I’m old enough to remember The Beatles as a working and recording band, having bought their albums when they were released. Their career just about corresponded with my teenage years, so they were always a part of the musical landscape during my formative years. So it was a big deal when Paul McCartney released his first solo album during April of 1970.
McCartney has just been reissued as a part of the “Paul McCartney Archive Collection.” It was issued in a number of formats. I am reviewing the two CD Special Edition, which includes the original remastered album, plus a separate disc of bonus tracks. There is also a two CD, one DVD Deluxe Edition, which includes a 128 page hard cover book. Then, for the real adventurous, there is the 180 gram vinyl edition for your old time listening enjoyment.
I was immediately struck with how young Paul and Linda McCartney looked in the photographs. He was about to embark upon a new musical venture and looks fit and in the prime of his life.
It’s always difficult to review an album 40+ years after its release. Times change, people change, music changes, and his solo career has now lasted almost four times as long as did his career with The Beatles.
When the album was originally released, it opened McCartney to a lot of criticism. He was not The Beatles and he was not John Lennon. He was, for better or worse, Paul McCartney, and for the rest of his life he would be judged as such.
McCartney is a simple album, especially when compared to the final Beatles studio releases, which were still fresh in everyone’s mind at the time. It may have been one of McCartney’s most anticipated albums but it was not his best. There are, however, several outstanding songs interspersed among the 13 tracks. When taken as a whole, it is a pleasant and historically interesting album, but not a consistently excellent one.
The love song for Linda, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” remains the best and most memorable track and is as good as anything he would ever produce. “That Would Be Something,” with its gentle acoustic guitar is only a cut below “Amazed.”
“Every Night,” “Oo You,” and “Man We Was Lonely” are all above average McCartney creations. But there are some undecidedly below average songs as well.
The bonus tracks on disc two are more interesting than essential. It was a wise decision to group them together on their own disc so as not to detract from the original album. There are also live versions of “Every Night,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and “Hot As Sun” recorded during 1979 at Glasgow, as well as outtakes of “Suicide” and “Don’t Cry Baby,” plus a demo of “Woman Kind” and another version of “Maybe I’m Amazed.” They are all nice to have but not something I will listen too very often.
The sound has been enhanced and is far superior to the original vinyl and other CD issues that have appeared down through the years.
In some ways McCartney is a product of its time and needs to be approached that way. Still, it’s nice to have the album back in circulation and available in a very clean form. It’s well worth the price of admission.