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McCartney (1970)

By April 17th, 1970, John Lennon had released three singles. “Give Peace A Chance” and “Cold Turkey” in 1969 and “Instant Karma” in February of 1970. Paul McCartney saw the writing on the wall. It was time to get his act together.

You know what got Paul to this point (see previous post) and he went into seclusion, filled with confusion, depression, anger and a complete lack of confidence. He began to drink as heavily as he ever had, grew a scraggly beard and meandered around the house in a robe all day until……Linda sat him down and pointed out the obvious…start making music and hey, you are one of the most talented musicians on the planet.

So Paul had all these ideas he was flushing out on the four track in the living room and I presume that by February of that year he got serious turning what rough recordings he had made into finished songs.

Johns songs, and his personal life was one of protest, media blitzing and avant garde experiments. Who can forget the press conference for sending every world leader an acorn to plant featured he and Yoko inside a gigantic bag the entire time? I can’t.

Paul saw his former partner and friend and support in completely different head space. And don’t forget the money, and power grab by Klein.So, McCartney put together the best album he could, enjoying the fact that squeaks, whistles, tape whirrs could be heard on the final product. This album would be a homemade album, soft and gentle in spirit and sound, all embracing his new marriage and growing family.

Paul plays all instruments but asks Linda to help on harmonies. She sang backup on the Beatles “Let It Be,” impressing Paul with her natural upper range.

The album design is lovely and reflects what is inside…. Paul, bearded and happy, with newborn Mary stuffed inside his jacket.His seclusion had reached the point that the incredible “Paul is Dead” theories emerged by late 1969.

The rear cover is simply a display of an emptied bowl of cherries on a table. Was he saying “life IS a bowl of cherries?” Linda’s photography is also featured in the gatefold center, with a variety of domestic bliss captured. The dog, the cat, the kids, Paul, Linda all living life in the heart of the country. Paul repairs a window, fixes the roof, picks his nose…. Not one of them inside a giant bag.

The album was finished, released to the uproar of his quitting (at least for the time) the band that the world still worshiped.

No promotion other that a slideshow of similar photos to “Maybe I’m Amazed” and shown on television shows. The album sold very well due to his Beatles status but the press and many of the fans didn’t embrace the lo-fi sound, or the love themes that dominated it.

I got my copy soon after release. I listened and found it pleasant but wasn’t musically mature enough to see it for what it was. Today I see it for what it is…a baby step away from what was his old world into a scary new world, hand and hand with his new family.

Again, today it is viewed as a much better album, with better remastering of archive releases. It is sparse, it is quiet and gentle, but it always meant to be.

Listen to this album on your best stereo or under decent headphones. Listen to this album when you are in a romantic or mellow mood. In your car this is a slow country road listen early in the day or as the sun is setting.

The Songs (on the initial release)

1. “The Lovely Linda” : The song Paul used to test the equipment. Plug in the microphone, sit down with acoustic and make up a quick ditty for his wife. He chose not to expand the song with additional verses etc… and left in the squeals, squeaks and laughter in and then have it open the album. Coming in at 43 seconds, it is a sweet statement, but should it have been? I would rather he developed it more for my taste, but he was making a statement by placing it here in this version. Rating- 5

2. “That Would Be Something” : George Harrison’s favorite song from the album. I find of all the songs on this album that this one needed more. Better drumming, better and fuller recording, better lyrics. A critic would be wondering what is going on after the first two tracks…. Rating – 5

3. “Valentine Day” : The first instrumental. Used as background music for an anti-drug PSA at the time. I like this song. Paul’s guitar work is excellent, love the use of foot pedal. The drumming is fine and the song takes you musically on a journey in the 1:39 track. Short and sweet. Rating – 7.5

4. “Every Night” : The first fully flushed out song, finished at Abbey Road studio and it shows. The first time I heard this song, I fell in love. Should have been the second single released from the album (if a first one was released). It would have been a #1. Beautiful and touching in every way. His drumming drives the song, his voice is marvelous. The lyrics reflect the confusion in his life and how home is the only stability in his world. Rating – 9

5. “Hot As Sun/Glasses” The second instrumental. Again, I really like this song. The roller rink organ and the drumming and 50’s style guitars work for me. The song blends into Paul playing various wine glasses filled with water to give a trippy effect and then cuts into a few seconds of the unreleased song written for Frank Sinatra demo of “Suicide.” Put together it works for me. Rating – 7

6. “Junk” Written in India in 1968, an attempted or at least presented to the Beatles, but never recorded properly. A simple song as an ode to the abandoned merchandise that was once owned and now finds itself available to anyone with money. The sign says BUY, the junk says WHY? Linda makes her first appearance. Nice, interesting lyrics if you place them in a broader perspective (friendships, relationships etc…) Rating – 7

7. “Man We Was Lonely” A country toe tapper about the state of their world. They were lonely, but by having each other…. things are good. A slight Beatles dig lyrically (…singing songs that I thought were mine alone). Very good guitar work, and a perfect ending (The ending was nicked for the introduction of the 1976 Spinners hit, “One Of A Kind Love Affair”). The best bass playing on the album so far. Linda is there with her “Alone’s..” I hated these back in 1970 but accept them for what they are today. Rating – 7.5

8. “Oo You” Another instrumental till Paul added silly lyrics. It rocks pretty good. Was to be called “Rock and Roll Springtime.” Rating – 6.5

9. “Momma Miss America” Two instrumentals that were spliced together and it worked (albeit with a sudden tempo change). Again, I like the instrumentals on this album. Very good piano work. Very good bass lines. Rating – 7.5

10. “Teddy Boy” Attempted with the Beatles, but this time with much more effort. Let It Be movie bootlegs show Lennon mocking it as Paul runs through it too many times for his liking. Another India written song. Linda is more pronounced here.. When I got the album I wondered…. Why is she still singing here???? Little did I know…Paul didn’t have a lot of material at this time, so it made the cut. The album comes in at a just over 34 minutes…so nothing was wasted. Rating – 5.5

11. “Sing A Long Junk.” Junk, but without vocals. In 1970 I said… why, why put this song on here again. I wrote a short play in college and used it for the introduction of it… so I’ll add a half point. Back to the lack of new material. Rating – 5.5

12. “Maybe I’m Amazed”. Here we go…. The gold standard. Another Abbey Road song. Still is, 50 years later, one of Macca’s finest songs… Linda’s harmonies are spot on. This is a brilliant song that is a fine a love song a newlywed could present to his new bride. Lyric, fantastic, the guitar work is fantastic. The song has become a piano ballad today in concert, but was clearly a kick ass rock song upon release. Question? Why was this song not released as the first single…. It would have been a #1 hit, no question. Hell, the live 1976 version by Wings was a big hit…. Rating – 9.75

13. “Kreen-Akore”. Okay, this is the one everyone shits on…with the panting drum solo and most dismiss it out of hand. But this last instrumental (except for the ooohs and aaahs) is more than meets the eye. Paul had read or saw a film about the Brazilian Kreen-Akore tribe that killed all intruders. The song is the sound of the tribe as it hears and then goes on the hunt for the kill. Paul and Linda make animal sounds, shoot actual arrows in the studio. I find this song fascinating and entertaining, with a climactic hunt and album ending. Rating – 7.5

So for the original album released tracks we have an average rating of 6.92. Not Bad…but not great. Yeah, that’s about right. But now, when I listen I know what awaits me and I appreciate it for what it was. The first step into a new and uncharted territory.

Next Up : Bonus songs and unreleased songs from this period.

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