The Paul McCartney Archive Collection's decision to release 1970's McCartney and 1980's McCartney II simultaneously makes sense for reasons other than the similar titles. Both albums represent extremely personal statements, and result from significant personal and professional crossroads. His first solo outing, McCartney, received critical acceptance years after its initial release, while McCartney II still baffles critics and fans with its distinctly new wave sounds. Regardless of opinions, both receive deluxe treatments, including remastering, bonus tracks, and rare videos.
Back in 1970, McCartney was released during a tumultuous time. The Beatles had just disbanded, and the album included a terse Q&A where McCartney announced, unequivocally, his freedom from the band. Recorded at home, with McCartney playing all the instruments and singing all vocals (with some assistance from his new wife Linda), the album sounded much more intimate and bare-bones than The Beatles' final recording, Abbey Road. Still reeling from the Beatles' breakup, fans did not know what to make of this "new" Paul McCartney, whose selected Linda as his next collaborator. Lyrics from various tracks reflect the pain McCartney suffered right after leaving the band, most famously in his ode to Linda, "Maybe I'm Amazed": "Baby I'm a man, maybe I'm a lonely man/Who's in the middle of something/That he doesn't really understand," he sings. "Baby I'm a man and maybe you're the only woman/Who could ever help me." "Every Night" also reflects melancholy: "Every night I just wanna go out, get out of my head/Every day I don't want to get up, get out of my bed."
However, McCartney also provides a snapshot of his new-found family life, encapsulated in songs such as "The Lovely Linda," where he clearly expresses his contentment: "I used to ride on my fast city line/Singing songs that I thought were mine alone/Now let me lie with my love for the time I am home." Wisps of his Beatles past still appear on the tracks "Teddy Boy" and "Junk," both dating back to his Fab Four days. But tracks like the bluesy "That Would Be Something" hint at his unique voice as a solo artist, one which he would further develop with Wings and, ultimately, back on his own.
The Paul McCartney Archive Collection reissue comes in a variety of packages: the two-CD Special Edition includes the original album, with all tracks receiving a welcome remastering The second disc offers outtakes and live songs; the live songs are a particular treat. His energetic versions of "Every Night," "Hot as Sun," and "Maybe I'm Amazed," all recorded during a 1979 Glasgow concert, truly make the tracks come alive. Another performance of the latter song appears, which derives from the 1974 documentary One Hand Clapping. Recording at Abbey Road Studios, McCartney and Wings performed various tracks, and the footage was originally intended as a TV special. Eventually the project was scrapped, and the film circulated for years among collectors. The entire program finally received an official release as part of the Archive Collection's first remasters package, 2010's Band on the Run Deluxe and Special Editions.