Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

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"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
Paul & Linda McCartney - Uncle Albert.jpg
Single by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney
from the album Ram
B-side"Too Many People"
Released2 August 1971 (US only)
Recorded6 November 1970
GenreProgressive pop, art rock
Length4:49
LabelApple
Songwriter(s)Paul and Linda McCartney
Producer(s)Paul and Linda McCartney
Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney singles chronology
"Another Day"
(1971)
"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
(1971)
"The Back Seat of My Car"
(1971)
Ram track listing
12 tracks
Side one
  1. "Too Many People"
  2. "3 Legs"
  3. "Ram On"
  4. "Dear Boy"
  5. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
  6. "Smile Away"
Side two
  1. "Heart of the Country"
  2. "Monkberry Moon Delight"
  3. "Eat at Home"
  4. "Long Haired Lady"
  5. "Ram On"
  6. "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 Paul stitched together in a similar manner to the medleys from the Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road.[5] The song is notable for its sound effects, including the sounds of a thunderstorm, including rain, heard between the first and second verses, the sound of McCartney's voice with a "telephone" effect heard after the second verse, and the sound of chirping sea birds and wind by the seashore. Linda's voice is heard in the harmonies as well as the bridge section of the "Admiral Halsey" portion of the song.

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."[6] 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.'”[7] 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).[6] 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.[7][8]

Reception[edit]

Paul McCartney won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971 for the song.[9][10] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[11]

According to Allmusic critic Stewart Mason, fans of Paul McCartney's music are divided in their opinions of this song.[12] 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."[12] 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."[12]

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."[13]

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,[14] 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),[12] as well as Wingspan: Hits and History (2001),[15] and on both the standard and deluxe versions of Pure McCartney (2016).[16][17]

Personnel[edit]

Song uses[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Notes[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. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b McGee 2003, p. 196.
  7. ^ a b McGuinness, Paul (18 June 2021). "Best Paul McCartney Songs: 20 Essential Post-Beatles Macca Tracks". udiscovermusic. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  8. ^ Benitez, V.P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0.
  9. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  10. ^ "1971 Grammy Awards". Infoplease.com. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ a b c d Mason, S. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  13. ^ Landau, Jon (8 July 1971). "Ram". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Wings Greatest - Wings,Paul McCartney | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Paul McCartney - Wingspan - Hits And History". Discogs. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  16. ^ "67 Tracks of Pure McCartney..." PaulMcCartney.com. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Paul McCartney - Pure McCartney". Discogs. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  18. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  19. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 16, No. 5". RPM. 18 September 1971. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  20. ^ "Single Search: Paul and Linda McCartney – "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  21. ^ a b Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1971). Billboard – Talent in Action 1971. p. 15. Retrieved 1 May 2014. admiral linda mccartney.
  22. ^ Steffen Hung (26 September 2016). "New Zealand charts portal". charts.nz. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  23. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 157.
  24. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  25. ^ "RPM 100 Top Singles of 1971". RPM. 8 January 1972. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  26. ^ "American single certifications – Paul Mc Cartney – Uncle Albert". Recording Industry Association of America.

References[edit]

External links[edit]