Paul McCartney
McCartney
(EMI Paul McCartney Collection 92392)

The 90s rediscovery of Paul McCartney's first solo album has come from the least expected places – Paul's Unplugged special (which surprised every diehard by including three tracks from McCartney in the set list), and the film "Jerry Maguire," which also featured three tracks from the album. Almost enough to make one think that this is some sort of unheralded masterwork – which it almost is.

McCartney benefits from great songs (several originally intended for The Beatles) and a homespun quality that doesn't allow it to get too "serious." It's probably the lowest-key album McCartney has ever made, and that's a lot of its charm. Songs like "Teddy Boy," "Junk," and "Hot as Sun" prop up demo experiments like "Momma Miss America," "Valentine Day," and "Kreen-Akore" – so you get enough of the expected pop fix to let you appreciate Paul fucking around on the drums. Oh, and there's "Maybe I'm Amazed," as well, which stands out like Mark David Chapman at a Beatles convention. Wait, maybe that sounded bad. Well, in any case, it's the only "big song" on the album, bridging the gap between Abbey Road and Band on the Run in terms of Paul's developing sound, and clearly demonstrating that Wings was no different from Paul by himself. Sorry, Denny.

"The Lovely Linda" starts things off very off-the-cuff, a fragment, really, much in the vein of Paul's India songs from the "White Album" era. "That Would Be Something" is, from what I can tell, Paul's idea of an Elvis Sun record in an alternate universe, another example of how Paul can make one repetitive idea seem interesting (that rule does not apply to "Why Don't We Do It In The Road," by the way, for that is a piece of shit). "Every Night" is another of the bluesy tracks rescued for the Unplugged album, a charming trifle that stays fresh while overwritten stuff like "C'Mon People" stays on the shelf gathering dust. "Hot as Sun" is a throwaway instrumental (one of several on the album) that is always my favorite to hear, though "Teddy Boy" is my favorite in theory.

The second half of the disc peters out a bit with the likes of "Oo You" and "Singalong Junk" (a great melody, of course, but it's pretty much the same song that appeared five tracks earlier – and the whole album is only 34 minutes), but the album is very enjoyable anyway, because the weightlessness is in keeping with the experimental nature of the album, which was essentially a "throw it together at home" sort of affair long before lo-fi became hip. Not that this is lo-fi, I'm just throwing around aimless chatter to sound impressive. Some of the more abstract bits ("Glasses," an enticing fragment, and "Kreen-Akore," which amuses and/or annoys me depending on my mood) show that "Revolution 9" was not lost on Paul, and it occurs to me that this one of the only McCartney albums without a "Back in the USSR" sort of rocker. That's a good thing. He sticks mainly to country and blues flavored stuff like "Man We Was Lonely" and "That Would Be Something," and it works.

The UK version doesn't add any bonus tracks, but has nice packaging (as does the US gold disc). McCartney finally seems to have its place for admirers of the cute Beatle, now how about Ram – much more accomplished, yet twice as ignored.

Review by Ivan Loverling