Paul vs. Faul

Who's the real Dop-PAUL-Ganger?

All you pepperpots caught up in the 50th anniversary frenzy of The Beatles' psychedelic shuck, you neglected to also observe the 50th-anniversary of the great Beatle hoax you've known for all these years. That's right. It was the first major dumping of Paul is Dead clues following his decapitating car crash of November 1966 and his subsequent replacement by a body double (who not only played incredible left-handed bass but also wrote songs that were way more advanced than anything the birth Paul ever came up with). Surely no one could make the leap from "She's A Woman" to "She's Leaving Home" in less than three earth years without a little Illuminati intervention? The death rumor and alleged cover-up by the Beatles spread like wildfire across the U.S. in late October and November '69 before the real Paul stepped forward to squelch the whole thing. Some fans were satisfied that he was not dead after he agreed to appear in Life Magazine. But to the Paul-is-dead academia that sprang up in his wake (at his wake?), quitting the Beatles five months later only added more fuel to the pyre.

This week you can decide for yourself whether the music from Paul and Faul came from the same cranium with "Live and Let Die—A Paul McCartney Tribute" at the Fox Theater. Your Paul-Bearer for the evening looks and sounds very much like a latter-day Saint Paul and has even been endorsed by Sir Faul himself ("Tony Kishman is a great musician"). Kishman is right-handed so these conspiracy theorists have happily left him out of their ever-expanding dossier of "Who is Faul?"

Mostly these Paul is Still Dead experts give themselves away by getting even the most run-of-the-mill Beatles facts wrong. And none have adequately addressed the basic flaw in the whole charade—if the Freemasons and MI6 successfully replaced the first Paul with Faul or Billy Shears or William Campbell, then why the hell couldn't they manage to keep the Beatles together?

What if a faction of the freemasons, flushed with pride over their Faul contributions to Abbey Road, could no longer take John's handlers calling their efforts "granny music" and struck out on their own, determined to show the world Faul was THE Beatle of consequence? Here's how that worked out:

McCartney (1970)

Not willing to unleash his top-shelf material in case the other three Beatles' handlers came crawling back to let him run the Beatles the way he thought it should it be run, Faul put out this album of mostly Let It Be scraps ("Teddy Boy," "Junk," "Hot As Sun" "Every Night") with the exception of "Maybe I'm Amazed," which amazingly Faul didn't release as a single. This strategic move ensured he wouldn't have to compete with Beatle Faul's "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road," concurrently dominating the Top 10. Old Liverpudlian proverb: when you go up against yourself, you always lose.

Ram (1971)

After the brilliant first solo efforts by John and George, McCartney seemed like the work of a cute dead Beatle tapped for song ideas. Stung by critics, Faul released a low-key first single, "Another Day," that viewed the lonely life of an unmarried office worker, a kinda Elenore Rigby with steno skills. Faul visited other Beatles tropes like reprises ("Ram On"), sweeping suites with uncredited orchestral scores by George Martin ("Back Seat of My Car," "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," "Long Haired Lady") and even funny fadeout dialogue ala "Hey Bulldog" ("Monkberry Moon Delight").

If Robin Hitchcock had released Ram at any point in his career, it would've been greeted as a work of genius. But at this point anything the breaker-upper-of-the-Beatles released could only be viewed, Jon Landau wrote in Rolling Stone, as "monumentally irrelevant."

Wild Life (1971)

Faul watchers couldn't help notice that the word Paul was missing from the McCartney album and on Ram the words "Paul" and "McCartney" were separated by the words "and Linda" at every turn, as a way to draw distinction from his Beatle past. Now here was an album with no lettering at all on the cover. Capitol Records, sensing a commercial as well as critical disaster, hastily affixed a second identifying sticker above the one trumpeting "Wings Wild Life" that read "Paul McCartney and Friends," as if they were doing the ex-Beatle a favor. Now fleshed out to a group, Faul was free to explore every idea his former bandmates shot down: showing up at universities and playing unannounced shows, slapping together improvised songs in the studio with no overdubs. As if to answer the John jab "the only thing you done was "Yesterday,"' Faul fashioned a song called "Tomorrow." Where was the quality control at this point?  It's very possible that the freemasons, seeing their musical ambitions in free Faul, abandoned the mission entirely, leaving Faul to flounder on his own. Because when you invite your wife and too many guys named Denny into your band, following up a song called "Mumbo" with a song called "Bip Bop" will seem like a great idea. As if to drive home the desperation, "Mumbo" and "Bip Bop" both get reprised!

"Give Ireland Back to the Irish," "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Hi Hi Hi" (1972)

Wings' output in 1972 consisted of these three singles, the first being an attempt at a protest song about the Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland that failed by being too complimentary to the crown ("Great Britain, you are tremendous"). Most Faul watchers thought singing about fleece as white as snow was a reaction to the BBC ban, but it was actually Faul's attempt to corner the children's market, hoping they'd be less critical. Wings managed to get banned a second time in 12 months, this time for drug references AND sexually suggestive lyrics. For the latter, Faul was cited for the nasty, "Get you ready for my body gun" while he was actually being sexually suggestive of geometry with his "polygon." 

Red Rose Speedway (1973)

Originally conceived as a double album until horrified EMI executives staged an intervention. Despite the presence of "My Love," which restored Faul to the top of the singles chart, it doesn't come close to sustaining that earlier outing's high watermarks, especially when saddled with three of Faul's most forgettable song fragments, the audio equivalent of disappearing ink. At least Faul is finally photographed with a rose that isn't black.

Band on the Run (1973)

After changing the band billing to Paul McCartney and Wings with the last release, Faul records began scoring chart positions befitting a Beatle. Either Faul's near-death experiences in Lagos (getting rushed to an emergency room after smoking powerful Nigerian pot or being robbed at knifepoint by street thugs) scared him into doing good work, or else he finally figured out the formula for not recording fan repellent and used it to this album's advantage.

Everyone was so happy that Faul had finally delivered an album that could compare to his work in the Beatles, nobody noticed that the Illuminati had returned and replaced Faul with a second lookalike. The cover's spotlight recreates Satan's black sun and the hand of James Coburn is clearly positioned above Faul's head—a sure sign that you are dead in West London.