Reissue: The Beatles – Like Father, Like Song (1971)



Man, it sure looked like the Beatles were kaput that day in 1969, didn’t it? Though they delivered a spirited performance on the roof of 3 Saville Row, they clearly looked beaten and worn down. As it turned out, they merely needed a few months to clear their various heads. Here’s what happened during late ’69-70.

  1. John Lennon entered primal scream therapy with Yoko Ono and began to incorporate more raw and cathartic emotions into his music.
  2. Paul McCartney more or less carried on crafting Let it Be-era ballads, for better or worse.
  3. George Harrison continued to delve into different styles of world music and incorporate unorthodox instrumentation and textures.
  4. Ringo Starr coined the ridiculous malapropism that gives the album its name.

And that could have been it for the iconic group. But Brian Epstein ultimately brought them back together. Epstein, as you may know, had narrowly survived a barbiturate overdose four years earlier, quitting as the Beatles’ manager and living as a semi-recluse ever since. But he was following the career of the band he made famous. Epstein, in a moment that is now rock legend, famously disrupted the production of the breakup film Let it Be, kicking the absolute shit out of Phil Spector and swiftly bringing in George Martin to remix the soundtrack album. Martin and Epstein nixed Spector’s overwrought arrangements and released the resulting classic Let it Be in 1970. By this point, Epstein was officially back with the group, and guided the four members into various personality-motivated therapies. Lennon and McCartney amicably decided to split up their partnership, beginning to credit each song to the sole individual who wrote it. Harrison flourished, writing classic songs in a frenzy that would ultimately garner him four coveted spots on Like Father, Like Song. Even Ringo dropped a classic, with “It Don’t Come Easy.” The Beatles were thriving under renewed management, and experienced a collective creative spark that completely floored anyone who was doubting the effectiveness of the group at this point. Like Father, Like Song celebrated its 45th anniversary this past week, and was finally re-released in a remastered version with a ton of bonus material. There’s not really much I can say about the Beatles’ finest record (in most circles). It sounds amazing, but then again it always did. “Maybe I’m Amazed” boasts a sing-along chorus and a killer Harrison solo. Lennon’s “God” and “Imagine” present two sides of the same Utopian coin. This album marked the beginning of a new, more focused and serious Lennon, though “Instant Karma!” radiates carefree joy. The real star, here, however, is George Harrison. His “My Sweet Lord,” (released as the first single from the record in an unprecedented move), may be the finest Beatles song since “A Day in the Life.” Harrison the songwriter strikes a perfect balance between melancholy and hopeful optimism, and it is a revelation to witness his coming-of-age on record. By the end, it becomes clear that the Beatles have three brilliant, equal, and totally distinct songwriting voices. Honestly, if Ringo had kept it up on the same trajectory set out in “It Don’t Come Easy,” they could have easily have had four. Alas, Paul McCartney was killed in a very suspicious car crash not long after this album’s release. Ah, what could have been.

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Track List:

  1. Maybe I’m Amazed (McCartney)
  2. Instant Karma! (Lennon)
  3. My Sweet Lord (Harrison)
  4. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (McCartney)
  5. Imagine (Lennon)
  6. All Things Must Pass (Harrison)
  7. God (Lennon)
  8. This One’s Also About Me Dog (McCartney)
  9. Wah-Wah (Harrison)
  10. It Don’t Come Easy (Starkey)
  11. Big Yuck (Lennon)
  12. Band on the Run (McCartney)
  13. Isn’t it a Pity (Harrison)
  14. Mother (Lennon)

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