The Great Lost Beatles Album of 1971

There are many, many “what if”s to ponder in Beatles history.

What if they hadn’t sacked Pete Best in favour of Ringo?

What if Brian Epstein had been straight and therefore less able to see the potential to create the world’s first boy band?

And what if John had never met Yoko? Well, for one thing, they would never have split up when they did.

In 1970 the four Beatles were far from creatively spent. Looking back at the early 70s it seems that for the first few years after the breakup , all four members were furiously engaged in trying to out-do each other as to who could put out the best songs and sell the most records.

I’ve never subscribed to the theory that “they never reached the heights they reached together”.

It is more accurate to say “they never reached the sustained heights” – and it is my contention that the only reason for this was that they were no longer working together.

Paul would have vetoed John’s more indulgent experiments, and John would have continued to rein in the more overt examples of Paul’s whimsy. And both would have encouraged George to new heights.

Simple mathematics tells us that if the same creative team makes four albums separately, these are, on average going to be only 25% as good.

Weight the average in favour of John and Paul and against Ringo and you’d probably expect a Lennon or a McCartney album to contain 40% Fabs-quality material, George’s album would have a one in five hit-rate and anything Ringo could come up with would be a bonus.

So, suppose the Beatles had taken a year off after the release of Let It Be, gone their separate ways, but then reconvened at Studio Two, Abbey Road around mid-1971.

The resulting album could have been their best yet. They would have argued about the tracks and the order, with John finally winning the battle to finish on a political, rather than a feel-good song.

The Great Lost Beatles Album Of 1971

Side One

What Is Life (George)
Back Off Boogaloo (Ringo)
Another Day (Paul)
Wah Wah (George)
Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul)
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (Paul)
Instant Karma (John)

Side Two

Imagine (John)
The Back Seat Of My Car(Paul)
Give Peace A Chance (John)
It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo)
C Moon (Paul)
My Sweet Lord (George)
Working Class Hero (John)

Waving Flags

I do love the old Queen. Still just as classy as ever as you can see from this video clip here

If you caught any of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert last week, you will have seen an array of popular British music acts from down the years. It all seemed very pleasant in the middle of an extended Bank Holiday weekend, with everyone in such a good mood.

There was Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney and Tom Jones (and of course Elton John!)  representing the old guard, Madness on top of Buck House and Jessie J and JLS among the current acts. Grace Jones and her amazing hula-hoop stole the show for me but that could be because deep down I suspect I am a gay man trapped in a straight man’s body.

And all I’ve heard since then is either “That was fantastic, what a great selection of bands” or “What a load of rubbish, we’ve got way better bands than that they could have had”. Polar opposite views, but they share a common assumption – we do pop music better than the rest of the world combined. You’ve only got to look at their charts – they’re all full of British music.

Erm – newsflash. The reason we, as English speaking people, think our music is better than the rest of the world’s is that we can’t speak French, Russian, Swahili, Punjabi, Dutch, Chinese or Swedish.

And the reason the charts in so many other countries have so many English speaking records is that a large percentage of the world’s population learns English from the cradle.

And you know why they speak English? That’s right. Its because the most powerful nation of the past 100 years is English speaking. And it ain’t England, or Britain, its the USA.

I listen to a lot of music. A lot. Because I’ve lived my whole life in England most of it is British or American. Its easy to get parochial on this point, but its also incorrect.

You only have to spend a short time abroad (and by that I mean mixing with the locals, not just staying in the Brit bars) to realise that there is a hell of a lot of music out there – some good, some bad, some great, but all of it worthy of a listen, and worthy of consideration in exactly the same way “our own” music is. And in the cases where different countries’ music has fused, its interesting to see the different takes on a familiar beat.

There’s a huge project to be done by somebody  on the music of the world (NOT “World Music” which in this country simply means another bunch of obsessives with another exclusive musical club – the arrogance of lumping the entire non-English speaking world into one category is so damn English)

Unfortunately, this is not that project. I don’t have the time as I have a day job and a relationship to hold down.

But over the next few weeks, to coincide with the 2012 European Football Championships, I will be featuring a random sample of music from each of the sixteen countries taking part. There is absolutely no plan or rhyme or reason for the selections, other than I love them all, and they won’t be bands everyone knows (so if you guessed Abba for Sweden, Demis Roussos for Greece and James Last for Germany, then guess again)

All are well worthy of your attention although it has to be said it isn’t always for purely musical reasons (you’re gonna LOVE Russia!)

To kick off, then, here are a couple of vids from great European bands whose countries unfortunately didn’t make it to Euro 2012 :

Its a mystery to me how Belgium, with Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard, managed to avoid qualifying. They would have graced the tournament. It is also a mystery to me why this band are not huge. They even sing in English fer Chrissakes.

This lot are brilliant – saw them at the Thekla in Bristol a few weeks ago. They will go further than the Norn Iron football team ever will, with or without Neil Lennon.

And finally, ending on an “up”, Norway didn’t quite sneak in but Katzenjammer are the best band I’ve seen in a very long time. Dig this cheesy madcap trumpet ride!

Okay, back tomorrow with the first of the sixteen countries, ahead of the first day’s matches.

One last thing about Elton. I was so relieved when he didn’t do Candle In The Wind with the Diana words. That would have been awkward turtle and no mistake.

Katie Malco – The Lexington

Friday 4th November, 2011

First act on at the Lexington last Friday was Katie Malco.

Her voice sounds like honey soaked in whisky. Her songs occupy the same territory as Sarabeth Tucek and Laura Veirs (to these ears). All doe-eyes and wistful and melancholy. She’s left-handed but plays a right-handed guitar much like that other great doe-eyed musician, Paul McCartney did, at least in the early days.

There aren’t many punters in this early at the Lexington. Can’t believe all the hipster HerNameIsCalla fans have something better to do than get here early for the supports. Heck, school finishes around 4 in the afternoon, doesn’t it?

So Katie plays her beautiful songs to a solo guitar and an audience of maybe twenty people, mainly sitting down. She charmingly forgets the words to some Bob Dylan song or other but so what?

Robert Plant famously forgot the words to Stairway To bloody Heaven at Knebworth in 1978, possibly the most famous rock song ever written at that time (and number one in John Peel’s inaugural Festive 50 in 1976, fact lovers.  You think I had to look that up? Hah ! I remember TAPING the show at the time !). And he wrote the bugger!

Katie remembers her own songs fine though, and you can tell that this is what she really wants to do, her own stuff. Although her other cover is interesting (a cover of a mate’s song, whose name I  didn’t catch unfortunately) and I get why people want to do covers early on, I’d say she’d be better sticking to her own excellent material..

Or failing that, do the Abba and Zeppelin covers that she alluded to towards the end of her set … (Knowing Me Knowing You or Immigrant Song could work … just sayin’ … )

I downloaded her debut 5-track EP off of bandcamp, and its loverly.  Best £2.50 I’ve spent all week.

Forthcoming gig with Katie givineg her Courtney Love as her band play a set of Hole covers this Saturday at Brixton Windmill (supporting the Cash-In Pumpkins 8=) ), which I am gutted to be missing … ( I need to put in an appearance at home every now and then or the Wife will forget who I am)

Go see her soon.