As you know, I’ve been a Beatles nut for the best part of 15 years. However, this year was a game changer. It started with Macca’s historic headlining stint at Glastonbury in June. Despite devouring anything Beatles in recent years, I’d always resisted a deep dive into Paul’s solo and Wings’ stuff. Why? Well, the reviews were often so poor. To be honest, I was afraid of the disappointment.
But, after the glory of Glastonbury, I belatedly gave it a go. And I haven’t looked back since. I was always worried about being let down. To my delight, I was blown away by the sheer quality of the Wings’ output. For those who don’t know, Wings are immense! The obvious place to start is Band on The Run but there is so much more to discover. Red Rose Speedway is terrific and I even like Wild Life, an album that’s been universally derided by critics over the years.
Thereafter, I ploughed my way obsessively through Macca’s solo stuff. Sure, some of it is average and the music is so diverse at times it can’t be to everyone’s tastes. But there are some undisputed gems in there. Ram, of course, is essential listening but you won’t regret discovering later classics like Flaming Pie or Flowers In The Dirt. The most satisfying thing to unearth is the absolute breadth of the catalogue: there is so much material to get your teeth into.
But that was only the start of it. After that, I discovered two fantastic podcasts that I want to share with you. The first is I am The Eggpod, hosted by the wonderfully amiable Chris Shaw. The pod is conversational in style, dissecting Beatles’ and solo albums with an array of consistently brilliant guests. I’ve learned a phenomenal amount from listening and the great thing is, it’s helped me reappraise some albums I’d previously discounted.
Virtually every interview is worth a listen, but the podcast really excelled with its treatment of Peter Jackson’s Get Back film. Here, Chris and contributors went through each day captured in Jackson’s film. Of course, Get Back was the event all Beatles’ fans looked forward to with feverish anticipation. How satisfying it is to have the film analysed in such marvellous detail. It’s a tour de force.
But I am The Eggpod reviews a litany of albums and there’s much to delight. Virtually everything in the canon has been discussed, which means there’s always something to treasure. Your favourite Beatles’ related album is sure to be in there and, if not, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s coming!
The other superb Beatles podcast I discovered came to me later in the year. I stumbled upon a Radio Ulster series called Give The Beatles Back To The Irish which uncovered the band’s Irish roots and influences. The series is great, please go check it out if you haven’t heard it. As part of this discovery, I learnt that the hosts, Jason Carty and Steven Cockroft had a Beatles podcast. An Irish Beatles’ podcast? I was in!
Nothing is Real is awesome. It’s superbly researched and goes into minute detail in every topic it discusses. It’s definitely one for The Beatles’ obsessives. The best example of its forensic approach is the series of pods the guys did on the controversial former Beatles’ business manager, Allen Klein. Klein, to put it mildly, is a divisive figure in the Beatles’ universe. However, Jason and Steven go to great lengths to truly dissect what really happened in The Beatles’ breakup and the messy aftermath.
It’s not quite a reappraisal of Klein but strenuous efforts are made to properly understand what happened at the end of the end. The timeline is rigorously followed and questions are asked in relation to each party’s real motivations. As a listener, I left with the impression that the breakup was not so much a fait accompli but the result of a complex series of events and reactions that culminated in the final, bitter legal acrimony. Yes, Klein was a factor in the breakup, but by no means the only one and certainly not the most significant one.
Nothing Is Real is full of good stuff like that, though- essential listening for The Beatles’ buffs out there. That’s the best thing about being a Beatles’ fan. Just when you think you know most of it, you find there’s a treasure trove of wonderful, new stuff to discover. It’s never ending. At the start of this year, I thought I knew a good deal of Beatle trivia, but it turns out it was the mere tip of the iceberg. For those fans wishing to go to the next level, Nothing Is Real and I am The Eggpod are good places to start.