Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Albums of 1970: Paul McCartney: McCartney

Release Date: April 17, 1970

Produced by Paul McCartney

Contributors: Linda McCartney (vocals)

Side One: The Lovely Linda; That Would Be Something; Valentine Day; Every Night; Hot as Sun/Glasses; Junk; Man We Was Lonely

Side Two: Oo You; Momma Miss America; Teddy Boy; Singalong Junk; Maybe I'm Amazed; Kreen-Akore

With his former bandmates releasing heavy going solo records in 1970, Paul went in the opposite direction. McCartney features Paul on all the instruments with backup vocals contributed by his wife Linda. If George on All Things Must Pass and John on Plastic Ono Band were rebelling against the idea of The Beatles in their own way, Paul was taking the concept further. A mélange of pop songs and instrumentals with gleefully inane lyrics, McCartney got a cool reception, but has aged well and remains influential. 

"The Lovely Linda" begins the album on a cheerful note. Paul was open about his depression and loss of confidence after The Beatles ended, crediting Linda with giving him a sense of purpose. "That Would Be Something" has Paul channeling Elvis in a primal rock song, minimal production and the sheer power of the guitar, vocal, and spare lyrics. "Valentine Day" is a rocking instrumental, fragmented, but effective. The cathartic "Every Night" expresses Paul's disoriented state of mind as the Beatles were ending and finding refuge in peace and quintessence of home life. "Hot as Sun/Glasses" is more of an Avant Garde pop showcases on the White Album, while "Junk" also veers to the experimental side with its dada lyrics and melancholy vocal. "Man We Was Lonely" features Paul and Linda on duet, country western in sentiment and style.

"Oo You" builds a complete track out of a riff, "Momma Miss America" a piano driven instrumental that builds into a guitar solo. These two songs that would never make it on a Beatles record, therefore the liberating vibe. "Teddy Boy" was recorded by The Beatles for the Let it Be sessions but vetoed by the rest. Granted, not on the level of "Eleanor Rigby", but McCartney had a knack for creating fictional characters. "Singalong Junk" is a reprise of "Junk", sort of a lounge act version. "Maybe I'm Amazed" was a hit single and considered one of Paul's greatest love songs, soulful and in the moment. The song was used on The Simpsons, including a "hidden message" vegetarian recipe. "Kreen-Akore" sounds like a parody of the Abbey Road melody, ending the album on an idiosyncratic note. 

All Things Must Pass and Plastic Ono Band are both great, but they can be exhausting. McCartney is a fun collection of songs and reminder The Beatles at their best were comical, smart, and experimental. 

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