So before I turn the lights off here — in a week or maybe two, certainly before the end of January — I want to look a little at what The Beatles did in 1970.

As a creative unit, they did nothing from Jan. 5 on. The Let It Be album and movie were assembled by outside parties from stockpiled materials; Paul, for one, was so removed from the process of their making that he was completely gobsmacked to find that Phil Spector had added string overdubs to “The Long and Winding Road.”

But The Beatles carried on as a corporate entity for the time being, and the individual Beatles continued to make music. This was an especially productive year for George Harrison, who drew from his extensive backlog of unrecorded songs to produce a triple album of remarkably high average quality. Ringo made two albums of, em, somewhat lesser distinction; Paul came out with McCartney, which is charming if slight; and John started the year with “Instant Karma” and ended it with Plastic Ono Band, screaming his way through the birth of a new decade.

But at the beginning of the year, things were very much up in the air. One option going forward would have been to maintain the fiction of “The Beatles” and simply combine all the music that they made separately into a single release. This would have been a bit deceptive — though in a sense, would it really have been so different from the way Abbey Road and the White Album were made? — and it’s probably for the best that they didn’t choose that path. But for the nonce let’s imagine that they did. In the days to come I’ll be posting the eight sides of a theoretical quadruple album that The Beatles might have released, let’s say, on December 15th, 1970 (in time for Christmas, natch), collecting everything they produced during the year.

When I originally assembled this some years back, I framed it in a whole alternate reality that now seems rather beside the point. In this timeline The Beatles were reunited by Pete Best, who was subsequently fired and replaced by Ringo for a second time; and The Beatles continued well on into the 1970s and 80s, working with Brian Eno and Lee Perry, enduring a tragic disco period, and touring with the Pixies. It was all very amusing but even here in our own so-called reality, it’s not too difficult to imagine Allan Klein talking them into releasing a “Beatles” album in 1970; it certainly would have been a very profitable item, especially at a four-LP price. So without further ado we shall begin with Side 1 tomorrow.

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