Saturday, March 10, 2018

John, Paul, George, Ringo by The Beatles: A Fantasy Marco Mix

My friend Greig recently posted this clip from the film Boyhood, where Ethan Hawke's character presents his son with a copy of what a he calls, The Black Album, a mix of the best solo songs from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

The idea for such a compilation actually belongs to the real life Hawke, who created the mix for his 13-year-old daughter Maya after his divorce from Uma Thurman. The track listing for Hawke's mix is available here and it is an absolute must-listen for any Fab Four fan (just search for "Beatles Black Album" on your favourite streaming site).

I've long thought about creating my own Black Album, and so for the past month, I've listened exclusively to Beatles solo recordings, weeding out the worst of the boys' 70s excesses (John's sloganeering, George's boringness, Ringo's showtunes and Paul's goddamn flutes) in order to dig up the many, many gems. (N.B. There is flute on one Paul song.) After endless tinkering with concepts, song selections and track orders, I present my mix, which I call John, Paul, George & Ringo. If you're a Google Play subscriber, you can listen here. Some liner notes follow the track listing below:

Side One
1. (Just Like) Starting Over - John
2. Arrow Through Me - Paul
3. Blow Away - George
4. It Don't Come Easy - Ringo
5. Nobody Told Me - John
6. Jet - Paul
7. What Is Life - George
8. Back Off Boogaloo - Ringo

Side Two
1. What You Got - John
2. Coming Up - Paul
3. Got My Mind Set On You - George
4. Oh My My - Ringo
5. Whatever Get You Thru the Night - John
6. No More Lonely Nights (Playout Version) - Paul
7. Wah-Wah - George
8. Goodnight Vienna (It's All Down To) - Ringo

Side Three
1. Watching the Wheels - John
2. Let 'Em In - Paul
3. Cloud Nine - George
4. No No Song - Ringo
5. Borrowed Time - John
6. Goodnight Tonight - Paul
7. Awaiting On You All - George
8. Photograph - Ringo

Side Four
1. Out of the Blue - John
2. Waterfalls - Paul
3. Let It Down (Acoustic) - George
4. Blindman - Ringo
5. Oh My Love - John
6. Junk - Paul
7. All Things Must Pass - George
8. Early 1970 - Ringo

-The concept (for sides one to three at least) was an imagining of what The Beatles might have sounded like as a full-fledged party band in the mid/late-70s, complete with keyboards, a horn section, backing singers and percussionists. Sort of a "back to The Cavern plus" idea. So many saxophones! Chronologically, in terms of when these songs actually came out, this doesn't make much sense, but I do think you could have a pretty great dance party with these tunes.
-As you can see, I ended up with a sequence that cycles through songs from  all four performers. Although this meant leaving off a number of great Paul cuts that would have fit, it meant I could give Ringo his fair due, as there are a lot of great feet shufflers in his solo discography.
-Side four is softer, quieter, and more introspective--the after party.