Upon picking up the album…..I am struck by the cover and how alive and beautiful it is. Like McCartney I, it’s a family affair. Paul must have done all the coloring, artwork, gluing and pasting, Linda was in charge of the photography.
The not too subtle photo of a beetle screwing another beetle, family life, fun and happiness abound. You know what is inside the gatefold sleeve can not be dull or depressing. It’s not.
After Paul took the overwhelming majority of backlash over him “quitting” the Beatles and McCartney I not being warmly received by critics and many fans who had an axe to grind for the Beatles killer, he set his mind to make a fully produced and promoted and unforgettable response. The entire affair has two main themes for me based on two songs.
In “Ram On” which is meant to proceed forward with confidence he talks of finding love and embracing it… RAM ON, GIVE YOUR HEART TO SOMEBODY, SOON, RIGHT AWAY…RIGHT AWAY.
Love, and his love of wife, children, country life they lead is front and center in every aspect of this album. I think only the two rockers, “Smile Away” and “Monkberry Moon Delight” are just about…..well, who really knows….
In “Too Many People” Paul takes a full swipe at the lifestyle of John & Yoko and maybe anyone who has judged them wrong… THAT WAS YOUR LAST MISTAKE, YOU TOOK YOUR LUCKY BREAK AND BROKE IT IN TWO…. NOW, WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR YOU?….YOU BROKE IT IN TWO.
There are a few moments of venting, but the overall feel for me is not a total screw you to doubters,critics etc.. but a mild back hand and then look, this is my life and what makes me happy..
The critics again HATED the album upon release. Rolling Stone, called it the nadir of the rock era…. finding nothing in of value other than Paul showing how many instruments he could balance in the air at the same time.
Paul really like making this album with Linda, Denny and the two guitarists and ultimately led him to decide to form a NEW band very soon after releasing this album. Ringo spoke at the time, with sadness for Paul, and how “wierd” his music had gotten.
With some fans around the world, most critics, and his ex-bandmates bashing it… it was in its time of release considered a major misstep. Then to find out a few months after the release that he continues to play music with his non-musician wife, and now has started a band with her in it… Even Mick Jagger proudly stated he would never have his wife in any band of his.
But here’s the thing….this record sold….it sold like hell…easily making it to #1. Now… as the years have gone by Ram has aged like a fine wine. It is now been reviewed in hindsight by all as an amazing album, a masterpiece. It is the ONLY album of Paul’s in the 2020 Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all-time. The ONLY one.
Linda’s place on the album and in Paul’s music have now been tolerated and embraced. The album is credited to both, as he says she helped him with lyrics and flushed out ideas besides the background vocals, photography and design and emotional support. Her being given credit for co-writing songs was initially fought by the record executives, as just a way to get around the holding of all monies earned by the court appointed trustee. They would receive some monies on the songs she co-wrote. They would ultimately record songs and make a television special to the suits to make this go away. Yes, maybe a word here and there but she did…and Paul needed her as a rock and constant in a world that had seemingly turned its back on him.
The Paul is dead rumor had reached it furor and this album (and an extensive LIFE magazine article) showed to the world that Paul was back. The beard was gone…the songs were fully thought out and realized. So imagine how he must have felt after it was initially being shit on when he thought he would be vindicated.
The album is wonderfully produced, played, sung, sequenced and arranged. It is sonic brilliance, that has only gotten better with each re-mastering. The recording engineer’s for the album
BOTH became famous producers… Phil Ramone and Jim Guercio.
I really liked the album when it came out. We would put it on the family stereo and we would all listen to it. My mom even loved it.
Today, I am in awe of it…. it is far and away my favorite McCartney solo release. People can now see what he wanted them to see. I am only glad that he has lived long enough to finally feel the vindication. Play it anywhere, anytime at any volume and you will be rewarded.
“Too Many People” – The opening track is the F.U. to the Lennons and critics… I am here, and in love, and we don’t believe in the things you do and say. Lennon must have flipped out upon hearing this…. knowing it was about he and Yoko, and probably led him to believe that many other songs and lyrics were also about them. This isn’t true, as this seems to be the only venting song on the disc…. The opening line….. PIECE OF CAKE… in other words, I don’t need you or anybody, I can do this on my own and with Linda. Denny’s opening drumlines still gives me chills to this day. Rating – 9.75
“Three Legs” A chug along blues song that features some odd lyrics. Great guitar work, vocal etc… I remember thinking at the time…. the line “My dog, he has three legs, but he can’t run.” Was this an illusion of the other THREE Beatles not being able to get things done without him….? Bill Wood and I analyzed each word and note… Rating – 8.5
“Ram On”. Simple and sweet. Give in to love, give into it with all you have and do it now. He still feels the same way today. Great editing on this track. Love the use of ukulele. Linda and Paul’s backing vocals on this and every track are amazing.
Rating – 8.5
“Dear Boy” A song Paul wrote about Linda’s first husband, and how he let the right one get away.. I can see how Lennon thought this one was all about him. “You never knew dear boy what you had found…” Paul says no.
Rating – 8
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”. Only Paul could write this odd collection of fragments and turn it into a anthem, that would become his first #1 single in America. In 1971 this song was #1 in the country…..amazing. Would anyone even listen to a new song like this today and give it the room to grow and consume us? No… Hands across the water, hands across the sea.
“Smile Away”. A toe tapping, knee bopper 50’s style rocker. The lyrics are silly and make me laugh… “Brother, I can smell your feet a mile away….” Linda’s backing vocals really add to the style and sound. Harmless and meaningless and I don’t care.
Rating – 8.5
“Heart Of The Country” A true gem of a song… Brilliant guitar work, great feel from start to finish. And the meaning/feel of the album is summed up in three and a half minutes.
Rating – 9.5
“Monkberry Moon Delight”. Delight, is right. The lyrics are wonderfully bizarre…(“When a rattle of rats has awoken..”) but fully capture the zany spirit of this screamer. Paul’s vocals are the highlight of the album here… Rating – 9.5
“Eat At Home” Paul’s naughty song….and he gets away with it.
It always reminded me of the way Mick Jagger was singing at the time and how the Stones sounded. I always thought he meant loving having family dinners at home rather than life out and about… but I should have listened…. “Baby, let’s eat in bed. Eat in Bed. Eat in bed.” Rating – 7.5
“Long Haired Lady”. This one has never been a favorite. It is good, but goes on for me too long. I even skip it occasionally in the car. Rating – 7
“Ram On” (reprise). A place holder for the album magical closer.. another in the long line of Macca links, reprises and bits of this and that. He gives the opening line to “Big Barn Bed” at the end. A song that wouldn’t come out for two years…..
Rating – 7.5
“Back Seat Of My Car” A wonderful way to end the album. A wonderful song of young love on the run, a love that won’t be denied. I find myself breathless and satisfied as the track drives off into the sunset.
Rating – 9.75
Well, there we go… The album grades out as 8.625 and again, this seems right.
Next up… Tracks recorded during these times and used later and also the unreleased tracks and a few that have just come out with the reissues. 1971 was a busy busy year for Paul and he still had so much more on the plate….. Smile away….