Saturday, 1 September 2018

Paul McCartney - McCartney (1970)

Man we was lonely....

  

Released April 1970

Running time 34.22

Recorded at McCartney's London home and Abbey Road, London

Paul McCartney's first solo album was something of a strange affair. It was recorded just after his acrimonious split from the Beatles and was accompanied by a lot of media hoo-hah and some perceived arrogance from McCartney himself within the hype.  The album features just him playing various instruments in his own house, almost as if to prove that after The Beatles he could record anything he wanted to and get away with it. There are unfinished-sounding songs and instrumentals on there. That is putting a slightly too simple a sheen on it, however. Yes, it is indulgent and the question "he left The Beatles to do this?..." is a perfectly understandable one. Nevertheless, there is some good, enjoyable material on here as well as some underwhelming, throwaway stuff. It is also a bit of a misnomer to say the album is "lo-fi", as it has been described over the years by many. The sound, for me, is very good - full, warm, bassy and with a nice stereo separation. Yes, it was recorded in rudimentary fashion, but it still sounds perfectly acceptable to me, in a down-home, folky sort of way, which definitely has an appeal. The contemporary reaction to it, however, was one of shock. It was highly-anticipated and to say it was perceived as a colossal let-down was an understatement. It was nowhere near as good as Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band" or Harrison's "All Things Must Pass".

Listened to now, all these years later, allows it to be re-assessed, positively. I have always quite liked it, I have to admit. My opinion is a typically contemporary one, though, as the album has been re-assessed positively on regular bases as the years progress.

TRACK LISTING

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                                            

As for the material - "The Lovely Linda" is a short, tribute to the love of his life, while "That Would Be Something" is a catchy number featuring an infectious guitar riff. The short instrumental, "Valentine Day" has some excellent guitar. "Every Night" is a proper, accomplished song, no question. It has a great melody and hook. If it had been a Beatles song, everyone would have loved it. "Hot As Sun/Glasses" is a lively, once again catchy instrumental. The gently tuneful "Junk" is a fetching, typical McCartney song in many ways, and is certainly one that sticks in the mind. It dated from the "Let It Be" Beatles sessions in 1969. "Man We Was Lonely" would not have sounded out of place on 1973's "Band On The Run", to be honest. There are also echoes of the late sixties Beatles material in its melody too and Harrison-esque guitar parts.

The rocky "Oo You" has a Lennon-esque guitar intro and a definite sound of Lennon on the vocal. It almost seems as if McCartney was trying to write a Lennon-style song here. "Momma Miss America" has a sumptuous bass line and McCartney plays some Ringo-ish drums and contributes some "Lady Madonna"-style piano to this entertaining instrumental. He adds some excellent guitar at the end too. Fair play to him. It's a good one. "Teddy Boy" is, however, an irritating leftover from The Beatles late sixties period that has slight echoes of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Rocky Racoon" in it, for me.  I have to say I find it pretty awful. This sort of thing is the worst of McCartney.


"Singalong Junk" is the instrumental version of "Junk" (allowing one to singalong to it). It is superfluous and not really worthy of its place on the album, although the melody is still a nice one. Then there is the album's one true copper-bottomed McCartney classic - the fully-formed proper rock of "Maybe I'm Amazed", which will always find its way on to a "best of McCartney" playlist. His voice goes all "Helter Skelter" throaty on the choruses. It has some excellent rock guitar, organ and piano too. "Kreen-Akrore" is another instrumental, this time a bit of an indulgence, with the kitchen sink thrown in and McCartney showing off somewhat on the drums, unimpressively. That old joke about Ringo "not even being the best drummer in The Beatles" may not have been true, if this is anything to go by.

I have to say that one cannot deny that there is some lightweight material on here that, if it wasn't Paul McCartney, would not even get released and, as a cohesive, meaningful album it comes up considerably short. For some reason, though, and I accept all the criticisms of it, I cannot help but like it. I know that it doesn't deserve it, but what the heck.

C

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