McCartney (1970)


 
1. The Lovely Linda 2. That Would Be Something 3. Valentine Day 4. Every Night 5. Hot as Sun/Glasses 6. Junk 7. Man We Was Lonely 8. Oo You 9. Momma Miss America 10.Teddy Boy 11.Singalong Junk 12.Maybe I'm Amazed 13.Kreen-Akrore

 

In many ways, this is a very odd choice for a first solo album from a well established artist - or any solo album from an established artist. This album is basically a very rough, almost demo, recording in its entirety. It features only Paul and his wife Linda performing all of the instruments, and the whole thing sounds a bit thrown together - as if it's not really Paul's intention that anyone take this thing too seriously.

A bit of a real surprise since the fan could freshly recall well crafted masterpieces from the Beatles such as "Abbey Road" and "Sgt. Pepper". It's very easy to listen once or twice and wonder "what is exactly the point?", yet the real joy in this album is after multiple listens. Listening to this album reminds you a bit of when an artist re-releases a compact disc with "bonus demo recordings" of their hits. You don't really feel like you're listening to the finished product (think of most of the songs from The Beatles "Anthology" releases), yet ideas that haven't been quite fleshed out. The good news is that this was James Paul McCartney, and if anyone could pull something like this off, well, he was the one.

Glancing at the track listing, only about half of what is listed could be classified as actual "songs" - and even that many is debatable. The obvious two are Every Night and Maybe I'm Amazed. After that it can be a bit fuzzy. Junk and That Would Be Something, for example, are both very easily accessible, pleasant and fun to sing and/or hum along. They both sound too incomplete, though, and they're both prime examples of what this album could have sounded like had McCartney taken these ideas, hired some quality musicians and crafted into a "legitimate" album. I'm convinced it would have been a masterpiece. As it is, many fans regard this album already as a masterpiece, so maybe the rough treatment is preferential?

A lot of the other "songs" are really nothing more than mini-jam sessions. I'm not sure I could hum the bits to such songs as Valentine Day or Kreen-Akore because they really don't have any sort of substantial melodies or hooks going through them. Again, though, that obviously wasn't the point. It needs to be said that as much of a perfectionist as McCartney was (something that could drive the other Beatles nuts), in many ways he never took some of his music all that seriously. As a member of the Beatles, many of these simple ideas would obviously be fleshed out a bit more thoughtfully with other band members, but as a solo artist doing his first album, he probably just was too burned out, and just put this one out as is.

The public took awhile to warm up to it. It didn't help things back in 1970 (the year this was released) when Paul basically stated in the album packaging that The Beatles were officially "through" (something everyone really already knew, but no one wanted to admit). Give this one some time, though. It will grow on you.

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