Previous posts: Part 1; Part 2.
1972 was not a good year for ex-Beatles. John and Yoko's double album, Some Time in New York City, was a commercial and critical disaster. Paul had bottomed out following the disappointment of late-1971's hastily written and recorded Wild Life LP. Ringo had a hit with a single recorded the previous year but was otherwise silent. And George didn't record anything at all.
Altogether, about ten solid minutes of music.
But instead of skipping the year altogether, I swept up all the uncollected singles, B-sides and songs leftover from other albums, and with a handful of songs that appeared in 1973 but were written earlier, cobbled together a sort of Odds and Sods/Anthology. I mean, you gotta put "Cold Turkey" somewhere.
The Beatles Solo: 1972, sort of
● New York City – John (4:29) (From Some Time in New York City. The lyrics are lazy and the production values are sloppy, but otherwise this is a pretty good rocker. John and Yoko actually opened their double album with "Woman is the N***** of the World" — I can't bring myself to post its full name — which was something Yoko muttered to herself when first confronted with the misogyny of the London art world. I know Lennon thought he was making a point when he wrote a song around the sentiment and he doubled down by releasing it as a single, but it turns out it was the same point Ben Carson made when he compared the Affordable Care Act to slavery, i.e., that he's an idiot. I figure that by 1972 John was so accustomed to success that without someone of the stature of Paul, George or Ringo to say "no," he had grown to believe he could blow his nose and find 24-carat gold nuggets in the handkerchief. John was shattered when the critics and record-buying public apprised him otherwise. You know, there's nothing wrong with devoting yourself to a cause — thank God somebody does — John's problem was investing so much of his self-image in the assumption people would open their wallets and celebrate the effort because his name was "I Used To Be A Beatle.")
● John Sinclair – John (3:29) (Upon arriving in New York, Lennon's new-found pals requested a song in support of a local poet jailed for possession of marijuana. John later dismissed this effort as uninspired craftsmanship, but it's actually the best thing on Some Time in New York City. You can put your politics in a song — you can put anything in a song — as long as it's a good song. See, e.g., "Revolution" "Imagine" "Working Class Hero." Hell, even "Come Together" started as a political song.)
● C Moon – Paul (4:35) (The flip side of the single "Hi Hi Hi," released in time for Christmas 1972.)
● Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) – George (3:54) (From All Things Must Pass. For an explanation of why it's on this cd, see Part 1 of this series.)
● Hi Hi Hi – Paul (3:09) (This McCartney single, like "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," was banned by the BBC, here because of overt drug and sexual references. In protest, he recorded and released "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which in retrospect was the most offensive of the three.)
● Live and Let Die – Paul (3:13) (The theme song from the 1973 James Bond film, this was recorded in 1972. A #2 hit in the U.S., I can say from personal observation, it makes for a fantastic live performance.)
● Gimme Some Truth – John (3:17) (A leftover from Imagine, it fits right in with the rest of the agitprop.)
● Tomorrow – Paul (3:27) (In an overreaction to the critical beating the highly-polished Ram album took, McCartney taped Wild Life in one week, with five of the eight tracks recorded in a single take. John used to complain that Paul would work his songs to death in the studio trying to refine the sound he heard in his head, but while Lennon's songs often drifted farther and farther from his original vision with each take, McCartney's benefitted from the effort. Not everybody works the same way.)
● Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple) – John (4:12) (This was recorded in 1973 and released that year on Mind Games. But Lennon first recorded a demo of this in 1971 and, again, it fits with the political nature of his other 1972 releases.)
● Smile Away – Paul (3:53) (From Ram.)
● Power to the People – John (3:19) (Recorded in October 1970, released as a single in March 1971, it hit #11 on the U.S. charts. I have to agree, though, with Hunter S. Thompson's savage assessment of the song which appears in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: "John Lennon's political song, ten years too late. 'That poor fool should have stayed where he was,' said my attorney. 'Punks like that just get in the way when they try to be serious.'" Of course, this was long before John's canonization as a secular saint. No doubt the good doctor's opinion mellowed over the years. You know, like the good doctor himself.)
● Oo You – Paul (2:50) (From McCartney.)
● My Love – Paul (4:09) (After the critical failures of Ram and Wild Life, McCartney really had no idea what to do next. He spent most of 1972 recording what was going to be a double album called Red Rose Speedway, but in the end he cut it down to a single LP and even that only had two good songs on it, this and "Big Barn Bed." He released "My Love" as a single and it was a #1 hit in the U.S. It's polished enough to appear on Abbey Road while everything else on this c.d. sounds like it was recorded in my garage ...)
● If Not For You – George (3:33) (... well, except for George's numbers. He definitely did not record this in anybody's garage.)
● Isolation – John (2:53) (From Plastic Ono Band, this would have concluded "side one" of my 1970 collection if it had been a 90-minute cassette tape as originally envisioned.)
● Big Barn Bed – Paul (3:50) (From Red Rose Speedway, "Big Barn Bed" is perhaps the most obscure of McCartney's classic songs.)
● Give Peace a Chance – John (4:54) (A single recorded in 1969 during John and Yoko's Bed-In Peace protest, it hit #14 in America, #2 in Britain.)
● Beware of Darkness – George (3:49) (The last of the songs I've raided from All Things Must Pass, fourteen in all. It's only now I realize that all fourteen are from disc one of the double cd, with none of disc two — four studio numbers and a live jam session — making the cut.)
● Bip Bop/Hey Diddle – Paul (3:37) ("Bip Bop" was the sort-of highlight of Wild Life, with this very off-the-cuff rendition appearing on Wingspan.)
● Early 1970 – Ringo (2:21) (The flip side of "It Don't Come Easy," Ringo made it clear with this open letter to his former band mates that he really, really, really wanted the Beatles to get back together.)
● Cold Turkey – John (5:01) (Part of me would like to think Paul made a big mistake turning down John's suggestion in the Fall of 1969 that "Cold Turkey" be the next Beatles single. Lennon's response was to quit the band and put the song out under his own name. How might have things played out if McCartney had said yes? But the fact is, at least three of the Beatles had been chaffing under the band's yoke since even before India. Lennon had wanted to put out "Across the Universe" "Revolution No. 1" and "Cold Turkey" as singles, Paul wanted to start playing live again which was a non-starter for his bandmates, and George offered up about half of All Things Must Pass only to have all those songs thumbed down. The Beatles were the most inventive, creative band in music history but the moment they started saying, no, we can't do that, they were done, put a fork in it. And put a fork in it, they did. The rest, as they say, is non-Beatles history.)
Total running time: 77:57.
Eight by Lennon, nine by McCartney, three by Harrison and one by Starr. In total now, Paul finally catches John at 23, George has 14 and Ringo 3.
Next, Part 4: The Beatles Solo 1973