Although this album is starkly minimalist and deals with pain, anger and isolation, I find it to be a really chilled-out album. Of the four debut solo albums by the recently split Beatles in 1970, this is probably my favourite, closely followed by Ringo’s Sentimental Journey. McCartney’s debut is too childlike and home-made; and Harrison’s All Things Must Pass is too self-indulgent, warranting a lengthy amount of time to sit down and listen to it in full.
I can definitely imagine relaxing to this, with a joint, on its release – but like most people I would probably have been a little let down with its unBeatleness. All of the four albums are as removed from The Beatles as possible, with each member trying to escape from that shadow, but Lennon’s album sounds to me to be the furthest away.
Although McCartney’s album sounds like a hastily assembled bunch of demo recordings, Lennon’s album sounds more mature – and even though there is a very minimal arrangement and production, it doesn’t come off as sounding infantile like his former writing partner’s debut offering.
This is probably the most extravagant record in my collection – being the 2001 digitally remastered box-set. It’s a great album, and definitely the most 70’s rock-sounding of the debut albums by the three songwriting Beatles.
The first time I came across this album was when I was staying at my good friend Linsay’s house in Northern Ireland, and my other good friend, Kaj, and I were sleeping outside in the family caravan parked on the driveway. The only music we could find was the cassette album of All Things Must Pass, which we played all weekend, especially the jokey It’s Johnny’s Birthday – intended for John Lennon, but relevant to me also.
I don’t know what I like best – this, McCartney or John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – but it probably depends on what mood I’m in. This album sounds the biggest of the three, no doubt due to Phil Spector’s heavy involvement (although he also co-produced John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, he wasn’t around for a lot of those sessions, whereas you can hear his input all over this).
The ‘informal jams’ that make up the third disc of this triple album are largely pointless – and self-indulgent tossery – given that it feels more like a chance for George to show off his best-friend Eric, rather than to provide anything of substance.
It’s a shame that My Sweet Lord got a lot of undue attention because of its “similarity” to The Chiffons’ He’s So Fine. A shame because it’s practically the same song. Different instruments and different lyrics, but melodically identical.