Paul McCartney, McCartney

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 01.14.14 in Reviews


Paul McCartney

Released three weeks before the Beatles’ Let It Be, Paul McCartney’s solo pop debut was the most un-Beatles-like album he could pull off. His old band was famous for their meticulous arrangements, gorgeous studio engineering, instrumental chemistry and highly-polished songcraft, so Paul made a quick, sloppy, good-natured record, partly at home, almost entirely by himself (his wife Linda’s voice shows up a few times). It’s full of instrumental sketches, semi-songs and experiments — “Glasses,” for instance, is just Paul playing a bunch of wine glasses, and most of “Kreen-Akrore” is a drum solo. A lot of the album’s lyrics are just this side of gibberish.

The most un-Beatles-like album he could pull off

Even at its most offhanded and meaning-averse, though, McCartney is irresistibly catchy: It’s as if he was trying to demonstrate how much he could peel away from the Beatles and still get over on the strength of his hooks. A couple of songs had been in his repertoire for a while. The Beatles had played “Teddy Boy” at the Let It Be sessions, and it been slated for inclusion on that album when it was called Get Back; “Junk” — which appears in both vocal and instrumental incarnations — was a holdover from the White Album. “Hot As Sun,” McCartney claimed, went back to “about 1958 or 9.” Others were made up on the spot. And, maybe just to demonstrate that he was still the Paul McCartney who’d been responsible for “Let It Be” and “Yesterday,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” is one of his most gorgeous ballads; it’d become a hit seven years later in its live Wings Over America rendition.