(Note: That title is not exactly accurate. But how could I resist?)

The goal of this post is to cover everything between the first and last songs on the B sides of Band on the Run, Ringo, and Mind Games. If that seems weirdly specific to you, you’re reading the wrong blog.

Traditionally, if an artist was going to throw some weaker songs on an LP as filler, this is where they would go. And some of the tracks on Mind Games, especially, do fit that description. “Out of the Blue,” “Only People,” and “I Know (I Know)” cover familiar Lennon territory, and don’t do it especially memorably. “You Are Here” is Lennon Lite, pleasant enough I suppose, but also fairly forgettable:

Coincidentally — I assume — it segues almost perfectly into the equally airy “No Words,” the second song on the B side of BOTR:

That melody bears a more than passing resemblance to “If I Needed Someone,” which was a George song. But the words seem pretty clearly aimed at John; or maybe a bit at both of them?

You want to give your love away, and end up giving nothing
I’m not surprised that your black eyes are gazing
You say that love is everything, and what we need the most of
I wish you knew, that’s just how true my love was

After that Paul had room for only one other tune1before “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”: the sprawling “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me),” which for some reason includes into a muzak version of “Jet,” then keeps that style as it segues back into the song at hand, and concludes with a vocal snipped of “Mrs. Vandebilt.”

Here are a few Wikipedia factoids about that song:

  • “McCartney says he was on vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica where he ‘snuck’ onto the set of the film Papillon where he met Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen. After a dinner with Hoffman, with McCartney playing around on guitar, Hoffman did not believe that McCartney could write a song ‘about anything,’ so Hoffman pulled out a magazine where they saw the story of the death of Pablo Picasso and his famous last words, ‘Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.’ McCartney created a demo of the song and lyrics on the spot, prompting Hoffman to exclaim to his wife: ‘look, he’s doing it … he’s doing it!‘”
  • “While recording Band on the Run in Lagos, Nigeria, Wings were invited to former Cream drummer Ginger Baker’s ARC Studios in the nearby suburb of Ikeja. While Baker insisted to McCartney that they should record the entire album there, McCartney was reluctant and agreed he would spend one day there. ‘Picasso’s Last Words’ was recorded during that time and Baker contributed by playing a tin can full of gravel.”
  • Tony Visconti is credited with “orchestration,” which makes him that rare lucky bird who got to work with both Bowie and a Beatle.

Was it worth all the trouble? Maybe I’m the wrong person to ask. I like it well enough, but after the first few minutes my attention begins to wander. It doesn’t deserve to be called filler, but let’s just say it might have benefitted from a bit of trimming.

Ringo found room for three songs between “Oh My My” and “”You and Me (Babe).” Two are Starkey originals and one is a McCartney joint; none of them are among their writers’ best work:

  • “Step Lightly” is moderately charming, somewhat reminiscent of Ringo’s standards album Sentimental Journey, but not what you’d call a classic.
  • “Six O’Clock” sounds like an outtake from one of the lesser Wings albums; “Ringo will take it,” Paul might have said, “he likes everything.” Four minutes is much too much. I call filler on this one.
  • “Devil Woman” is the liveliest of the three, but tries a little too hard:

And this seems to be my week to deliver negative opinions about 1973 Beatle solo albums. Sorry about that, but I calls ’em like I sees ’em. Fortunately the album closers — or at lest 66% of them — are killers, so the next post will be more upbeat.

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