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When The Beatles split in 1970 it marked the end of pop music’s first and brightest golden era. But, not content with having been the most widely-imitated and influential act on the planet for much of the previous decade, The Fabs continued to inform the development of pop, rock, singer-songwriters and even prog, well into the next. The Fabs’ ’70s offspring left us with a legacy of brilliant, diverse and often-overlooked albums that ran the gamut from slavish recreation to nostalgic songcraft to experimental adventurism, each acknowledging its debt to the unsurpassed work of the masters.
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The dawning of the ’70s was a troubling time for PAUL McCARTNEY. The last member of The Most Famous Band Ever to leave, he infuriated The Other Three by then being the first to publicly announce his departure, while the release of his curious, misunderstood solo debut forced The Beatles’ decidedly un-Fab swansong Let It Be to be rescheduled. In the meantime, the dejected McCartney gathered his new family and beat a hasty retreat to his remote Scottish farm where he virtually abandoned the notion of making music and struggled with depression and alcoholism amidst fanatical rumours of death and insanity. As if things couldn’t get any worse, The Beatles were plunged deep into a roller coaster of complex and destructive litigation that brought years of seething personal resentment and deep-rooted psychodrama to the surface. Somehow, in the middle of this mire, Paul regrouped, quietly put together a little band and fashioned what many regard as a high watermark of his career, Ram. In this extract from his new book on McCartney’s adventures in the ’70s, TOM DOYLE paints a fascinating picture of creative highs and personal lows. “It’s a bit like after an operation, where you want to rest but you’ve got to push it.”
Having released two baroque pop albums that didn’t register with the critics or record buying public, it took a Fred Neil cover belatedly lifted from Aerial Ballet to become a million-selling movie theme and bring NILSSON to the masses. JON ‘MOJO’ MILLS follows the friend of The Beatles and in-demand writer through a madcap feature film about an LSD-fuelled prison break and the final albums and animated feature that led him into a new era
It took three unassuming young Canadian musicians schooled in Toronto garage bands to accidentally start rumours of a Beatles reformation in 1977 via their otherworldly brand of progressive pop. PAT CURRAN goes interplanetary with the once secretive KLAATU
Conceived as a throwaway spoof on a late night UK TV comedy show,
THE RUTLES soon outgrew such humble origins to spawn one of the first and best “mockumentary” movies, two highly regarded albums, several law suits and a dedicated hardcore of disciples around the world, including members of the very band they sought to pastiche. CHRIS TWOMEY enjoys a spot of cheese and (glass) onions with lead Rutle and keeper of the flame, NEIL INNES. “I never set out to become a parodist…”
STACKRIDGE were in a field of their own; quite literally, being West Country boys from Yeovil, Bristol and Bath. In the ’70s, they stamped their individuality on half a dozen albums and countless live shows, gaining a devoted following but never quite achieving that elusive commercial breakthrough. RICHARD NASH hears from band mainstay ANDY DAVIS about sleeping on floors, recording with George Martin and finding doing it all again more fun than ever.