Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The First 'Real' Solo Album: 'McCartney' 1970

Contrary to belief, the Beatles didn't 'officially' break-up until eight months after Paul released his first album, titled simple, McCartney.

As a hardcore Beatles' fan in early 1970, I knew the end of the Beatles was near. I could feel it coming. However, I'll address that year-long saga in a later blog.

Right now I want to talk about this album, since it's been re-released with goodies and extras and remastered, etc. etc.

It was April 1970. My first experience with the album was when 'The Ed Sullivan Show' presented a 'video' of 'Maybe I'm Amazed'. It consisted of photos mostly taken from the album's gatefold. I don't recall what I thought of the song. I may have already heard it on the radio. I was more interested in looking at the pictures.

The album had been released a few days prior to the Sullivan show, and before I knew it, my older brother (also a Beatles nut) had an 8-Track copy. Since the only 8-Track player we had was in his car, I only heard it a few times before I actually got a copy of the LP myself. But I do remember him not liking it much, and I was feeling a bit unsure about it, too. I wanted to like it, but compared to the Beatles last album, Abbey Road, it seemed lacking.

To make matters worse, the Let it be album came out a few weeks later, and that made McCartney seem even more half-assed. My brother so disliked McCartney that he somehow was able to exchange it for an 8-Track of Let it be at the local Fred Meyer store. That pretty much sums up the general feelings the public had about McCartney at the time. That is, it sure a'int as a good as a Beatles' album.

After I got my own copy, I carefully studied the gatefold montage of photos (taken mostly by Linda). I thought Paul looked pretty good in some of them...the one where he's drinking from a straw, the guitar shot, holding Heather and him lurking behind some kind of flowers. But I didn't like the one of him picking his nose or the shot where he looks like he's wearing a dress and holding a purse. The Beatles were my heroes. And like some of the 'White Album' poster pics, I was turned off by images that weren't in keeping with my idea of them. They were supposed to be cool and handsome. And while 'goofy' was acceptable since humor was one of their greatest assets, I didn't like seeing them semi-naked, picking their noses or in 'drag'. Now keep in mind, that I was 13-years old. Now I see the pictures in a different light. But I still hate that nose picking one.

After a number of 'listens' (it always takes a few before you know if you like something or not), the McCartney album began to grown on me. I especially dug 'That Would Be Something', 'Every Night', 'Junk' (both versions), 'Oo You', 'Teddy Boy' and of course, 'Maybe I'm Amazed'.

And the 'in-betweeners', instrumental stuff, seemed to fit. It didn't strike me any different than some other Beatles' filler like 'Wild Honey Pie', 'Her Majesty', 'Flying', or the weird interlude on the 'White Album' where he sings "Can you take me back where I came from...". They were nice short bits that gave the album an overall mood and tone that I enjoyed. But I didn't like the heavy breathing on "Kreene-Akore'. At the time, I was probably embarrassed that my Mom might hear it coming from my room and think, "What the heck is that!?". But in retrospect, I still think the song would've been better off without it.

The only song I truly dislike is 'Man We Was Lonely'. But even Beatles albums had at least one number I wasn't crazy about.

As time passed, I became very fond of the McCartney album and also remember that it was a big hit. Throughout the early 70's, I would often hear someone (not a Beatlefanatic) say 'I really like that Cherries album' (which is what we called it because of the cover). Or the Bowl of Cherries album.

And speaking of the cover, it has become my favorite album cover of all time. Not just Beatles-related cover, but the best album cover ever. The black/white/red colors are wonderful. The way the cherries are placed and their shadows...magnificent! I never tire of it. I have a framed copy of it hanging in my house and it always makes me feel good whenever I look at it.

McCartney has a nice, mellow groove. But it's not corny. It rocks when it has to and isn't 'weak' or monotonous (save for the aforementioned 'Man We Was Lonely'). It's unique in an unassuming way.

It's still one of my favorite solo Beatles records and I continue to play it on a regular basis. It might not be up to par with Abbey Road, but I would say it is as good or better that any number of comparable albums from that same era from people like James Taylor, Neil Young or Simon and Garfunkle.


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