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Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Braveheart - That was me!
I was so excited to get my grubby little hands on the latest in the Paul McCartney Archive collection, despite the fact that I already have it on CD. I first heard the Ram album sometime during the early 80's, and it was during this period that I first became a Beatle fanatic - incredible to think, but during the late 70's/early 80's hardly anyone was listening to The Beatles.They were almost a forgotten band and the youth, the main music buyers, had been battered by Punk, dismayed by New Wave and didn't give the Fabs a second thought.

By the time  I first heard Ram I don't think I'd even heard all the Beatle albums but I remember seeing Ram on cassatte tape (remember those! I'll have three C-90's and a pound of pick a mix, please,.) in my local Woolworths. I recall buying both Ram and Abbey Road that day. You know I remember not being fussed on either album on first listen but over time I realised their true greatness and Abbey Road is my favourite Beatle album and Ram is, by a long shot, the greatest thing Paul ever did outside of the Beatles.

 I don't apologise for not initially digging Abbey Road but by that time I don't think I'd even heard Peppers or the White Album and my Beatle's listening was the likes of Hard Day's Night and Help - you try jumping straight from Help to Abbey Road and you'll see what I mean. It's quite a shock!

However I digress - back to Ram. Ram is the first real McCartney solo album - his previous album McCartney was a collection of doodles and half finished songs and, as good as it was, Ram was a more structured and fully realized product.

It stands as one of the most joyous albums in all of rock music.

The album was originally credited to Paul and Linda McCartney and Mrs McCartney provides some great harmonies - Linda took a lot of flak for daring to sing with Paul and later with Wings, but her contributions  to this album are flawless.

It could quite easily have been called what Paul did next, because it is something of a diary, a musical narrative  of what must have been a wonderful period for the newly married McCartneys. Paul and Linda had gone to Scotland, Paul's farm in Mull of Kyntyre and the rustic lifestyle influenced Paul to such an extent that Ram comes out as something of a folk rock album. There's songs about sheep, horses, houses in the heart of the country and something called Monkberry Moon Delight.

 So I stood with a knot in my stomach,
And I gazed at that terrible sight
Of two youngsters concealed in a barrel,
Sucking monkberry moon delight.

 Even the cover image, so famously mocked by Lennon, speaks of countrified hippiness, but make no mistake about the album rocks with the best of them. It starts off with a bitter little number in which Macca has a go at Lennon - Too many people, going underground. Too many people preaching practices, don't let them tell you what you wanne be -  which infuriated Lennon to such an extent that he responded with the far more bitter, How do you sleep on the Imagine album.

That was your first mistake
You took your luck break
and broke it in two

During that period Paul and John were constantly sniping at each other and each followed up their musical missiles by slagging off each other, though the letters page of the Melody Maker.

3 Legs came next which may also have some Beatle bashing content - George Harrison said that 3 Legs was Macca's nickname for the other three Beatles. The song certainly have some lyrics that could be read that way - when I thought you was my friend but you let me down. Whatever the thoughts behind the song it's a rocking little number with an addictive melody,  a trademark of McCartney's best stuff. The harmless little ditty, Ram on follows and then we're into another Lennon baiting song with, Dear Boy, which is again a great song and curiously given its subject matter feels upbeat.

From this point onwards an already great album becomes one high point after another - Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (an American No1) is one of those cleverly structured McCartney songs that gets into your soul and pumps Prozac into your heart. Then we have Smile Away which is my personal favorite track on the entire album.

I was walking down the street the other day
Who did I meet
I met a friend of mine and he did say
Man I can smell your feet a mile away
Smile away, smile away, smile away, yeah smile away
Smile away, smile away, smile away, yeah smile away

From there we are given a set of country tinged rockers which culminate in the excellent rock ballad, The Back seat of my car. This is another of those classics that changes tempo several times and is nothing short of brilliant.

The new edition has been remastered to the highest quality and contains a second disc made of material from the time. It contains the previously unreleased, Rode All Night which needs to be listened to by anyone who doubts McCartney's genius.

The next releases in the Archive Collection are to be Venus and Marts (whoopie), Wings at the Speed of Sound (take it or leave it) and Wings over America (awesome).

In fact the only complaint I've got is the frequency in which these special editions are being released - it's just too slow. Come on Macca and Co I can't wait to revisit Red Rose Speedway, Tug of War, Press to Play, Flowers in the Dirt and the criminally underrated, London Town.



Davieboy said...

That is a great review of an all-time favourite - it could only have been written by a real fan. I think Red Rose Speedway is another unsung(!) little gem!

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Yeah Red Rose is excellent. That and London Town are the two I'm waiting most eagerly for.

Randy Johnson said...

One of my favorites as well. As to your comment on no one listening to The Beatles during that period, I remember a TV Guide article on a Ringo Starr special bemoaning that fact. The author witnessed teenage girls looking through a bin of old vinyl albums, one holding up one and yelling, "Look! Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings!"