When I first heard RAM back in 1971, I wasn’t too impressed. I liked “Too Many People.” While it was fun for the first twenty spins or so, I got annoyed with the endless airplay of "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." Back then, I must have heard the rest of the LP at least once. But I didn’t listen to the full album again for 40 years, even though it was in my collection.
What was wrong with me? I don’t remember just what I didn’t like. I suspect I thought RAM wasn’t enough Beatles and too much clever cotton candy. Perhaps in 1971, Paul’s greatest crime was that he wasn’t John. Forty years later, hearing RAM again is like learning that the one-night stand you didn’t think much of could have turned out to be the love of your life. Now, what I hear is a songwriter in an exuberantly good mood. I hear an artist really pulling out all the stops to prove he didn’t need John, George, or Ringo to be a world-class act. I hear McCartney playing some of the best licks he ever laid down while building his compositions on some of the most artful studio production of any era.
My reappraisal came about because the Paul McCartney Archive Collection has added RAM to its series of remasters of Sir Paul’s back catalogue. It’s now available in seemingly every format you could ask for, from mono and stereo vinyl versions, single and double-disc editions, to the full-throttle boxed set. The two-disc edition and the box look like lovely packages, but I can only attest to the delights of the digitally remastered 12- track standard edition. It has no bells, no whistles, not even a single bonus track. Still, if you don’t want to spring for one of the classier packages, at the very least get this one. Whether you loved it all along or needed to mellow with age to appreciate it, RAM is a cakewalk of domestic happiness sprung from the Mull of Kintyre for a gloomy world mourning the death of the Fab Four.