What if The Beatles walked into Abbey Road to record a final album? It’s a question that has abounded through the circles of Beatles fans for over half-a-century. If we imagine The Beatles 13th album into existence, what songs would have made the cut?
For that we can look back at the individual Beatles’ work as solo artists. A lot of songs that have since become classic solo songs for John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison were originally presented as songs for Beatles albums – that is the most important point.
Taking thirteen songs (the same length as Let It Be), all written before the April 1970 split, an idea can be formed as to how it may have looked. Also, taking into consideration the alleged discussion in September of ’69 when a follow-up to Abbey Road was touted, it is not such a matter of fiction.
There are some things which are important to consider before listening to the below playlist – with the influence Lennon had on McCartney and vice versa, the below tracks may have changed lyrically and in length. The same goes for the influence and musicianship which would have affected the tracks by George Harrison and the Ringo Starr inclusion.
Also, a lot of Harrison and Lennon solo work was produced by Phil Spector who put together the fragmented Get Back sessions to create Let It Be. Alongside this, George Harrison played on solo releases by Lennon and Starr. So many of the tracks are still connected to the Beatles in some shape or form, with Paul McCartney acting as an outlier and pulling back from his former bandmates. In the end, nobody can say for sure what would have happened.
We can only speculate. As you listen to this playlist, the takeaway may well be that while the material was there for a classic follow-up to Abbey Road, unfortunately the motivation was not.
*Note: The Get Back sessions became the Let It Be album, to avoid confusion I refer to them as simply the Let It Be sessions.
1. What Is Life
Well, George’s song opened Revolver, and that worked out well. This track originally dates back to the Abbey Road sessions – though not attempted. Harrison apparently wrote it for Billy Preston who had come in to help out on the Let It Be sessions. It is also a killer opening for our 13th Beatles’ album.
2. Maybe I’m Amazed
This is a pre-break up track, which McCartney credits to his wife Linda for helping through that upheaval as the Beatles slowly dissolved. Worth noting, Macca plays bass, drums, organ, piano lead and rhythm guitar, all recorded in a one day session at Abbey Road.
3. Gimme Some Truth
This is one of Lennon’s songs destined to make it on the album. Recorded (attempted) by the Beatles during the Let It Be sessions, it would appear eventually on the Imagine album with George Harrison providing a guitar solo.
4. All Things Must Pass
Originally recorded by Billy Preston, George wrote the song during the Let It Be sessions but did not want its inclusion on the album. The Beatles did rehearse the song, and their influence can be heard on the version Harrison recorded for the monster album of the same name.
5. Another Day
Previewed during the Let It Be sessions, never recorded but it did become Paul’s first single released after the split. Recorded in New York City, and the first song recorded for the Ram album – although never originally included on the tracklist.
6. Oh My Love
Originally dating back to The Beatles (White Album), ‘Oh My Love’ still sounds reminiscent of that recording. It eventually appeared on the Imagine album, again with Harrison supplying guitar.
7. It Don’t Come Easy
In the vein of most Beatles’ releases, a song from Ringo had to be included. This track came to life in 1968, as Ringo started to write a follow-up to ‘Don’t Pass Me By’. There is speculation that George Harrison helped with the composition, and when Starr finally recorded it, Harrison produced and played on it.
8. Wah Wah
Written during Harrison’s temporary exodus from the Beatles in January 1969, ‘Wah Wah’ was a casualty of Let It Be. The lyrics perfectly reflect his dismay and what was happening within the group, and the criticism he received from Lennon and McCartney over his songwriting and guitar playing.
Passed over for both The Beatles and Abbey Road, the undeterred McCartney did eventually record and release the track on his first solo album. In many ways it reflects his belief in the strength of the number; he followed it up further on the album with the instrumental ‘Singalong Junk’.
10. Instant Karma
Recorded and released while Lennon was still a Beatle – in fact written, recorded and released within ten days. Produced by Phil Spector, featuring George Harrison and Beatles companion Klaus Voorman, ‘Instant Karma’ battled the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ single on the US charts.
11. Teddy Boy
Written during the band’s excursion to India in 1968, allegedly several takes were recorded of ‘Teddy Boy’ by the Beatles in January 1969. Though McCartney returned to the song for his first solo album, it was apparently removed from Let It Be in favor of ‘Across The Universe’.
12. Not Guilty
Dating back to 1968, Harrison had this written, recorded and ready for The Beatles but it was never included. It did see light on the Anthology 3 album in the mid-nineties but first appeared on Harrison’s 1979 self-titled album. As legend goes they were over one hundred takes done of the track during White Album sessions.
13. Give Peace A Chance
Credited as a Lennon-McCartney track, in some circles it is claimed Lennon gave the credit to McCartney for helping him record ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko. Ultimately released as a single in July 1969, Lennon wrote this during the now legendary ‘Bed In’ which took place in Montreal, Canada.
Listen to the complete playlist, or wished album: