Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
|"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"|
|Single by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney|
|from the album Ram|
|B-side||"Too Many People"|
|Released||2 August 1971 (US only)|
|Recorded||6 November 1970|
|Genre||Progressive pop, art rock|
|Songwriter(s)||Paul and Linda McCartney|
|Producer(s)||Paul and Linda McCartney|
|Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney singles chronology|
|Ram track listing|
"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, it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 4 September 1971, 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. It became McCartney's first gold record after the break up of the Beatles.
Elements and interpretation
"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. 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." 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.'” 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). 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.
Paul McCartney won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971 for the song. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.
According to Allmusic critic Stewart Mason, fans of Paul McCartney's music are divided in their opinions of this song. 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." 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."
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."
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.
The song appears on several solo Paul McCartney compilations: the US version of All the Best! (1987), as well as Wingspan: Hits and History (2001), and on both the standard and deluxe versions of Pure McCartney (2016).
- Paul McCartney – vocals; electric guitar; acoustic guitar; piano; bass; & xylophone
- Linda McCartney – backing vocals
- Hugh McCracken – acoustic and electric guitar
- Denny Seiwell – drums
- Paul Beaver – synthesizer
- David Nadien, Aaron Rosand – violin
- Marvin Stamm, Mel Davis, Ray Crisara, Snooky Young – brass
- New York Philharmonic Orchestra – orchestral arrangement
- The song was used in the episode "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle" of the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, where the character of Uncle Albert leaves home.
- Harry Shearer uses a looped sample of "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" for the "Apologies of the Week" segment of Le Show, with emphasis on McCartney saying "sorry".
- The film Greenberg includes a scene in which the character Florence, drunk on champagne, sings along to the song which Greenberg included on a mix-CD for her.
- Jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard covered the song on his 1971 album First Light.
- A portion of "Uncle Albert" is sampled in The Avalanches song "Livin' Underwater (Is Somethin' Wild)" on their second album Wildflower.
- McGee 2003, p. 195.
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- 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.
- McGee 2003, p. 196.
- McGuinness, Paul (18 June 2021). "Best Paul McCartney Songs: 20 Essential Post-Beatles Macca Tracks". udiscovermusic. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
- Benitez, V.P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0.
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- Landau, Jon (8 July 1971). "Ram". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Wings Greatest - Wings,Paul McCartney | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
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- "67 Tracks of Pure McCartney..." PaulMcCartney.com. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Paul McCartney - Pure McCartney". Discogs. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Top Singles - Volume 16, No. 5". RPM. 18 September 1971. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Single Search: Paul and Linda McCartney – "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1971). Billboard – Talent in Action 1971. p. 15. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
admiral linda mccartney.
- Steffen Hung (26 September 2016). "New Zealand charts portal". charts.nz. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
- Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 157.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "RPM 100 Top Singles of 1971". RPM. 8 January 1972. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- "American single certifications – Paul Mc Cartney – Uncle Albert". Recording Industry Association of America.
- McGee, Garry (2003). Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings. New York: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 0-87833-304-5.