REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/27/2007
Whenever the Vault has a retrospective, it usually costs me money. By month’s end, my comrades have highlighted numerous albums that are worth my investment. The recent Paul McCartney feature has been particularly hard on the ol’ wallet, with McCartney marking the end of my binge.
Paul McCartney has made a career off of recording and releasing half-baked ideas. When people hold up Band On The Run or Tug Of War as his best solo work, it is because they (the albums) (also some of the people) are, generally speaking, more substantive. McCartney, his debut solo album following the break up of the Beatles, is decidedly not.
With the possible exception of Ram, no other Macca album has as much homespun charm as McCartney. Given the rather slight nature of the material, this works in the album’s favor. Playing McCartney immediately after listening to, say, Abbey Road is like shock therapy. Instead of the aural tricks the Beatles utilized to impress, McCartney impresses here by keeping things natural.
Legendary Vault founder Chris Thelen made note of how unfinished many of the songs on McCartney sound. That I cannot deny, but instead of being a detriment, I find it a positive. Take “Junk” or even the 45-second “Lovely Linda” for instance. Both represent one good idea, be it melodically or something else entirely. “Junk” would not work as a five-minute, classic McCartney song (in fact, it was a White Album throwaway, if that tells you anything). Its charm is entirely derived from its brevity, which makes the melody all the more pleasant.
Of course, this does not mean all the shorter tracks on McCartney are great; some of them are entirely inconsequential. “Singalong Junk” of course is the perfect example; it serves no purpose whatsoever save to serve as a retread of the original. “Kreen-Akrore” cracks the four-minute barrier, but unfortunately Paul McCartney is not that impressive of a drummer.
The two songs everyone seems to like are “Every Night” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.” The former is a beautiful acoustic ballad that serves as a reminder McCartney was more than a Moon-June lyricist. The latter is the most well-known track from the record, with just cause. It is one of the highlights of his solo career and rivals many of the songs he recorded with the Fab Four.
Purging himself of the trappings of the Beatles seems to have been McCartney’s intent with his self-titled debut album. It would be hard to argue that he did not accomplish his goal, and while he would weather many more ups and downs throughout his career, McCartney represents a solid beginning.