Top 10 Solo Albums From The Beatles

Those that know me know that I’m a huge fan and listener of the Beatles, including their respective solo efforts. The release of a new George Harrison box set (Apple Years) has got me thinking about their best solo albums so I thought I’d put together a top 10 covering them. I must emphasise that this list may cause debate among Beatles fans and the order in which I’ve listed them is my opinion. It was tough! Here we go.

10. Ringo

That’s right, we start off with a solo album from Ringo Starr. Which one? His best one. Ringo actually released two solo albums before this one, Sentimental Journey and Beaucoups of Blues which both came out in 1970. However it wasn’t until 1973 that he would release what is widely considered to be his first proper solo album, Ringo.

The really great thing about this album is that Ringo has a little help from his friends. Not only do Lennon, McCartney and Harrison all feature on the album, each of them actually contributed songs to the album as well. The opening track I’m The Greatest was penned by Lennon, a demo of which can be heard on the John Lennon Anthology released in 1998. Harrison also plays electric guitar on this track, sighting one of the only times three of the Beatles would work together in the studio before John Lennon’s death in 1980. Harrison would write a few songs for the album as well, one of which was jointly penned by Ringo in the form of one of the best Beatles solo songs ever recorded, Photograph. Six O’Clock is the song McCartney would write for the album.

This is without a doubt the closest we ever got to another album from the Beatles after the breakup in 1970 due to each of them appearing on it either together or separately. But not only do all of the Beatles appear here, it sounds very much like a Beatles album as well. How could it not do? The songs sound great as well and you can’t help but think “what if?” And because of that there is no way it could be out of this top 10 list.

Highlights:

  • I’m The Greatest
  • Have You Seen My Baby (Hold On)
  • Photograph
  • You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful Your Mine)

9. Tug Of War

The first of five McCartney albums in the top 10. Yes, you read that correctly. Tug Of War is arguably one of his best post-Wings album that saw him reunite with George Martin in the studio along with Ringo on drums on one song. The album also featured two collaborations with Stevie Wonder (What’s That You’re Doing? & Ebony and Ivory) and a duet with rock and roll legend Carl Perkins (Get It). But most notably, the album also contained a tribute to fellow Beatle John Lennon, Here Today, who was tragically shot dead in NYC when initial recording sessions for Tug Of War were taking place.

It’s widely seen as one of McCartney’s most Beatle-like solo album in terms of sound and feel and is full of catchy melodies and hooks that remind you why he is considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time. This of course is bolstered by the fact that the album was produced by none other then George Martin. The album contains absolutely everything. The duets with Stevie Wonder may not be everyones cup of tea but in general the songwriting is fantastic and was a return to form after a few lacklustre Wings albums.

Sadly this was to be McCartney’s last legendary album until Flaming Pie was released in 1997. The non-collaboration songs on this album stand out over the others but overall it’s a solid effort.

Highlights:

  • Take It Away
  • Here Today
  • Ballroom Dancing
  • Wanderlust

8. Imagine

Lennon’s second album is a must for any top 10 lists due to the quality of the songs he was writing during that early 70’s period. Even though the overall production has dated pretty badly the songs themselves still hold up nicely, some of which were even written when he was still in The Beatles. Phil Spector served as producer on Imagine yet somehow the production just sounds dull in comparison to other albums of the early 70’s, especially RAM by McCartney.

The only really negative thing about this album song-wise is the inclusion of How Do You Sleep?, a song solely dedicated to attacking McCartney in every way possible. Even though the song itself musically is quite nice, the lyrics are nothing short of ridiculous and just shows how bitter Lennon was towards McCartney at this period in time. However apart from this one song, most of the songs on Imagine are nicely written with Jealous Guy and Give Me Some Truth being two stand out tracks, the latter being a song that Lennon demoed for the Beatles during the Get Back sessions. Harrison also featured on the album, laying down a number of guitar parts. He can be heard on slide guitar on Oh My Love and there is a documentary of the making of this album which shows Harrison and Lennon working together.

It’s a good album overall and of course includes probably the most well known song not only in a Beatles solo catalogue but in the world. And that’s the title track, Imagine.

Highlights:

  • Imagine
  • Jealous Guy
  • Give Me Some Truth
  • Oh My Love

7. McCartney II

Released 10 years after McCartney’s first self titled album and immediately after the break up of Wings, this is arguably the most experimental album released by a Beatles up until this point. In fact McCartney would record the songs using the same template he had on his first record, recording all the songs and parts himself and using no-one else.

McCartney II is an album that certainly grows on you the more you listen to it. On first listen it appears to contain a handful of real songs and a handful of experimental throwaways. But it needs to be heard from start to finish without any interruptions for you to fully understand what is going on. All of the tracks compliment each other beautifully. Coming Up, On The Way, Nobody Knows and One Of These Days are standard song formats whereas Front Parlour, Summer’s Day Song and Frozen Jap are more experimental in their style. But together these songs add up to a truly brilliant album.

The freshness in McCartney’s writing and recording in particular really stands out to the listener and Lennon himself said he loved this album.

Highlights:

  • Coming Up
  • Temporary Secretary
  • Nobody Knows
  • One Of These Days

6. Living In The Material World

This is the album that may cause some controversy being so high on a top 10 Beatles solo albums list, but I’m sticking to my guns here. The follow up to All Things Must Pass, this album is the first of George’s solo output to properly focus on his songwriting post-Beatles as a lot of the songs on All Things Must Pass were written when he was still a Beatle. It can only be described using one word, and that’s divine. The songs and the playing are simply exquisite and contain an almost religious like beauty to them and the whole album has a spiritual feeling from start to finish. It’s simply beautiful, and that is all.

Living In The Material World is an unbelievably underrated album and never seems to get the attention that it so desperately deserves from Beatles fans. In fact his career in general always gets overlooked, especially compared to that of Lennon and McCartney. You could easily say that Harrison had a more successful solo career than Lennon did.

Sadly this would be the last through-and-through great George album until Cloud Nine was released in 1989, although there are a number of solid songs on the albums he released in between including the supergroup, The Travelling Wilbury’s, who he formed with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

Highlights:

  • Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)
  • The Light That Has Lighted The World
  • Living In The Material World
  • Be Here Now

You + Me: New Project From Pink! and Dallas Green

Alecia Moore of Pink! and Dallas Green of City and Colour have teamed up to form a new project called You + Me. In fact they have also released a new song, You And Me, which will be on their debut album Roseave.. You can hear the song right here:

.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNnBcCk7eDA

It’s an almost surprising collaboration considering the two very different music styles but they compliment each other beautifully. What’s great about this is that this news is completely out of the blue and already this album is one of the most eagerly awaited of the year.

The full album, Roseave., is set for release on the 14th October.

NEWS: Bob Dylan’s Complete Basement Tapes To Be Released

Great news for Dylan fans as the ENTIRE Basement Tapes are set for a release this November as the latest Bootleg Series instalment from Dylan. 138 tracks, 6 CD’s and 30 tracks that have never been heard before. Personally I couldn’t be any more excited by this news. These tapes are widely considered to be the Holy Grail of Dylan’s back catalogue and whilst there have been numerous bootleg releases over the years and a 1975 double album, the full tapes have never seen an official release. Until now.

The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 will be released on the 4th November this year.

CD 1
1. “Edge of the Ocean”
2. “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” (written by Clarence Williams)
3. “Roll on Train”
4. “Mr. Blue” (written by Dewayne Blackwell)
5. “Belshazzar” (written by Johnny Cash)
6. “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (written by Charlie A Feathers and Stanley A Kesler)
7. “You Win Again” (written by Hank Williams)
8. “Still in Town” (written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard)
9. “Waltzing with Sin” (written by Sonny Burns and Red Hayes)
10. “Big River (Take 1)” (written by Johnny Cash)
11. “Big River (Take 2)” (written by Johnny Cash)
12. “Folsom Prison Blues” (written by Johnny Cash)
13. “Bells of Rhymney” (written by Idris Davies and Peter Seeger)
14. “Spanish is the Loving Tongue”
15. “Under Control”
16. “Ol’ Roison the Beau” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
17. “I’m Guilty of Loving You”
18. “Cool Water” (written by Bob Nolan)
19. “The Auld Triangle” (written by Brendan Francis Behan)
20. “Po’ Lazarus” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
21. “I’m a Fool for You” (Take 1)
22. “I’m a Fool for You” (Take 2)

CD 2
1. “Johnny Todd” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
2. “Tupelo” (written by John Lee Hooker)
3. “Kickin’ My Dog Around” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
4. “See You Later Allen Ginsberg (Take 1)”
5. “See You Later Allen Ginsberg (Take 2)”
6. “Tiny Montgomery”
7. “Big Dog”
8. “I’m Your Teenage Prayer”
9. “Four Strong Winds” (written by Ian Tyson)
10. “The French Girl (Take 1)” (written by Ian Tyson and Sylvia Tyson)
11. “The French Girl (Take 2)” (written by Ian Tyson and Sylvia Tyson)
12. “Joshua Gone Barbados” (written by Eric Von Schmidt)
13. “I’m in the Mood” (written by Bernard Besman and John Lee Hooker)
14. “Baby Ain’t That Fine” (written by Dallas Frazier)
15. “Rock, Salt and Nails” (written by Bruce Phillips)
16. “A Fool Such As I” (written by William Marvin Trader)
17. “Song for Canada” (written by Pete Gzowski and Ian Tyson)
18. “People Get Ready” (written by Curtis L Mayfield)
19. “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” (written By Donald I Robertson and Walter E Rollins)
20. “Be Careful of Stones That You Throw” (written by Benjamin Lee Blankenship)
21. “One Man’s Loss”
22. “Lock Your Door”
23. “Baby, Won’t You Be My Baby”
24. “Try Me Little Girl”
25. “I Can’t Make it Alone”
26. “Don’t You Try Me Now”

CD 3
1. “Young but Daily Growing” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
2. “Bonnie Ship the Diamond” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
3. “The Hills of Mexico” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
4. “Down on Me” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
5. “One for the Road”
6. “I’m Alright”
7. “Million Dollar Bash (Take 1)”
8. “Million Dollar Bash (Take 2)”
9. “Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread (Take 1)”
10. “Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread (Take 2)”
11. “I’m Not There”
12. “Please Mrs. Henry”
13. “Crash on the Levee (Take 1)”
14. “Crash on the Levee (Take 2)”
15. “Lo and Behold! (Take 1)”
16. “Lo and Behold! (Take 2)”
17. “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Take 1)”
18. “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Take 2)”
19. “I Shall be Released (Take 1)”
20. “I Shall be Released (Take 2)
21. “This Wheel’s on Fire” (written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko)
22. “Too Much of Nothing (Take 1)”
23. “Too Much of Nothing (Take 2)”

CD 4
1. “Tears of Rage (Take 1)” (written by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel)
2. “Tears of Rage (Take 2)” (written by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel)
3. “Tears of Rage (Take 3)” (written by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel)
4. “Quinn the Eskimo (Take 1)”
5. “Quinn the Eskimo (Take 2)”
6. “Open the Door Homer (Take 1)”
7. “Open the Door Homer (Take 2)”
8. “Open the Door Homer (Take 3)”
9. “Nothing Was Delivered (Take 1)”
10. “Nothing Was Delivered (Take 2)”
11. “Nothing Was Delivered (Take 3)”
12. “All American Boy” (written by Bobby Bare)
13. “Sign on the Cross”
14. “Odds and Ends (Take 1)”
15. “Odds and Ends (Take 2)”
16. “Get Your Rocks Off”
17. “Clothes Line Saga”
18. “Apple Suckling Tree (Take 1)”
19. “Apple Suckling Tree (Take 2)”
20.”Don’t Ya Tell Henry”
21.”Bourbon Street”

CD 5
1. “Blowin’ in the Wind”
2. “One Too Many Mornings”
3. “A Satisfied Mind” (written by Joe Hayes and Jack Rhodes)
4. “It Ain’t Me, Babe”
5. “Ain’t No More Cane (Take 1)” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
6. “Ain’t No More Cane (Take 2)” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
7. “My Woman She’s A-Leavin'”
8. “Santa-Fe”
9. “Mary Lou, I Love You Too”
10. “Dress it up, Better Have it All”
11. “Minstrel Boy”
12. “Silent Weekend”
13. “What’s it Gonna be When it Comes Up”
14. “900 Miles from My Home” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
15. “Wildwood Flower” (written by A.P. Carter)
16. “One Kind Favor” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
17. “She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
18. “It’s the Flight of the Bumblebee”
19. “Wild Wolf”
20. “Goin’ to Acapulco”
21. “Gonna Get You Now”
22. “If I Were A Carpenter” (written by James Timothy Hardin)
23. “Confidential” (written by Dorina Morgan)
24. “All You Have to do is Dream (Take 1)”
25. “All You Have to do is Dream (Take 2)”

CD 6
1. “2 Dollars and 99 Cents”
2. “Jelly Bean”
3. “Any Time”
4. “Down by the Station”
5. “Hallelujah, I’ve Just Been Moved” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
6. “That’s the Breaks”
7. “Pretty Mary”
8. “Will the Circle be Unbroken” (written by A.P. Carter)
9. “King of France”
10. “She’s on My Mind Again”
11. “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
12. “On a Rainy Afternoon”
13. “I Can’t Come in with a Broken Heart”
14. “Next Time on the Highway”
15. “Northern Claim”
16. “Love is Only Mine”
17. “Silhouettes” (written by Bob Crewe and Frank C Slay Jr.)
18. “Bring it on Home”
19. “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies” (Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan)
20. “The Spanish Song (Take 1)”
21. “The Spanish Song (Take 2)”

REVIEW: The Rentals – Lost In Alphaville

It feels like I’ve been waiting half my life for this album to come out. In fact, I almost have. When I first heard The Rentals’ debut album Return Of The Rentals I was about 14. That was 11 years ago. I was blown away by that album and it’s been one of my all time favourites ever since. But after their second album Seven More Minutes was released in 1999 the band seemed to drop off the radar apart from an EP in 2007 (The Last Little Life EP) and multimedia project in 2009 (Songs About Time). But finally afters year of waiting, we have a new album. I was ecstatic to say the least when the album was announced and even more excited when two tracks were released from it. It isn’t released until the 26th August but it’s able to stream online, and boy is it good.

It’s Time To Come Home starts with a tremolo guitar before launching into an incredible opening track. You immediately get the sense that this is a wonderful musical ‘sequel’ to Return Of The Rentals in terms of feel, sound and vibe. Matt Sharp sounds great on vocals and is backed up by two female singers, Jessica Wolfe and Holly Laessig. The inclusion of female singers really does stay true to the original sounds of the band, Cherielynn Westrich and the Haden sisters being the female singers on the debut album. It just sounds great on every level. Traces Of Our Tears features more of the same awesomeness (you can see where this is going). This one is more of a faster paced song than the opening track and is just as good, brimming with energy. The female vocals really shine on this one as well, as does the overall songwriting.

Stardust features some great guitar playing to open up the song along with background vocals before Matt Sharp comes in. Perfect. It’s a wonderfully produced track as well, as is the entire album. Matt Sharp did this himself with D. Sardy (Jay Z/LCD Soundsystem) mixing the tracks. Next up is 1000 Seasons, the second song to be released from the album as a teaser. This is yet another song that would fit perfectly on Return Of The Rentals especially with this gorgeous female backing vocals. Damaris is the first track on the album to feature a female voice as a lead alongside Sharp and it’s a great song with two parts to it, at least in my eyes. On one hand it features some solid guitar playing but on the other it’s quite mellow sounding, especially at the start. A modern day Rentals track right here, fantastic.

  1. It’s Time To Come Home
  2. Traces Of Our Tears
  3. Stardust
  4. 1000 Seasons
  5. Damaris
  6. Irrational Things
  7. Thought Of Sound
  8. Song Of Remembering
  9. Seven Years
  10. The Future

Irrational Things kicks off with a piano melody with guitar feedback over it before Matt Sharp comes in on vocals. Strings also feature here which adds to the whole feel of the song and gives the album another kind of dimension. What’s important to note at this point is there hasn’t been any filler tracks anywhere on the album so far, and that trend continues. What you get is nothing short of musical genius from Matt Sharp. Irrational Things is followed by the first single from the album, Thought Of Sound, a roaring song that (from experience) is a great driving song. A thunderous guitar opens the track before taking a backseat to Matt Sharp’s singing, then returning once more to full force in the huge chorus. It’s a great song, hard to argue with it being the first single. With every song that comes and goes on this album, you’re reminded of what a great band The Rentals were and still are right now. Song Of Remembering adds to that.

Seven Years and The Future round off a great album, the former straight out of the 90’s in terms of style while still retaining that modern sound and signature Rentals vibe. Seven Years is a beautiful song, especially the piano/guitar outro. Exquisite. The Future, the final song from Lost In Alphaville, is interesting to say the least. Completely different to every other song on the album, it’s an atmospheric wonderland.

I couldn’t be happier right now. This really is a great album in every single sense of the word.The songwriting from Matt Sharp is second to none, the production and musicianship is right up there as well. I can’t fault this album at all. It’s perfect. Faultless. I love it.

When I think of the Rentals I think of a number of things. Songwriting, female vocals, synths, strings. That’s just from Return Of The Rentals. This new album contains all of the same ingredients as that album does and finally brings the band into the 21st Century. Sure they’ve released an EP and multimedia project since 1999 but this cements them musically. They’re back and I hope this is the start of great things to come and the first of many more albums.

10/10

She & Him: New Album Teaser Video

She & Him have just released a teaser video with brand new audio from their next album, expected later this year. It hasn’t been that long since their last album Volume 3 was released (May 2013) but I’m not complaining! We had a three year wait between Volume 2 & 3 (not including the Christmas album released in 2011) so a new album this soon after their previous effort is music to my ears!

You can watch the teaser video right here:

No details have been announced yet regarding the albums release date and track listing but if this 45 second teaser is anything to go by it should be another great album. It’ll also be the first release since the band moved to Columbia Records.

INTERVIEW: Krista Hess

Krista Hess is an unbelievably talented musician who I recently had the pleasure to interview. She’s a great guitarist and singer and plays with the Sad Sam Blues Jam and Dear Salem.

- – – – – – – – -

Who or what got you into the blues?

When I first learned my pentatonic scales, I played them over 12 bar blues. Ever since then I was hooked.

Which blues artists have influenced you most? And how?

The most early one was Stevie Ray Vaughan when I heard him on guitar hero. The way he kind of growled and shouted when he sang really affected me in “The Sky is Crying”. Another big influence has been Joe Bonamassa. I love the way he mixes rock and classical elements into his blues.

You play with Sadie and Sam Johnson in The Sad Sam Blues Jam which is an incredible blues outfit and a very young band in terms of the ages of the members. How did you get together with them?

I was introduced to them through a friend. I ended up jamming with them and from that they asked me to sit in on one of their shows. I never stopped sitting in.

You guys recently released an EP, do you have any other plans for recordings going forward?

I’m not really aware of any upcoming recording plans with Sad Sam.

As a musician myself, I absolutely love playing live and get so many great feelings when doing so. What does playing live mean to you and how do you feel when playing?

Playing live is definitely a thrill. There is just so much energy going on from the audience and the music. Playing live is not only a way to express myself, but it’s a way to share deeply with people through music. I want to make others feel what I feel when I play.

What are your fondest musical memories?

One of my fondest memories was when I went to a Lincoln Brewster concert. Lincoln’s technical ability and soul on the guitar humbled me and gave me chills. This was the first time I really knew I wanted to play guitar for living.

What does music mean to you?

Music to me is love. Music is a universal language that should be used to connect people and draw them closer.

What drives you as a musician and songwriter?

My job is to use this amazing language with my guitar to bring others to another state of mind; to make them forget the sorrow and mundane routines of everyday life and to give them hope.

Everyone knows the very first song they learnt to play on their respective instrument, what was yours?

The first song I learned was Time of Your Life by Green Day.

Is there a song, album or artist that has been influential in the way you write and play?

Someone that really influenced me was Stevie Ray Vaughan. He really inspired me to play with that aggression and soul and I really wanted to acquire that big sound.

NEW ALBUM: The Rentals – Lost In Alphaville

It’s been 15 years since The Rentals last released a full on album (Seven More Minutes) and 19 years since their amazing debut album (Return Of The Rentals) was released. But finally we get a new album, I cannot wait one bit.

Set for release on the 26th August, two single have already been released. They are:

http://soundcloud.com/polyvinyl-records/the-rentals-thought-of-sound/

http://soundcloud.com/polyvinyl-records/the-rentals-1000-seasons

If these two tracks are anything to by, Lost In Alphaville is going to be one big return to form for the band and a great comeback album. They seemed to have regained that original sound from the debut album which is absolutely fantastic. I can’t wait!