Paul McCartney

Capitol, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Think about this conundrum for a moment. You’ve been part of one of the world’s most popular and influential bands -- a band that has just undergone a public divorce. You are now working on your own music, knowing full well that everything you do for the rest of your life will be compared to the music of your previous band.

This pressure would cause any normal musician to collapse like a Styrofoam cup under a cement block. But Paul McCartney chose instead to release an album that sounds more like a demo than anything, while not trying to mimic the sound of the Beatles, but rather build on it. And, in a sense, that is the biggest thing that McCartney has working against it; had some of these musical ideas been fleshed out more, they would have been absolutely fabulous. At this stage, they sound – well, unfinished.

This isn’t the case with all the tracks. Naturally, the entire civilized world is familiar with “Maybe I’m Amazed,” a track which, I have to admit, still sounds as fresh today as it did when it was recorded way back when. Likewise, “Every Night” – possibly the best single that McCartney never released – is a song that showcases his songwriting talents in a way that, quite possibly, he never was fully able to realize as a member of the Beatles.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

What frustrates me about McCartney is how much better it could have been had Sir Paul done more work on some of these tracks. Take “Valentine Day,” for example – a whopping 1:43 of instrumental music that dares to suggest how great of a track it could have been. The electric guitar work sounds like something left over from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the initial groove laid down starts to get the listener locked in, when suddenly it all grinds to a halt. Yeah, I guess I should be happy with what we are presented, but if McCartney had developed this one just a little bit more, imagine what a powerhouse we would have had.

The same goes for “Hot As Sun / Glasses” – well, at least the first half, anyway. One could argue that the “Hot As Sun” portion of the song has the feel of what would become known as a sappy McCartney ballad, but I happen to like the instrumental structure, and really wish that McCartney had taken more time to work out this musical concept into something more concrete.

Not every track that features a song seemingly under construction soars. “That Would Be Something” seems to coast on autopilot, becoming far too repetitive for a song so short. Likewise, “Junk” meanders off into nothingness, becoming more of a throwaway track or an interlude than anything of substance.

Even some of the more developed tracks don’t soar like they could have. “Teddy Boy” has the feel of something left off of the “White Album,” but doesn’t seem to get off the ground lyrically or musically. And the closing number “Kreen-Akrore” -- the less said about this sonic monstrosity, the better.

Admittedly, Sir Paul was going to need time to get his sea legs back, as it were, following the dissolution of the Beatles, and McCartney does seem to be the logical first step for him. While this album topped the Billboard charts, one has to wonder how powerful an album it would have been with complete songs, rather than ideas under construction.

Rating: C

User Rating: B+



© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.