take the fan-mash for “Now and Then” (the third reunion single that was unfinished) and slot that in after “Free as a Bird.”
After I told a friend about “Sun”, he had a listen and proposed it was “too good, too focused” to be a real contender for a proper post-Beatles Beatles album. He suggested that in order to be “authentic” I’d be better off simply selecting songs at random instead. That way you’d get all the weird tossed-off rubbish, McCartney ditties and Lennon dirges as well as the occasional classy song. Much more likely as a final record than some Revolver-esque fantasy.
So I took him up on it.
Here’s “Random Sun” in all of it’s warts and all glory:
1. Oo You
2. I Found Out
3. Wah Wah
4. That Would Be Something
5. Do The Oz
6. Oh Woman, Oh Why
2. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
3. Well Well Well
4. It’s Johnny’s Birthday
5. Hold On
6. Hot As Sun/Glasses
7. Art of Dying
Randomly selected from the CD versions of Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, McCartney, Ram, All Things Must Pass…and with Photograph thrown in for Ringo’s contribution as I don’t have anything else of his solo material. I discarded any tunes from my previous effort, and then sequenced them to fit under 25 minutes and sound like a proper album.
You know, I think I like this version even better…
😆 I’ll give that a try. 🙂
Okay, slightly obsessive. Over a year later and I revisit this little chestnut. Couldn’t help myself.
Niggling doubts on some of the tracks on “Sun”, particularly side A. A little tinkering and hey-presto. Sun Mk2, as mixed and sequenced by Sir George Martin himself. Not really. But by jove, I think I’ve nailed it this time…
1. Every Night (quite a rousing opener, it turns out)
2. It Don’t Come Easy (for that Little Help effect)
3. Jealous Guy (Child of Nature – my ‘cheat’ as it was on Imagine. The missing link, as it turns out)
4. Apple Scruffs (lightens the mood, but retains the nostalgic looking back feel)
6. Teddy Boy
(My Mummy’s Dead – unlisted track)
Side B. (unchanged)
1. Maybe I’m Amazed
2. Look At Me
3. Man We Was Lonely
7. All Things Must Pass
(singalong Junk – unlisted track)
It works. It really works. I’m convinced it’s real. Our reality is a fake, and this one is the real one….
Like I said. Obsessive.
JE, I put your running order together, but I didn’t get my tracks sorted properly, and…
Try swapping “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Jealous Guy.” You get something very interesting. 🙂
Great selections from you guys, but this is my preferred playlist.
In the “universe” of this album, “Let It Be” was probably released along with the movie sometime in the spring of ’70, produced by either Glyn Johns or George Martin. This avoids the catastrophe of “The Long and Winding Road” and its effects on Paul’s membership in the band (of lack thereof).
The problem of John leaving is solved by “Cold Turkey” being released as a single probably for the Christmas market of ’69, backed with “Another Day” (a song I don’t particularly care for, but it makes a great contrast). “Another Day” was rehearsed and recorded a couple times during the Get Back sessions, and this single was probably recorded during or not long after the Abbey Road sessions.
THE BEATLES – INSTANT KARMA! (1970)
[with Cold Turkey and 12 other songs]
1. Hold On (John Lennon)
A nice to the prologue that really sounds like an opening track. It seems a lot shorter than it is. Not much variety here, but a nice set-up for what’s to come. Ringo plays drums… Oh, and John imitates the Cookie Monster.
2. Every Night (Paul McCartney)
The fourth track off McCartney’s self-titled debut album, and one of the better pieces from it. It sounds Beatle-y and serves as a nice set-up for a similarly titled Macca contribution.
3. Another Day (Paul McCartney)
The very definition of what John meant by “pizza and fairytales”. More of Paul’s granny music. And it is a little too pop for my tastes, but it FITS, both in the context of the album and in the time-frame. John may have refused to participate in the recording of this song, like he did on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, so maybe Linda is brought in on backing/harmony vocals. Classic Paul that reeks (in a good way) of the observational narrative of “Eleanor Rigby” and, especially, “Penny Lane”. Compare this to the juxtaposition of “Rocky Raccoon”, “Blackbird”, and “Piggies” on the White Album and “Beautiful Night” and “Great Day” on Paul’s album Flaming Pie.
4. Not Guilty (George Harrison/The Beatles)
How’s that for a song transition? George’s first song on the album, and such a hard rocker it rivals “Helter Skelter” at times. Something of an angry rant against John and Paul, but the Fab Four managed to do at least 102 takes of it during the White Album sessions. I picked The Beatles Anthology version for my playlist because I like it more than George’s solo take on it, thus making it the only legitimate Beatles track on my list.
5. Instant Karma!
The song that John wrote for breakfast, recorded for lunch and released for dinner. George is on guitar here. A nice rocker but enough of a chill-down from the hard rock fiasco that the last track was.
6. It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
Continuing the crowd vocal theme, Ringo comes in with his song. George helped Ringo write this song, but gave full composer’s credit to him, a la “Octopus’s Garden”. Harrison plays lead here as well.
7. The Lovely Linda (Paul McCartney)
A nice fragment from Paul.
8. Teddy Boy (Paul McCartney)
A nice guitar ballad from McCartney, like “Rocky Raccoon” but lighter and happier. It was recorded by the Beatles several times during the Get Back sessions but failed to make the cut for Let It Be.
9. What Is Life (George Harrison)
One of the best songs from Harrison’s first album. It asks the profound question, “Who am I without you by my side?” It serves as a great opener for side two and Ringo shines on drums.
10. Cold Turkey (John Lennon)
A single from John and the Plastic Ono Band. He wanted to record it with the Beatles as a single around the time of the Abbey Road sessions but Paul didn’t care for it. It’s about his heroin addiction, and features some sex noises from John in the second half.
11. Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)
Paul’s obligatory piano ballad, sort of an inferior “Let It Be”, but a nice and emotional song nonetheless.
12. All Things Must Pass (George Harrison)
One of George’s best songs EVER. Why this wasn’t put on Let It Be, I will never understand. Ringo on drums again.
13. Look At Me (John Lennon)
The Lennon Anthology version. John bares his soul (in a calm way, this time) in this nice, melodic interlude that segues perfectly (in a thematic sense, anyway) into
14. Jealous Guy (John Lennon)
“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m sorry that I made you cry.” John’s ultimate — no, wait — THE ultimate apologetic piano song. Composed at Rishikesh as “Child of Nature”, it was recorded under that name several times at both the White Album and Get Back sessions, but eventually found new life with different lyrics. It’s hard to say which version of the lyrics would have seen release here, but I like to think it would have been this one. And who says John didn’t do ballads?
Cold Turkey/Another Day (pre-album single)
Instant Karma!/What Is Life
I’ve tried your playlist, Allyn, and I really like how it comes together thematically. I went for a roughly similar approach on my fantasy post-Let It Be album that I call Love (not to be confused for the 2006 remix album). I’ll admit I kinda bend the rules a bit with my approach, but I went for songs based on one of the following reasons:
1. It was written whilst the Beatles were together.
2. At least two Beatles are on the same track.
3. It fits the way the album comes together thematically.
4. It just SOUNDS like the Beatles.
So imagine, if you will, that the Beatles agreed to record “Cold Turkey” for a February 1970 single, and following the release of Let It Be, they took time off to settle their differences, and record a new album set for a December 1970 release with George Martin once again producing. This is Love. (The album cover for it is the one used on the Hey Jude compilation.)
Side A kicks off with the first single for a November release, John Lennon’s “INSTANT KARMA”, a rollicking piano piece in the mold of “Revolution” and “All You Need is Love”, featuring George Harrison on guitar. Harrison’s first number on the album is a co-composition with Bob Dylan, “I’D HAVE YOU ANYTIME”. It sets up the theme for love, and is one of George’s more underrated songs. Paul finally gets his due with “EVERY NIGHT”, a track originally auditioned for LIB but didn’t make the cut. It carries on the love theme, but it also reflects on loneliness as well.
It carries over onto John’s “JEALOUS GUY”, originally written as “Child of Nature” in Risikesh; John is apologizing for the hurt he’s caused over the past few years. The obligatory Ringo tune, “IT DON’T COME EASY”, gives a bit of comfort that life is difficult, and it features terrific guitar work from George. The message that life is difficult is justified on “ANOTHER DAY”, another Paul ditty that was previewed during LIB. Side A closes with “MOTHER”, John’s cry to his parents and featuring Ringo on the drums.
Side A runs at 25:15. Slightly over, but if you use the Shaved Fish edit for “Mother” or outright replace it with “Isolation” (you know, since it’s a bit more general but still has the basic idea), that’s not a huge deal.
Side B begins with two acoustic numbers dating back to the White Albums sessions; Paul’s “JUNK” and John’s “LOOK AT ME”, crossfaded closely together to form a mini-medley, John says “Okay – yes thank you” once Paul finishes with his song. In response to some of the gloominess and despair, George gives us the answer with “WHAT IS LIFE”, the second single for a January 1971 release, backed with “It Don’t Come Easy” as a double A-side.
“What is Life” fades away for the title track “LOVE”, with John on vocals and acoustic guitar and Paul on piano; it tells us what the Beatles have always been about. It builds up to “MAYBE I’M AMAZED”, probably the greatest song Paul has ever written, a song he had written whilst the Beatles were on the verge of splintering. It is the third single for the album and reaches #1 in both the US and the UK. George gives us some closure for the album with another LIB reject, “ALL THINGS MUST PASS”, Ringo once more on drums. However, Paul gets the last word with a tribute to American rock, “THE BACK SEAT OF MY CAR”, akin to “A Day in the Life”.
Side B runs at 24:33.
“Instant Karma” b/w Paul’s “That Would Be Something” – November 1970
“What Is Life” and “It Don’t Come Easy” – January 1971
“Maybe I’m Amazed” b/w George’s “Let It Down” – April 1971
Excluding the non-album B-sides, I used three songs each from All Things Must Pass, McCartney, and John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, a song each from Imagine and Ram, and three non-album singles (“Instant Karma”, “It Don’t Come Easy”, “Another Day”). All tracks recorded during January-October 1970 except for “Jealous Guy”, recorded during May-July 1971, the album’s “cheat track”.
On the album overall, there’s plenty of Beatleisms to keep you guessing; Paul on drums is the next best thing to Ringo on drums, and Klaus Voormann on bass is the next best thing to Paul on bass. Ringo plays on a couple of John and George’s songs. Does it sound like a Beatles album? That’s up to you, the reader, to decide.