Throwback of the week (15th November)

McCartney – Paul McCartney

Just seven days after announcing he had left the Beatles, Paul McCartney released his first solo album ‘McCartney’in the UK in 1970.

Not only did the album begin what has been described as a “three-against-one war” between The Beatles, but it also competed against their album ‘Let it Be’ in the charts, only jeopardizing McCartney’s relationship with the rest of the fab four more. Upon release, the album was reviewed as an under-produced and underwritten product, lacking in the hit songs McCartney had composed as a Beatle, with the exception of the song ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. 

Fifty years after its release the album is considered a significant development in self-produced music and lo-fi/DIY music, with McCartney producing and recording the album at his home in St John’s Wood, London. The album is a collection of instrumental songs, short acoustic dittys and refined rock songs; some discarded tunes from the Beatles 1968 trip to India.

‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ is a great, uplifting song with its powerful opening piano chords and McCartney’s iconic screamy, white soul, vocals. Originally I wasn’t a fan of this song, but within the context of the album it stands out above the rest of the tracks, with interesting self-analysing lyrics and refined, musical parts. A key feature of this song is McCartney’s majestic guitar solo in the second verse that highlights how much of a skilled multi-instrumentalist he was, accompanied by his heavy drum playing and backing vocals. It is interesting that the song was not released as a single at the time, but seven years later (in promotion of the ‘Wings Over America’ album) a live version of the song was released as a single and reached No.10 in the american billboard charts. Perhaps this highlights how it is just another timeless McCartney classic.

Other notable songs on the album include ‘Junk’ and ‘Every Night’ which are both more acoustic numbers. However, less praised songs such as ‘Man We Was Lonely’ highlight the depression and near mental breakdown McCartney was dealing with before recording the album, while living in Scotland during the latter months of 1969 after John Lennon privately left the Beatles. To me ‘McCartney’ is an uplifting post break up album, filled with hope and a feeling of potential. Despite people’s disapproval of McCartney for seemingly breaking up the Beatles and using the publicity to promote his album it still peaked at No.2 on the British charts and No.1 in America.

I feel ‘McCartney’ has led the way for self-produced artists such as Tame Impala, and instrumental songs such as ‘Momma Miss America’ have inspired the sound of home produced records such as Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’. In 1980 Paul released his follow up to the album, ‘McCartney II’, and now we anticipate the release of ‘McCartney III’ this coming December, written, performed and produced by the man himself. 

Words by: Louis Upton-Wheeler

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