Friday, December 20, 2002

Beatles, Alive and Dead: I'm catching up on Slate today, since I've not seen it in a week. David Samuels evaluates the offerings from each of the fabs, new or reissued, for the stocking-stuffing season. But here's the bigger point he gets at:
The mystery of why the Beatles were so great together and so spectacularly mediocre apart remains one of the deepest questions in rock 'n' roll.
That's a facile, conventional view of the post-Beatles Beatles, and I buy only part of it. First, Samuels doesn't mention that one of the lads, George, put out an undisputed non-group masterwork: All Things Must Pass. McCartney probably came closest after that with Band on the Run, the major downfall of which was that it was ostentatiously a canned masterpiece, whereas Harrison's double album sounded rambling, fun, and fresh. He's right that Lennon was the biggest disappointment, but honestly, if you strip all the Yoko stuff off Double Fantasy, what you're left with, while not a masterpiece, is a disarmingly forthright, solid record. Finally, Ringo is a great stomp, a funfest, and a reunion of sorts for all four Beatles; though they obviously weren't all in the studio at the same time, they all pitch in on this work.

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