Paul McCartney - McCartney - Review
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critics' view

In 1970 Paul McCartney left The Beatles and set about sloughing off seven years’ worth of extravagant wardrobes and philosophies that no longer fitted or suited him, and embarked upon a solo career that would reveal ‘the real’ Thumbs Aloft. Obviously, being one of an equal partnership in the world’s biggest/most important rock/pop group meant that his aesthetic had been asserted plenty of times before, in most recent memory during the back-to-basics Let It Be sessions. But this time he was going to give us more than just a glimpse of the boy-next-door millionaire idol.

He played everything on this album. We were left in no doubt that his claim that Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles, while snide, wasn’t entirely rash. Everything about this album says, "This is organic – this is me freed from John’s pretension and artifice". McCartney’s homely, almost idiot-savant, gift for songwriting seemed to be undiminished now that he was on his own. Opening track The Lovely Linda, although barely more than a sketch, was written in order to try out a new 4-track. Macca was back to being the guy who couldn't make a cup of tea without it inspiring a top 40 hit. His creative wellspring had been topped up by spending more time with his kin. This was revealed by the design for the album, compiled from Linda’s (excellent) holiday snaps. The iconic image of cherries left on a seaside wall for birds to feed on has slowly usurped the actual cover art of Macca with cherubic baby Stella peeking out of the lining of his sheepskin. 

This said, it hadn't been an entirely clean break. Some of the tunes were left over from the Fab Four endgame. Junk was originally written in the Maharishi’s camp and Teddy Boy was a Let It Be reject. But even some of the songs that seemed to have an exotic nature were deceptively domestic. Kreen-Akrore may well have been about rainforest tribesmen, but McCartney’s information came directly from a TV documentary he watched with his family. And, really, this is what this album is: written and recorded by a victor, someone who has successfully negotiated his retreat from being one of the most famous people on the face of the planet to blissful semi-retirement to the homestead. He would go on greater things – including McCartney II, released a decade later – but this debut album represents a necessary start to the most consistently pleasing solo career of all The Beatles. Included in this 2011 reissue is a bonus disc full of rare material, including the piano ballads Suicide and Maybe I’m Amazed, as well as an interesting DVD of live material, videos and a short documentary.

John Doran
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