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McCartney, the album

Paul's first solo album ‘McCartney’ turned out to be his most personal ever. Experimental, and ahead of its time. But the album made history especially by the way McCartney damaged his own reputation due to clumsy marketing.

Thousands and thousands of Beatles fans must have frown, when for the first time they put the needle of their record player on the vinyl A side and heard the first sounds. ‘McCartney’ was the first album recorded by a Beatle, since the release of the slick and tight produced Abbey Road, only six months earlier. For those who expected a similar production, ‘McCartney’ would be probably a big disappointment. Because it’s the opposite of Abbey Road in almost every way.

The sound and groove is pure, basic and in some songs raw

The opener sets the tone: ‘The lovely Linda’ sounds unfinished, a bit messy, with hardly any lyrics: “Lalala the lovely Linda, with the lovely flowers in her hair”. That’s all. Just after 45 seconds it’s finished already; Thank you for the announcement, you might think. Not really a strong opener. But the sound and groove is characteristic for the rest of the album: pure, basic and, in some other songs, raw. And that’s all due to the way and the circumstances in which McCartney is recorded.


Quite unusual for the time era, McCartney recorded the album alone, at home in London. He took a solid four track recorder back home and started experimenting. If you listen carefully you can hear the squeak of doors opening and closing. The result is a sound we nowadays would call lo-fi. And also unusual, Paul plays all the instruments; the only other contribution is wife Linda’s backing vocals.


Video: Maybe I'm Amazed (live)




The album is also affected by the circumstances: The disintegration of the Beatles is near its peak. John Lennon announced he’s leaving the group and the rows about manager Alan Klein are getting more severe by the day. In the gentle ‘Every Night’ you can read between the lines how McCartney reacted in the first place: miserable and with severe drinking. It’s one of the better compositions, still standing strong after all those years. And ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ too is referring to the problems within The Beatles: “Maybe I’m a lonely man who is in the middle of something, he doesn’t really understand”.

Video: Every Night (unplugged)




Unique for a McCartney album is the big number of instrumental songs, six out of twelve

‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ is by far the highlight of the album. The song in tradition of ‘Let It Be’ and ‘The Long and Winding Road’ (these three could have been a trilogy) sounds as the most finished one of all the tracks. Another gem is ‘Junk’, a leftover from The Beatles’ White Album sessions: McCartney proves that it’s even possible to make a beautiful song about waste. ‘Teddy Boy’ and the instrumental ‘Hot as Sun’ are two other contributions which didn’t make a Beatles album before. Notable is the big number of instrumental songs on the album, six out of twelve. Unique for a McCartney album.

Video: Hot as Sun (live)




On the album you can hear the Paul McCartney one-man-band for the very first time; It’s the then almost ex-Beatle in his purest way. But due to unprofessional marketing with the release, the music didn’t get hardly the media attention it deserved. Even worse, the damage on his reputation haunts him up to the present day.

Video: That would be something (unplugged)




While the Beatles were breaking up, McCartney wasn’t in the mood for much publicity, nor in giving interviews. So he decided to accompany the release with a self-made interview. And according to this press release it was plainly clear the Beatles-era was over. In the inner circle it was already known for six months that Lennon wanted to leave The Beatles, but to the world outside, this was unknown. So the press release contained major headline news. And while Paul was actually the only one who wanted to continue, he made history as the man who blew up the band. The headlines back then were loud and clear: Paul quits Beatles. Outraging the fans.

André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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