The Beatles - 1971 Lost Album, Part Two
Part 2 - If the Beatles created one final album in 1971 what songs might be included?
The following blog post is the second of three as a critique of Vinyl Rewind’s “The Lost Beatles Album 1971” YouTube video. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Eric (the Vinyl Geek) Callero’s in-depth video BEFORE reading my blog series. These writings are meant as a fun, respectful and geeky historical analysis of and response to the possibility of a 1971 Beatles album.
For context, click here to read part One of this blog series.
In part one, we laid out Eric Callero’s parameters to make a 1971 Beatles album. Now, it’s time to get into the material that matters the most: the music.
If you want to listen along to Eric’s album while you read, I have made a Spotify playlist of Eric’s album. Please listen along!
A1: What is Life?
Eric starts us off with a rocker in George Harrison’s “What Is Life” (Jesse likes where this is going). He states “What Is Life” is strong opener for an album. This great groove sets you up for the rest of the album, or as he states “it puts me in the right headspace.” Then Eric mentions how he thinks a “potential Beatles redux is amazing” to envision.
Jesse’s Take: I like where Eric is going with this. When you look back at all Beatles’ albums, they try to start with rockers. All the way from Please, Please Me to Abbey Road The Beatles began each album with rockin’ songs. This selection is great.
I admire how Eric mentions his vision for a Beatles’ remake. I used this philosophy for my 1971 Beatles’ album as well. It helped me zone in on some songs I envision The Beatles’ sound appearing on and enhancing.
Also, starting a potential last Beatles album with a George number? Balls!
A2: Monkberry Moon Delight
Eric’s second song is Paul McCartney’s “Monkberry Moon Delight” from the Ram album. The driving beat, minor chords and tribal feel catch Eric’s attention with this number. It is dark musically and thematically to the point where Eric asks, “could the other Beatles have thrived with this song?”
Jesse’s Take: Wow! First off, I would not have thought many people would consider this a good song, let alone toss it into the lost Beatles’ album. Kudos, Eric! I love this song and it completely has a place on The Beatles’ ’71 album.
Following “What Is Life” is a great way to keep the energy high and in a way this takes it up a notch.
A3: Instant Karma!
Next up, Eric goes for the first solo Beatle single to sell 1 million, John Lennon’s “Instant Karma.” He mentions how he feels this is one of John’s best songs, so of course it has to go on the album. Also, this song has the “right feeling” to follow Paul’s effort.
Jesse’s Take: Another rocker. Eric is feeding the listener with some high energy here. This is one of John Lennon’s strongest songs throughout his musical career. So, it’s no wonder how this made the album.
I love Lennon’s voice in this song. Much like McCartney in the previous song, John tests his voice a little bit. It feels like one of his more rawest vocal performances. “Instant Karma” is a solid follow up to “Monkberry Moon Delight” and a damn fine tune for the ’71 album.
A4: Not Guilty
Eric then digs DEEP into The Beatles’ vault for this next number, George Harrison’s “Not Guilty.” Now, there are over 100 takes the Beatles did for the The White Album (sic The Beatles), so Eric picked the shortest version. As he mentions, The Beatles worked on this before as this was the last song cut from White Album only because it didn’t fit on the record.
Jesse’s Take: Much like “Monkberry” Eric blows my mind with this selection! Not only for the rarity of knowledge based on this song, but on which the musical direction he takes us.
This has always been a secret favorite of mine in The Beatles’ vault. I love the drive and post-psychedelic vibes it has. George’s vocals are haunting and that guitar is dirty. It’s a nice break from the straight rockers we had in the beginning.
A5: Maybe I’m Amazed
The fifth song of Side One is McCartney's “Maybe I’m Amazed” originally released on his first solo album, McCartney. Eric feels this “powerhouse song” is perfect to “close Side One" with an uplifting song and make you want to flip the album. This song has The Beatles sound, and he is not wrong there.
Jesse’s Take: As we wind up the first side, I am in ecstasy. This is a great song to follow all that we have experienced so far. It still rocks with those guitar pieces and heavy piano, has lots of energy despite being a slow love song, and McCartney’s vocals are dynamite. I think adding John and George’s background vocals would have elevated this song.
Side One total time: 19 minutes, 36 seconds
Time to flip the album!
B1: It Don’t Come Easy
Eric felt like he needed to have a strong single to start Side Two. Also, he needed a Ringo song on this album. So, he chose Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy.” This was co-written with George and oozes Beatles-ness.
Jesse’s Take: Not sure I follow the ideology of starting Side Two with a “single” per se. I would say a “strong song” is definitely needed to set the mood of what’s to come. This is surely a strong song by Ringo and George and would be amplified by Paul and John’s musical inputs.
B2: Hold On
After six extremely powerful songs, Eric wants to “slow things down a bit, but not too much” He does keep it heavy though with John’s “Hold On” which features a tremolo heavy guitar and Ringo’s mellow drums. Eric also feels like this song is so Beatles due to the popular culture reference of “cookie.”
Jesse’s Take: I don’t mind taking the slow route right now. This does seem too slow for me though. “Maybe I’m Amazed” was the right kind of slowness at the end of Side One. This doesn’t fit right for my ear.
Also, I find this one hard to believe this would make the album. This one feels truly personal to John. I feel it would have been slated more for his solo work away from The Beatles.
B3: Dear Boy
Next up, Eric selects the piano- driven, Beach Boys ode, “Dear Boy.” He feels this song adds the melodic tension that is needed for Side Two. In addition, this is a song that references Linda’s ex, despite what Lennon felt the lyrics depicted.
Jesse’s Take: Another Left Field selection I like. The layers and layers of vocals are astounding. The piano work is steady and calming. All around a great song.
Now, I prefer to hear this one following Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy” than John’s “Hold On.” I think that follow is better without having that heavy, strong energy laid out from the previous six songs.
Song number nine is John Lennon’s best selling single of his career (and most famous song), “Imagine.” Of course this has to make it onto a 1971 Beatles’ album. Eric reimagines (no pun intended) this song with strings from a George Martin score. What could that have sounded like? Hands down, Eric mentions how this is John’s best and most remembered song.
Jesse’s Take: What can be said about “Imagine” that hasn’t been said before? Simple piano work, gorgeous melody, a flinty vocal performance and semi-controversial lyrics. John Lennon in a nutshell. I’m glad to see the song where it is at on the album and not the last song. That would have been cheesy.
How fitting that this song is John’s favorite number (number 9) on the album? I wonder if Eric planned that…
B5: Another Day
Next, Eric needs to lighten the mood after the previous two songs, so he chooses the soaring melody of Paul’s “Another Day” from Ram. Eric loves the complex rhythm section and lovely harmonies that Paul and Linda incorporates here. As Eric mentions, Paul is in top form with this performance.
Jesse’s Take: I agree with Eric with the lightening of the mood of the previous songs. This is truly one of Paul’s better solo efforts musically and production wise. Ram had a lot of that.
I just don’t feel this song in this spot following “Imagine.” Maybe “Dear Boy” following “Imagine” would have been a better flow for the album.
B6: Child of Nature
The penultimate song is an old demo from The Beatles’ India retreat, John’s “Child of Nature.” This would later become “Jealous Guy” on John’s Imagine album. But here in the demo, you have all Beatles playing together in George's house and Eric can feel The Beatles magic. The fact that John sings the melody perfectly is proof this song belonged in The Beatles’ catalog.
Jesse’s Take: Eric digs deep again! I am impressed and love the history behind the song. The melody is lovely and I love John’s double vocal sporadically laid throughout.
I do question whether it would have stayed as “Child of Nature” as this was released on Imagine in 1971 as “Jealous Guy.” I think if John was reworking this as “Jealous Guy,” this may not have made it on The Beatles’ ’71 album. Keeping it “Child of Nature” feels like it would have made the album.
B7: My Sweet Lord
And finally, how does Eric want The Beatles to leave the world musically? Well, with a song George recorded with Billy Preston, “My Sweet Lord.” Eric wanted to end the album with an uplifting, spiritual song. The brilliant slide guitar work George does helps keep a rockin’ edge and makes this the ultimate song to end the album
Jesse’s Take: Love this song. I do think it is a great way to end an album. The gospel-like feeling mixed with the rock n' roll aura behind the slide guitar work just gives me goosebumps.
Only question I have is whether The Beatles as a band would have recorded this song. The beauty of this song to me is that it isn’t very Beatles. It is very George and I think this song benefits from the Phil Spector Wall of Sound production applied to it.
Side One total time: 21 minutes, One second
That does it! What an album. If I had to give this album a rating as we do on the podcast, I would give this one a Four String Strum Rating. Above average, but not dynamite. I love the opening and there are several great songs on here. Songs that feel so Beatles, but are (and are not) The Beatles.
Also, I have a problem with the flow of the second side. The first half of the album rocks, and so does the beginning of the second side with Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy." However, I side two lacks a coherent flow between the songs.
Overall, the album is saved by lots of strong contenders for singles, but the cohesion between the songs (in the sequencing) feels forced. I think it is the incorporation of John’s “Hold On” which slows this album down a bit. I would love to see where it could fit in elsewhere, if at all.
So that’s my review of Eric’s Lost Beatles’ 1971 album. Tune in next week for Part Three of the blog series where I give you my Lost Beatles album and divulge all reasons why I chose what I did.
“It’s weird not to be weird.” ~John Lennon