The Beatles were bigger than the sum of their parts, but those parts were still pretty amazing: John Lennon’s blunt, personal lyrics, Paul McCartney’s powerhouse vocals and memorable bass lines, George Harrison’s legendary lead guitar work and Ringo Starr’s thumping, solid drums.
Tied together with now-legendary producer George Martin, the group made some of the most beloved music of the ‘60s. To celebrate the release of Ringo Starr’s new album, Ringo 2012, we’ll take a look the best solo accomplishments from the Fab Four.
Ringo wasn’t necessarily the most prolific songwriter out of the Beatles. But he got a little help from his friends on his third album, the aptly titled Ringo. The album includes contributions from all of Starr’s Beatle bandmates, along with appearances from Linda McCartney and Billy Preston.
For many, Double Fantasy is a memorable album circumstantially. The album, which was released to receive horrible reviews out of the gate, was closely tied to John Lennon’s 1980 murder. But Lennon’s solid tracks like “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” and “Dear Yoko” proved that the album’s overall success was much more than circumstance.
Say what you will about the very ‘80s cover, but Harrison’s Cloud Nine put the artist back on the charts with undeniable tracks like “Got My Mind Set on You” and the nostalgic “When We Was Fab.” Cloud Nine would be Harrison’s last album released before his death in 2001.
McCartney’s solo debut shows the prolific songwriter at his loosest, but that’s a good thing. Many of the tracks were recorded at McCartney’s home, and he plays about every instrument on the album. It’s spontaneous, hooky and a great showcase of the songwriter’s raw talent.
Paul McCartney and Wings’ third album, Band on the Run was also the group’s most successful and critically acclaimed. The album includes classic tracks like “Jet” and the album’s title track, which scored Wings a Number 1 album in the U.S.
Harrison’s incredible All Things Must Pass was a tough album to follow, but he did it well with 1973’s Living in the Material World. The album was received well among fans and critics alike and included the serene “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth).”
It would be an understatement to say critics didn’t care for McCartney’s second solo album, Ram. Rolling Stone’s Jon Landau went as far as to say the music was “unbearably inept” and “unpleasant.” But time and great songs like “The Back Seat of My Car” and “Too Many People” reveal Ram to be a great collection of performances from an incredible songwriter.
John Lennon’s second solo offering is his most-recognizable effort. Released in 1971, the album was a step away from Plastic Ono Band’s experimental stylings, but long-proven tracks like the ultra-iconic “Imagine” and the hooky “Oh Yoko!” show that Lennon was no less sincere.
Considered to be some of Lennon’s most personal work, Plastic Ono Band includes insightful, timeless tracks like the contemplative “God” and “Mother.” The album was recorded at Abbey Road in 1970 and featured Ringo Starr on drums and Billy Preston on piano for “God” and has long been considered one of Lennon’s best offerings.
Although George Harrison was only billed as the songwriter for a few songs on any given Beatles album, the tracks that he did pen like “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something” were some of the group’s greatest tracks. Co-produced by studio legend Phil Spector, Harrison’s massive triple-release All Things Must Pass cemented the songwriter as the Beatles’ secret weapon.