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Ranking The Beatles’ solo albums

Already one of history’s greatest rock bands, The Beatles were even more than the sum of their parts. In the wake of the band’s legendary 1960s run came a number of high-profile solo releases from each individual member. That includes Ringo, whose eponymous 1973 album peaked at #2 on the U.S. charts and yielded two #1 singles … with a little help from his friends, of course.

What’s no less striking than the substantial output of each respective Beatle is the evolution of their signature sounds and styles. From George Harrison’s idiosyncratic slide guitar to John Lennon’s raw candor, certain albums were nearly as groundbreaking as the group efforts that preceded them. Acclaimed releases such as “All Things Must Pass” and “Plastic Ono Band” also helped redefine the personas of their creators.

Then there’s Paul McCartney, or Macca, which is his English nickname, who arguably carried the torch of Beatles-style melodies into each of the subsequent decades. At the same time, he tirelessly explored an assortment of production styles and peripheral genres, including classical and electronic. As a solo artist or with Wings, Macca has released over 20 top 10 singles to date, putting his post-Beatles career in the same ranks as some of music’s bestselling acts.

Stacker collected data from Best Ever Albums—which ranks albums according to their appearance and performance on 40,000 editorial and data-based charts like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Billboard—on all solo albums from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, and ranked them according to their Best Ever Albums score. Live albums and compilation albums were not included.

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#66. ‘Old Wave’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 1


– Rank all-time: #110,180


– Rank in decade: #12,638


– Rank in year: #1,180


– Year: 1983

Eagles alum Joe Walsh produced this rote collection of rock tunes, which suffers due to Ringo’s vocal limitations. Fellow rock stars Eric Clapton and John Entwistle make guest appearances on the instrumental jam “Everybody’s in a Hurry But Me.” Released in certain territories in 1983, the album wasn’t distributed in the United States until 11 years later.

#65. ‘Zoom In’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 1


– Rank all-time: #106,316


– Rank in decade: #3,941


– Rank in year: #1,025


– Year: 2021

Recorded in Ringo’s home studio during the coronavirus pandemic, this five-track EP rolled out to mixed reviews. The song “Here’s to the Nights” features guest vocals from a slate of high-profile artists, including Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh, Jenny Lewis, Lenny Kravitz, Chris Stapleton, Ben Harper, Dave Grohl, Corinne Bailey Rae, Paul McCartney, and others.

#64. ‘Ringo the 4th’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 3


– Rank all-time: #82,084


– Rank in decade: #7,693


– Rank in year: #776


– Year: 1977

Despite the title, this is Ringo’s sixth studio album and also one of his worst. It wrangles in a host of guest contributors and incorporates elements of soul music and even disco. He was kicked off the Atlantic label after it flopped.

#63. ‘Ringo 2012’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 5


– Rank all-time: #63,813


– Rank in decade: #18,101


– Rank in year: #1,841


– Year: 2012

Another Ringo album means another star-studded affair, with songs alternating between originals, covers, and regurgitations. Frequent collaborator and brother-in-law Joe Walsh pops up, as do industry icons Glen Ballard, Van Dyke Parks, and Dave Stewart.

#62. ‘What’s My Name’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 5


– Rank all-time: #59,640


– Rank in decade: #16,805


– Rank in year: #1,416


– Year: 2019

Ringo covers the John Lennon composition “Grow Old With Me” on this 2019 release, his 20th studio album. Produced by Starr, it features a predictable swath of big-name guest musicians. The atmosphere is generally playful and humorous, making it a lighthearted affair.

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#61. ‘Stop & Smell the Roses’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 8


– Rank all-time: #51,806


– Rank in decade: #6,443


– Rank in year: #674


– Year: 1981

Released after the death of John Lennon, this comeback attempt includes original compositions from Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Harry Nilsson. It yielded the top 40 hit, “Wrack My Brain,” but struggled commercially.

#60. ‘Beaucoups of Blues’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 9


– Rank all-time: #49,916


– Rank in decade: #5,044


– Rank in year: #509


– Year: 1970

Ringo recorded his second studio album in Nashville with local musicians over the course of just three days. Its country vibe is a throwback to previous Beatles songs such as “Act Naturally” and “What Goes On,” both of which feature Starr on vocals.

#59. ‘Liverpool 8’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 11


– Rank all-time: #44,745


– Rank in decade: #9,698


– Rank in year: #1,030


– Year: 2008

Ringo’s first album on the Capitol label in over three decades is a mixed bag of nostalgic rock tunes. Due to a falling out between Starr and co-producer Mark Hudson, former Eurythmic Dave Stewart stepped in for “re-production” duties, per the liner notes. Stewart also co-wrote two tracks and contributed on guitar.

#58. ‘Give More Love’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 14


– Rank all-time: #40,379


– Rank in decade: #11,033


– Rank in year: #1,077


– Year: 2017

No one carried the message of “peace and love” into their solo career quite like Ringo, hence the title of his 19th studio album. Recorded in between tours, it features both bass and backing vocals from Paul McCartney on the track “We’re on the Road Again.” Fellow legends Jeff Lynne, Peter Frampton, Edgar Winter, Glen Ballard, Dave Stewart, Benmont Tench, and others also contribute.

#57. ‘Ringo’s Rotogravure’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 16


– Rank all-time: #37,337


– Rank in decade: #3,997


– Rank in year: #365


– Year: 1976

Ringo’s Atlantic label debut is another jaunty trip down rock ‘n’ roll lane, with the typical assortment of major guest players. Former bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison both contributed songs, as did Eric Clapton.

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#56. ‘Postcards From Paradise’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 17


– Rank all-time: #36,236


– Rank in decade: #9,744


– Rank in year: #1,019


– Year: 2015

Rolling Stone critic Rob Sheffield described this 2015 album as a “masterful summary of Ringo-ness: his cheer, his cheek, his wisdom.” It sees the return of frequent collaborators such as Dave Stewart, Glen Ballard, and Van Dyke Parks. The opener “Rory Storm and the Hurricanes” pays tribute to Ringo’s pre-Beatles band of the same name, a fixture of the early Liverpool scene.

#55. ‘Electronic Sound’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 19


– Rank all-time: #34,667


– Rank in decade: #2,083


– Rank in year: #394


– Year: 1969

George Harrison abandoned his trusty guitar in favor of a Moog IIIP synthesizer for this abstract and experimental release. Issued on the short-lived Zapple label, it consists of two side-long avant-garde excursions. Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers cites it as an influence.

#54. ‘Choose Love’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 20


– Rank all-time: #33,018


– Rank in decade: #7,066


– Rank in year: #750


– Year: 2005

Imbued with feel-good vibes and a warm sound, this 2005 album reteams Ringo with co-producer Mark Hudson. As opposed to his typical efforts, it features only two guest appearances, from Robert Randolph and Chrissie Hynde.

#53. ‘Ringo Rama’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 22


– Rank all-time: #31,056


– Rank in decade: #6,648


– Rank in year: #671


– Year: 2003

Recorded in both London and Los Angeles, Ringo’s 13th studio album was his first in the wake of George Harrison’s death. Starr co-wrote the song “Never Without You” as a tribute to his former bandmate. Guest appearances include Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, and others.

#52. ‘Ocean’s Kingdom’ by Paul McCartney

#51. ‘Vertical Man’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 23


– Rank all-time: #30,709


– Rank in decade: #5,352


– Rank in year: #562


– Year: 1998

This follow-up to “Time Takes Time” was released six years after its acclaimed predecessor. In addition to frequent collaborators and fellow ex-Beatles, it features contributions from young contemporaries such as Scott Weiland and Alanis Morissette. Established rockers Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, and Steven Tyler also appear.

#50. ‘Ecce Cor Meum’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 24


– Rank all-time: #29,570


– Rank in decade: #6,321


– Rank in year: #655


– Year: 2006

Paul McCartney’s fourth classical effort is an oratorio in four movements with passages in both English and Latin. He conceived the work after visiting Oxford University’s Magdalen College with his wife Linda in 1997. She died one year later, inspiring the musical segment “Interlude (Lament).”

#49. ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 24


– Rank all-time: #29,400


– Rank in decade: #3,903


– Rank in year: #358


– Year: 1984

Paul McCartney’s final album on Columbia was the soundtrack for a 1984 film of the same name, which he both wrote and starred in. Generally regarded as a disappointment, it mostly reinterprets previous classics from his own career. Original compositions include the hit single “No More Lonely Nights,” with David Gilmour on lead guitar.

#48. ‘Standing Stone’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 33


– Rank all-time: #25,271


– Rank in decade: #4,434


– Rank in year: #476


– Year: 1997

Macca followed 1997’s “Flaming Pie” with his second orchestral work, based on a poem he wrote. It premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in London and reached #1 on the classical charts. The CD cover art features the photo of a mysterious stone structure, taken by Linda McCartney.

#47. ‘Goodnight Vienna’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 33


– Rank all-time: #25,078


– Rank in decade: #3,051


– Rank in year: #300


– Year: 1974

Hot on the heels of 1973’s “Ringo” came this star-packed successor, which musters a similar, but weaker energy. John Lennon wrote the opening track and appears on three of the songs. It also features musical contributions from Elton John and Harry Nilsson, among others.

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#46. ‘Liverpool Sound Collage’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 36


– Rank all-time: #24,051


– Rank in decade: #5,111


– Rank in year: #462


– Year: 2000

Created in partnership with Super Furry Animals and Youth, this exhibition soundtrack incorporates snippets of old Beatles’ outtakes. At the time, it was the third collaboration between Paul McCartney and Youth, who occasionally recorded together as The Fireman.

#45. ‘Time Takes Time’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 36


– Rank all-time: #24,013


– Rank in decade: #4,226


– Rank in year: #386


– Year: 1992

Ringo’s first studio album in a decade was hailed as a comeback for the iconic drummer. Recorded in the wake of a successful world tour, it features contributions from Brian Wilson, Jeff Lynne, Harry Nilsson, and others. It also marked the first collaboration with Mark Hudson, who would later work with Starr on a string of releases.

#44. ‘Gone Troppo’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 37


– Rank all-time: #23,556


– Rank in decade: #3,231


– Rank in year: #368


– Year: 1982

As its cover art would suggest, this breezy effort arguably suffers from a lack of focus. George Harrison was reportedly struggling to balance his musical output with other interests such as movie producing. He wouldn’t release another album until five years later.

#43. ‘Choba B CCCP’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 46


– Rank all-time: #20,625


– Rank in decade: #2,838


– Rank in year: #272


– Year: 1988

Paul McCartney first released this collection of rock covers exclusively in the Soviet Union as a gesture of peace and friendship. It came as the result of a two-day recording session, which found the artist exploring his early influences. The title translates to “Back in the USSR.”

#42. ‘Working Classical’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 47


– Rank all-time: #20,440


– Rank in decade: #3,623


– Rank in year: #407


– Year: 1999

A play on the term “working class,” Paul McCartney’s third classical album reinterprets previous rock songs through an orchestral lens. It also features new material such as “Spiral” and “Midwife.” Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and Jonathan Tunick assisted with the orchestrations.

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#41. ‘Wonderwall Music’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 51


– Rank all-time: #19,353


– Rank in decade: #1,214


– Rank in year: #226


– Year: 1968

George Harrison’s debut solo album is the soundtrack to a film of the same name. Featuring both Eastern and Western musicians, it runs the gamut from Indian classical to psychedelic rock and other genres.

#40. ‘Somewhere in England’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 63


– Rank all-time: #16,533


– Rank in decade: #2,304


– Rank in year: #257


– Year: 1981

One of his lesser efforts, this George Harrison album was rejected by Warner Bros. in its earliest form. New songs were added and the nostalgic tune “All Those Years Ago” was reworked so as to honor the recent passing of John Lennon. When finally released, it peaked at #11 on the U.S. charts.

#39. ‘Y Not’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 71


– Rank all-time: #15,205


– Rank in decade: #3,501


– Rank in year: #376


– Year: 2010

Ringo sticks to his signature blend of nostalgia and optimism for his 16th studio album, with guest appearances by Paul McCartney and other frequent collaborators. It marked the first time that Starr handled the lion’s share of production duties.

#38. ‘Run Devil Run’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 97


– Rank all-time: #11,548


– Rank in decade: #2,093


– Rank in year: #205


– Year: 1999

Paul McCartney’s first solo album following his wife’s death is his second collection of early rock covers. It also features three original compositions, one of which—“What It Is”—is a tribute to Linda. Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice make up part of the band.

#37. ‘McCartney III’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 106


– Rank all-time: #10,643


– Rank in decade: #105


– Rank in year: #92


– Year: 2020

The latest in a series of self-recorded and self-produced albums, Macca created this one in his home studio during the coronavirus pandemic. Writing for Classic Rock magazine, critic Paul Moody describes it as “the sound of a less restless McCartney simply doing what he does best.”

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#36. ‘Kisses on the Bottom’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 113


– Rank all-time: #10,053


– Rank in decade: #2,157


– Rank in year: #245


– Year: 2012

No stranger to cover songs, Paul McCartney puts his personal twist on classic standards of the pop and jazz tradition. He also offers two original songs in a similar vein to the adjoining material. This album won for best traditional pop vocal album at the 2013 Grammy Awards.

#35. ‘Press to Play’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 140


– Rank all-time: #8,448


– Rank in decade: #1,265


– Rank in year: #123


– Year: 1986

Macca’s sixth studio album as a solo artist marked a return to EMI after six years with Columbia. It rolled out to lukewarm reception from critics and consumers alike. The production style is pure 1980s and not necessarily in a good way.

#34. ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ by John Lennon

– Best Ever Albums score: 146


– Rank all-time: #8,117


– Rank in decade: #1,287


– Rank in year: #128


– Year: 1975

Conceived during his well-known “lost weekend,” John Lennon’s collection of rock covers is clamorous and nonessential, but still quite listenable. What began in 1973 as a co-production with Phil Spector descended into chaos, leaving the project in limbo. Lennon later finished it in New York and didn’t release another album for five years.

#33. ‘Wild Life’ by Wings

– Best Ever Albums score: 148


– Rank all-time: #8,019


– Rank in decade: #1,271


– Rank in year: #123


– Year: 1971

Recorded the same year as “Ram,” Wings’ debut likewise retains a bucolic and homegrown sensibility. It also suffers from weaker songwriting and less overall consistency. Citing a lack of substance, Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes the music as “defiantly lightweight.”

#32. ‘Dark Horse’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 149


– Rank all-time: #8,006


– Rank in decade: #1,268


– Rank in year: #127


– Year: 1974

“Dark Horse” was both George Harrison’s fifth studio album and the name of his upcoming record label. He suffered from laryngitis during its recording, which lends the songs a rugged or unfinished quality. A disastrous accompanying tour cemented its status as a misfire.

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#31. ‘Extra Texture’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 149


– Rank all-time: #7,981


– Rank in decade: #1,263


– Rank in year: #127


– Year: 1975

Harrison’s final album on Apple—hence the chewed up apple on the label—finds him back in vocal shape, but without much to say. Incorporating keyboard and synth, it opens strong and teeters off toward the second half. It peaked at #8 on the U.S. charts.

#30. ‘Off the Ground’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 214


– Rank all-time: #5,976


– Rank in decade: #1,080


– Rank in year: #108


– Year: 1993

McCartney’s first studio album of the 1990s incorporates leftover material from 1989’s “Flowers in the Dirt” and imparts a similar vibe. The result is a slightly less consistent effort that’s still bound to appease his most loyal fans.

#29. ‘Back to the Egg’ by Wings

– Best Ever Albums score: 219


– Rank all-time: #5,856


– Rank in decade: #994


– Rank in year: #98


– Year: 1979

Tapping into subgenres such as new wave and punk, Wings’ final studio album opens with an edgier sound than its predecessors. As the music progresses, it gradually retreats into familiar pop terrain. The Grammy-winning instrumental “Rockestra Theme” features guest performances from David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, John Paul Jones, and others.

#28. ‘Memory Almost Full’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 234


– Rank all-time: #5,571


– Rank in decade: #1,052


– Rank in year: #107


– Year: 2007

Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes Macca’s 14th studio album “as startlingly bright and frequently lively.” Infused with themes of mortality, it goes big on melody, but doesn’t necessarily strive for hit singles. This was the first-ever release on Starbucks’ Hear music label.

#27. ‘Thirty Three & 1/3’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 253


– Rank all-time: #5,231


– Rank in decade: #903


– Rank in year: #85


– Year: 1976

George Harrison’s seventh studio album was his first on the Dark Horse label, which he founded. Its recording was delayed by a series of unfortunate events, including a bout of hepatitis and two separate lawsuits. On “This Song,” he satirizes accusations of plagiarism.

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#26. ‘Ringo’ by Ringo Starr

– Best Ever Albums score: 263


– Rank all-time: #5,062


– Rank in decade: #878


– Rank in year: #95


– Year: 1973

Featuring vital contributions from all three of his former bandmates, Ringo’s eponymous smash peaked at #2 on the U.S. charts, a solo career high. The album also yielded two #1 singles, including the George Harrison-penned “Photograph.” A Rolling Stone review called it “the first to actually invoke The Beatles’ aura.”

#25. ‘Driving Rain’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 263


– Rank all-time: #5,057


– Rank in decade: #973


– Rank in year: #98


– Year: 2001

The final work of an informal trilogy, Macca’s 12th studio album retains a propulsive energy as it alternates between various styles and sensibilities. Some of the songs were inspired by Heather Mills, who became his wife the following year. Despite generally positive reviews, the album was something of a commercial disappointment.

#24. ‘Pipes of Peace’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 282


– Rank all-time: #4,774


– Rank in decade: #727


– Rank in year: #71


– Year: 1983

A follow-up to “Tug of War,” Paul McCartney’s fourth solo album features songs from the same sessions along with new material. Far less heralded than its predecessor, it contains the chart-topping Michael Jackson collaboration “Say Say Say.”

#23. ‘Egypt Station’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 337


– Rank all-time: #4,145


– Rank in decade: #771


– Rank in year: #69


– Year: 2018

Paul McCartney was 76 when he released his first Billboard chart-topper since 1982. It finds the former Beatle in high spirits as he covers ground new and old alike. Co-producer Greg Kurstin “knows how to spin retro sounds so they feel fresh,” writes Stephen Thomas Erlewine for Pitchfork.

#22. ‘George Harrison’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 343


– Rank all-time: #4,079


– Rank in decade: #728


– Rank in year: #70


– Year: 1979

George Harrison closed out the 1970s with one of his most intimate and relaxing albums to date. Even “Not Guilty”—a biting track from the Beatles era—sounds subdued here in its reworked form. Eric Clapton, Gary Wright, Steve Winwood, and others make guest appearances.

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#21. ‘London Town’ by Wings

– Best Ever Albums score: 365


– Rank all-time: #3,884


– Rank in decade: #693


– Rank in year: #75


– Year: 1978

Having lost two of their members, Wings recorded their sixth studio album as a trio. It spans multiple styles and temperaments and feels more European in spirit than the band’s other output. Writing for Classic Rock Review, critic Ric Albano called it “an adventurous celebration of music itself.”

#20. ‘McCartney II’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 371


– Rank all-time: #3,827


– Rank in decade: #580


– Rank in year: #76


– Year: 1980

Paul McCartney plays every instrument on his second eponymous release, which finds him exploring various styles and techniques. The track “Temporary Secretary” dives into full-blown Kraftwerk territory with its sequencer effects and dance rhythms. That song and others have helped the album earn a cult following over time.

#19. ‘Red Rose Speedway’ by Paul McCartney and Wings

– Best Ever Albums score: 383


– Rank all-time: #3,721


– Rank in decade: #663


– Rank in year: #77


– Year: 1973

Wings’ first album to reach #1 on the U.S. charts features somewhat shallow lyrics and a fragmented structure. The sappy ballad “My Love” was a big hit in its day that hasn’t necessarily aged well. During the same recording sessions, the band created the song “Live and Let Die” for a James Bond movie.

#18. ‘Walls and Bridges’ by John Lennon

– Best Ever Albums score: 420


– Rank all-time: #3,465


– Rank in decade: #625


– Rank in year: #55


– Year: 1974

John Lennon released his fifth studio album while living with girlfriend May Pang during his prolonged break from Yoko Ono. It includes the #1 single “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,” featuring Elton John as a guest performer. A young Jimmy Iovine was overdub engineer for the recording sessions, later calling them the “most professional” of his career.

#17. ‘Wings at the Speed of Sound’ by Wings

– Best Ever Albums score: 421


– Rank all-time: #3,461


– Rank in decade: #623


– Rank in year: #62


– Year: 1976

The fifth Wings studio album was their fourth in a row to reach #1 on the U.S. charts. It features vocal and songwriting contributions from every band member and ends up being somewhat incohesive. Hit singles “Silly Love Songs” and “Let ’em In” helped drive the album’s success.

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#16. ‘Flowers in the Dirt’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 421


– Rank all-time: #3,454


– Rank in decade: #534


– Rank in year: #47


– Year: 1989

After the underwhelming performance of “Press to Play,” Paul McCartney crafted this long-gestating successor as a comeback of sorts. Fellow icon Elvis Costello proves himself a pivotal collaborator, co-writing a handful of songs and also appearing on the album. Macca followed its release with his first world tour in over a decade.

#15. ‘Living in the Material World’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 490


– Rank all-time: #3,066


– Rank in decade: #564


– Rank in year: #63


– Year: 1973

On his fourth studio album, George Harrison expands upon personal themes of spirituality and faith. Its chart-topping success was largely fueled by the high expectations established by its predecessor “All Things Must Pass.” The music was more quaint by comparison, but still widely acclaimed.

#14. ‘Brainwashed’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 513


– Rank all-time: #2,954


– Rank in decade: #545


– Rank in year: #50


– Year: 2002

George Harrison’s final studio album was completed shortly after his death with help from co-producers Jeff Lynne and Harrison’s son Dhani. Over a decade in the making, it reflects upon the state of modern life while reinforcing the ex-Beatles’ spiritual leanings. The track “Marwa Blues” won a Grammy Award for best pop instrumental performance.

#13. ‘New’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 521


– Rank all-time: #2,923


– Rank in decade: #508


– Rank in year: #64


– Year: 2013

Macca collaborated with in-demand producers when bringing this collection of songs to life. Appropriately titled, it was his first solo album of entirely new songs since 2007. “It’s gratifying and inspiring to see the pop musician who arguably most deserves to rest on his laurels steadfastly refuse to do so,” wrote Miles Raymer for Pitchfork.

#12. ‘Mind Games’ by John Lennon

– Best Ever Albums score: 613


– Rank all-time: #2,559


– Rank in decade: #488


– Rank in year: #53


– Year: 1973

John Lennon’s self-produced fourth album appropriates a Phil Spector-style sound as it jumps between various subjects and styles. Slightly humorous by design, it’s also intensely personal and occasionally political. By the time of its release, he and Yoko Ono were living on opposite sides of the country.

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#11. ‘Flaming Pie’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 629


– Rank all-time: #2,498


– Rank in decade: #468


– Rank in year: #44


– Year: 1997

The “Beatles Anthology” docuseries was still fresh on people’s minds when Paul McCartney released his 10th solo effort. In the liner notes, he credits the series as being “a refresher course that set the framework for this album.” George Martin and Jeff Lynne were both onboard as co-producers.

#10. ‘Venus and Mars’ by Wings

– Best Ever Albums score: 669


– Rank all-time: #2,382


– Rank in decade: #457


– Rank in year: #42


– Year: 1975

Paul McCartney’s first post-Beatles release on the Capitol label is a rocking affair with no shortage of catchy tunes. Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton joined Wings soon before recording, making this an authentic band effort.

#9. ‘Cloud Nine’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 701


– Rank all-time: #2,290


– Rank in decade: #360


– Rank in year: #42


– Year: 1987

With help from the smash single “Got My Mind Set on You,” Harrison’s 11th studio album rejuvenated his flagging music career. Co-producer and fellow Wilbury member Jeff Lynne was an instrumental force behind the scenes, helping craft the overall sound and co-writing a handful of songs.

#8. ‘Tug of War’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 795


– Rank all-time: #2,077


– Rank in decade: #335


– Rank in year: #35


– Year: 1982

Upon breaking up Wings, Macca delivered one of the most successful solo albums of his entire career. It was also his first release in the wake of John Lennon’s death, which inspired the emotional tribute “Here Today.” Also featured is “Ebony and Ivory,” a Stevie Wonder collaboration that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

#7. ‘Chaos and Creation in the Backyard’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 896


– Rank all-time: #1,883


– Rank in decade: #328


– Rank in year: #42


– Year: 2005

Paul McCartney enlisted producer Nigel Godrich for this intimate outing, on which the former Beatle plays most of the instruments. While often introspective, there are still plenty of hooks and melodies to go around. “The tingling sense of a new beginning is palpable,” wrote Anthony Decurtis in his review for Rolling Stone.

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#6. ‘McCartney’ by Paul McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 1,080


– Rank all-time: #1,603


– Rank in decade: #327


– Rank in year: #41


– Year: 1970

With its freewheeling arrangements and lo-fi sound, Paul McCartney’s self-titled solo debut took many fans and critics by unpleasant surprise. It’s since been reappraised as an understated classic of perfect imperfection. The track “Maybe I’m Amazed” is widely considered one of his best songs.

#5. ‘Ram’ by Paul and Linda McCartney

– Best Ever Albums score: 5,302


– Rank all-time: #372


– Rank in decade: #93


– Rank in year: #17


– Year: 1971

Overlooked upon its release, the sole album credited to Paul and Linda McCartney is now hailed as a masterpiece. What might seem like a random assortment of lighthearted material reveals authentic structure and glorious melody over time. It opens with a thinly veiled attack on former bandmate John Lennon.

#4. ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon

– Best Ever Albums score: 5,866


– Rank all-time: #341


– Rank in decade: #87


– Rank in year: #15


– Year: 1971

“I call it ‘Plastic Ono’ with chocolate coating,” John Lennon once said of this 1971 classic. It kicks off with the idealistic title song before veering into darker territory on tracks such as “Crippled Inside” and “Gimme Some Truth.” Darker still is “How Do You Sleep?” on which Lennon, with help from George Harrison on guitar, returns fire against McCartney.

#3. ‘Band on the Run’ by Paul McCartney and Wings

– Best Ever Albums score: 7,336


– Rank all-time: #270


– Rank in decade: #66


– Rank in year: #7


– Year: 1973

Paul McCartney’s most quintessential post-Beatles effort surmounted various odds on its way to blockbuster success. Not only did two bandmates drop out shortly before its recording, but he and Linda were robbed at knifepoint of all their demo tapes. Despite the obstacles—or perhaps because of them—this would end up as the bestselling album of his solo career.

#2. ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ by John Lennon

– Best Ever Albums score: 12,188


– Rank all-time: #145


– Rank in decade: #36


– Rank in year: #5


– Year: 1970

John Lennon didn’t “believe in Beatles” by the time he recorded this raw and revealing solo debut. Stripped down in essence, but exploding with primacy, the music and lyrics eschew superfluous metaphor in favor of stark literalism. On Rolling Stone’s 2009 list of the 500 Greatest Albums, it landed at #23.

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#1. ‘All Things Must Pass’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 13,228


– Rank all-time: #132


– Rank in decade: #35


– Rank in year: #4


– Year: 1970

Once relegated to a few songwriting credits per album, George Harrison exited The Beatles with a treasure trove of unused ideas. He also fine-tuned the slide guitar sound that would become a signature benchmark for the rest of his career. It all came pouring out on this sprawling masterwork, which continues to gobsmack new fans more than 40 years later.