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Area Resident’s Stylus Counsel | The Beatles’ Solo Studio Albums Up to 1980, Ranked From Worst To Best

Track 65 | Sorry, Ringo.

This isn’t gonna be pretty, Ringo. I’ve decided, seeing as I almost have all of them, to rank the solo albums by Beatles members from best to worst. Well, actually, from worst to best. I like a nice reveal.

A few rules: Only albums during the period when all four were alive. So, nothing after Dec. 8, 1980. And, yes I will include Wings and side projects — as long as they are complete studio albums. So no Live Peace In Toronto, Wings Over America or Concert For Bangladesh. No Shaved Fish, Blast From Your Past or Wings Greatest. Here we go:

36Ringo The Fourth | Ringo Starr (1977)

A day-ruining, pseudo disco album with no redeeming features. Unbearable and stupid.

 

35Bad Boy | Ringo Starr (1978)

Only hardcore Beatles fans have this album, and they never listen to it. It’s etter than its predecessor, which got him booted from Atlantic — but only just.

 

34Sentimental Journey | Ringo Starr (1970)

Ringo’s debut solo album, of old-timey pre-rock standards. He should have just recorded this and given it to family and friends.

 

33Ringo’s Rotogravure | Ringo Starr (1976)

An album loaded with big-name talent, but lacking a single good song.

 

32Life With The Lions | John Lennon & Yoko Ono (1968)

The poorest of Lennon/Ono’s Unfinished Music Trilogy, this being No. 2 in the series. It features the sound of Ono’s unborn child’s heartbeat before it stops. Also includes Two Minutes Silence, which is a ripoff of John Cage’s 4:33.

 

31The Wedding Album | John Lennon & Yoko Ono (1969)

The only reason this ranks higher than Life With The Lions is that it comes with a bunch of cool inserts. The third Unfinished Music album.

 

30Thrillington | Paul McCartney (1977)

In 1971, Paul recorded the Ram album with an orchestra. It sounds like a high school stage band. He released it as Percy “Thrills” Thrillington in 1977. The original is a collector’s item.

 

29Electronic Sound | George Harrison (1968)

George Harrison’s first solo outing is nothing more than unrehearsed experimentation on a Moog synthesizer. At least it gave him the skills to play the thing on Abbey Road.

 

28Two Virgins | John Lennon & Yoko Ono (1968)

An excellent and bold statement in music concrete, but still only really listenable once. Came wrapped in a brown paper sleeve because Lennon and Ono were photographed nude for the cover.

 

27Goodnight Vienna | Ringo Starr (1974)

The almost-decent follow-up to Ringo’s best album. But still very novelty-sounding. I wish he had just joined a band as their drummer. He was great at that — and Thomas the Tank Engine.

 

26Extra Texture | George Harrison (1975)

Harrison’s worst solo album. Some people like it better than Dark Horse, but I don’t. Best thing about it is the die-cut sleeve.

 

25Beaucoups Of Blues | Ringo Starr (1970)

Ringo’s country album. I like Ringo. I like country. But I don’t like this.

 

24Dark Horse | George Harrison (1974)

There is a great Harrison song on this record: Simply Shady.

 

23Wonderwall Music | George Harrison (1968)

George’s second solo album is a movie soundtrack of mostly sitar songs, with a ragtime song, a cowboy song and a couple really cool deep cuts like Ski-ing and Party Seacombe. There’s also a curious bonus track sung by Tony Ashton.

 

22Rock ‘N’ Roll | John Lennon (1975)

Lennon’s first entry on my list is his Phil Spector monstrosity cover album of rock standards. Have another drink, Winston.

 

21London Town | Paul McCartney & Wings (1978)

I never liked this saccharine puddle of crap much, but the song Name And Address is killer. Morse Moose and the Grey Goose is one of Paul’s weirdest songs.

 

20Red Rose Speedway | Paul McCartney & Wings (1972)

Big Barn Bed is top-notch Macca, but this album is awful otherwise. And I never will understand how some fans believe it’s so much better somehow as a DOUBLE.

 

19Some Time In New York City | John Lennon & Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band (1972)

Lennon’s virtue-signalling dungheap of an album. Best thing on it are the live tracks with Frank Zappa. You can’t play Woman Is The N****r Of The World anymore. I actually did a cover of We’re All Water, because Ono may have outdone him on this record.

 

18Double Fantasy | John Lennon & Yoko Ono (1980)

I thought this album was great when I was a kid. Like many, that was strongly influenced by the fact that Lennon had just been killed. Watching The Wheels is an incredible song. I wish he’d been allowed to release the versions of songs done with Cheap Trick on this album, because… wow.

 

17Thirty-three And ⅓ | George Harrison (1976)

A decent George record, with the great Crackerbox Palace on it.

 

16George Harrison | George Harrison (1979)

A lightly better George album, though a little more subdued.

 

15Mind Games | John Lennon (1973)

Meat City may be the most overlooked awesome Lennon track. There’s a lot of bullshit on this album — but that one and the title track are definitely not.

 

14McCartney II | Paul McCartney (1980)

Coming Up is awesome and so is Temporary Secretary — the only song everyone agrees is equally annoying and somehow great. Waterfalls is a McCartney granny music masterpiece. Let’s not talk about Frozen Jap.

 

13Wild Life | Paul McCartney & Wings (1971)

Everyone hates this but me. I love Wild Life. Especially the lyric-less Mumbo and the title track (its awful lyrics aside).

 

12Back To The Egg | Paul McCartney & Wings (1979)

I know this album is bad, but I love it. Getting Closer is a great rock-pop song. Loads of scratchy Macca vocals on this record — oh, and the sexy bassline in Arrow Through Me. Old Siam Sir is stupid, though. And in typically maddening McCartney fashion, there’s a two-part song called After The Ball/Million Miles. The first part is stupid, but Million Miles is goddamn great.

 

11Wings At The Speed Of Sound | Paul McCartney & Wings (1976)

Denny Laine wins. The Note You Never Wrote is such a great track. Also, listen to the bassline in Silly Love Songs. What a great pop song. Let ‘Em In is equally great pop. Even Linda gets a song — all five members take a lead vocal.

 

10Ringo | Ringo Starr (1973)

Ringo’s best record is so great. I wish he only made the one. All The Beatles are on it, and they brought great songs. Ringo even makes the pedophile ode You’re Sixteen seem OK.

 

9McCartney | Paul McCartney (1970)

Paul’s first solo outing was honest and pared-back. Included the incredible Every Night and Maybe I’m Amazed. But my favourite will always be That Would Be Something.

 

8Living In The Material World | George Harrison (1971)

The most underrated Beatles solo album. Listen to it.

 

7Venus And Mars | Paul McCartney & Wings (1975)

A shining symbol of the 1970s — Rock Show, Magneto & Titanium Man, Letting Go, Medicine Jar, Call Me Back Again, plus one big hit and one truly awful song (You Gave Me The Answer). But it came with three stickers, two posters and artwork by the unparalleled graphic design genius of George Hardie.

 

6Walls And Bridges | John Lennon (1974)

Lennon’s redemption record. Almost flawless, apart from the production.

 

5Ram | Paul & Linda McCartney (1971)

Someone once wrote that if you don’t like Ram, you don’t like Paul McCartney. I have to agree. I just wish he’d put Another Day and Oh Woman Oh Why on it instead of Eat At Home and Long Haired Lady.

4Imagine | John Lennon (1971)

It has Imagine on it, but so many other great songs as well.

 

3Band On The Run | Paul McCartney & Wings (1973)

Macca’s masterpiece. If only Jet had a better ending. Let Me Roll It is one of the best “play it loud” songs ever. Recorded by Geoff Emerick as just a trio, in Lagos where Paul was attacked.

 

2John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band | John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band (1970)

Lennon’s best album. Isolation will always give me chills. Both Working Class Hero and God demonstrate his rare genius. Such an intimate album, with just Ringo and Klaus Voorman backing.

 

1All Things Must Pass | George Harrison (1970)

When someone makes a triple album with no bad songs, that’s an accomplishment worth mentioning. But when a curtailed genius is finally set free and he makes a triple album of nearly all 5/5 songs … it’s a wow. An astounding achievement. Sadly, never to be equalled.

 

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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.

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