Recommended by USA Today and excerpted in Rolling Stone.com, the updated paperback version of Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of the Beatles’ Solo Careers features a new 12-page Afterword. After the first printing, some readers said their favorite deep cuts had been left out, so the author asked 15 Beatle experts to talk about the tracks they felt should be added.
The book celebrates the high points and often overlooked songwriting and recording achievements of John, Paul, George, and Ringo after each struck out on his own.
(Rolling Stone.com excerpts below.)
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Author Andrew Grant Jackson creates ongoing, post-1970, Beatles albums mixing together the best of their solo careers, recounting the inspirations, circumstances, players, producers, friends and stories behind the music. Taken together, the chapters add up to an epic odyssey of four musicians who, after changing society, struggled with demons both in themselves and the world outside until finally finding their paths home, each in his own way
Jackson has assessed the over 70 albums and 900 songs collectively released by the Fab Four since since they broke up forty-two years ago (remarkably the group was only together eight years). “There are a dozen brilliant Beatles albums to be carved out of their solo careers,” says Jackson. “There won’t be any new music from the original band, but you can create new Beatles albums simply by taking John’s five best tunes from each year, Paul’s five best, and a couple of George’s and Ringo’s. It’s the same album formula the band employed while together. Everyone from the casual listeners to the most well-versed fan can still continue to ‘discover’ The Beatles. And theirs is a story that was only half told at the dawn of 1970.”
In this creative history, the book investigates the explorations by each of new genres like reggae, funk, disco, and the 80s big drum progressive sound before the later return to their Beatle-esque roots. Lennon brought a new level of soul-searing honesty to the singer-songwriter tradition while McCartney filled the airwaves with lushly orchestrated rock operas. Harrison synthesized Indian music, gospel, and Southern blues, mixed them with Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound effects, and conquered the charts with hymns to the Lord while inventing the rock charity concert. Meanwhile, for a stretch, Ringo was second only to McCartney for the most consecutive Top 10 singles in the U.S.
Still the Greatest profiles their collaborations with artists like Jeff Lynne, Elvis Costello, Phil Spector, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Joe Walsh, Nashville session masters, their old mentor George Martin, and Radiohead’s producer Nigel Godrich. We see George’s one-two comeback punch of Cloud Nine and the Traveling Wilburys, Ringo’s later albums of sixties-esque jangle pop married to words of hard-won wisdom, and McCartney’s third act resurgence comparable to Dylan’s as he turned to music again for catharsis, surprising those who had him pegged as a light pop craftsman.
Both a handy reference and an engrossing cover-to-cover read, Still the Greatest is an invaluable companion for those who thought it all ended with their 1970 album Let It Be.
About the author:
Andrew Grant Jackson is the author of the upcoming 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music for St. Martin’s Press and Where’s Ringo? for Thunder Bay Press. He has written for Rolling Stone, Yahoo!, Slate’s “Blogging the Beatles,” Baseline Studio System, music magazines Burn Lounge, Mean Street, and Dispatch, and copyedited the Hollywood monthly magazine Ingenue. He directed and cowrote the feature film The Discontents starring Perry King and Amy Madigan and served as actor Jeff Bridges’s development associate at AsIs Productions. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Rolling Stone. com excerpts: