Thursday, February 17, 2022

Ranking (most) of the Beatles Solo Albums

I found that the pandemic really hampered my ability to concentrate on music, but after watching Get Back, I wanted to explore the Beatles solo stuff more. I hadn’t listened to much of them outside of Greatest Hits collections and a couple of the well-known albums. 

 I gave myself some homework: listen to (most) all the albums in chronological order and rank them in order of how much I like them. I fully understand the limitations and flaws of a ranking, but this was fun for me and it gave me some structure to my free time. These are just like, my opinions, man. 

I purposely skipped over the early John/Yoko stuff, George’s instrumentals, Paul’s classical and electronica, as well as Ringo’s Christmas album. (I just didn’t feel like listening to Christmas music in January.) Also, for some reason Ringo 2012 isn’t on Apple Music?

Happy to hear polite suggestions and recommendations for things I may have overlooked! 

62. Bad Boy - Ringo Starr

61. Ringo the Fourth - Ringo Starr

60. Stop and Smell the Roses - Ringo Starr

Just going to write about all three of these at once. The late 70s and early 80s were not kind to Mr. Starkey. These ones just felt awkward and didn’t really fit him well. 

59. Press to Play - Paul McCartney: Nothing really here that’s spectacular. The 80s were a definite hit and miss decade for Paul. Favorite Tracks: However Absurd

58. Postcards from Paradise - Ringo Starr: A lot of schlocky stuff from Ringo in this one. Other albums in this era are much better from him. Favorite Tracks: Rory and The Hurricanes, Let Love Lead. 

57. Old Wave - Ringo Starr: A couple of good tracks to open the album but nothing else. Favorite Tracks: In My Car, Hopeless. 

56. Gone Troppo - George Harrison: George just phoning it in and ready to move on to some other projects. Favorite Tracks: None 

55. Give My Regards to Broad Street - Paul McCartney: I just don’t get the point of redoing the material less than 20 years later. The only good track is the original. Favorite Tracks: No More Lonely Nights. 

54. Extra Texture - George Harrison: Something about the production just feels wonky on this one. Other reviews mentioned “This Guitar Can’t Keep from Crying”, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Favorite Tracks: You

53. Sometime in New York City - John Lennon: This record has not aged well. It might not be fair to judge it with a 2022 lens, but the political statements on the record just feel obtuse coming from John and Yoko. I wonder if this record would have aged better had he chosen a different name for the first track.. However, I like New York City. I feel like it doesn’t give enough credit for being a fun song. And We’re All Water is Yoko’s best contribution to John’s albums. Favorite Tracks: New York City. John Sinclair, We’re All Water

52. Liverpool 8 - Ringo Starr: I wish Ringo had kept his early 2000s streak going, but not a ton of meat on the bone here. The title track is the highlight. Favorite Tracks: Liverpool 8, RU Ready?

51. What’s my name? - Ringo Starr: Overall an ok collection of songs that lean into the peace and love brand. John's Grow Old with Me is a highlight, opening track is kinda eye-rolly.

50. Sentimental Journey - Ringo Starr: A spirited effort, but not really suited for Ringo’s voice. Favorite Tracks: Bye Bye Blackbird, Have I Told You Lately, Night and Day.

49. Y Not - Ringo Starr: Not a masterpiece by any means, but the Walk With You track dueting with Paul is great. That makes the album. Favorite Tracks: Walk With You.

48. Beaucoup of Blues - Ringo Starr: A totally fine country and western record from Ringo. Just gets overshadowed by all the other spectacular releases at the time. Favorite Tracks: $15 draw, I Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way, Coochy Coochy

47. Off The Ground - Paul McCartney: Paul makes a 90s album. Honestly nothing really sticks out to me as a Paul song. He could have written this for the Wallflowers or a similar band. Favorite Tracks: Off the Ground, Winedark Open Sea, C’mon People.

46. Give More Love - An ok outing from Ringo. He tackles a couple of country and reggae style tracks, with decent results. Favorite Tracks: Standing Still, King of Kings. 

45. Wild Life - Paul McCartney: I think I like this one more than most people, but it feels like Paul is still figuring out how to work in a band again. The Love is Strange cover is definitely the highlight. Favorite Tracks: Love is Strange, Dear Friend 

44. Pipes of Peace - Paul McCartney: Paul makes an 80s album. The duets with Michael Jackson are good, as is the title track, but it just doesn’t feel like Paul. Favorite Tracks: Pipes of Peace, Say Say Say.

43. Ringo’s Retrograve - Ringo Starr: A couple of really good tracks, but it falls off outside of those. The opener is one of my favorite openers to any solo Beatles project. Favorite Tracks: A Dose of Rock N’ Roll, Hey Baby, Pure Gold

42. Somewhere in England - George Harrison: This one just barely sneaks past the Mendoza line of albums I’d like to revisit. All Those Years Ago carries this album. A few other interesting tracks, but you can kind of feel he’s ready to be done with the music game for a while: Favorite Tracks: All Those Years Ago, Blood from a Clone, Teardrops.

41. Rock N’ Roll - John Lennon: All three of the rock n’ roll covers albums kind of ended up by each other. I thought this was better than critics give it credit for. It’s kind of amazing it got recorded at all, given how wild the sessions and aftermath were. Favorite Tracks: Stand By Me, Be-Bop-A-Lula, Peggy Sue  

40. CHOBA B CCCP - Paul McCartney: Good solid covers. Favorite Tracks: Kansas City, Twenty Flight Rock

39. Run Devil Run - Paul McCartney: The rawest of all Beatles cover albums. Favorite Tracks: All Shook Up, Run Devil Run

38. Kisses on the Bottom - Paul McCartney: Paul’s take on the standards. If you like this music, you’ll love it. Sorry, Ringo, Paul does the classic better: Favorite Tracks: My Valentine, Bye Bye Blackbird

37. Red Rose Speedway - Paul McCartney: Better than his previous outing of Wild Life, but I feel like this one doesn’t come together all the way. Am I the only person who doesn’t care for My Love? Favorite Tracks: Big Barn Bed, Hi Hi Hi

36. Memory Almost Full - Paul McCartney: All of Paul’s recent stuff is really good, but this one didn’t resonate as much with me. Favorite Tracks: Mr Bellamy, Ever Present Past.

35. London Town -  Paul McCartney: I can see why Wings bandmates got frustrated with Paul, but his stuff stands out on this one. Favorite Tracks: I’m Carrying, Name and Address

34. Milk & Honey - John Lennon: If they took all the John tracks from this and Double Fantasy, it would probably be my favorite John album. (Sorry Yoko.). I like hearing content and happy John, and I’m said we didn’t get to hear more of that. Favorite Tracks: Nobody Told Me, Grow Old with Me, I’m Stepping Out.

33. Thirty Three & ⅓ - George Harrison: Both this one and the next show the softer side of George. The really good stuff is great, but I don’t think it has the same cohesiveness and some of this other stuff. Favorite Tracks: Crackerbox Palace, This Song, Beautiful Girl

32. George Harrison - George Harrison: You could convince me to switch this one and 33 ⅓. This one has sort of a James Taylor flavor to it. Favorite Tracks: Blow Away, Here Comes the Moon. 

31. Back to the Egg - Paul McCartney: I don’t think Paul gets enough credit for how much he can rock. Old Siam Sir was one of those absolute gems of a deep cut that I discovered doing this. Arrow Through Me is one of his best heartbreak songs. Favorite Songs: Old Siam Sir, Arrow Through Me, Getting Closer

30. Walls & Bridges - John Lennon: In the context of his two previous releases, this one has more gems. He can still put together a great bluesy jam. Favorite tracks: Whatever Gets You Through the Night, What You Got, #9 Dream 

29. Time Takes Time - Ringo Starr: A good comeback album from Ringo after a messy decade for the drummer. Favorite Tracks: Don’t Go Where the Road Don’t Go, Golden Blunders

28. New - Paul McCartney: Paul worked with four different producers on this one, and it sounds great. They do a great job of finding a ‘Paul’ sound without him sounding dated. Favorite Tracks: Queenie Eye, New

27. Dark Horse - George Harrison: This is probably the album I went back and forth on the most on the entire list. It would be much higher if George’s voice would be 100 percent. The grovely style works well on the title track, but you kind of get sick of it midway through. I’d love to see this album covered by some modern bands. Favorite Tracks: Dark horse, Far East Man.

26. Driving Rain - Paul McCartney: All of Paul’s stuff in the 2000s ranges from really good to great. This one is a bit more brooding. Favorite Tracks: Lonely Road, Driving Rain, She’s Given Up Talking 

25. Tug of War - Paul McCartney: One of the better 80s albums, perhaps that’s because of George Martin’s production. I like it when Paul makes a Paul album with influences from the time, rather than trying to do what everyone else is doing. Favorite Tracks: Wanderlust, The Pound is Sinking, Take it Away

24. Vertical Man - Ringo Starr: Producer Mark Hudston gets the best sound out of Ringo. I really enjoyed this series of albumsFavorite Tracks: What in the World, King of Broken Hearts  

23. Venus & Mars - Paul McCartney: A perfectly fun 70s rock album to showcase Paul’s versatility. Rock Show is Paul’s rock n’ roll chops at his best. Magneto and Titanium Man show his songwriting prowess. You Gave Me the Answer reminds me of Honey Pie. Favorite Tracks: Rock Show, Magneto & Titanium Man, You Gave Me the Answer

22. McCartney III - Paul McCartney: It’s great that Paul is still making relevant and popular music nearly 60 years after his career started. This one is more in line with the past McCartney albums- a little more sparse, a little weird, but still a lot of fun. It feels like an album to listen to in January, when all you can see outside is snow. Favorite Tracks: Find My Way, Women and Wives, Pretty Boys

21.Mind Games - John Lennon: At first I didn’t care for this album, but gave it another listen when I was paying more attention. This has got some more interesting stuff. Also, John is great at a lo-fi jam. Favorite Tracks: Bring on the Lucie, Out the Blue, Meat City

20. Wings at the Speed of Sound - Paul McCartney: I really liked the group effort on this album. It feels kind of like a Beatles album. Favorite Tracks: Silly Love Songs, Let ‘em In, She’s my Baby

19.Choose Love - Ringo Starr: Producer Mark Hudson knew how to get the best out of Ringo. It’s fun, but not campy. It rocks, but it doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard. It’s just a lot of fun to listen to. Favorite Tracks: Give Me Back the Beat, Choose Love, Free Drinks 

18. McCartney - Paul McCartney: This is lower than most people would have it. I like it, but I just like a lot of albums more! It’s hard to not judge this album in context of George and John’s post-Beatles releases. It feels kind of underwhelming compared to the others, however, even Paul just dinking around at home is brilliant. Favorite Tracks: Junk, Man We Was Lonely

17. Flowers in the Dirt - Paul McCartney: The 90s production doesn’t work all the time, but when Paul is on, he is on. This really good stuff on here is stuff you can put on all your post-Beatles playlists. Favorite Tracks: My Brave Face, Put it There, Figure of Eight

16. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard - Paul McCartney: I get the vibe of Paul and his friends just jamming in a small studio out in the middle of nowhere. I like that it doesn’t feel too heavy. Favorite Tracks: Fine Line, Jenny Wren, Friends to Go

15. Goodnight Vienna - Ringo Starr: I can picture Ringo just playing this in a pub somewhere and inviting his friends up to enjoy it. Makes for just a fun listen. Favorite Tracks: Goodnight Vienna, Snookeroo, No-No Song

14. Ringo Rama - Ringo Star: I didn’t know what to expect with Ringo’s music from the 2000s, but there is some really great stuff. This is one the Ringo formula at it’s best: all-star lineup, great rock riffs, and Ringo vibes. Favorite Tracks: I Think Therefore I Rock N’ Roll, Never Without You, Memphis in Your Mind

13. Egypt Station - Paul McCartney: My favorite Paul release since Flaming Pie. It has just got some fantastic tracks to kick it off. It’s inviting and a fun listen. I like it when Paul balances between accessible and weird. The explorers version has some really interesting stuff on it too. If you’re looking for a recent Paul release, start here. Favorite Tracks: Come on to me, Happy with You, Fuh You

12. Living in Material World - George Harrison: I’ll admit, it’s hard to listen to this album in the shadow of ATMP. It’s fantastic in its own right. Though I prefer R&B George with horns than acoustic George. Favorite Tracks: Give Me Love, Living in the Material World, Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long.

11. Double Fantasy - John Lennon: I’ll admit that I don’t care much for the Yoko contributions on here, but John’s stuff is great. It sounds like he’s made some peace in the world. I’m sad we didn’t get to see more of that John. “I can hardly wait to see you come of age” from Beautiful Boy has got to be one of the most heartbreaking lines in music history. Favorite Tracks: Just Like Starting Over, Watching the Wheels

10. Cloud 9 - George Harrison: After about a decade of more misses than hits, this was refreshing. I always like it when the guys are having fun. And Got My Mind Set On You is probably the most fun song released by a solo Beatle. Favorite Tracks: Got My Mind Set on You, Fish on the Sand, When We Was Fab

9. McCartney II - Paul McCartney: This is probably higher than some people would put it, but I love it because Paul just goes for it and makes a delightfully weird album. And after listening to some schlocky 70s Wings stuff, it was fun to just hear him tinkering around. Favorite Tracks: Coming Up, Temporary Secretary, Nobody Knows

8. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon: This one gets at something primal, more than any other album. You can feel John is working through some stuff. Your mileage may vary. Though Favorite Tracks: Hold On, Isolation, Remember. 

7. Brainwashed - George Harrison: Ok, there might be some personal bias in this ranking, but I have an emotional connection to this album. I had just started getting into the Beatles a few months before George died, and I spent most of my disposable income on CDs. And in my moody phase, I wanted to be like George. It’s a mixture of fun and serious, and it’s a perfect coda to George’s life.  I still love listening to this whole thing. Favorite Tracks: Any Road, Looking for My Life, Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea. 

6. Flaming Pie - Paul McCartney: This was one in my blind spot. It grabbed me right away with the opening track. It feels fresh, even though it’s now 25 years old. After a meddling mid-80s through mid-90s or so for Paul, it feels like the Anthology project really inspired him. Favorite Tracks: The Song We Were Singing, Calico Skies, Young Boy

5. Ringo - Ringo: I listened to these albums in roughly chronological order. In the midst of the other three’s sniping, it was nice to hear that someone was having fun amidst the bad blood. The singles on this are definitely Ringo at his best, and credit him for getting the other three to play on this. His outro on You and Me makes me smile. Favorite Tracks: Photograph, Oh My My, It Don’t Come Easy. 

4. Imagine - John Lennon: The first two John albums are both excellent. I’ll admit that his work was probably my least favorite as a whole, but his best songs are timeless and carry a lot of his work. You could probably talk me into putting Plastic Ono Band ahead of this, but I think I like the non-single tracks just a little better. Even though it makes me sad to think about the context, “How Do You Sleep?” is a great diss track. Gimme Some Truth is one of my favorite underappreciated John songs. And even though it’s silly, I like hearing John happy on “Oh Yoko!” Favorite Tracks: Jealous Guy, Gimme Some Truth, Oh Yoko!

3. Band on the Run - Paul McCartney: I feel like this is Paul’s best known solo work, and for good reason. It captures the fun and wildness of being back in a band again. Favorite Tracks: Band on the Run, Jet, Mrs. Vanderbilt, Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty-Five. 

2. Ram - Paul McCartney: This is one I didn’t really know before I started listening. I only had heard Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. Every track on this album is a unique experience, filled with so many different textures. It’s simple, it’s goofy, it rocks, it’s just a fantastic listening experience. Favorite Tracks: Too Many People, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Monkberry Moon Delight. 

1. All Things Must Pass - George Harrison: No surprise here. George’s post-Beatle catharsis is a masterpiece. It’s amazing how many songs he had just ready to go after the band broke up. Fifty-plus years later, it holds up, and it’s still just such a joy to listen to. Favorite Tracks: What is Life, Wah Wah, All Things Must Pass

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