My Top 10 Favorite Solo Beatle Albums

So with an unexpected snow day today, I thought I’d post what I said I would post yesterday! For each album, I’ll also post some songs that I would recommend in particular. Keep in mind that this list is just my opinion, and because I mostly listen to George and Paul’s solo music, 90% of this list is composed of George and Paul albums. Sorry John and Ringo fans if you feel neglected, but I feel that even when John was still alive and making albums, George’s and Paul’s albums were better overall and more interesting. So anyway, here we go!

10. Imagine- John Lennon

Imagine

Imagine

I felt obliged to put one of John’s albums on here just to make it a bit more complete, and between this and Plastic Ono Band, I prefer this. For some reason, I prefer listening to John’s songs on shuffle rather than as full albums, but I do genuinely love this album. It has a number of my favorite John songs on it and it’s generally regarded as his best album, and I completely agree.
Recommended songs: Imagine, Jealous Guy, How Do You Sleep, Oh Yoko

9. Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1- Traveling Wilburys

Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

This supergroup formed by George Harrison only made two albums, but I prefer this over the other one and listen to it quite frequently, which is why I’ve included it here. The songs are a good mix of compositions from George, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty, and I love that it doesn’t sound like any individual member, but like a completely unique band. This is a great album to throw on when it’s a sunny afternoon and you just feel like listening to some cheerful music, and it always puts me in a good mood!
Recommended Songs: Handle With Care, End of the Line, Dirty World, Tweeter and the Monkey Man, Heading for the Light

8. Band On The Run- Paul McCartney and Wings

Band On The Run

Band On The Run

This album is consistently ranked as Paul’s best, and while I personally prefer a number of his other albums, I do concede that this is a stellar album. All of the songs are well-crafted and interesting, but the reason that it’s #8 on this list is that, for whatever reason, I just don’t listen to it all that much. Therefore, I can’t really consider it a favorite of mine. But I am listening to it now, and loving it!
Recommended songs: Band on the Run, Jet, Let Me Roll It, Mrs. Vandebilt, 1985

7. Flaming Pie- Paul McCartney

Flaming Pie

Flaming Pie

I often listen to this album while I’m doing homework, but it’s definitely not a background music-type of album. What I love most about it is the incredible diversity of songs on it that I don’t think Paul had done since Tug of War, another great album. This album sounds very timeless to me, and many regard it as Paul’s modern-day “comeback,” but honestly, I don’t think he ever left!
Recommended Songs: The Song We Were Singing, Flaming Pie, Somedays, Young Boy, Beautiful Night (which also features Ringo!)

6. Cloud Nine- George Harrison

Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine

Here it is, the first George solo album on this list, and I guarantee it won’t be the last! This is regarded as George’s major comeback album because it was a huge hit and featured his last #1 single “Got My Mind Set On You,” which was originally recorded in 1962 by Rudy Clark. I think this is probably George’s most fun and upbeat album, and I love that it was produced by ELO legend Jeff Lynne and also features Elton John on electric piano. What a great combo!
Recommended Songs: Cloud Nine, Got My Mind Set On You, Fish On The Sand, This Is Love, When We Was Fab, Devil’s Radio

5. Brainwashed- George Harrison

Brainwashed

Brainwashed

This was produced by Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison and released posthumously in 2002. I believe it won a Grammy for something, but even if it didn’t, this is an absolutely beautiful album. George’s lyrics here are better than ever and the songs are his most honest since All Things Must Pass. Knowing that this was his last album, I sometimes get a little teary while listening to it, but I’m glad that he left us with one last beautiful creation before he passed.
Recommended Songs: Brainwashed, Any Road, Looking For My Life, Stuck Inside a Cloud, Pisces Fish

4. Venus and Mars- Paul McCartney and Wings

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars

Here’s why I like this Wings album better than Band On The Run: The songs all tell an individual story, something that I don’t quite get with Band On The Run. I love that fellow band members Denny Laine and Jimmy McCullough each get to sing a song, which makes it feel more like a Beatles album. This album also contains my #1 favorite Paul solo song, Venus and Mars/Rockshow. Basically, if you like good old fashioned rock and roll, get this album!
Recommended Songs: Venus and Mars/Rockshow, Listen To What The Man Said, Magneto and Titanium Man, You Gave Me The Answer, Call Me Back Again

3. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard- Paul McCartney

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Out of all of Paul’s solo albums, this is perhaps his most honest and intimate. I love how piano-heavy it is, and the songs each have a certain magical quality that harkens back to the Beatle days. This is definitely Paul’s darkest album, and somehow after 40 years it also manages to be quite inventive and new-sounding. Paul is always reinventing himself, and that is definitely evident on this album.
Recommended Songs: Fine Line, English Tea, Too Much Rain, Riding to Vanity Fair, Friends to Go, How Kind of You

2. NEW- Paul McCartney

New

New

You may be thinking, “Didn’t this just come out? How can it be one of your favorites?” Well folks, it’s just that good. While many may not agree, I think this might be Paul’s best album ever; from start to finish, it’s perfection. It also sounds completely unlike anything he’s ever done, and for that I applaud him. Also, out of all of his albums, I think that I honestly enjoy listening to this the most. While the lyrics may not be his most inspired, this album is a true listening pleasure, and that’s why I love it!
Recommended Songs: Just get the whole album. Really. You won’t regret it!

1. All Things Must Pass- George Harrison

All Things Must Pass

All Things Must Pass

This is definitely the easiest #1 choice on any list I’ve done so far, because there’s just no competition. All Things Must Pass is BY FAR the best solo Beatles album! This was a huge hit back in 1970, reaching #1 on the charts and featuring a #1 hit in My Sweet Lord. George made a lot of fantastic albums in his career, but none quite reach the mastery of this one. Song after song after song, it’s brilliant. If you own one album by a Beatle that’s not a Beatles album, it should absolutely be this one.
Recommended Songs: No even remotely subpar songs here. Get it all!

Whew, that was long! Sorry about that. But I hope you enjoyed this list, and if you’ve never listened to any solo Beatles music, it’s time to start! Enjoy the week!

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While My Sitar Gently Weeps…

Ravi Shankar giving George sitar lessons

Ravi Shankar giving George sitar lessons

No, I don’t own a sitar. I don’t own a guitar either. I don’t own a tar of any sort. But today I’ve decided to share some rock sitar songs that I love. Before I became a Beatles fan, I didn’t even know what a sitar was, but now that I’ve listened to lots and lots of Beatles music and watched Ravi Shankar playing sitar in the Concert For Bangladesh movie, I now appreciate it as an instrument that requires complete technical mastery in order to be played well. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s a pretty cool instrument!
The whole “sitar in rock music” thing started with, guess who, George Harrison playing it on Norwegian Wood, and from there the Beatles released a number of other songs based around the sitar. Of course I’ll share some of those, but there are a few songs by other artists I know and love that feature a sitar in some way on them, so I’ll share those as well. I hope you enjoy!

Norwegian Wood- The Beatles

This is where it all started! George wasn’t a very experienced sitar player when he played it on this song, but the point of the sitar is made. Also, this song is just beautiful. John is sometimes labeled as the harsh, cynical Beatle, but he really had a knack for writing beautiful, emotional songs like this.

Love You To- The Beatles

A fantastic song on Revolver, written by George. The intro to this is stunning, and I wonder how on earth George even came up with it. I guess it’s called “being a songwriter in the most creative band in the world.” 🙂

Within You Without You- The Beatles

This song is absolutely amazing!!! The sitar is front and center here, and this is the kind of song that is best listened to in bed at night. No distractions, so you can get the full effect of how brilliant it is. In fact, I think it’s arguably the best song on the Sgt. Pepper album. Yes, I know A Day In The Life is on there as well, but this is just my opinion.

The Inner Light- The Beatles

This is not one of the more well-known Beatles songs, but I think it’s a beautiful song in its own right. Or as John would say, In His Own Write. 🙂
(the title of John’s 1st book, published in 1964, was In His Own Write. Random Beatle factoid of the day!)

I think you get the gist of Beatles sitar songs. On to other artists!

Holiday Inn- Elton John

Honestly, Elton John is about the last artist I’d expect to feature a sitar on one of his songs, so imagine my delight when I first heard this song! I absolutely love this song, and when it gets stuck in my head, it stays there for days. This song also features fantastic mandolin playing by Elton’s guitarist at the time, Davey Johnstone. All in all, a delightful song from one of my favorite Elton albums, Madman Across The Water.

Paint It Black- The Rolling Stones

This was released during the Stones’ psychedelic period, and while it’s clearly inspired by the work of the Beatles not too long before, it’s definitely a great song.

The Devil’s Been Busy- The Traveling Wilburys

Guess what? George is back! 🙂
This song, released on the Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 album, has a lovely sitar solo, but some of the melody of that solo isn’t actually original. I don’t know if the Wilburys did this on purpose or not, but the beginning of this sitar solo sounds an awful lot like the melody from Paul McCartney and Wings’ song, “Jet”. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but considering that Paul and George were Beatle bandmates for about 13 years, I think otherwise!
Besides the sitar element, I think this is one of the best Wilburys songs. It’s a great song, through and through.

When We Was Fab- George Harrison

This isn’t really a “sitar song”, but it does have a cool little sitar bit right at the end. I mostly included it because I love the really weird, Monty Python-esque video that accompanies it! George apparently has 6 more arms than I thought he did! Jeff Lynne (who produced the album, Cloud Nine), Elton John (who played electric piano on this album), Phil Collins, and Ringo Starr all appear in it. See if you can spot them all in the video! 🙂
Anyway, it’s just a cool, trippy, very Beatlesque song.

I think that’s enough sitar talk for one day. Have a fab weekend!

George Harrison’s gently weeping guitar

Today, I’ve decided to share some videos of George playing lead guitar live. These videos are few and far between because 1, George didn’t perform live very often after the Beatles broke up, and 2, when he did, someone else usually played lead guitar. However, in these videos, George and his magical guitar finally get a chance to shine, and let me tell you, he does not disappoint. I would not consider myself a guitar expert AT ALL, but I’d like to think that I can recognize good guitar playing when I hear it, and in my opinion, George is simply a master slide guitarist, and a master guitarist in general. His playing is instantly recognizable and always flawless. So, enjoy these videos of a master at work! Go George!

My sweet Lord, the intro to this song is amazing! It’s so beautiful and perfectly done! I almost wish it was on the original song, but truthfully, the original song is perfect as well. And then there’s the rest of the song, which is played so beautifully that my eyes gently weep at the sight of it. Also, George sounds wonderful on this song. He never lost his singing voice as he got older.

I couldn’t find a video with just Till There Was You from the Ed Sullivan show, so to see that song here, skip to 2:35 in the video. I think George played the solo better live than on record. His solo here is smooth, sophisticated, and effortlessly played, and I love the cute looks he gives to the audience and the camera while playing. It’s almost like he’s saying, “Yeah, I’m good. Wanna stop screaming and freaking out so you can actually hear me play? Thanks.” For the Beatles’ first appearance on national American TV, he certainly didn’t look nervous at all.

George’s slide playing here is ridiculously good, and he makes it look so easy! I’m so glad that even with Eric Clapton as part of his backing band, George’s guitar playing got a chance to shine here. What I’d give to have been at this concert in Japan in 1991… Unfortunately, I wasn’t even born yet. Darn.

Another example of George playing some pretty awesome slide guitar in his mini-tour of Japan in 1991. Wow, he was good. His guitar playing gives his songs so much character. Also, I have to say that, live and on record, this is one sexy song. And the man singing it isn’t half bad either! 🙂

This performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps is absolute perfection, except for that stupid microphone that keeps spinning. Even years after the Beatles, George still can’t get a good mic! Anyway, the reason why I really love this video is the epic guitar duel between George and Eric Clapton for the last 2 minutes of the video. Two legends in their own right, battling it out. In my opinion, they’re both winners!

That’s all for now. Have a lovely week!

My Top 10 Favorite George Harrison Solo Songs

What can I say? George looks so cute here!!!

What can I say? George looks so cute here!!!

I’ve been really looking forward to this post! I love George, so you think this would be an easy list to compile, but this was actually very difficult. The solo career of George Harrison cannot be summed up in just 10 songs, but here I’ve done my best to list my 10 personal favorites of his. I hope you enjoy the list!

10. All Things Must Pass

This is such a beautiful song. I love the emotion that George puts into the vocals. He always sounds so soulful and honest in his songs, and on this one in particular, the piano with the guitar and the beautiful singing and lyrics all work so well together. This is George at his best on what is generally considered his best album, 1970’s All Things Must Pass. I have to agree; listening to the album, it really is a masterpiece.

9. Crackerbox Palace

As you might notice from the whimsical video, this song is COMPLETELY different than All Things Must Pass! I love this song and the video that accompanies it equally. The song is quirky and fun, just like George, and that’s reflected in the video. Every time I watch the beginning with him popping out of the baby carriage, I laugh at his silly sense of humor! He was definitely the right Beatle to fund Monty Python!

8. Dream Away

Dream Away is perhaps George’s most poppy and upbeat song, and I love it for its bouncy tempo and nonsensical lyrics. What exactly does “Ori in iay, ori in iay” mean anyway? I haven’t a clue, but anything in George-language has to be good, right? 🙂

7. Awaiting On You All

This song has an awesome tempo with awesome lyrics, and awesome background vocals. In short, it’s awesome! I’ve always found it interesting that George mentions seeing Jesus in the song, even though he wasn’t a Christian at the time, or at least I don’t think he was. Perhaps he was more religiously openminded than I thought.

6. Faster

This is one of those George songs that I’m very surprised isn’t generally roped in with his best songs. I think it’s really catchy, infectious, and has a great arrangement. The car sounds in the beginning are fun, and I like that it shows off yet another side of George’s personality, the lover of car racing side. It takes me a while to get into and really appreciate some of George’s songs, but after hearing exactly 3 seconds of the iTunes preview of this song, I was hooked.

5. Wah Wah

George apparently wrote this in 1968 after walking out of the Let It Be sessions, frustrated with his fellow bandmates, Paul in particular. According to George, a “wah wah” is Britspeak for a massive headache. I’m sad that he and Paul had an argument, but hey, his fans got a great song out of it! This is so good, it doesn’t even need the lyrics. It could practically just be an instrumental jam session and would still be great. This proves that George could rock just as hard as the other Beatles when he wanted to.

4. Blow Away

I know from experience that this is the PERFECT song to wake up to in the morning! It’s so warm and inviting, and listening to it feels like receiving a big hug from George. The beginning of the song just makes me go “ahhhhhhh” with relaxation. It, like many of George’s songs, always cheers me up or puts me in a good mood.

3. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)

This was basically my theme song during the week following Hurricane Sandy. Whenever I felt like things were hopeless and we’d never get power back, I sat in my room, listened to this song, and felt much better. I have to thank George a lot because I was starting to feel kind of sad after having no power for over a week, and this song really kept me going. George’s voice is so soulful on this song that it makes me tear up a bit sometimes, in a “Gosh, I wish he was still around” way. But then I remember that he left such beautiful music for everyone to enjoy, it’s almost like he’s still here.

2. My Sweet Lord

I can’t accurately describe how much I love and am addicted to this song! I could literally listen to it on repeat for hours and not get sick of it. In fact, whenever it comes up in the Shuffle mode on my iPod, I always have to play it at least 3 times in a row before listening to another song. If the beauty of my sweet George could be summed up in a song, this is definitely it. From the opening guitar strums to the slide guitar solo to the Hare Krishna chant, it’s perfection. But, it is NOT my #1 favorite George song…

1. What is Life

THIS is my #1 favorite George song because it ROCKS! I love the guitar riff in the beginning, and in general, it’s just amazing. I’ve had this song on my iPod for a long time, before I even knew who George Harrison was (yes, there was such a time in my life), and even though I didn’t recognize the singer, I loved the song and would sing it to myself all the time. Later, when I discovered the Beatles and figured out who George was, I found out that he sang this song that I’d loved for years! Now that George and the Beatles are such a big part of my life, I wonder what life would be like without them. I can’t even imagine it at this point. What is life without George Harrison??? (answer: not as good!)

I said before that George’s solo career can’t possibly be summarized in only 10 songs, so here are 10 more “honorable mention” songs, just like I did for the Beatles list. Since most people probably aren’t all that familiar with George’s solo discography, I’ll post the song and the album next to it in parentheses.
So Sad (Dark Horse)
That’s The Way It Goes (Gone Troppo)
Hear Me Lord and Beware of Darkness (All Things Must Pass)
This Song and Beautiful Girl (33 and 1/3)
Miss O’Dell (Living in the Material World- iTunes Bonus Tracks)
Devil’s Radio (Cloud Nine)
Pisces Fish and Any Road (Brainwashed)

That’s all for now! Enjoy the weekend and one last picture of George Harrison!

Gorgeous George from 1976, one more time

Gorgeous George from 1976, one more time

Beatlesque Songs

I think I’ve made it pretty clear by this point that I love the Beatles! As I’ve delved into the world of Beatle music, I’ve noticed that many other musical artists have recorded Beatlesque music that clearly shows an influence from the Beatles. Here are a few of my favorite Beatlesque songs, some of which are like a particular Beatles song, and others which are more generally Beatlesque.

1. Start! (The Jam)

This song isn’t just Beatlesque… For those of you Beatlemaniacs who noticed it right away, you are correct: the bass and guitar lines from the Beatles song “Taxman” are directly copied here. This is a well known comparison in the world of musical similarities, and honestly, I don’t really mind the fact that Start! and Taxman are eerily similar. I love both songs, and I appreciate that the members of The Jam liked the Beatles so much that they wanted to use part of a Beatles song on their song.
Here’s Taxman, just to clarify:

2. Karma Police (Radiohead)

This song has been compared to the Beatles’ “Sexy Sadie” before, and I read that the members of Radiohead openly admitted that Sexy Sadie inspired this song. It’s a really cool song, and I love how the wonderful music of the Beatles has inspired so much other wonderful music in the world. It makes me feel like good music that touches the soul will always be around as long as people don’t forget the Beatles.
Here’s Sexy Sadie, just for comparison:

3. Dawned on Me (Wilco)

This song isn’t as Beatlesque as the others, but it’s definitely very Harrison-esque. I can picture George singing this song on his album Cloud Nine in my head. The lead singer even sounds a little like George.

4. And She Was (Talking Heads)

This is my favorite of the four songs I’ve listed here, for one main reason: It really sounds like a Beatles song! Everything about it, from the lyrics, to the song structure, to the guitar riff, to the solo at the end, screams Beatles to me! I can picture John writing and singing it, with a little help from Paul, probably. This could fit right in with the Day Tripper/Ticket to Ride era Beatles singles. You may or may not agree, but it’s a great song in its own right.

If I think of any more Beatlesque songs I love, I’ll post them. Have a great week!