American Researcher Tim, Beatles fan, takes a wishful look at how events might have played had the Fab Four not gone their separate ways in 1970.
I hope you find this fun and interesting. Remember this is all fiction...
It's March 11th, 1970, and the Beatles have just released "Let It Be"/"You Know My Name" as a single. John Lennon's "Instant Karma" is near the top of the charts and Phil Spector has been busy re-mastering the tracks for the Let It Be LP. The rest of the Beatles, let's imagine, have been taking time off from recording to settle down. The press is hot over the Beatles' potential split, and many believe that the band is done for good, though there has been no official word. In a last-ditch effort to patch things up and see what could be done, George Martin organizes a meeting in England for the boys on April 2nd, the day that Phil Spector would finish the mixing for Let It Be, and just eight days from the day that Paul McCartney was going to announce his departure from the band.
The meeting, though starting with much tension, is calmed by Martin, who plays mediator. Everyone's opinions are voiced, with Paul being the most vocal, and most abused at the meeting. Paul doesn't like the idea of Allan Klein as the band's manager, of Spector messing with tracks, and of Yoko Ono always being in on the recordings. John of course takes offense to all claims, and buries Paul by accusing him of being a "fascist leader" of a rock band. Things get crazy, but they are soon worked out.
They agree that Spector will only be used on tracks that the boys think should have his treatment, and word must be approved. They agree that Allen Klein will be ousted as the manager, and each Beatle will gain managerial status at the same time. They also agree that Yoko, or anyone outside of the four Beatles, barring any kind of session musician, cannot be in the studio while music is being played. Still, anyone is allowed inside the recording studio itself.
The band decides, however, to take a few months off; to write, to enjoy life, to put the past behind them. Finally in late September of
1970, while Lennon's Live Peace In Toronto is enjoying a long run on the billboard album charts, (it came out before Let It Be and was still going when Let It Be left the charts) the four Beatles came together in Abbey Road studios. The sessions for their new LP would begin.
As September, October and November came and went, the band was busy having a good time in the studio. All of the wives of the Beatles came by to check out the happenings and there was a sense of family in the air. The Beatles finished up recording and mixing for their new LP in mid-November, and George Martin decided to speed up the process so the record could be released at Christmas-time.
October 1970: "Maybe I'm Amazed"/"Early 1970" Released
The A-Side of this new Beatles single was a McCartney ballad echoing of "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude". John and George would add a simple backup vocal. The B-Side is Starr's first track on a Beatles single, the ironic tune about the band during the worst times for the band.
"Amazed" should be the 28th #1 single for the Beatles, probably going to be number one in both the UK and the US.
December 1970: Cavern LP Released
This was the awakening for the Beatles. They were fresh, had insipiration, had time to reflect, and were able to put out a great record. The title alludes to where the Beatles started to become popular, showing that they want to get back to their roots.
- "What Is Life" (Harrison) – 4:18
- The first song LP after the Beatle shakeup is written by George, not John, not Paul. It’s a question but also a reflection: "What is my life without you by my side?" It could be a love song, but could also be a question to the rest of the band. Phil Spector added brass on the song, but this version is more "Beatley", with a nicely added McCartney bassline. Great opener.
- "Teddy Boy" (McCartney) – 2:26
- A song Paul wrote for Let It Be, it’s about a boy trying to cope with his mother moving on in life. Almost the same situation with Paul coping with John moving on in life (Yoko). It’s a nice, soft transition from the first track. John and George do backup on this song.
- "I Found Out" (Lennon) – 3:37
- John’s first offering is a hard rocker with satirical tones. John has a lot to talk about since early 1970, especially Yoko’s miscarriage and his confrontation with religion. George puts the bleeding guitar to use here and Paul has a flat-out bad-ass bassline. Gone is John’s echoing vocal... primarily because he doesn’t need it at all. One issue this album presents is John’s conflicting views on religion. The Beatles are assuming that fans can understand both George and John’s religious opinions as different.
- "Every Night" (McCartney) – 2:36
- Paul returns with another sweet song, which is a nice tune to follow John’s rocker. John provides a backup of "Don’t leave me" as Paul "ooohs" in the chorus. It’s sweet and touching.
- "That Would Be Something" (McCartney) – 2:43
- John and Paul both sing on this song. Paul opens with "That would be something" and "Reach in the falling rain", but John comes back at 1:20 with a more snide interpretation of the lyric. At 1:40 the song kicks up and George has broken in with a "Helter Skelter" guitar riff. John and Paul come in together at 2:00 and trade off with the lyric. The end of the song is a crash of guitars, bass, and drum, Beatle-style. It’s much harder than the McCartney solo version and is a great transition from "Every Night" to the next suite.
- "My Mummy’s Dead" (Lennon) – 0:49
- John now takes over the back of side 1 with a short, tape-recording filler, used only to set up the side closer. It’s personal, emotional, yet echoing of classic Lennon.
- "Mother" (Lennon) – 5:36
- The closer of side 1 is an epic build from solemn and sweet to grating and greusome. Paul packs punch with a new bassline and George strums the rhythm. It’s a haunting track that closes the album with fans wondering what’s in store for the second side. A perfect fit.
- "Singalong Junk" (McCartney) – 2:36
- This, the instrumental version of the Let It Be session song, nicely opens the second side. It’s a curious track with a hint of sadness, a fitting response to Lennon’s epic "Mother". George will showcase a nice guitar here, but it won’t be showy. It’s a beautiful track, and the best Beatles instrumental…out of the three ever made.
- "It Don’t Come Easy" (Starkey) – 3:01
- In the honor of "Octopus’s Garden" and "Don’t Pass Me By", Ringo contributes another song to a Beatles LP. This one is his best- an uplifting track with a cool George slide guitar, some Phil Spector brass arrangements, and great backup by Paul and John. It’s a nice follow up to show the fans that the Beatles still have a happy side. The lyric also suggests anew for the Beatles, like "Get Back" and "I’ve Got A Feeling".
- "The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)" (Harrison) – 3:55
- Harrison’s best offering on the LP is this beautiful work with flowing arrangements. George Martin provides a flute and Spector brings in some strings, but up front is John’s piano, Paul’s bassline, and George’s haunting lead. "Let It Roll" is quite the change from Ringo’s tune, but sets up the next one nicely.
- "Power To The People" (Lennon) – 3:19
- George fades with "Let It Roll" and then the whole band screams "Power to the People" in this "All You Need Is Love"-type track. Ringo shows great talent with the tubs, but it’s Paul’s awesome bassline and the added brass that makes this song likeable. At the end of the song a group of people chime in with the chorus. As the song closes out and the people are singing the chorus, Paul starts screaming "All you need is love" the same way he shouted "She loves youy, yeah, yeah, yeah" at the end of the former.
- "The Lovely Linda" (McCartney) – 0:45
- This McCartney ditty is the transition from "Power" to the next big Lennon track. It’s pretty much Paul on solo here with Ringo on the ethnic drums.
- "Isolation" (Lennon) – 2:50
- This is John back in the emotional mindset. This song can be about John and Yoko trapped, or it can be about Paul and Linda trapped. The piano is gone from this track, and in its place is George’s guitar. Paul keeps a slow bassline and contributes with the vocal as a backup. A great track.
- "Junk" (McCartney) – 1:57
- The reprise of the first track of the side, this is straight from the Let It Be sessions. A nice lyric about almost nothing at all, John also sings here and George keeps a steady guitar with. A good closer - that doesn’t close...
- "Love" (Lennon) – 3:26
- John’s piano fades in and this beautiful song starts with a John solo vocal, accompanied by a guitar rhythm. 1:48 into the song, Paul adds a bassline and 2:20 into the song George adds his slide guitar to heighten the song. But at 2:43 everything stops, except for John’s piano, which plays a beautiful outro to the album. It leaves everyone sad, yet in a way, fulifilled with the work. Kind of a "Day In The Life", but not really the same impact. It’s still a great ending to the LP.
Cavern is mostly John with "Mother", "Isolation", "Love" and "Power To The People" as big tracks. Paul contributes with "Teddy Boy" and "Every Night", but the rest that he puts out is marginal or a little over that mark. George’s two tracks are strong and Ringo pulls out his best, so in all this LP would be right up there with Let It Be, but with the variety of The White Album.
Cavern would stay on top for most likely 2 or 3 months, letting the Beatles ride that wave until February, when their next single would come out.
February 1971: "My Sweet Lord"/"Well, Well, Well" Released
The first track would be Harrison’s second single as a Beatle, and could maybe surpass the first, "Something", in sales. The backup vocals would be Paul and John instead of the hired singers in the solo version. The B-Side is John’s reprise of "I Found Out" with the backwards guitar of that song to accompany the screaming vocal.
"My Sweet Lord" would become the Beatles’ 29th number one single, going to the top in the UK and in the US, and "Well, Well, Well" would probably chart as well. In May the Beatles would release their next single.
May 1971: "Working Class Hero"/"Eat At Home" Released
The A-Side would be John at probably his most emotional. Added is a George guitar to go right with John’s and a nice McCartney bassline. "Eat At Home" will be a Paul vocal solely, but will show the Beatles in a bluesy form once again. It works nicely with "Working Class Hero" and is obviously much more simple and silly.
"Working Class Hero", though a great song, would not get to #1 in the US or in the UK. "Eat At Home" would probably chart in the US though.
Late 1971: The Concert for Bangladesh
As the summer of 1971 approaches, George Harrison has talks with Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and Ravi Shankar for a concert to support Bangladesh. Reports are that the other Beatles have nothing to do with the event, though Ringo wouldn’t mind getting involved. Plans are made and Harrison, with Clapton, Dylan, Shankar, Badfinger, and Apple recording artist Billy Preston, are on tap for the August 1st show in Madison Square Garden, New York.
At this time no Beatles songs are on the charts and word was that the Beatles were taking the summer off to be with family. August 1st approaches, and the Concert For Bangladesh starts at MSG. Harrison opens up with "Awaiting You All", a song he says he had just written. He then introdues Shankar, and the rest of the concert goes on well. Harrison plays "What Is Life", "Here Comes The Sun", "Something", and a duet with Dylan which Harrison would give to Dylan in "I’d Have You Anytime".
As the concert gets to a 2/3 point, George starts "My Sweet Lord", his biggest single to date. The crowd goes nuts, but as Harrison is strumming the first few bars, Ringo comes out to the drums and gets a huge cheer. Harrison continues, and as the backup chorus is supposed to kick in, Paul McCartney comes out and sings. Finally as George is supposed to come back with "My sweet lord", John comes out and does so. By now the roof is blowing off, as the Beatles play on stage to a paying audience for the first time in five years.
The band continues with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" using Clapton, "Get Back" using Preston, and "Let It Be" using Dylan. The Beatles collaborate with Shankar on "Bangladesh" to finish off an amazing night.
The next day the Beatles call a press conference, announcing that they would go on tour one last time. The tour would start in New York, at the Garden, and would finish up in London. There would be 24 dates on the tour and it would last 3 months, from October 1st to December 31st, 1971. The last show would end on the first day of 1972... at midnight.