|Studio album by Paul McCartney|
|Released||17 April 1970 (UK)
20 April 1970 (US)
|Recorded||December 1969–February 1970
McCartney's home, St John's Wood; Morgan Studios, Willesden; Abbey Road Studios, London
|Paul McCartney chronology|
McCartney is the first solo album by English musician Paul McCartney. It was issued on Apple Records in April 1970 after McCartney had resisted attempts by his fellow Beatles to have the release delayed to allow for Apple's previously scheduled titles, notably the band's Let It Be album. McCartney recorded his eponymous solo album during a period of depression and confusion, following John Lennon's private announcement in September 1969 that he was leaving the Beatles, and the conflict over its release further estranged McCartney from his bandmates. A press release in the form of a self-interview, supplied with UK promotional copies of McCartney, led to the announcement of the group's break-up on 10 April 1970.
Apart from then-wife Linda's vocal contributions, McCartney performed the entire album by himself, playing every instrument. Featuring loosely arranged (and in some cases, unfinished) home recordings, McCartney explored the back-to-basics style that had been the original concept for the Let It Be project in 1969. Partly as a result of McCartney's role in officially ending the Beatles' career, the album received an unfavourable response from the majority of music critics, although the song "Maybe I'm Amazed" was consistently singled out for praise. Commercially, McCartney benefited from the publicity surrounding the break-up; it held the number 1 position for three weeks on the US Billboard 200 chart and peaked at number 2 in Britain. The album was reissued in June 2011 as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection.
- 1 Background
- 2 Content and recording
- 3 Album artwork
- 4 Apple Records' scheduling conflict
- 5 Promotional Q&A and the Beatles' break-up
- 6 Release
- 7 Reissue
- 8 Critical reception
- 9 Track listing
- 10 Personnel
- 11 Charts
- 12 Notes
- 13 Citations
- 14 Sources
- 15 External links
Following John Lennon's announcement in a band meeting on 20 September 1969 that he wanted a "divorce" from the Beatles, Paul McCartney withdrew to his farm in Campbeltown, Scotland. Author Robert Rodriguez describes his frame of mind as: "brokenhearted, shocked, and dispirited at the loss of the only job he had ever known". While the announcement was not made official, partly for business reasons, McCartney's period in seclusion with his family coincided with widespread rumours in America that he had died – an escalation of the three-year-old "Paul Is Dead" conspiracy theory. The rumour was broken only by journalists from BBC Radio and Life magazine tracking him down at his farm, High Park.
McCartney's months in Scotland created an estrangement between him and his bandmates, further to the division caused by their appointment of Allen Klein as business manager in May that year. McCartney later cited Klein's appointment as the first "irreconcilable difference" within the Beatles, since he continued to favour New York lawyers Lee Eastman and John Eastman – father and brother, respectively, of his wife Linda. For McCartney, the period following Lennon's departure was also marked by a bout of severe depression, during which, in his own estimation, he came close to suffering a nervous breakdown.
In his book Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney (2010), Howard Sounes writes of the McCartneys' exile at High Park: "This was grim for Linda. She had a seven-year-old and a baby to look after, with a husband who was depressed and drunk. She later told friends it was one of the most difficult times in her life, while Paul reflected that he might have become a rock 'n' roll casualty at this point in his career." With Linda's encouragement, McCartney began to consider a future outside the Beatles, by writing or finishing songs for his first solo album, McCartney.
Content and recording
McCartney and his family returned to London shortly before Christmas 1969, and he started work on the album at his home in Cavendish Avenue, St John's Wood. The recordings were carried out on a recently delivered Studer four-track tape recorder, without a mixing desk, and therefore without VU displays as a guide for recording levels. In the commentary he later supplied with the album, McCartney described his home-recording set-up as "Studer, one mike, and nerve".
Studer home recordings, December 1969–January 1970
McCartney first taped a 45-second portion of a song he had written in Campbeltown, "The Lovely Linda". As with much of the album, McCartney sung the composition accompanied by acoustic guitar before filling the remaining tracks on the Studer with a second guitar part, bass and percussive accompaniment. Although this performance of "The Lovely Linda" was only intended as a test of the new equipment, it would be included on the official release, as the opening track, complete with the sound of McCartney giggling at the end of the recording.
Reflecting the sequencing on the album, the second and third songs McCartney taped were "That Would Be Something", also written in Scotland, and the instrumental "Valentine Day". The latter was one of three selections on McCartney that its creator "ad-libbed on the spot", he later claimed, along with the similarly rock-oriented "Momma Miss America" and "Oo You".
On 3 January 1970, he interrupted work on McCartney to participate in the Beatles' final recording session, when he, George Harrison and Ringo Starr recorded the Harrison composition "I Me Mine" at Abbey Road Studios. The next day, the three musicians revisited McCartney's "Let It Be", a song recorded by the band in January 1969 for their Get Back film project, which was still awaiting release a year later.
Morgan Studios, February 1970
On 12 February, McCartney took his Studer tapes to Morgan Studios, in the north-west London suburb of Willesden, in order to copy all the four-track recordings onto eight-track tape, to allow for further overdubbing. Keen to maintain secrecy about the project, McCartney worked at Morgan under the pseudonym "Billy Martin".[nb 1] By this point, he had also taped "Junk" and "Teddy Boy" at Cavendish Avenue, two songs he began writing during the Beatles' 1968 visit to India and had rehearsed with the band in January 1969. The other recordings transferred to eight-track included "Glasses" – a sound effects piece featuring "wineglasses played at random", in McCartney's description – and "Singalong Junk", an instrumental version of "Junk" to which he now added a strings part played on a Mellotron. Among other overdubs on these eight-track mixes, McCartney supplied a vocal to the previously instrumental "Oo You".
While at Morgan, he also taped "Hot as Sun", a "Polynesian-influenced" instrumental dating from the late 1950s, according to author Bruce Spizer, and "Kreen-Akrore", which Sounes describes as an "experimental percussion track". Begun on 12 February, "Kreen-Akrore" was McCartney's attempt to sonically describe a hunt by the Kreen-Akrore tribespeople of the Brazilian Amazon, after he had watched an ATV documentary on their way of life. Amid musical interludes featuring electric guitar, organ and piano, McCartney used a bow and arrow he purchased at the Knightsbridge department store Harrods, according to engineer Robin Black. The latter was among the few people who knew that McCartney was making a solo album.
Abbey Road Studios, February–March 1970
A 25-second sample of the song
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Later in February 1970, McCartney moved to the more familiar Abbey Road Studios, with the booking again under the name of Billy Martin. There, he carried out further mixing on the previously recorded material, as well as taping new selections. On 22 February, McCartney recorded "Every Night" – another composition rehearsed during the Get Back sessions, and a song that authors Chip Madinger and Mark Easter note as the "first 'professional' recording" on the finished album, given its position as track 4, following "Valentine Day". Also on the 22nd, McCartney recorded "Maybe I'm Amazed", a piano-based ballad dedicated to Linda, and, in Madinger and Easter's description, "the most elaborate instrumental track on the LP". The final new recording for McCartney was "Man We Was Lonely", which he taped on 25 February, having composed it earlier that day.
Final mixes of songs such as "Junk" and "Teddy Boy" had been completed at Morgan Studios, and McCartney now did the same for the remaining tracks on the album. During this process, "Hot as Sun" and "Glasses" were segued into a medley, ending with a snippet of McCartney performing the song "Suicide" on piano. Unacknowledged in the track listing for the album, "Suicide" was a composition that he had intended for Frank Sinatra to record; a full performance of the song by McCartney was eventually released on the 2011 reissue of McCartney. He also edited two separate instrumental pieces into one for "Momma Miss America", the first portion, as he announces on the recording, having the title "Rock 'n' Roll Springtime" originally.
With his homemade approach to recording, McCartney eschewed the musical sophistication that had distinguished the Beatles' work with producer George Martin, particularly the band's 1969 album Abbey Road, and instead returned to the "as nature intended" ethos of Get Back. McCartney played all the musical instruments on the album – from acoustic and electric guitars and bass to keyboards, drums and various percussion instruments – with Linda supplying backing vocals on some songs, most noticeably on "Man We Was Lonely". She also contributed the breathing and animal-like sounds, with McCartney, on the album-closing "Kreen-Akrore". McCartney has said that Linda was instrumental in bolstering his spirits and confidence during the making of McCartney.
On 23 March, while American producer Phil Spector began mixing the Get Back tapes for release as the Beatles' Let It Be album, in Abbey Road's Studio 4, McCartney completed work on his eponymous album in Studio 2. Although McCartney has frequently maintained that he was ignorant of Spector's involvement until receiving an acetate copy of Let It Be for approval, author Peter Doggett writes that after "several weeks", McCartney had finally "answered the string of messages he'd received about Phil Spector" and had agreed to let him prepare Let It Be for release.
The design concept for the album's gatefold cover was McCartney's, with artist Gordon House and designer Roger Huggett hired to "bring Paul's concept to life", Spizer writes. Photos by Linda McCartney featured throughout the packaging, including a collage of 21 family snapshots in the gatefold's inner spread, variously depicting Paul, Linda, seven-year-old Heather (Linda's daughter by her first marriage), newborn Mary, and the McCartneys' sheepdog, Martha. The gatefold cover of McCartney was the first among "27 years' worth" of albums by her husband to feature Linda McCartney's photography, Madinger and Easter write.
Set against a black background, the front cover image consisted of a bowl of cherry-red liquid placed on a cream-coloured counter and surrounded by loose red cherries, as if the fruit had been emptied from the bowl. On the back cover, a photo taken by Linda in Scotland – described by Madinger and Easter as a "stunning picture" – showed her husband with Mary tucked inside his fur-lined leather jacket.
Apple Records' scheduling conflict
McCartney has said that he "boycotted" Apple's offices after Klein's arrival in 1969, and biographers observe that his continued isolation in 1970 led to Lennon, Harrison and Starr making business decisions without McCartney's input. One decision concerned the release of the Let It Be documentary, a necessity in order to fulfil the Beatles' contractual obligations to film company United Artists.[nb 2]
McCartney had privately agreed a mid-April release date for McCartney with Apple Records executive Neil Aspinall, one of the few people associated with the Beatles who was aware of the project. Its late addition to Apple's schedule clashed with the imminent release of the Let It Be album, and of Starr's solo debut, Sentimental Journey, which was due out on 27 March. On 25 March, after discovering that Klein had already arranged to have the release of McCartney postponed, McCartney received an assurance from Harrison, as a director of Apple Records, that his solo album would be issued on 17 April, as planned.[nb 3]
The situation then changed when Spector reported that work on the Let It Be album was almost complete, meaning that it could be issued to coincide with the film's world premiere, which was scheduled for 28 April, in New York. Doggett writes that "the solution was obvious", since Let It Be was "a multimedia package" and, as a band venture rather than a solo album, it "should automatically take precedence". Harrison and Lennon therefore wrote to McCartney on 31 March to say that they had instructed EMI, Apple's parent label, to postpone his album until 4 June; they also explained the need to stagger the various new releases, particularly in America, where the Hey Jude compilation had been issued on 26 February. Rather than have a member of staff deliver the letter to McCartney at Cavendish Avenue, Starr decided to take it to him personally.
McCartney later described the tone of Starr's message as "the party line", to which he reacted badly: "I told [Starr] to get out. I had to do something like that in order to assert myself because I was just sinking ... I was getting pummelled about the head, in my mind anyway." According to Starr, McCartney "went crazy", threatening: "I'll finish you now. You'll pay!" Although the other Beatles backed down over the release of McCartney, the confrontation initiated what Rodriguez terms "a three-against-one war" within the band.
Promotional Q&A and the Beatles' break-up
On 9 April, McCartney released a Q&A package to the British press, in which he explained his reasons for making his solo album and described its overall theme as "Home, Family, Love". Compiled with the help of Apple executives Derek Taylor and Peter Brown, the self-interview also contained questions McCartney imagined he would be asked regarding the possibility of the Beatles splitting up. While stopping short of saying that the band was finished, McCartney stated that he did not know whether his "break with the Beatles" would be temporary or permanent.
That same day, McCartney called Lennon, who was undergoing primal scream therapy at the time, to tell him that his album was coming out, but he made no mention of leaving the Beatles. Doggett suggests that McCartney's intention was not necessarily to break up the band, and cites Beatles confidant Ray Connolly's recollection that McCartney was "devastated" by the press' interpretation of his self-interview. After its original publication in the Daily Mirror on 10 April, author Mark Hertsgaard writes that "newspaper headlines around the world reduced the story to screaming variations of PAUL BREAKS UP THE BEATLES".
McCartney was released in Britain on 17 April 1970 (as Apple PCS 7102), and three days later in America (Apple STAO 3363). Although McCartney's standing among Beatles fans had plummeted as a result of his announcement, news of the band's break-up ensured that the album was highly publicised. Adding to this exposure in the US, McCartney commissioned a second set of print advertisements for the album, to counter what Doggett describes as Klein's "incendiary statement of fact" in the official advertisements, that Apple was "an ABKCO-managed company".
In the UK, McCartney debuted at number 2, where it remained for three weeks behind the best-selling album of 1970, Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water. By 15 May, McCartney had sold over 1 million copies in the US, and from 23 May, began a three-week stay at number 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, eventually going double platinum. Despite "Maybe I'm Amazed" receiving considerable airplay on US radio, McCartney refused to issue it or any other song from the album as a single.[nb 4]
McCartney's former bandmates voiced their disappointment with the album. Shortly after its release, Harrison described "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "That Would Be Something" as "great", but the rest, he said, "just don't do much for me". Harrison added that, unlike Lennon, Starr and himself, McCartney was probably too "isolated" from other musicians, such that: "The only person he's got to tell him if the song's good or bad is Linda." In a December 1970 interview with Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner, Lennon dismissed McCartney as "rubbish" and expressed a belief that his primal therapy-inspired album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band would "probably scare [McCartney] into doing something decent".
On 13 June 2011, the album and McCartney's second official solo work, McCartney II, were reissued together by Hear Music/Concord Music Group as part of The Paul McCartney Archive Collection. The album re-entered the charts in the UK, the Netherlands, France and Japan.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Essential Rock Discography||6/10|
|Pitchfork Media (reissue)||7.9/10 |
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
On release, McCartney was widely criticised for being under-produced and for its unfinished songs. In addition, according to Nicholas Schaffner in his 1977 book The Beatles Forever, McCartney's attempt to use the Beatles' break-up to promote his solo album, while presenting himself as a happy family man, "apparently backfired", since "many observers found the whole thing contrived, tasteless, and rather vicious." Madinger and Easter write of the album receiving a "critical lambasting" and that the "general sentiment" among reviewers was "something to the effect of 'He broke up the Beatles for this?!?'" Richard Williams of Melody Maker suggested that "With this record, [McCartney's] debt to George Martin becomes increasingly clear ..." Williams found "sheer banality" in all the tracks save for "Maybe I'm Amazed" and described "Man We Was Lonely" as "the worst example of his music-hall side".
In a favourable assessment, for the NME, Alan Smith wrote that while on first listen he found McCartney "too harmlessly mild", his view had changed with time, such that: "Listening to it is like hearing a man's personal contentment committed to the sound of music. Most of the sounds, effects and ideas are sheer brilliance; much of the aura is of quiet songs on a hot summer night; and virtually all of the tracks reflect a kind of intangible roundness. 'Excitement' is not a word to use for this album ... 'warmth' and 'happiness' are."
Writing for Rolling Stone, Langdon Winner found the songs "distinctly second rate" relative to McCartney's best compositions as a Beatle, with only "Maybe I'm Amazed" "even com[ing] close" to matching that high standard, but he admired McCartney's vocals and added: "if one can accept the album in its own terms, McCartney stands as a very good, although not astounding, piece of work." Winner admitted to being repelled by the "tawdry propaganda" surrounding the release, however, about which he emphasised: "Remember, this is all stuff that Paul himself deliberately included [in the album's press kit], not just some idle comments he let slip to a probing journalist." The reviewer concluded: "I like McCartney very much. But I remember that the people of Troy also liked that wooden horse they wheeled through their gates until they discovered that it was hollow inside and full of hostile warriors." More recently, Rolling Stone has deemed the album "so modest it barely registers" in comparison with Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, adding: "Only the white soul of 'Maybe I'm Amazed' distinguishes otherwise unbearably slight confections such as 'Lovely Linda.'"
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic writes that McCartney possesses "an endearingly ragged, homemade quality", with "That Would Be Something", "Every Night", "Teddy Boy" and "Maybe I'm Amazed" all "full-fledged McCartney classics". Although he notes that "the throwaway nature of much of the material ... has become charming in retrospect", Erlewine adds: "Unfortunately, in retrospect it also appears as a harbinger of the nagging mediocrity that would plague McCartney's entire solo career." Record Collector has highlighted "Every Night", "Junk" and "Maybe I'm Amazed" as songs that "still sound absolutely effortless and demonstrate the man's natural genius with a melody".
Among Beatle biographers, Robert Rodriguez includes McCartney in his chapter covering the worst solo albums issued by the former band members between 1970 and 1980, saying: "For anyone wanting to get to the root of the most common rap against Paul's solo output, look no further …" While bemoaning the lack of quality control that allowed "charmless ditties" such as "Teddy Boy" to go under-developed, Rodriguez writes: "What made McCartney so frustrating a listen was not the absence of compelling musical ideas; it was the abundance of them. Had melodies like 'Momma Miss America' been teased out into compositions with a beginning, middle, end, and point, McCartney could have ended up as highly regarded in its own way as Plastic Ono Band: a full slate of focused, listener-friendly pop confections that might very well have given fans far less cause for bitterness at the Beatles' breakup."
In 1999, Neil Young inducted McCartney into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and praised McCartney, saying: "I loved that record because it was so simple. And there was so much to see and to hear. It was just Paul. There was no adornment at all ... There was no attempt made to compete with the things he had already done. And so out he stepped from the shadow of the Beatles."
All songs written by Paul McCartney.
- Side one
- "The Lovely Linda" – 0:43
- "That Would Be Something" – 2:38
- "Valentine Day" – 1:39
- "Every Night" – 2:31
- "Hot as Sun/Glasses" – 2:05
- "Junk" – 1:54
- "Man We Was Lonely" – 2:56
- Side two
- "Oo You" – 2:48
- "Momma Miss America" – 4:04
- "Teddy Boy" – 2:22
- "Singalong Junk" – 2:34
- "Maybe I'm Amazed" – 3:50
- "Kreen-Akrore" – 4:15
For its June 2011 reissue, McCartney was released in multiple formats:
- Standard edition 1-CD; the original 13-track album
- Special edition 2-CD; the original 13-track album on the first disc, plus seven bonus tracks on a second disc
- Deluxe Edition 2-CD/1-DVD; the original 13-track album, the bonus tracks disc, a 128-page hardcover book with never-before-published photos and all-new liner notes
- Remastered vinyl 2-LP version containing of the special edition and a download link to the material
- Disc 1 – The original album
The original 13-track album.
- Disc 2 – Bonus tracks
- All tracks are previously unreleased
- "Suicide" (Out-take) – 2:48
- "Maybe I'm Amazed" (From One Hand Clapping) – 4:53
- "Every Night" (Live at Glasgow, 1979) – 4:30
- "Hot as Sun" (Live at Glasgow, 1979) – 2:27
- "Maybe I'm Amazed" (Live at Glasgow, 17 December 1979) – 5:11
- "Don't Cry Baby" (Out-take) – 3:07
- "Women Kind" (Demo) (Mono) – 2:09
- Disc 3 – DVD
- "The Album Story"
- "The Beach"
- "Maybe I'm Amazed" (Music video)
- "Suicide" (From One Hand Clapping)
- "Every Night" (Live at the Concert for the People of Kampuchea, 1979)
- "Hot as Sun" (Live at the Concert for the People of Kampuchea, 1979)
- "Junk" (MTV Unplugged)
- "That Would Be Something" (MTV Unplugged)
- Paul McCartney – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ, percussion, Mellotron, toy xylophone, effects, backing vocals
- Linda McCartney – harmony and backing vocals
- Linda McCartney, a New Yorker, booked the studio dates, choosing to use the name of Major League Baseball star Billy Martin, who played with the New York Yankees for much of the 1950s and later managed the team.
- Although the 1968 animated feature Yellow Submarine was intended as the last of three Beatles films owed to United Artists, the band themselves appeared only briefly at the end of the film. By mid 1969, the threat of possible litigation between the Beatles and United Artists led to director Michael Lindsay-Hogg preparing Let It Be for a cinema release, rather than for airing as a television special as originally planned.
- After learning of Klein's attempts to delay the album, McCartney had instructed John Eastman to retrieve the master tape, after which McCartney threatened Apple's US distributor, Capitol Records, that he would release it with a different record company unless they issued the album straight away.
- Incorporating still photographs taken by Linda, a 35mm promotional film for "Maybe I'm Amazed" aired on The Ed Sullivan Show and other US entertainment shows.
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Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young)
|Billboard 200 number-one album
23 May – 12 June 1970
Let It Be by The Beatles
American Woman by The Guess Who
|Canadian RPM Chart number-one album
6 June 1970
Let It Be by The Beatles