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A case for reevaluating Paul's (and the rest of The Beatles') post-Beatles careers
13 April 2012
7.45pm
Michael B
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Assume for the sake of argument that McCartney deserves the preponderance of song-writing credit for 4-6 songs per Beatles album, depending on the album.   Of these, I’d suggest that around 3-5 songs per album are really quite strong.   I’d make the same judgment about Lennon; he contributed 4-6 songs per album, about which 3-5 songs were fabulous.  George contributed between 1-3 first-rate songs per album.   The Beatles could afford to screen out weaker material because the albums were genuinely collaborative.   They had three genius song-writers; no one needed to shoulder the whole burden.  They could be picky.

Well, so what?

Well what that means is that when the former Beatles produced their own solo albums, they each suddenly had to start producing 9-11 great (Beatles-quality)  songs per album, not the usual 3-5 songs, if they hoped their solo work to escape negative comparisons with The Beatles.   

Absolutely predictably, none of the former Beatles could sustain a rate of producing 9-11 Beatles-quality songs per album.   Perfectly good albums by any fair standards were judged lacking.   Double Fantasy, a terrific album, was savaged.  Without exception, critics eventually claimed that each of the principle song-writers of The Beatles somehow lost their song-writing genius.     

Here’s the main reason why that claim iis unfair:   NONE of the Beatles EVER had had the capacity on their own to produce 9-11  Beatles-quality songs per album even when they were with The Beatles! 

Average or ordinary songs that would have been vetoed by The Beatles suddenly had to be included to complete solo albums.   This means that taken at the album level, few of the Post-Beatles work compares to The Beatles.

We all have our favorite post-Beatles albums--and I love many of them in their own right—but in my opinion only three post-Beatles albums do not suffer in comparison to any randomly chosen Beatles album. 

  1.  McCartney’s Ram
  2. Lennon’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
  3. Harrison’s All Things Must Pass

John’s early excellent post-Beatles work bought him some capital with the critics, but he couldn’t quite sustain the same quality of albums and in time critics began to turn on him as well.  His tragic death stopped the critics’ ever-slipping (and unfair) evaluations of his albums.

Harrison’s huge outburst of creativity with ATMP in the immediate aftermath of The Beatles split surprised the world, but essentially that album was a collection of Beatles-quality tunes that had unfairly been denied placement on Beatles albums.  Over time when  this stock of songs was used up, his solo albums began to reflect what we might expect based on his earlier contributions with The Beatles: 2-3 great songs and a bunch of decent but less compelling music.

It is Paul, I think, who has suffered the most unfair comparisons to his earlier career with The Beatles.   The truth is that McCartney's post-Beatles catalogue has evolved into an enormously impressive collection of excellent songs.   The variety of really fine songs is nothing short of astounding.    When one takes into account his experimental music, his singles and B-sides, one finds that Sir Paul has for decades continued to produce fine music at an astonishing rate.  Maybe not at exactly the rate as during his Beatles years, but any decline is wildly overestimated.  If I were forced to issue a collection of Paul’s best post-Beatles work (and not just his best-charting), I’d be very hard pressed to fit my favorite songs onto a three-CD album.   And that, to me, is pretty freakin’ amazing testimony to his ongoing Post-Beatles creativity.   

None of this is to deny that some of Paul songs are simply bad.  Cringe-worthy.  I fear that Wonderful Christmas Time and Spies Like Us make the universe a less hospitable place.   But the sum accumulation of  his good work—from the sublime to the good to the merely pleasant—is worthy of celebration.  And of recognition.  It is decidedly NOT worthy of snarky and dismissive criticism.

I believe that when we judge song-writers, we ought to judge them by their total number of positive contributions.  And many acts get this benefit of doubt from critics. When critics speak of other great acts such as Elton John or David Bowie or Radiohead or Paul Simon or even Bob Dylan, they do not define these acts by their own healthy share of clunkers.   They instead typically quite correctly focus on all of the fabulous music these acts have produced despite the inevitable subpar songs.  Not when evaluating this album or that.  But when evaluating those musical acts themselves. 

So what say you?  Am I misunderstanding how other musicians are judged? Did all The Beatles suffer a massive and sudden decline of talent?   Is Paul’s work a tad unfairly judged for not consistently producing an impossible standard that is expected of no other living musician?  

13 April 2012
9.48pm
meanmistermustard
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*I had a long reply written and then lost it. Im not pleased.*

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
13 April 2012
10.51pm
GabrielAntonio
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I totally agree. Paul suffered unfair criticism from critics and musicians after the Beatles break up. The reasons were clear:

His love for love songs with love lyricsheart; Due to a campaing promoted by Lennon and the press saying that he was the main reason behind the end of the band. They accused Paul of selfish behaviour in the recording process.

 

The music reviews of that period were not reviewing Paul's music, but him as a person.

14 April 2012
2.42am
Michael B
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mean-m-m:   oh, that's so frustrating.  ugh.  sorry, friend.  i'd still love to hear your thoughts even if in abreviated form.

14 April 2012
10.08pm
The Walrus
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Michael B said

When critics speak of other great acts such as Elton John or David Bowie or Radiohead or Paul Simon or even Bob Dylan, they do not define these acts by their own healthy share of clunkers.   They instead typically quite correctly focus on all of the fabulous music these acts have produced despite the inevitable subpar songs.  Not when evaluating this album or that.  But when evaluating those musical acts themselves. 
So what say you?  Am I misunderstanding how other musicians are judged? Did all The Beatles suffer a massive and sudden decline of talent?   Is Paul’s work a tad unfairly judged for not consistently producing an impossible standard that is expected of no other living musician?  

Bowie and Dylan were panned in the later stages of their careers (mid 80s-mid 90s), and those two reached similar peaks to the Beatles. Radiohead's recent output has also been criticised by significant sections of the music press and even the fans.

I'm not as well versed in Paul's solo career as John's, but I do own a copy of Wingspan. Frankly I think there's very little of merit on there, songs like My Love, C Moon, Junior's Farm, Another Day and The Back Seat Of My Car should not be appearing on greatest hits collections. There's a lot of forgettable tracks, then some good ones like Admiral Halsey, Bluebird, Too Many People and Man We Was Lonely. I also like Band On The Run, Live And Let Die and Jet. The only really exceptional track is Maybe I'm Amazed.

Paul has had a late-career rediscovery of his touch, just like John, George, Dylan and Bowie. However, I don't think his early solo stuff and his Wings career represented a dramatic decline from the late Beatle days. His contributions in 67 were generally fairly weak (fortunately that was balanced out by John peaking higher than any other songwriter peaked before or since that year), though there were exceptions. In '68 he wrote Hey Jude, Mother Nature's Son, I Will and Blackbird, as well as Helter Skelter and Back In The USSR, but the latter two received a lot of help from the other Beatles. He contributed a good number of excellent songs to the Get Back sessions, but he also contributed a load of rubbish. On Abbey Road, the medley is his main contribution and probably the best thing he ever did. Anyway, I think Paul's contributions to Sgt. Pepper, MMT, The White Album and Get Back/Let It Be are roughly on the same level as his early solo stuff, a few gems but a lot of poor songs.

John IMO had an excellent solo career. Plastic Ono Band is a classic, Imagine is too, and I really like Mind Games. Some Time is a bit too political and sometimes feels forced, it isn't a Beatles quality album at all. Walls And Bridges was a creative low. Put the John songs on Double Fantasy and Milk And Honey on one album and you have another excellent album. Three excellent albums, a good album (Mind Games), and two poor albums. Independent of the Beatles, John is one of my favourite artists.

George, well All Things Must Pass is an explosion of creativity and would have been a fitting follow up to Abbey Road if the Beatles were still together (other than the lack of other Beatles). I don't own any of the albums he made over the next ten years or so, but it seems like he had the same problem as Paul, a few gems but an awful lot of filler, which is your analysis too as far as I can tell. Cloud Nine and (from what I've heard) Brainwashed seem to be a bit of a late resurgence from him though.

No comment on Ringo.

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time
15 April 2012
1.43pm
Ben Ramon
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I think this is a very interesting topic, and it regards something which has always interested me.

The reason the Beatles' solo careers were not as great as the work they collaboratively produced is because they were all human beings. The more brilliant an artist's work is, the harder they will fall when they go wrong. Huge talents balance very finely with huge flaws. For instance George showed a great talent for writing yearning, spiritual songs but when pushed too hard this could result in a very preachy, condescending attitude. Paul was a fantastic melodicist and could seemingly write a catchy no.1 single in about half an hour, but rarely employed enough deep feeling to make a song resonate artistically. John could write complex, clever and interesting lyrics, and the songs came from his very soul, but it seems he could rarely be bothered to polish off the rough edges and add an element of commercialism which was needed.

The lucky thing was, in the Beatles, all three of them had each other (and Ringo's opinion) to add the necessary component and balance these songs out so that they were all of a strong quality. This applies particularly to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership.

I do think Paul received an unfair amount of flak during and after the Beatles' breakup. Between 1968-1970, I'd say he was practically unsurpassed as a songwriter and although the Beatles being his "backing band" added a lot to those songs, he was certainly at the top of his game rolling this kind of work out. "Hey Jude," "Blackbird", "Let It Be", the Abbey Road medley, "Maybe I'm Amazed" and any other of your favourite McCartney songs you want to pick from that period. But this was overshadowed very quickly by the bad press the other Beatles gave him, the general public feeling that it was he who broke up the Beatles, and his somewhat strange choice in releasing a debut solo album that did not reflect his ultimate skill as a top writer and producer of polished songs but a low-key, acoustic affair. All of this led to a large degree of spite from the critics (some of it very unfair if you ask me- how could they savage the eccentric but obviously meticulously made and boundlessly creative Ram on release? Even Ringo said "there wasn't a single tune on that album," which prompts me to ask which album he was listening to) and I don't think Paul's career ever really recovered from that critical drubbing. John's death didn't help matters, because now John has been turned into a saintly genius, a towering figurehead of peace, art and the undisputed leader of the Beatles, whereas Paul is just the "other one" who's still hanging around writing soppy pop songs. Nobody really seems to take into account that McCartney led the Beatles through admittedly their finest years of work, and nobody is willing to burrow into his solo discography to find that he has written a good few songs which if released with the Beatles would have been considered instant classics.

I feel that John's solo career got off to a good start because at the time of Plastic Ono Band, nobody had heard something so raw, brutal and confessional in pop music. Punk was still a long way away. The minimal, rough-hewn production and the idea of the album as therapy forced people to sit up and take notice; plus, as the most controversial and "news-worthy" Beatle, people were waiting to see what John had to say on the subject of the Beatles breaking up. And they got what they wanted- the numbing emotional breakdown of "Mother" and the blunt but beautifully written statements of "God", denouncing the former life of the Beatles with no metaphor or anything. This is why, in my eyes and those of many others, Plastic Ono Band is one of the finest albums of all time. "Instant Karma" and "Cold Turkey" helped to bolster this new stripped down style of music that John was pioneering. Then to follow up, John was lucky; he pulled it out of the bag with "Imagine", and had "Jealous Guy" to use from the Beatles days. Those in my eyes are the only two truly fine songs on the album Imagine, but they seem to have been enough to propel it to classic status. After that, the flaws began to show; the confessional, raw thing couldn't be kept afloat, punk did what he had already done in a bigger way, and John's work became too political and never really succeeded when he tried to polish it up (see Walls and Bridges).

As for George, it seems he spent all of his creative energy on All Things Must Pass partly in an attempt to snub Lennon and McCartney. ATMP is a splendid album, but I feel that George was very unwise in throwing everything he had into the 23-song set. If he had released a single LP in 1970 with some of ATMP's best songs on it, and picked his material wisely, he still would have had plenty of very fine material left for the next album, and perhaps even the next. As it was, he successfully showed the critics that he was as good as his former bandmates with the colossal effort of ATMP and then fizzled out really quite quickly. I have never liked any of George's work from Living In The Material World onwards; there are occasional standouts but the majority of it is very preachy, overproduced and often moody and contemptuous. Plus we have to bear in mind that a lot of the songs on ATMP were written and some partly rehearsed when George was in the Beatles and probably received some advice and tweaking from John and Paul.

Imagine if the Beatles had gathered their assembled forces one last time instead of holding back work for their solo careers and released an album in 1971 with the other material they had. On that album would have been (hypothetically): "My Sweet Lord", "All Things Must Pass", "Imagine", "Instant Karma", "Gimme Some Truth", "Jealous Guy", "Junk", "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Another Day", "Back Seat of My Car". Most of these songs were rehearsed at Twickenham. With George Martin's production and the Beatles all playing on it, this could maybe even have been their best record yet.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
15 April 2012
4.40pm
Zig
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Michael B said
I believe that when we judge song-writers, we ought to judge them by their total number of positive contributions. 

 One's contributions being seen as positve or negative is so subjective – read on.

Did all The Beatles suffer a massive and sudden decline of talent?

Absolutely not. It was more like a change in their thinking either collectively or individually. This was going on even when they were together. When they stopped writing things like "She Loves You" and started writing things like "Strawberry Fields Forever", there were some who felt they were on their way out. There were others who felt just the opposite. Was that a sudden decline in talent? Nope. But, if somebody did not like what they had to say, it was criticized. Even in this very thread there have been words written like genius, brilliant, creative, etc… Then there are words like weak, moody, flaws. Really? If you like a song, (insert Beatle name here) is brilliant, but if you don't he has flaws? Give me a break. My point is, I don't feel we need to reevaluate anyone's career – we need to just live and let live. Talent is talent…whether one likes it or not.

Even now, half of you reading this are saying, "yeah he's right". The other half are saying, "what an idiot". No matter which way you think, you are right…

a-hard-days-night-george-10

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

Can buy Joe love! If you're going to buy that song, album, or T-shirt anyway; please consider using these links to support the Beatles Bible: Amazon | iTunes

15 April 2012
5.27pm
Inner Light
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As for George, it seems he spent all of his creative energy on All Things Must Pass partly in an attempt to snub Lennon and McCartney. ATMP is a splendid album, but I feel that George was very unwise in throwing everything he had into the 23-song set. If he had released a single LP in 1970 with some of ATMP's best songs on it, and picked his material wisely, he still would have had plenty of very fine material left for the next album, and perhaps even the next. As it was, he successfully showed the critics that he was as good as his former bandmates with the colossal effort of ATMP and then fizzled out really quite quickly. I have never liked any of George's work from Living In The Material World onwards; there are occasional standouts but the majority of it is very preachy, overproduced and often moody and contemptuous. Plus we have to bear in mind that a lot of the songs on ATMP were written and some partly rehearsed when George was in the Beatles and probably received some advice and tweaking from John and Paul.


Keep in mind that this is all opinions and though I do agree ATMP should not have been a three record set, he wrote a lot of great songs throughout his solo career. As far as his songs being preachy, he always wrote what he felt inside and spoke the truth to what he believed in. Any artist that does not what I like to call 'play the game' is always going to be up for major criticism. George did not care if his albums sold nor did he care what people thought. A true artist to me is someone who is true to themselves. You will not find too many artists if any, who will say any negative comments about Harrison. For me, they were all fantastic but George as I read in a magazine once that referred to him as 'The Beautiful One'  will always I feel have an impact in musical history for his passion, kindness and staying true to himself.

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15 April 2012
6.09pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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This thread fits in well with the "Best Post-Beatles McCartney songs" thread:

Even those who agree that McCartney wrote some great stuff after the Beatles can't agree on what that great stuff is.

His syrupy hits of the 70s are most divisive.

 

We all agree that if McCartney simply took the 3-4 best songs of each album, he'd be in Beatle-land.

But which 3-4 songs???

 

Can the same be said for Lennon or Harrison?

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
15 April 2012
6.56pm
Ben Ramon
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paulsbass said

Ben Ramon said .

Paul was a fantastic melodicist and could seemingly write a catchy no.1 single in about half an hour, but rarely employed enough deep feeling to make a song resonate artistically.

Disagree on that one. He just never was as heay on drugs or insecure or desperate as John, he was always the positive, optimistic one. People keep confusing this with having "no deep feelings"…

Just listen to "Yesterday" and tell me his voice is not touching you. Endless other examples…

I never said "Paul has no deep feelings." John clearly writes about his emotions more baldly, which makes people go "wow what an incredible confessional artist!" 90% of the time, with Paul, who knows what he's feeling when he writes his songs? Can you imagine him writing "yes I'm lonely, wanna die?" I think the closest thing Paul has to a really angry completely confessional screaming John song is probably "Oh Woman Oh Why", and even then he uses the hypothetical situation of an argument between lovers that ends in murder, rather than singing directly about what he feels. He prefers to use external characters, third-person stories, wordplay and general hooks to get his message across. Obviously there are exceptions, and Paul's music still touches me emotionally a lot of the time, but it's quite obvious that what I said is largely the case, especially when compared to John. And people compare John and Paul a LOT.

 

Inner Light said
Keep in mind that this is all opinions and though I do agree ATMP should not have been a three record set, he wrote a lot of great songs throughout his solo career. As far as his songs being preachy, he always wrote what he felt inside and spoke the truth to what he believed in. Any artist that does not what I like to call 'play the game' is always going to be up for major criticism. George did not care if his albums sold nor did he care what people thought. A true artist to me is someone who is true to themselves. You will not find too many artists if any, who will say any negative comments about Harrison. For me, they were all fantastic but George as I read in a magazine once that referred to him as 'The Beautiful One'  will always I feel have an impact in musical history for his passion, kindness and staying true to himself.

Don't get me wrong, I love and respect George hugely, I'm just very indifferent to a lot of his solo career. If it does wonders for you, or anybody else, then that makes me happy and I wish that I could feel the same! apple01

As for the songs by Paul that I feel genuinely stand up to his work with the Beatles, I could probably shortlist fifteen or so songs, among them Fine Line, Maybe I'm Amazed, Band on the Run, Jet, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five, Tomorrow, Little Lamb Dragonfly, Daytime Nighttime Suffering, Love In Song, Dear Boy, Wanderlust, Here Today and Another Day.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
16 April 2012
1.17am
meanmistermustard
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Paul had a career low in the mid 80's and i cant see him being desperate to reissue either the Broad Street film or lp but his work is underrated when properly assessed. Unfortunately a lot of people listen to the greatest hits, a few of the more known albums (mainly Wings) and sum everything up based on those and preformed opinions.

Yes not every song on the best albums are great but then who has? A lot of people would say even the beatles failed in that.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
16 April 2012
3.01pm
Ben Ramon
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paulsbass said

Ben Ramon said

paulsbass said

Ben Ramon said .

Paul was a fantastic melodicist and could seemingly write a catchy no.1 single in about half an hour, but rarely employed enough deep feeling to make a song resonate artistically.

I never said "Paul has no deep feelings." 

Obviously there are exceptions, and Paul's music still touches me emotionally a lot of the time, but it's quite obvious that what I said is largely the case, especially when compared to John. And people compare John and Paul a LOT.

We can all read what you said. Still disagree. And obviously if a song touches you or not is quite subjective.

Many name "Silly love songs" as one of the, well, silliest songs ever written.

It still touches me. It's honest, it's true, it's fun, it's very well sung and arranged, and it's about love. Very romantic.

If what you say is largely the case for YOU, that's fine.

Just don't try making it an objective truth.

It's not an objective truth. Songs by Paul can touch people in just the same way as John's songs can, obviously, and that is subjective. But at the same time, it is clear to see that Paul never got as political as John, never criticised organised religion or capitalism or used harsh language or told people what to feel. People treat John's music in a certain artistic light because he was trying to engineer change through his songs. Paul rarely ever did that and that's why people don't see it as "artistically resonant", as I put before. If anybody's going to put forward a weakness about McCartney's songwriting it is pretty much that he doesn't "write from the soul"; in everything else he's very skilled. Which is why I chose it to make my original point about where the individual weaknesses of the Beatles lie. 

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
16 April 2012
5.32pm
Ben Ramon
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I was aware of all the things you listed above. Believe it or not I am probably as big a fan of Macca's music as yourself, but I can accept that he's not God incarnate… originally I gave a very balanced argument to do with the Beatles' strengths and weaknesses, explained how I felt that there was a period where Paul was practically unsurpassed as a songwriter, claimed that he has been treated unfairly by the public in comparison to John as you also seem to feel, claimed that his solo career is extremely underrated and overlooked, and went on to say that a lot of it stands up to his work with the Beatles. Really we are on common ground. But you vehemently leapt on the one tiny negative point that I made about him, which is something very often said by a lot of people. And I was only saying that to emphasise my point that the Beatles were all human and had downfalls occasionally.

But returning to the original debate, where John is thought of as a political, revolutionary songwriter, often touted to a "messianic" degree, Paul is not considered to be such a thing to nearly the same extent, especially in the eyes of the public who don't rabidly idolize him and see him first and foremost as a writer of pop songs. I'm going to leave my case at that because it's clear that any small imbalance that anybody perceives in McCartney's talent is going to cause you great anger and distress, but I guess we can't all be perfect Paul disciples like yourself.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
16 April 2012
6.21pm
Michael B
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I'm not sure how to copy text yet, so I hope these responses are clear.  

 

To The Walrus:  Interesting perspective on other great artists being pilloried in the press.  Good to keep in perspective.   Regarding Paul: sounds like where we part ways is not in evaluating the arc of his career—with both of us saying that there was not a sharp decline in quality of his work--but simply in the degree to which we appreciate or like his music.  

 

Ben Ramon-- Though I don't necessarily agree that the post-Beatles fell hard from a great height, I do think they were compared to a very very high standard.  I also agree that all their music was improved not only by the collaborative song-writing efforts of the other members of the band but also simply by the other members' creative performances and interpretations of the music--interpretations that effectively contributed to the songwriting.  Even where I don't see eye-to-eye with your analysis of their respective post-Beatles career, I thought you expressed yourself very persuasively.  For what it's worth, I thought you were perhaps too harsh regarding George, not Paul.  I took the bulk of your Paul comments to be glowingly positive.

 

Zig--Yep, good reminder that our judgment in the moment isn't always what it is retrospect.  AND that that judgment is very heavily subjective.  Not much to disagree with there.

 

Inner Light—I feel that perhaps my own initial comments were most unfair to George.  I only own about 35-40 of George's post-Beatles songs, and a good bulk of these come from ATMP.   I suspect I represented myself more authoritatively about his work than I had any right.  I quite like--and in some cases love--the songs of his that I do own, but I'm less familiar with some of his work than I should be.  Honestly I'm not in a position to judge how some of his last albums sound. 

 

Into the Sky With Diamonds--You make a really interesting point.  Not only is Paul's work divisive, but people can't agree on which of his work represents his best work.  As for me, my opinion has changed over time.  As a kid I loved his pop tunes of the '70's.  Nowadays they don't much do as much for me as they once did, but there are tons of songs that, with repeated listening, I've gone from disliking to adoring.  (Example: I pretty much hated Backseat of My Car the first time I heard it.  Nowadays I'd rank it up there with any of his best work either during or after The Beatles.)

 

Mean-M-M:  I've never listened to Broad Street (except for No More Lonely Nights) and I'm beginning to think this is perhaps my good fortune.

 

Paulsbass:  Well, I think in you I've finally met someone who is an even more stout defender of Paul than me.  I've read lots of your comments in other posts and in fact I've expanded my Paul catalogue because of many of your comments.  So thank you.  I've learned a lot from you.   But I should also add that I  didn't read Ben Ramon as saying Paul had no depth in any absolute way.  I think he just made a comparative point of Paul's music with John's.   Now  I adore Paul.  He's my favorite Beatle (right now, at least), and i obviously think his post-Beatles career is terrific and also underrated.  (Though in fairness not by the public, of course, since he's put a ziillion songs on the top 40 charts.)  but i think none of the Beatles has ALL of the strengths of the others.  they each brought something unique to the table.  so though it's true that paul has his own political moments, transforming the political world through his music just isn't his forte.  or emphasis.   and that's okay.  his genius and talent runs a different direction.  paul IS capable of writing good lyrics, even moving lyrics,  but i'd say lyrics aren't in general his strength.  he's simply the best tunesmith of the last half of the 20th century.  and that ain't too shabby in my opinion.   my three daughters all love paul's music, but we all have a good time poking fun at some of paul's lyrics.  in my opinion  it doesn't take away from our love for him. nor does it deny the songs that have great lyrics.   it's just part of his charm.  and to say he's less spiritual than george or less political than john isn't to say he's lacking depth in any absolute sense.  nor does it make him the lesser musician or songwriter because of it.   it's simply a comparative judgment in a specific area. 

16 April 2012
7.59pm
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My two (extremely long and not entirely sure it will be cohesive) cents:
Paul had a great solo career – no doubt. We all agree on that. But I don't think that Paul's solo career came close to spectacular, for one reason – I need consistency! Consistency is something I need from all bands I like, but two types of consistency – consistency between albums, and between songs on one album (in quality). I prefer bands who put out consistent 8/10 albums, with constant 7/10 to 9/10 songs, to bands who put out crap albums but have 2 fantastic hits, or to the band who puts out one 10/10 album and one 4/10 album. And Paul gives me one type of consistency – album consistency. He puts out mostly 7/10 or higher albums. But he puts out the occasional fluff I will not tolerate. You Gave Me the Answer? Bogey Music? Not my cup of tea. When I saw this thread, I put on all my McCartney I had on my IPod on shuffle, and about one every 7 songs I'd have to skip the song. McCartney never had the drop in talent – his best songs in Wings were always as good as his Beatles best. So, I think his solo career is viewed properly – not spectacular, but definitely with moments of greatness. But (and I think Zig mentioned it in another thread – possibly Beat Post Beatles McCartney Songs), but why do we care if Paul's solo career is viewed properly? John's solo career was good – Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey are only good because of his death. We view things differently in different times – Zig above is correct. But the critics will come around. They did with John, they did with George. But the music stands as it stands – that doesn't change as time does, and if you love it, some guy's opinion shouldn't matter. I've stopped attaching weight to critics' opinion – it's meaningless to me, because they analyse music. We listen. We listen to see if we like – they listen to form an opinion to sell copies. And the simple, cute songs are lost on them. But please, don't make this debate personal – it's just opinions, after all. Including all of the above. Just an opinion – nothing more.

Edit: Paulsbass, during the time I wrote my post, has just graciously made sure it wasn't personal. I wrote my last sentence before seeing his two posts, so they are redundant. But they serve as a reminder.

I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
16 April 2012
10.28pm
meanmistermustard
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Consistency is the problem i have with Pauls albums. For me on most albums you get say 2/3 of the songs that are really good leaning to excellent, half of the remaining 1/3 are good and the remainder i can give or take without much fuss (i think thats 1/6 left over). Obviously there are exceptions to that, for me these would be Driving Rain, Press To Play & Memory Almost Full which are all garbage, and the previously mentioned Give My Regards To Broad Street which has only No More Lonely Nights, everything else is the absolute nadir of solo-beatle crap (should add i havent heard Chaos and Creation because of listening and detesting DR and MAF) and possibly Pipes of Peace. (Do those maths add upa-hard-days-night-ringo-12?)

To me it appears that most of Pauls eighties output has been forgotten and is largely down to the mid-section where a lot of damage was done critically and commercially. Flowers in the Dirt helped repair some of the damage and then The Beatles Anthology helped a lot too, one example being it inspired Paul to record Flaming Pie which is one of Pauls strongest albums. It appears that Paul needs someone to bounce ideas off and be inspired by, outside the beatles he had wings where altho he was the dominant presence the other members helped as did being on tour - and its no-coincidence that without either of those his creative spark fell by the wayside.

Overall i just think a lot of critics and people come to Pauls catalogue with an already preconceived idea that his entire output is schmaltzy, sappy, cute but without depth, and generally lightweight. Which is all totally untrue.

 

As for John his first two studio albums are great and the next 4 never get above average. The songs themselves are generally good but the production for me sucks it all down to mediocre with only a handful of songs being decent the way they were released (Some Time being the exception – far too political and i dont believe John really bought into any of it). Double Fantasy/Milk And Honey (both come from the same sessions – Milk and Honey being unfinished) showed that John was rusty after being out for so long but that with time it would probably improve (tho there is no way that can be 100% sure).

And looking at that i think his music is overrated based on those 7 or 8 studio albums. For me a lot of Johns reputation is based on being viewed as the THE beatle, his amazing aura in interviews, the persona Yoko has created and 2 very strong albums and a large handful of great songs. (And before people rise up over that i love John and his music (tho not everything) just not how it was produced, the outtakes are fantasic and show just how darn good he trully was. And i hate how Yoko manages his catalogue and memory)

 

George's best works without any real doubt were the bookends to his solo career whilst alive; All Things Must Pass and Cloud Nine, 2 stunning albums up there alongside the best of anything John and Paul did (and i dont buy into the thinking of keeping some of the ATMP songs back, his creativity was flowing and it shows throughout.) Brainwashed is strong. However i dont find the others are that great, there are some fantasic moments in there just not that strong overall. Its sad that thats my viewpoint and yet still feel George is underrated, in my opinion based again on preconceived ideas held before people even turn his music on.

 

I havent heard enough of Ringo to go into his works.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
16 April 2012
10.29pm
Ben Ramon
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Michael B said
Ben Ramon-- Though I don't necessarily agree that the post-Beatles fell hard from a great height, I do think they were compared to a very very high standard.  I also agree that all their music was improved not only by the collaborative song-writing efforts of the other members of the band but also simply by the other members' creative performances and interpretations of the music--interpretations that effectively contributed to the songwriting.  Even where I don't see eye-to-eye with your analysis of their respective post-Beatles career, I thought you expressed yourself very persuasively.  For what it's worth, I thought you were perhaps too harsh regarding George, not Paul.  I took the bulk of your Paul comments to be glowingly positive.

 

Thankyou :) Yeah I am a bit of a McCartney-head, and i've always found his transition after the Beatles to be the most interesting one so my opinions on him in that era are often quite complex but usually very positive; I just enjoy his music to such a great degree. I can be harsh on George, I'm aware- I love George within the Beatles, and ATMP is a monster of an album, but I can't hide the fact that I just don't enjoy his work after that. I may have to give it another try.

 

Paulsbass:  Well, I think in you I've finally met someone who is an even more stout defender of Paul than me.  I've read lots of your comments in other posts and in fact I've expanded my Paul catalogue because of many of your comments.  So thank you.  I've learned a lot from you.   But I should also add that I  didn't read Ben Ramon as saying Paul had no depth in any absolute way.  I think he just made a comparative point of Paul's music with John's.   Now  I adore Paul.  He's my favorite Beatle (right now, at least), and i obviously think his post-Beatles career is terrific and also underrated.  (Though in fairness not by the public, of course, since he's put a ziillion songs on the top 40 charts.)  but i think none of the Beatles has ALL of the strengths of the others.  they each brought something unique to the table.  so though it's true that paul has his own political moments, transforming the political world through his music just isn't his forte.  or emphasis.   and that's okay.  his genius and talent runs a different direction.  paul IS capable of writing good lyrics, even moving lyrics,  but i'd say lyrics aren't in general his strength.  he's simply the best tunesmith of the last half of the 20th century.  and that ain't too shabby in my opinion.   my three daughters all love paul's music, but we all have a good time poking fun at some of paul's lyrics.  in my opinion  it doesn't take away from our love for him. nor does it deny the songs that have great lyrics.   it's just part of his charm.  and to say he's less spiritual than george or less political than john isn't to say he's lacking depth in any absolute sense.  nor does it make him the lesser musician or songwriter because of it.   it's simply a comparative judgment in a specific area. 

Wise words. I guess I just wasn't articulate enough to put it in this very level-headed and mature way.

paulsbass said
I did realize that and totally agreed with your op. You absolutely know your stuff (in general ;-) and you express yourself on a very high intellectual and social level. That's why I honoured you with lenghty replies, in contrast to the Walrus, who just doesn't know anything about Paul's career.

I realize you were interested in a serious discussion and made my point.

Maybe it's possible for you to understand my position and how I reacted to your claims.

I'm not interested in driving anyone away here, especially when he's so well outspoken as you are.

Peace.apple01

Peace to you too, friend apple01 I'm flattered by your comments! I thought you expressed yourself very well too; it's always a pleasure to have a debate with somebody on the internet who can end the discussion with respect.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
16 April 2012
10.37pm
Ben Ramon
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meanmistermustard said

and i dont buy into the thinking of keeping some of the ATMP songs back, his creativity was flowing and it shows throughout.

In hindsight I do actually agree with you. I retract my first statement about staggering the ATMP songs into different albums, I just believe it wasn't a very business savvy move. But hey, saying that ATMP would be better cut down is like saying the White Album would be better cut down- it misses the point and detracts from the fact that the White Album is to do with four different separate personalities fracturing and exploring everything they possibly can, whether for good or ill; just like it detracts from All Things Must Pass being the giant fruit of George's labors not only within the Beatles but within the general creative flow he was granted by being free from the band.

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
18 April 2012
9.41pm
Zig
The Toppermost of the Poppermost
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Ben Ramon said

it's always a pleasure to have a debate with somebody on the internet who can end the discussion with respect.

Well said. That is reason # 1,584,269 why I love this Forum. 

apple01

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

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3 May 2012
11.31pm
meanmistermustard
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Having viewed Give My Regards To Broad Street (can still taste it in my mouth – yech) it got me wondering if Paul has really helped himself in how people have viewed his output in the beatles.

YesterdayBlackbird & Michelle (the last 2 as part of a medley with Bluebird and Heart of the Country) were performed during the '73 tv special 'James Paul McCartney'.

During the '75 and '76 world tours he played The Long & Winding Road, Yesterday, I've Just Seen A Face, Lady Madonna & Blackbird.

For the '79 tour there was The Fool On The Hill, Got To Get You Into My Life, Let It Be & Yesterday.

The aforementioned Give My Regards To Broad Street had Good Day Sunshine, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, The Long And Winding Road, For No One & Here, There & Everywhere.

 

None are really hard rockers with only Got To Get You Into My Life and Lady Madonna being slightly more up tempo than the ballads. There was plently of scope in all of these to include I'm Down, I've Got A Feeling, I Saw Her Standing There or one of the other more lively songs. (Long Tall Sally was included in some of those but isnt a song composed by Paul.)

 

(Not sure if i have forgotten any others.)

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
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