Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 7 – Beatles solo on Apple Records
As part of our Labor Day singles sock hop, let’s drop by 3 Savile Row in central London’s shopping district to grab a handful of singles from the record company housed there – Apple Records.
Apple Corps Ltd. was of course the Beatles’ own multimedia company and its most profitable venture remains the record label. After the breakup of the Beatles in 1970 the individual members issued their own solo records on Apple until 1975 when the Beatles were officially dissolved. Apple remains a live entity today, mainly as an imprint on reissued Beatles recordings.
The first Beatle to issue a solo single on the Apple label was John Lennon – his “Give Peace A Chance,” credited to the Plastic Ono Band, came out in 1969. But that’s so well known – let’s jump ahead to the second Plastic Ono Band single, “Cold Turkey,” also from 1969. Lennon wrote the song about kicking heroin (he was briefly an addict) and presented it to the other Beatles but they didn’t like it. So Lennon released it under his own name, claiming sole writing credit on a song for the first time.
We’ve already spun a Paul McCartney single, the controversial “Give Ireland Back To The Irish.” Well, after that single was effectively banned throughout the United Kingdom, McCartney felt he needed something completely innocuous as a follow-up, to at least get him back into radio’s good graces. So he adapted the nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and issued that as the second Wings single, in 1972. It was a moderate hit, but nothing really special.
Also in 1972, Ringo Starr had a pretty nice solo career going thanks to the hit single “It Don’t Come Easy” which came out the previous year. He followed it up with another single: like “It Don’t Come Easy,” the song “Back Off Boogaloo” didn’t appear on an album at the time. Starr wrote “Boogaloo” all by himself, but asked George Harrison to produce it. This rockin’ tune was Starr’s biggest U.K. hit and reached the Top 10 stateside.
And finally, lonesome George Harrison wrote a sequel to his Beatles classic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in 1975. Harrison issued “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)” as a single to promote his then-current album Extra Texture, but the song failed to register on any singles chart. Not only was this the final Apple single by any of the ex-Beatles, it was the final Apple Records release until the label was revived in the mid-1990s as an imprint for Beatles reissues.
After the jump, an apple crate full of bonus tracks!
Bonus time! Let’s break the pattern a bit and get away from Apple. Of the individual Beatles, only George Harrison formed his own label after the demise of Apple. His first single on the Dark Horse records imprint was “This Song,” a spoof of his legal woes in 1976. Remember, Harrison was sued by the publishers of the Chiffons’ song “He’s So Fine” for plagiarizing the tune for his worldwide smash “My Sweet Lord.” The case went to court, and during one rough week of testimony and cross-examination Harrison wrote “This Song” as some light comic relief. He lost the court case but Harrison had the last laugh, or at least a giggle – “This Song” was a moderate hit. Oh, and that’s Eric Idle in the middle providing some Monty Python-esque voices. For some reason this hasn’t made it onto any of George’s greatest-hits releases, but it’s on the album Thirty Three & 1/3.
While we’re off Apple, let’s spin this classic B-side. In 1974, Elton John added some backup vocals and piano to John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through The Night.” He bet Lennon that if the song reached No. 1, the former Beatle would have to join Elton onstage to perform it live. It did indeed reach No. 1, and Lennon joined Elton John onstage in 1974 … they did “Whatever” but they also added a bonus, a rockin’ version of McCartney’s Beatles classic “I Saw Her Standing There.” So let’s spin that tune, which appeared on the B-side of Elton’s 1975 smash “Philadelphia Freedom.”
Let’s toss in a handful of singles on the Apple Records label by artists who were NOT in the Beatles. Of course, these were all produced and/or written by members of the Fab Four. These tunes appeared on The Apple EP, a compact disc from 1991 – a CD single of sorts.
And finally – one of the rarest of all Beatles singles. “The Beatles Movie Medley” was released in 1982 to promote Reel Music, an album of tunes that appeared in Beatles movies. At the time, medley singles were popular – Star Sound put together a medley of Beatles tunes (sung by someone else) that was a hit, so the Beatles’ U.S. label decided to “Capitol-ize” on the craze by stringing together a handful of real Beatles songs. The single was delayed a bit when the B-side, an interview from the A Hard Days’ Night period, “Fab Four On Film,” ran into legal difficulties.
The “Movie Medley” single finally appeared in April 1982 with the hastily-replaced B-side “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You” and rose to No. 12 on the U.S. singles charts. EMI in England initally refused to release the medley because it was tacky but they finally gave in and pressed a U.K. copy.