Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Paul McCartney's McCartney and McCartney II reissue reviews

The Paul McCartney Archive Collection has released two more reissues to follow up last year's reissue of Band on the Run. For this release, MPL and Concord decided to release Macca's two self-titled solo albums. One would wonder what's so special about these albums. Both albums literally put the "solo" in "solo album": Paul McCartney is the only person playing any instrument on these two albums, with Linda providing backing vocals and harmonies. The albums have been remastered and I must say that they sound like Paul's grandfather (If you don't get this and you call yourself a Beatles fan, why the hell are you reading this?)! Let's review them, shall we?

 Paul McCartney - McCartney
Paul McCartney
Rating: ****

Paul's first album, simply titled McCartney, was released on April 17, 1970. Just a week before the release, Paul had announced he was leaving the Beatles which broke up the band as a result. This means that Paul was making this album secretly while he was still in the Beatles. Recording began in late 1969, which by that time, the Beatles were struggling financially (with Apple) and personally. Many of the songs on McCartney began life as Beatles songs during the infamous Get Back/Let It Be recording session in early 1969. These songs would include the beautifully dark "Junk" and "Teddy Boy" which tells the tale of a young boy who lives with his mother, but is interrupted by her new husband. There's also short ditties like "The Lovely Linda" and instrumental songs such as "Hot As Sun/Glasses" (another Beatles left over) and the somewhat heavy "Kreen-Akrore". Paul does rock out, but just for a bit, with "Oo You". For some reason, I've always liked that song. It's got nice guitar playing on it! There are plenty of ballads and/or slower songs like the gentle "Every Night" and many others. The most popular song of this album is, without a doubt, "Maybe I'm Amazed". It's such a nice ballad and apparently, Paul wrote it about how Linda was caring for him during the long and painful split with the Beatles. 
There isn't a lot on the second disc. There are only seven tracks and the entire second disc is just 25 minutes. McCartney is 34 minutes long. Um, all of this could've fit perfectly onto one disc...or not (depending on how much room the remastered tracks are taking up on the disc, I don't know. Just a thought). Firstly, there's a nice outtake called "Suicide". Paul was originally going to put it on the final album but it was left unreleased. The excellent performance of "Maybe I'm Amazed" from the One Hand Clapping documentary is also on here. One would wonder why it wasn't put on the second disc for Band On The Run but I think it was saved for McCartney, given that "Maybe I'm Amazed" is from McCartney. Next, there are three live cuts from a Wings show in Glasgow in 1979. The songs are "Every Night", "Hot As Sun", and "Maybe I'm Amazed". All three sound great and I think it's nice to have some kind of live recording of that line-up of Wings (w/ Laurence Juber and Steve Holly). "Don't Cry Baby" is basically "Oo You" as an instrumental. I think it was called "Don't Cry Baby" since in the beginning, you can hear Paul say it and also the cries of a baby (possibly Paul's daughter Mary?). The last track is a demo called "Women Kind" and it's a bit silly! Paul's voices are too much!

  Paul McCartney - McCartney II
Paul McCartney
McCartney II
Rating: *** 1/2 or even ****

After the listener listens to this album, they might make the confused face that Paul has on the album's cover. It's easy to understand: this album is very experimental, but so was McCartney in some way. McCartney II is actually a really good album. I like the sound of it personally. It's different and kind of trippy and funky. This album was recorded in July 1979, shortly after Wings had released their seventh (and later, final) album Back To The Egg. Paul recorded this album in Scotland and like McCartney, he played all the instruments, but this time with the aid of a sixteen track machine. Paul also had a new toy: a synthesizer. This is one of the reasons why some critics and fans don't care for McCartney II. I'm not a big fan of the synth either but Paul makes this easy to listen to. The album opens with "Coming Up", an instant classic. The live version taken from the 1979 gig in Glasgow made "Coming Up" a #1 hit single. If you're reading this, please go check out the promo/music video to "Coming Up". It's just wacky. Some people may skip over songs like "Temporary Secretary", "Front Parlour", "Frozen Jap", and many others due to the fact that there all use one too many synthesizers. I actually like "Temporary Secretary" and I also really dig "Frozen Jap", which is also an awesome song title! I like the entire first side of the album. Along with "Coming Up" and "Temporary Secretary", there's the slow rocker "On The Way", the simply beautiful "Waterfalls", and the upbeat "Nobody Knows". The second side isn't as good. My least favorite song is probably "Bogey Music". It's got this 1950's feel but it's kind of annoying.  "Frozen Jap" is much like "Front Parlour" but there's something I like about it. I think it's the Japanese-like sound it has! I also like the reggae-flavored "Darkroom". 
The second disc for McCartney II has eight songs and a run time of 48 minutes. Some of these songs are edits of long songs (the full length versions can be found on the third disc on the deluxe edition of this album. Both McCartney and McCartney II have deluxe editions w/ photo books and a DVD) The hit live version of "Coming Up" is on here as is "Wonderful Christmastime", which was another hit for Paul. "Check My Machine" is a very funky track that I'm really liking. It was a B-side to "Waterfalls". There's also the ten minute "Secret Friend", which was a B-side for "Temporary Secretary". For all of you real die-hard fans, there's three previously unreleased tracks that didn't make the final album (which are on a bootleg called The Lost McCartney II Album). Those three are "Mr H Atom/You Know I'll Get You Baby", "Bogey Wobble", and "All You Horse Riders/Blue Sway".
I was undecided at first as to buying these two reissues. I have to say that I'm pretty happy with my purchase. These are two really good albums and they sound clean. You also got the bonus discs, which have some lost treasures that are worth listening to. If you're a die-hard fan of the Beatles and/or Paul McCartney, you may want to pick these up. 

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