Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

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"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
Paul & Linda McCartney - Uncle Albert.jpg
Single by Paul & Linda McCartney
from the album Ram
B-side"Too Many People"
Released2 August 1971 (US only)
Recorded6 November 1970
GenreProgressive pop, art pop, psychedelic pop
Songwriter(s)Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Producer(s)Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Paul & Linda McCartney singles chronology
"Another Day"
"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
"The Back Seat of My Car"

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is a song by Paul and Linda McCartney from the album Ram. Released in the United States as a single on 2 August 1971,[1] it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 4 September 1971,[2][3] making it the first of a string of post-Beatles, Paul McCartney-penned singles to top the US pop chart during the 1970s and 1980s. Billboard ranked the song as number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1971 year-end chart.[4] It became McCartney's first gold record after the break up of the Beatles.

Elements and interpretation[edit]

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is composed of several unfinished song fragments that Norwegian engineer Eirik Wangberg stitched together[5] in a similar manner to the medleys from the Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road.[6] The orchestral arrangements by George Martin were recorded in New York at A & R Recording, along with other instruments by McCartney and his new band. The project was moved to Los Angeles where vocals were added by Paul and Linda McCartney—her first experience of recording in a professional studio.[7] The song is notable for its thunderstorm and environmental sound effects added by Wangberg in Los Angeles;[5] he had been invited by McCartney to mix and sequence the Ram album in any way he saw fit,[7] and he copied the thunder from a monaural film soundtrack, then fashioned an artificial stereo version of it for the song.[5]

Paul said "Uncle Albert" was based on his uncle. "He's someone I recall fondly, and when the song was coming it was like a nostalgia thing."[8] He also stated that "I had an uncle – Albert Kendall – who was a lot of fun, and when I came to write 'Uncle Albert'/'Admiral Halsey' it was loosely about addressing that older generation, half thinking, What would they think of the way my generation does things? That's why I wrote the line 'We're so sorry, Uncle Albert.'"[9] Paul also told an American journalist, "As for Admiral Halsey, he's one of yours, an American admiral", referring to Fleet Admiral William "Bull" Halsey (1882–1959).[8] Paul has described the "Uncle Albert" section of the song as an apology from his generation to the older generation, and Admiral Halsey as an authoritarian figure who ought to be ignored.[9][10]


Paul McCartney won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971 for the song.[11][12] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[13]

According to Allmusic critic Stewart Mason, fans of Paul McCartney's music are divided in their opinions of this song.[14] Although some fans praise it as "one of his most playful and inventive songs" others criticize it for being "exactly the kind of cute self-indulgence that they find so annoying about his post-Beatles career."[14] Mason himself considers it "churlish" to be annoyed by the song, given that the song isn't intended to be completely serious, and praises the "Hands across the water" section as being "lovably giddy."[14] Ultimate Classic Rock critic Nick DeRiso states that the song feels "more calculatedly twee than truly inspired, despite its episodic construction" and that its main weakness is that it exposes McCartney's awareness of his own charm.[15]

In a contemporary review of RAM, Jon Landau of Rolling Stone gave "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" a negative review, saying the song is "a piece with so many changes it never seems to come down anywhere, and in the places that it does, sounds like the worst piece of light music Paul has ever done."[16] Cash Box said that the song "is bursting with fine melodies and interesting musical changes certain to please both AM and underground programmers."[17]

A retrospective 2012 Pitchfork review by Jayson Greene states "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey is not only Ram's centerpiece, it is clearly one of McCartney’s five greatest solo songs. As the slash in the title hints, it's a multi-part song, starring two characters. To put its accomplishments in an egg-headed way: It fuses the conversational joy listeners associated with McCartney's melodic gift to the compositional ambition everyone assumed was Lennon's. To put it a simpler way: Every single second of this song is joyously, deliriously catchy, and no two seconds are the same."

On the US charts, the song set a milestone as the all-time songwriting record (at the time) for Paul McCartney for the most consecutive calendar years to write a #1 song. This gave him eight consecutive years (starting with "I Want to Hold Your Hand"), leaving Lennon behind with only seven years.

Later release[edit]

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" appears on the Wings Greatest compilation album released in 1978,[18] even though Ram was not a Wings album.

The song appears on several solo Paul McCartney compilations: the US version of All the Best! (1987),[14] as well as Wingspan: Hits and History (2001),[19] and on both the standard and deluxe versions of Pure McCartney (2016).[20][21] It was also included on The 7" Singles Box in 2022.[22]


Chart performance[edit]


  1. ^ McGee 2003, p. 195.
  2. ^ Billboard. Booksgoogle.com. 11 July 1970. p. Front cover. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Allmusic: Paul McCartney: Charts & Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Top Pop 100 Singles" Billboard 25 December 1971: TA-36
  5. ^ a b c Dirani, Claudio (2005). "Interview with Eirik Wangberg". Paul McCartney Project. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  6. ^ Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: together alone: a critical discography of their solo work. Jawbone Press. pp. 46, 50. ISBN 978-1-906002-02-2.
  7. ^ a b Harper, Simon (24 June 2021). "Paul McCartney: How I made Ram". Classic Rock. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  8. ^ a b McGee 2003, p. 196.
  9. ^ a b McGuinness, Paul (18 June 2021). "Best Paul McCartney Songs: 20 Essential Post-Beatles Macca Tracks". udiscovermusic. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  10. ^ Benitez, V.P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0.
  11. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  12. ^ "1971 Grammy Awards". Infoplease.com. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  13. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - September 24, 2015". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d Mason, S. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  15. ^ DeRiso, Nick (15 May 2016). "How Paul McCartney's 'Ram' Became a Moment of Handmade Genius". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  16. ^ Landau, Jon (8 July 1971). "Ram". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  17. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 14 August 1971. p. 14. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  18. ^ "Wings Greatest - Wings,Paul McCartney | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Paul McCartney - Wingspan - Hits And History". Discogs. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  20. ^ "67 Tracks of Pure McCartney..." PaulMcCartney.com. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Paul McCartney - Pure McCartney". Discogs. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  22. ^ "'The 7" Singles Box' – Out 2 December 2022". PaulMcCartney.com. 10 November 2022. Retrieved 5 December 2022.
  23. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  24. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 16, No. 5". RPM. 18 September 1971. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  25. ^ "Single Search: Paul and Linda McCartney – "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"" (in German). Media Control. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  26. ^ a b Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1971). Billboard – Talent in Action 1971. Nielsen Business Media. p. 15. Retrieved 1 May 2014. admiral linda mccartney. {{cite book}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  27. ^ Steffen Hung (26 September 2016). "New Zealand charts portal". charts.nz. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  28. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 157.
  29. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  30. ^ "RPM 100 Top Singles of 1971". RPM. 8 January 1972. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  31. ^ "American single certifications – Paul Mc Cartney – Uncle Albert". Recording Industry Association of America.


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