Sunday, May 2, 2021

Reviewing the Beatles Solo Albums in Order - part 9

I was maybe the only 17 year old in 1988 who was agog when Travelling Wilburys Vol. 1 came out. I didn't know who Jeff Lynn was and I wasn't a Tom Petty fan yet, but I George Harrison was hot off of Cloud Nine's success. I didn't know Bob Dylan had been making lackluster records all this time; I thought he had gone into retirement after 1969 and was just re-emerging now. And while my parents never owned Roy Orbison albums, I knew his work and loved it from the oldies radio station (104.3 FM, back in the days when it was still good; it plays garbage today). To me, this band was like the gods of Olympus coming down to revisit humanity. 

With that preamble, you might be surprised to find how much of the album I considered filler, even then. "Rattled" and "Not Alone Anymore" are good, but more like Roy songs with the rest just backing him. "Last Night" and "Heading for the Light" are pretty good. "Handle Me with Care" is a good group song. "Congratulations," "Margarita," "Dirty World," and "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" are junk, each worse than the one before them. But making up for those last four in spades is "End of the Line," a simply fantastic song and easily one of my all-time favorite songs that would wind up on a top 10 list if I had a "top 10 favorite songs ever" list.

Next up is Starr Struck: Best of Ringo Starr vol. 2, the first album in this project that I can't find anyone has re-compiled on Youtube. I've listened to the songs in the correct order and find this review of his 1976-1983 material enjoyable enough, but now I want to know what a Best of Ringo album would be like if I compiled it the way I just compiled a Best of Paul album in part 8. Is one song in every eight of Ringo's a winner? Let's see...nope, I can't do it. I'd have to include at least one song from Ringo the 4th and I cannot, in good conscience, put any of those on a best of album.

Right! Moving on to Paul's Flower in the Dirt album. This was off my Radar when I was 18...well, mostly off my Radar. I remember hearing that Paul was coming out with a new album he made with Elvis Costello, but I ignored it because I thought Elvis Costello was a silly name. Hey, I was 18! Though, I must have heard "My Brave Face" around that time. I really love it now! "This One" is a great song too -- and I mean, these two are really groundbreaking stuff, "My Brave Face" (despite its sometimes silly, self-effacing lyrics) for its structural complexity and "This One" for its unexpected characteristics (not stopping after the first verse repeats and its Hindu influences). Paul wasn't just a star going through the motions; he was an artist still determined to find new things to do. After those two, the album quickly descends. "Put It There" is a pretty good song. "Motor of Love" is a terrible name for a song, but is somehow more satisfying than it should be. "That Day Is Done" is one of those songs that seems so close to being good, but didn't quite get there. Everything else is filler. I'm going to deliberately avoid sharing any videos for this album as they all seem unusually culturally insensitive by today's standards, ranging from the villainous Japanese man in "My Brave Face" to the cultural appropriation of "This One" to a particularly bad video for "Où est le Soleil?" (and how did this song ever warrant a single?), where Paul and his friends seem to be mocking traditional African folk dancing.

Ringo retreated to safer territory with Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, performing early Beatles songs of his and only a few solo songs. This 1990 album was a concert album. Not having it, I opted for watching a concert video of the All-Starr Band performing. I'm not sure of the year, but what I saw came from sometime during the early years. It was fun seeing Ringo interacting with Levon Helm or Clarence Clemons. I would love to have seen one of these concerts, but just listening to it, it seems a disjointed best of album mixed from all different performers and styles. The concert I watched is here -

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