An initial glance at the Paul McCartney Archive Collection may cause some listeners to think Sir Paul is copying Neil Young in repackaging efforts. In reality, two of Paul McCartney’s solo records get the reissue treatment with McCartney and McCartney II paving the way for the forthcoming Wings reissues: Wings Over America, Wings At the Speed Of Sound and Venus and Mars.
In 2011 McCartney comes repackaged in multiple formats including vinyl, a 2-disc special version with unreleased bonus tracks and a limited edition with a special book. The standard copy is one purely for new fans as it simply offers the original 13-tracks, albeit ones recently remastered at the famous Abbey Road studios. It also boasts special packaging; there are plenty of gorgeous photos taken by the late Linda McCartney with many of these having been seen in recent press coverage for the latest compilation of her photos titled, Linda McCartney: Life In Photographs.
To better understand McCartney it is best for us to step back to April 1970 where The Beatles were on the verge of releasing Let It Be. The others asked Paul to delay the release of his debut solo effort, a request he declined. Instead, he released the LP to the English media with a Q&A booklet detailing the impending break-up of the band, meaning the music was always going to be associated with this notorious act rather than evaluated objectively for its actual content.
McCartney is essentially the equivalent of getting a makeover after a particularly acrimonious break-up. It’s about attempting to maintain at the very least an air of normality and attempting to suggest that you’ve moved on and are better off without your former significant other (or in this case, others). You see, Macca was happy and content having found peacefulness at home with his love, Linda and – at least here – didn’t resort to anger or potshots at the guys previously known as his brothers in arms.
McCartney is a homemade affair with most of it recorded on a four-track machine at his abode in Scotland. While unpolished in parts, it’s certainly very interesting and pleasing on the ear. Paul produced, wrote and performed the entire album with instruments like: bass (duh), drums, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, organ, piano, melotron, toy xylophone and even a bow and arrow. The only assistance he accepted was from his wife Linda in the form of light, backing vocals. And save the behemoth hits by Wings, McCartney is certainly up there with some of Paul’s better post-Beatles efforts.
The 13 songs are a raw set full of simplistic chords and lyrics that at times even seem to sound more like works in progress than actual completed tracks. There are six instrumentals and songs like “The Lovely Linda” and “That Would Be Something” are no more than a few lines of lyrics on repeat. The former is a home demo with Paul playfully gushing some lyrics about Linda into a mic with effortless softness and whimsy. The latter meanwhile is a rambling and quiet affair that got the stamp of approval from George Harrison.
Elsewhere, we get “Junk, “a soft acoustic number that wouldn’t have been out of place on Revolver. It was actually offered as a potential for The White Album and is later reprised as “Singalong Junk,” this time a crisp-sounding instrumental. But the album’s most famous track is easily the classic, “Maybe I’m Amazed”. A radio and live favourite, Paul wrote this for Linda who became his rock and support during the breakup of The Beatles, as she was the one who bolstered his spirits and gave him the confidence to write again. It is often given the rather appropriate title of “One of his finest love songs”.
Overall, McCartney has an easy charm thanks to its thirteen tracks of soft rock and balladry and despite the events transpiring at the time, the mood is warm and light. Even though it is fragmented in parts and overshadowed by the sheer weight of The Beatles’ legacy, it does hold its own as a great effort, albeit an over-looked solo one from a gifted songwriter.
Originally published on 8 August 2011 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/29615/Paul-McCartney–McCartney
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