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Live and Let Creativity Die

As it turns out, the nuts were right. Paul is dead.
Creatively, at least, the Cute Beatle met his maker in about, oh, December of 1970.

And, despite all the corporate pandering and hollow hoopla, Paul's latest effort, Flaming Pie, is just about what you'd expect from a rock star whose brain perished in 1970.

For those of you slower readers who missed the review, I summarize:
Flaming Pie is
(a) smaller than a breadbox
(b) not quite as interesting as duct tape
(c) as darn tasty as a dog-shit crepe

This, then, brings to an official close the portion of this article dedicated to Paul's posthumous work.

We may now move on to an aspect of his career that is still very much alive. I refer, of course, to the perpetual debate over who was best songwriter in the Beatles. And here, at last, I have some good news for the recently beknighted (and bejowled) Sir Paul.

He wins!
That's right. Despite being dead, despite continuing to produce truly suck-ass albums from the grave, despite being married to the only known militant vegetarian in the United Kingdom, Paul McCartney was the Fab Four's number one tunesmith. I am aware that this announcement comes as a bit of a shock, even an affront, to John Lennon diehards. (Out of mercy, I am going to leave aside those of you who cast the dark-horse vote for George "My Sweet Bridgework" Harrison, as you were also the ones who predicted we'd all be speaking Esperanto by now.)

Please understand, the decision to anoint Paul once and for all -- and thereby end countless besotted, late-night squabbles -- was not made lightly. An international tribunal of music experts consisting of me and a bunch of people whose opinions I sort of respect was convened, and many minutes were spent trying to figure out who wrote what and staring thoughtfully into space before I made the call. I've also thrown a big fat caveat into the deal: McCartney and Lennon would never have amounted to a hill of legumes without the other, an assertion that need only reference their solo careers.

I don't want this to get ugly (and it certainly has that potential), so we're going to do this nice and neat, album by album. By the time I'm through, I feel confident in predicting that even the most ardent Lennon fans will agree that, despite being a snide little jerk-off, I am right.

Without further hairdo, let's go the vinyl.
First up, Introducing the Beatles: In an era of syrupy covers, the Beatles' raucous debut was immediately notable because a full eight of the tracks were penned by the artists themselves. The obvious standouts here are "Love Me Do" and "I Saw Her Standing There," both by Paul, and John's "Please Please Me," which was axed from the U.S. release because prudish Yank distributors believed the title referred to fellatio. In fact, it referred to sodomy. Edge to Paul.

Like much of the early work, Meet the Beatles was a highly collaborative effort. And why not? The moptops were happy campers. Aside from a little flap over their original cover art (the boys draped in slabs of bloody beef -- Meat the Beatles, get it?), they were rising stars yet to be crushed by fame. Two years Paul's senior, John was regarded during this period as the group's leader. While he contributed four songs to the album, none approached in popularity Paul's "All My Loving," which put the duo on equal footing. The album's biggest hit, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," was written ensemble. A tossup.

A Hard Day's Night is a testament to the growing rivalry between the Beatles' two primary songwriters. Ringo, of course, uttered the line after an exhausting day on the set of the Beatles' first film. When it was adopted a couple of weeks later as the title of the film, John rushed home to write a song of the same name, hoping to beat Paul to the punch. He did. His prodigious output on this 1964 release also includes "I Should Have Known Better," "Tell Me Why," and his first true ballad, "If I Fell." While Paul nailed a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic with "Can't Buy Me Love," the album belonged to John.

The Beatles' dour fourth longplayer, Beatles for Sale, revealed a band in the midst of an extended downer. Firmly established as the biggest things ever to wear ankle boots, mired in a brutal schedule of international concerts and movie filming, the boys wrote tunes to match their mood ("Baby's in Black," "I'm a Loser," "No Reply"). Not destined for posterity, the disc nonetheless provided two smash singles, John's "I Feel Fine" and "Eight Days a Week," a Paul composition that benefitted from major studio retooling. Other notables include the swaggering "She's a Woman," (Paul) and John's simpering "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party." By virtue of "I Should Have Known Better" and the subsequent single "Ticket to Ride," John gets the edge here.

John continued his run through the early recording sessions of Help!, chalking up the frenetic title track and the plaintive "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." Paul rallied in time to crank out "I'm Down," "I've Just Seen a Face," and the Beatles' first indelible hit, "Yesterday." Having been covered approximately 49,716 times since, the song comes off as something of a cliche these days. These days can kiss my patoot. Advantage Paul.

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