Monday, 8 December 2014

Beatle Bonuses: Songs Given Away/Ringo's Beatle Written Songs



We wrap up our Beatles entries for the moment with two 'mini-articles' taken from our forthcoming Beatles ebook 'Every Little Thing' (stick the date in your five year diary, it;'ll be with you in 2017!) These are both revised and expanded from earlier articles on the songs The Beatles gave away to other artists and the songs John, Paul and George gave away to Ringo! 


Brian Epstein used to enjoy telling reporters in 1963 that Lennon and McCartney had written 'hundreds of songs' even before he'd met them and they could keep the band going up to 1970 alone; we know now that this was something of an exaggeration and the composers would end up so stuck for material that they were still resorting to cover songs as late as 1965. However, we do know of a good 20 songs the Beatles 'gave away' over the course of their career (many of them never recorded by the fab four themselves) and us Beatles fans can only look on in horror at reports that there were at least a dozen more scribbled in a notebook that Jane Asher threw away during some 'spring cleaning' one year. While only a few of these songs can be labelled 'classics' on the same level as the Beatles' better known songs some of them are well worth seeking out and both John and Paul seriously thought about a career as 'songwriters to the stars' when the hits started drying up (50 years on and we're still waiting...) Hopefully one day someone official will cobble these recordings all together on one CD (perhaps when the publishing rights to the discs die out). Till then I'm afraid we're left with doing an awful lot of digging through obscure various artist compilations or scouring Youtube:
1) "One and One Is Two" (Mike Shannon and The Strangers, 1963)
We start with one of John and Paul's earliest collaborations, pre-dating 'Love Me Do' according to most reports. Paul was still sufficiently embarrassed by this song to busk it as an example of how 'bad' the pair were in their early days and granted this is fairly standard Merseybeat fare without the originality of Lennon and McCartney's later songs. However, considering that this song must date back to the late 1950s or at latest 1960 it sounds remarkably 'modern', treated in the only recorded version with a heavy drum beat and rattling fast-paced heavy rock sound. Would have made an interesting early Beatle b-side.
2) "Love of the Loved" (Cilla Black, 1963)
Another of the better songs on this list, 'Love of the Loved was a moody dramatic McCartney ballad that The Beatles had been singing since at least their Decca audition on January 1st 1962 (it's one of the highlights of that tape indeed). When Brian Epstein signed Cavern cloakroom girl Cilla White (as she was before she changed her name) he naturally asked John and Paul for any songs. Sensing that this song might sound good with a brassy glare, Paul and George Martin cooked up this rather over-zealous arrangement for the song which doesn't suit it or the singer. They should have stuck with the Beatles' quieter arrangement: Cilla is awful at controlling her shrill notes in this song (understandable given how nervous she must have been but an odd choice for a debut). Contrary to popular belief Cilla was not a big hit straight away - it peaked at #35 in the UK, far lower than 'Love Me Do' for example!
3) "I'm In Love" (Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, 1963/The Fourmost 1964)
Billy J Kramer was another of Brian Epstein's signings and, while Lennon ribbed his new friend mercilessly for the cutsie-pie songs he used to cover, became quite fond of him, producing a lot of these early songs. Is it just a coincidence that out of all the New York apartments John and Yoko he chose one with the same name as Billy J's backing group? 'I'm In Love' is an interesting song mainly written by John: it's more like something The Swinging Blue Jeans would write, matching a rather drippy lyric against a rocking heavy beat. A demo of Lennon recording it exists (looking for quiet to record, he ended up in Brian Epstein's loo and on some bootlegs pulls the chain after the end of the song - his comment on the state of it perhaps?), as well as session tapes of Lennon 'directing' the session which ended up on the 'Billy J Kramer at Abbey Road' CD in the 1990s. The Fourmost also covered the song and made it even more of a 'Merseybeat' cover, although their number isn't quite as sweet and didn't sell quite as well, peaking at UK #17 - the lowest any Lennon/McCartney song had reached so far.
4) "Bad To Me" (Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, 1963)
Most of this list is made up of McCartney songs; this one just sounds like it. Yes, its John Lennon again, asked to write a song for Brian Epstein's new find and a friend of the band in a hurry and figuring that Paul can get away with it so why not him? Lennon's song is every bit as bright and breezy as the others on this list and the simply awful rhyme of 'bad' and 'glad' is the sort of thing he'd tease Paul about years later. 'Bad To Me' is far from the best Lennon composition, then, but its also far from the worst - it's nice to hear John write a 'happy' song for once and both the cute guitar riff and the clever middle eight that gets three rhymes out of the same words not two is the hallmark of a writer giving this his best shot ('But I know you won't leave me...') The song would have sounded badly out of place on any Beatles album, especially 'A Hard Day's Night, and has yet to be officially released with Lennon singing, although a charming Lennon demo does do the rounds on bootleg (famously he couldn't find anywhere quiet to record a demo for Billy so he used the bathroom of Abbey Road and afterwards pulled the chain of the toilet he was sitting on - his comment on how much he thought of the song!)
5) "I'll Keep You Satisfied" (Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, 1963)
Billy J again on a song that's again credited to both John and Paul but must surely be a McCartney tune: the melody spans far more than Lennon' usual five or six notes and ties up all the sections together neatly. It's not one of McCartney's best with a rather nursery rhyme melody and some particularly gormless words, but there's a nice key change into the middle eight that's good practice for similar uses in the 'Beatles For Sale' period on. Other lesser bands would have released it no problem!
6) "I'll Be On My Way" (Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, 1964)
We've already dealt with this song in full in our 'BBC Recordings #2 1963' list: suffice to say Billy J's latest Beatles cover is pretty close to the Beatles original and arguably the best of the 'Beatles' songs he 'borrowed'. Perhaps John and Paul thought so too which is why they returned to it, despite the rhyming of 'Junelight' and 'moonlight' (something they swore they'd never do). Billy released it as the B-side of another Lennon/McCartney cover, already released by them on 'Please Please Me', 'Do You Want To Know A Secret?' 'Yes' seems to be the answer - this B-side is a well kept secret, a clever Buddy Holly-influences song that would have made a fine addition to the first two Beatle albums.
7) "From A Window" (Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, 1964)
Billy J's last Beatle cover seems an odd choice: Billy J had just proven that he didn't need Beatle songs to be popular - his own 'Little Children' had outsold any of their songs and is still his biggest hit today. This follow-up was recorded in a hurry, with both John and Paul present at the session (McCartney even adds a poignant harmony on the last line of the song!) A kind of early prototype for the 'unhappy rocker' style of 'No Reply', with a song that similarly shuffled from foot and a lyric about a girl at a window who pretends she isn't in, this is no match for the 'sequel' but is still amongst the best songs on this list, with a typically glorious McCartney melody line. The song deserved better than a chart peak of #10 - the lowest Billy J had had till then and the start of a sales decline that he sadly never recovered from.
8) "Tip Of My Tongue" (Tommy Quickly, 1964)
"Tongue" is arguably the least well known song here and easily the poorest selling - poor Tommy Quickly (real name Quigley) did everything he could to get a hit and nothing seemed to work; frankly if he couldn't get a hit with a Lennon-McCartney song at the height of Beatlemania in 1964 he had no chance with anything else. That said, the only L-M song not to make the charts at all doesn't sound much like their work - it's more like the lighter end of the Searchers or Gerry and the Pacemakers' repertoire. The song is more Paul than John and features some very Macca rhymes ('After all is said and done, I'd marry you and we'd live as one, no more words on the tip of my tongue') and wouldn't have sounded out of place in some Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about stammerers ('OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOklahoma...'. That said, it's still worth looking out for and could have been really something sung in a Beatles version with Macca doing his gritty 'Little Richard' voice. In actual fact the Beatles did record this, at one of their earliest sessions in November 1962, but George Martin wasn't too impressed with the song (amazingly this is one of the few fab four recordings never to come out on bootleg to date!) That's the Remo Four backing Tommy, by the way, who go on to be big friends of George Harrison and play on the 'Western' side of his 'Wonderwall Music' soundtrack.
9) "Like Dreamers Do" (The Applejacks, 1964)
One of Paul's earliest songs, you can imagine how well this song would have gone down on the Hamburg stage, with its slightly proper before-the-war gentleman feeling and a powerful basic beat that was tailor-made for Pete Best to play on. Similar in feel to Macca's favourite cover song of the era, 'Besame Mucho', this is a song that uses more chord changes than normal for the period (1961 is the earliest performance on record) and a build-up of steam that's really effective. Sadly the Applejacks don't quite do the song justice, singing more like Elvis than the 'crooner' image Paul had for his song and the backing is slightly perfunctory. The Beatles' Decca Audition though (again heard on 'Anthology One') is a minor gem and would have been one of the highlights on 'Please Please Me'.
10) "Hello Little Girl" (The Fourmost, 1964)
'Hello Little Girl' is a lovely Lennon song and one of his earliest (they have him writing it in his bedroom the day his mother Julia dies in the 'Nowhere Boy' film, which isn't quite right but near enough as dating goes. It's actually a very McCartneyesque song with its breezy melody although the quick-stepping puns are more Lennon (was he inspired to write this by McCartney's own similar 'I Lost My Little Girl?' A regular of the Beatles' Hamburg set and one of the songs played by the band at their Decca audition on New Year's Day 1962 (as heard on 'Anthology One'), it would have made a fine addition to 'Please Please Me' or as one of the band's earliest B-sides, even if its a bit white-shiny-teeth for the Beatles even this early on. Listen out for the narrator losing his 'mi-mi-mind', a writing trick Lennon will re-use many times over the years. The Fourmost ham their version of the song up for all it's worth; much better is a version by Gerry and the Pacemakers (unreleased till the 1990s) - the song suits them a lot better than their 'other' Beatle outtake 'How Do You Do It?' (a Mitch Murray song the Beatles scrapped in favour of 'Please Please Me'). Still, the song is a sweet one that deserved better recognition, with the 'Decca' version still the definitive one.
11) "World Without Love" (Peter and Gordon, 1964)
The only people who seem to remember Peter and Gordon nowadays are Beatle fans and followers of actress Jane Asher. Peter was her brother, you see, in the days before he became a businessman and helped run 'Apple' and for a time looked as if he was about to become Paul's brother-in-law. The duo had an almighty run of hits, though, coming close to outperfoming the Beatles in 1965! Many of the best ones were written by Paul, convinced that Peter and his schoolfriend Gordon Waller (whose the spitting image of The Byrds' Gene Clark incidentally). Legend has it that Paul felt threatened and never gave the band anything good, but actually McCartney was very giving with his time and often plugged the pair as his 'favourite band' whenever he was asked. The only one of P+G's songs recorded by the Beatles was the also-excellent 'I'll Be On My Way' (see 'Beatles at the BBC'), although they did try and record more including the best-by-a-nose 'World Without Love'. However, the Beatles had to abandon the song when Lennon couldn't stop giggling every time Paul sang the opening line 'Please...lock me away!' Other songs for the duo include the under-rated and surprisingly moody 'I Don't Want To See You Again' (written when Paul was hitting problems with Jane Asher - was this song a comment?) and the rather oddly written 'Woman', a song released not under the Lennon-McCartney name but under the psudeonym 'Bernard Webb' (Paul wanted to see if it was just his name selling everything and whether he'd be as successful if no one knew who he was - however this rather odd and unlikable track probably wasn't the best one to try with!)
12) "Nobody I Know" (Peter and Gordon, 1964)
Another largely McCartney-based song, 'Nobody I Know' doesn't quite have the grace and beauty of 'World Without Love' and in truth is more a phrase than a song. It's unusual for Paul not to know where to go with a song once he came up with part of it - perhaps Lennon's ridicule put him off this song too much to finish it? The single still sold well as Peter and Gordons' second single, though, eventually peaking at a respectable UK chart high of #10.
13) "I Don't Want To See You Again" (Peter and Gordon, 1964)
Peter and Gordon single number three is another overtly cute McCartney reject, dressed up by lots of George Martin strings. With lines like 'why do I cry every night, could be wrong, could be right' this is easily the weakest of Peter and Gordon's singles (well, until they start doing weird one-offs like 'Lady Godiva' at the end of their career anyway). The single peaked at #16, but in the US this time where the duo had belatedly become big - it didn't do a thing in the UK as Merseybeat began to go out of fashion.
14) "It's For You" (Cilla Black, 1964)
Paul's second song for Cilla is much better than his first, if not quite up to his third. This time around Cilla has become a bit of a celebrity, thanks mainly to her #1 cover of 'Anyone Who Had A Heart' and has 'grown' into her voice, which is now a deep growl with a few pussycat overtones. 'It's For You' is tailor made for her and unlike a lot of the songs her was written deliberately as a 'cover' song from the first with the same sudden switch from ballad into rock number as that big hit. Oddly, despite the improvement in quality and the publicity of being a Lennon and McCartney song, this was a bit of a flop for Cilla and peaked at #7 in the UK.
15) "That Means A Lot" (P J Proby, 1965)
The Beatles' abandoned version of this song - originally intended for 'Help!' and since released on Anthology Two - has long been regarded as one of the few Beatles songs people laugh at. Most of this seems to come down to the very McCartneyesque chorus line 'Sometimes things are so fine - and at times they're not', which is indeed a rare slip of quality, undoing the emotion of the rest of the song. However, personally I've always been fond of this piece, which repeats the drama of 'Ticket To Ride' but in happier circumstances, and the band would have got it to work in most other eras had the marijuana they'd recently discovered caused them to giggle all day and go to 32 takes (most of them breakdowns, in more ways than one). One of the Motown acts would have done a great version of this song, which needs a smoky smouldering power the Beatles haven't quite learnt to play yet (Smokey Robinson could have repaid the compliment of the fab four covering 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' - the two are quite similar!), but P J Proby still has a good go. In fact his arrangement, which speeds up the 'can't you see?...' chorus is actually better than McCartneys, although you miss the group harmonies of John and George. The song would have made a fitting extra to 'Help!'
16) "Woman" (Peter and Gordon, 1966)
By now Peter and Gordon were starting to lose sales and, as Paul began to have more and more arguments with his in-laws he was less and less inclined to write songs for them. Around 1966 though, with the end of touring and the long second half of 1966 stretching out without any commitments for the first time in years (a relief to the others but anathema to the workaholic McCartney), he decided on a little 'test' about where his career might go 'next'. 'Woman' is 100% a McCartney song but, worried that his singles were selling just because they had the Beatles name on them, he gave it to Peter and Gordon on the condition that he be credited under a pseudonym. Most copies of the single list the writing credit 'Bernard Webb', others a more mysterious 'A Smith'. The trick didn't really work on either level - the single stalled at #28 in the UK and one reviewer of the day commented that 'Bernard Webb has such talent he could be another Paul McCartney - he certainly sounds like him!' suggesting people weren't fooled. It's a shame this song didn't do better because it's an interesting song, with Paul trying to go for a 'maturer' feel than usual for Peter and Gordon (she's a 'woman' not a 'girl' for start) but without moving too far away from the close and simple harmonies that was their trademark. It's not quite 'World Without Love' but it is a good song.
17) "Step Inside, Love" (Cilla Black, 1967)
The best of three Cilla songs Paul gave to his old friend and one-time Cavern cloakroom attendant (so says us anyway) 'Step Inside, Love' was - unusually for this list - written deliberately for Cilla on request. Cilla was starting a new TV show and wanted a theme that was 'inviting' and asked Paul to write one to different lengths. Pleased to be set the challenge of working to order for once, Paul took Cilla's notes to heart and wrote this song where Cilla appears to be inviting her tired husband in from work but could also be singing to all the audience at home. The melody is wonderfully Macca, fragile and delicate before breaking into storm and fire on the catchy chorus. The Beatles never considered this song themselves, but you can hear Paul 'improvising' a version of this song on 'Anthology Three' (he's actually bored slogging through 80-odd takes of 'I Will' for the Beatles White Album at the time) and an even better demo played for Cilla and George Martin at Abbey Road that's oft-bootlegged (perfectionist to the last, Macca even knows where the orchestra will go - and how the 'reprise' of the song can be edited for the end credits). The song would have made a nice addition to 'Magical Mystery Tour', though, had the band wanted it (you can just picture it actually: 'roll up roll up...and step inside!') The Hollies 'borrowed' the idea for their own superb song 'Step Inside' on 'Butterfly', which Cilla should have done as a follow-up! Cilla's 'other' two Beatles songs include a pre-Beatles Righteous Brothers-style ballad  'Love Of The Loved' which suits the Beatles (as can be heard on 'Anthology One' from another Decca audition tape) but never really suited Cilla and the similar, under-rated silky ballad 'It's For You', which has better dynamics but worse lyrics.
18) "Catcall" (Chris Barber, 1967)
'Catcall' 'Cat's Call' 'Catwalk' - Beatles bootleg fans know this instrumental by all sorts of names. A Shadows-style instrumental (not unlike 'Cry For A Shadow'), it was a regular in The Beatles' early act and is thought to be another of Paul's really early songs from when he was 14 or 15 (before he'd even met John). A clever, memorable melody that doesn't really quite know where to go after the first minute, it worked rather better on guitars than it does in this jazzier brass arrangement but it's nice to see this likeable song get some sort of an official release. Bizarrely Barber's band turns the song into a 'stripper' anthem, complete with catcalls and cheers, which rather gets in the way of the delightful naive strut of the tune. Was this their idea or Paul's (he was present at the session and this sounds suspiciously like the 'Thrillington' big band arrangements of his solo record 'Ram' in 1977!)
19) "Thingumybob" (The Black Dyke Mills Band, 1968)
Another brass band McCartney song, this was specially written for the colliery band as one of Apple's first four single releases - Paul hoping it would show off how eclectic the band could be (the others were Mary Hopkin's vaudeville 'Those Were The Days', Jackie Lomax's rocky 'Sour Milk Sea' and The Beatles' own 'Hey Jude'). Released as a single with a jolly cover of 'Yellow Submarine' on the flipside, it shows off just how good Paul's grasp of different styles is. Similar in feel and texture to his score for the film 'The Family Way', it's a happy little song with a trumpet 'waddle' and some oompah-ing backing that's rather effective.
20)  "Goodbye" (Mary Hopkin, 1968)
Mary Hopkin is, in effect, the female Paul McCartney and the sister he never had. Legend has it that Paul saw her singing on Oppurtunity Knocks and hired her straight away - actually it was Brian Epstein's assistant Alistair Taylor who spotted her first and got Macca to watch the repeat. However, the pair were close - briefly anyway - and Paul either wrote or 'suggested' all of her biggest hits. Frankly, most of them are awful, but Macca cared enough for her to give him one of the best songs he never used himself. Pretty, cute and full of that singalong McCartney magic that makes the song sound as if it's been around at least a century, 'Goodbye' might have been tossed out in five minutes but it shows just how effortlessly musical McCartney naturally is. Sadly Hopkins version loses the innocence and fluffyness of the original in favour of a rather irritating oompah-brass part, but the McCartney demo (now available on 'Anthology Three') is a thing of beauty and as great as any of his songs written for the 'White Album' that year, at one with the tranquillity of 'I Will' and 'Mother Nature's Son', even if it is in effect the happiest break-up song ever written.
21)  "Sour Milk Sea" (Jackie Lomax, 1968)
George Harrison wasn't the most prolific of writers until late-on in his Beatles career, so it's no real surprise he only ever 'gave' one song away (though Billy Preston was handed 'My Sweet Lord' until George realised it might become a hit and took it back again!) 'Sour Milk Sea' is an absolute classic 'Harrisong', first demoed during the Beatles' jaunt to Rishikesh with the Maharishi and a complete mix of the two sides of his 'other' songs from the period, containing the turbulence of 'Piggies' and 'Savoy Truffle' with the spiritualism of 'Long Long Long' and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. Kicking himself for frowning, George tells himself that all his problems are man-made and that the 'sour milk sea' is nothing to do with the real purpose of life which is spirituality ('You don't belong there!') Liverpudlian friend Jackie Lomax had a great voice and his first album (released on 'Apple') has intermittent sparks of genius; however Jackie's heavy voice is in danger of singing this song back into the sea: George's own fragile-but-tough vocals suit it much better but sadly his demo for this song still hasn't ever had an official release.
22) "Come and Get It" (Badfinger, 1969)
Most fans rate 'Come and Get It' as the 'number one hit that got away', possibly McCartney's best song of 1969 and indeed it was the biggest hit Badfinger ever had. However, I've never really warmed to this song which is like an evil twin of 'You Never Give Me Your Money', sarcastically taunting someone else (Lennon?) to come and get some money because 'it's going fast'. The song makes more sense when you realise it was written specifically for the 'Magic Christian' film which Ringo starred in alongside Peter Sellers whose basic premise was that you can make someone do anything if you pay him enough money. Paul should have done it himself though, instead of giving it to Badfinger - sadly this film categorised them for years as a hard-edged pop band when they were the most emotional and fragile band around. McCartney's demo version, released on Anthology Three, is far superior simply because he understand the song better and it suits him more, although even then there's alarmingly little going on in this song and the message of 'dog eat dog' only 18 months from the co-writer 'All You Need Is Love' seems devastating to me, even if it was written for someone else. If ever a song heralded in the death of the 1960s it was this one (alongside the Stones' 'Gimme Shelter' anyway). A sad way to end our little sideways journey into the songs The Beatles gave away!


(Adapted from an article first published as part of 'News, Views and Music Issue #26' on March 3rd 2009)
We've given you an overview of Ringo's career, but the parts that every Beatles fan should know are the songs John, Paul and George gave to their old friend. Some of these were written especially for him ('I'm The Greatest'), some were leftovers that never got finished ('Pure Gold') and some were written in collaboration with him (the only two songs ever credited to George and Ringo: 'It Don't Come Easy' and 'Photograph', gems both). Originally this article looked at the 'five best songs' written for Ringo, but we've adapted it to look at all thirteen written between 1971 and 1981. Oh and this list only includes those songs written by either John, Paul or George, not songs which they produced or played and sang on!
1) 'It Don't Come Easy' (Harrison/Starr; released as a single 1971)
A terrific little song that was the first 'proper' recording (ie vaguely poppy) that Ringo made and one he tried hard to beat for the rest of his career. The song successfully manages to pit a typically mournful Ringo vocal against a quite bouncy song that seems to say 'grr' on the one hand and 'oh well' on the other. Bootlegs reveal that George had one heck of a lot to do with the song and may have intended it for 'All Things Must Pass', layering it with the Radna Krishna Temple singers and adding a 'Hare Krishna!' chorus part. This song fits in nicely as a 'Harrisong' rather than one of Ringo's, being a rumination on karma and 'paying your dues' before something good comes along. The drummer also memorably sang this as his 'party piece' at the all-starr Bangla Desh benefit where he forgets the words and has to sing the first verse twice! Perhaps the best song on this list, this was a deserved #2 hit and - for a short time before 'My Sweet Lord' came long - was the most successful solo Beatles solo single. That's Stephen Stills not George on the guitar solo, by the way, and it's a cracker channelling so much pent up rage and aggre4ssion and trying to find a better path forward.
2) 'I’m The Greatest' (Lennon; available on the ‘Ringo’ album, 1973)
Lennon wrote three songs for Ringo but the others are pretty dire - the nauseating boogie-woogie nonsense song ‘Goodnight Vienna’ sounds like Jools Holland or Jamie Callum (though on a particularly good day, admittedly) while last-song-published-before-his-house-husband-phase ‘Cookin’ In The Kitchen Of Love’ quite possibly is the worst song Lennon wrote in his life (thank goodness he didn’t record it himself). ‘Greatest’, however, is a treat – written by Lennon in an egotistical mood for his royal walrus-ness to sing, he sensibly decided in a stronger moment that it would be better for Ringo to sing. Ringo’s mix of humility and all-round niceness just about allows him to get away with this song (the lyrics tell us how great the narrator’s friends, family and fans thought he was in teenage days, adult days and stardom respectively) in a way that Lennon probably never could (though his harmony on Ringo’s version is superb). Lennon’s own version (a warm-up vocal at Ringo’s session to show the drummer what the vocals were supposed to sound like) was later released on the 4CD ‘Lennon Anthology’ (2000) and for all of the bum notes and poor production values sounds even better.  Listen out too for the heart-warming mention of ‘Billy Shears’ and adjacent applause in the song (Lennon’s tip of the hat/satire of McCartney’s for the song ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’).
3) 'Photograph' (Harrison/Starr, available on the ‘Ringo’ album, 1973)
The only song on this list that casual (not fellow monkeynuts Beatles collectors) might know is this #8 single. The only official George and Ringo collaboration ever (though the two unofficially co-wrote the Cream B-side ‘Badge’ with Eric Clapton, despite the lack of a credit for the drummer) is a memorable mix of both solo Beatles’ sounds circa 1973. Ringo provides the poppy complexity and clear production of his early solo singles the under-rated ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ and the over-rated ‘Back Off Boogaloo’ while George adds the choral feel and laidback melancholy heard on his concurrent solo albums ‘Dark Horse’ and ‘Extra Texture’. Neither Beatle ever said much about this song but I for one have always assumed the lyrics are about Pattie (George’s first wife who left him for Eric Clapton about this period), which were possibly too close to the bone for George to sing alone. Either way, its mix of upbeat power pop melody and yearning lyrics of loss make for one of the greatest Ringo Starr records to date. Ringo sang a memorable version of this song at the George Harrison memorial concert in 2002 and, what with the track’s images of loneliness after losing someone dear, brought the house down.  Macca’s ‘Six O’Clock’ comes a close 7th - curses! Is it too late to change my newsletter tradition and make this a top 10?!?)
4)  ‘Sail Away Raymond (Sunshine Life For Me)’ (Harrison; available on 'Ringo' 1973)
Another rather forgotten song, this is a Harrison piece about Apple's business problems (Raymond was the name of the lawyer pout in charge of dissolving The Beatles' partnership whom all four met up with - we can't wait till he writes a 'tell-all' book!) George probably considered this country-rock track more in keeping with his partner's work (although it's more upbeat than the similar sounding 'Beaucoups Of Blues' album). George adds a delightful harmony vocal which suggests how this song might have gone. A ind of anti-'Here Comes The Sun' this is a song where George can't bunk off and enjoy a sunny day in Eric Clapton's garden but has to suffer interminable business meetings when he'd rather be outside. A cute 'round' that keeps swapping line after line, its' a deeply neglected song.
5) "Six O'Clock" (McCartney; available on 'Ringo' 1973)
Another corker of a track, Paul's 'Six O' Clock' is a rare collaboration from Paul and Linda McCartney that would have made addition to Wings' 'Red Rose Speedway'. A lovely warm song that reveals much about the couple, it's one of Paul's better 'silly love songs'  and starts with the narrator wiping a tear from his eye as he watched his beloved sleeping, before a guilty middle eight admits that 'I don't treat you like I should'. CD re-issues of this album include a terrific 'extended' version of this song which feature Paul yelling 'hit it!' and the song's end and going back into the chorus again in full party atmosphere that's really effective. Another of the better songs on this list.
6) 'You And Me (Babe)' (Harrison/Mal Evans; available on the ‘Ringo’ album, 1973)
 One of the loveliest ways of saying goodbye on any record, this song By George and the Beatles’ ever-faithful Roadie Mal depicts Ringo as a nightclub crooner a la Mick Jagger on the Stones’ ‘Satanic Majesties’, albeit with less irony (it sounds more like a McCartney song in fact, with a lovely rounded melody and some sweet lyrics). Ringo fondly bids us farewell, telling both band and audience to go home (it’s a bit like Lennon’s Ringo-sung ‘Goodnight’ but far less treacly I’m pleased to add!) before ending the song with a bit of audience patter thanking, among others, ‘John Lennon MBE, Paul McCartney MBE and George Harrison MBE’ – the closest the four Beatles ever came to appearing on the same record until 1995’s hideous travesty ‘Free As A Bird’ (‘Real Love’ was a bit better, thankfully).
7) 'Goodnight Vienna' (Lennon; available on 'Goodnight Vienna' 1974)
A Liverpudlian expression for 'so long!', this lone song from the follow-up to 'Ringo' sounds like a Lennon in-joke to me. With a very Elvisy 1950s retro feel and lots of 'uh-huh-huhs' this one doesn't really suit Ringo and sounds much better in John's own hands (you can hear his demo version on the box set 'The Lennon Anthology'). There's actually two versions of this song on the record, with the second and lesser known version  a 'slight reprise' that enables Ringo to fade out the record with the sounds of a party. However session tapes reveal a rather intense meeting with Lennon in a bit of a grumpy mood and not much partying going on.
8) 'Pure Gold' (McCartney; available on 'Ringo's Rogotravure' 1976)
'Pure Gold' sounds rather like one of those cleverly constructed but rather empty songs Paul used to give away to Peter and Gordon. A rather lacklustre love song for Linda, it proves again how off the ball Macca suddenly was in 1976 (in 'Wings at the Speed of Sound' period) and doesn't do either men many favours. Ringo really struggles to nail this crooner song while Paul and Linda' harmonies aren't as good as on the wonderful 'Six O'Clock'. Arguably the weakest of the songs on this list.
9) 'Cookin' (In The Kitchen Of Love)' (Lennon; available on 'Ringo's Rogotravure' 1976)
You can usually count on Lennon for a bit of emotional honesty but his last song before retiring to bring up baby Sean (a six month old baby when this album was released) is a B-side at best. Lennon, apparently, doesn't even appear on the tradck which perhaps suggests how little he thought of it. Still there's a nice melody (very McCartney-esque in its roundedness) and lyrics that don't add much more than 'we're gonna have a party!' but do at least offer a nice metaphor of music being the food of love - very apt for a musician at the start of his 'baking bread' years!
10) I’ll Still Love You (Harrison; available on the ‘Ringo’s Rotogravure’ album, 1976)
This doesn’t sound like George or Ringo – this moody ballad full of flashy guitar spikes a la Eric Clapton and an orchestral choir sounds more like Meatloaf than the Beatles. But the chance to hear George’s uncharacteristic guitar work (for it is he) and Ringo’s uncharacteristically strong grasp of the deep and complex tone is a decided treat for curious Beatles fans. Well, it’s better than the ‘Spooky Weirdness’ track on the same LP anyway. This is what Ringo might have sounded like had he been given deep and intellectual songs to sing on the first few Beatles record instead of obscure Motown and Country and Western covers and McCartney-written novelties. 
12) Private Property (Paul and Linda McCartney; available on the ‘Stop And Smell The Roses’ album, 1981)
Cascading horns, a driving almost-reggae-ish beat – hey, this is ‘Got To get You Into My Life’ without the clever lyrics! Well, actually, that’s a bit unfair – this set of Macca lyrics is still very clever, rhyming ‘property’ monopoly’ and ‘run of with me’ in a way that only Macca can. The whole track is a lot of fun and the McCartney’s backing vocals add a touch of class to the whole thing. Ringo sounds right at home on foot-stompers like this one too – so which idiot kept suggesting he stick to mangling ballads for most of the 70s and 80s?!
13) Wrack My Brain (Harrison; available on 'Stop and Smell The Roses' 1981)
'Wrack My Brain' is a fun Harrisong that tries to repeat the trick of 'It Don't Come Easy', with a bouncy singalong melody and lyrics that refer to 'my head filled with pain' and being 'all dried up'. Like much of George's 'Somewhere In England' album from later the same year it's awfully 1980s and synthesised and lacks the depth of his best work, but he does turn in a fine harmony vocal and another great double-tracked guitar solo so all is forgiven. At #38 this was a minor UK hit single - it deserved to do rather better although there are greater songs still on the 'Roses' album.
14) Attention (McCartney; available on 'Stop and Smell The Roses' 1981)
A very Macca song that manages to rhyme 'mention' and 'attention' with a brass-bassed riff that sounds not unlike his recent film soundtrack song 'Did We Meet Somewhere Before?', this is another sweet little song with a poppy melody that points the way forward to Paul's more polished sound on 'Tug Of War'. Paul doesn't sing, unusually, but does play a terrific inventive bass line that's louder than anything else in the mix!
And that's where we end with The Beatles' music for the moment. Next up, get your reading glasses on - it's Beatle books!
 


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