McCartney Times

McCartney (album)

McCartney (album)

McCartney (album)
May 03
09:51 2017

McCartney (album)

 

by: Bill Harry

There was some internal wrangling at Apple concerning Paul’s first solo album release. Paul had kept a relatively low profile while working on it in his Scottish farm, overdubbing instruments and using a Studer 4-track recorder. With the exception of some vocal help from Linda, it was a one-man album with Paul playing all the instruments: toy xylophone, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, mellotron and organ.

Recordings began in December 1969 and other locations during the recordings were Abbey Road’s No. 2 studios and Morgan Studios in Willesden.

Tension between Paul and the other Beatles was already in the air, particularly because of the Allen Klein affair, and thus was unfortunately exacerbated by the release date that Paul wanted for the album. This roughly coincided with the ‘Let It Be’ release and was also close to the release date of Ringo’s debut album ‘Sentimental Journey’. Paul felt that the ‘Let It Be’ project had been around for some time and didn’t see why he should alter his plans because of it. Ringo was sent to Paul’s St. John’s Wood house to ‘reason’ with him. Ringo took two letters along, one from John, the other from George. Paul opened them and vented his anger on Ringo. Ringo was to say later: “I could see the release date of his record had a gigantic emotional significance for him. Whether he was right or wrong, I felt that since he was our friend and since the date was of such immense significance to him, we should let him have his own way.”

It was decided that there should be a three-week gap between the release of ‘McCartney’ and ‘Let It Be’ and the release of Ringo’s album was brought forward.

‘McCartney’ was issued on Apple PCS7102 on Friday April 17 1970. It reached No. 2 in the British charts and No. I in the US charts, selling over two million copies.

Not content with showing the world that he was capable of working on a musical project without the other three, Paul was also at pains to put across his viewpoint about the entire Beatles situation as it stood. He prepared his own press release with members of the Apple staff, issuing it in the form of a questionnaire to the Fleet Street papers, radio disc jockeys, and in a limited run on the inner sleeve of the album itself. It read:

Q:  Why did you decide to make a solo album?

A:  Because I got a Studer 4-track recording machine at home – practised on it (playing all instruments) – like the results and decided to make it into an album.

Q:  Were you influenced by John’s adventures with the Plastic Ono Band, and Ringo’s solo LP?

A:  Sort of, but not really.

Q:  Are all the songs by Paul McCartney alone?

A:  Yes sir.

Q:  Will they be so credited: McCartney?

A:  It’s a bit daft for them to be Lennon-McCartney-credited, so ‘McCartney’ it is.

Q:  Did you enjoy working as a solo?

A:  Very much. I only had me to ask for a decision, and I agreed with me. Remember Linda’s on it too, so it’s really a double act.

Q:  What is Linda’s contribution?

A:  Strictly speaking she harmonises, but of course it’s more than that because she is a shoulder to lean on, a second opinion, and a photographer of renown. More than all this, she believes in me – constantly.

Q: Where was the album recorded?

A:  At home, at EMI (No. 2 studio) and at Morgan studios (Willesden!).

Q:  What is your home equipment (in some detail)?

A:  Studer 4-track machine. I only had, however, one mike, and, as Mr Pender, Mr Sweatham and others only managed to take six months or so (slight delay), I worked without VU meters or a mixer, which meant that everything had to be listened to first (for distortion, etc…) then recorded. So the answer – Studer, one mike and nerve.

Q:  Why did you choose to work in the studios you chose?

A:  They were available. EMI is technically good, and Morgan is cosy.

Q:  The album was not known about until it was nearly completed. Was this deliberate?

A:  Yes, because normally an album is old before it comes out. (aside) Witness ‘Get Back’.

Q:  Why?

A:  I’ve always wanted to buy a Beatles album like ‘people’ do and be as surprised as they must be. So this was the next best thing. Linda and I are the only two who will be sick of it by the release date. We love it really.

Q:  Are you able to describe the texture or the feel of the theme of the album in a few words?

A:  Home, Family, Love.

Q:  How long did it take to complete – from when to when?

A:   From just before (I think) Xmas, until now. The Lovely Linda was the first thing I recorded at home, and was originally to test the equipment. That was around Xmas.

Q:  Assuming all the songs are new to the public, how new are they to you? Are they recent?

A:  One was 1959 (‘Hot As Sun’), two from India (‘Junk’, ‘Teddy Boy’), and the rest are pretty recent. ‘Valentine Day’, ‘Momma Miss America’, and ‘OO you’ were ad-libbed on the spot.

Q:  Which instruments have you played on the album?

A: Bass, drums, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, piano and organ-Mellotron, toy xylophone, bow and arrow.

Q:  Have you played all these instruments on earlier recordings?

A:  Yes – drums being the one that I would normally do.

Q:  Why did you do all the instruments yourself?

A:  I think I’m pretty good.

Q:  Will Linda be heard on all future recordings?

A:  Could be; we love singing together, and have plenty of opportunity for practice.

Q:  Will Paul and Linda become a John and Yoko?

A:  No, they will become a Paul and Linda.

Q:  Are you pleased with your work?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Will the other Beatles receive the first copies?

A:  Wait and see.

Q:  What has recording alone taught you?

A:  That to make your own decisions about what you do is easy and playing with yourself is difficult but satisfying.

Q:  Who has done the artwork?

A:  Linda has taken all the photos, and she and I designed the package.

Q:  Is it true that neither Allen Klein nor ABKCO have been nor will be in any way involved with the production, manufacturing, distribution or promotion of this new album?

A:  Not if I can help it.

Q:  Did you miss the other Beatles and George Martin? Was there a moment eg, when you thought ‘wish Ringo was here for this break?”

A:  No.

Q:  Assuming this is a very big hit album, will you do another?

A:  Even if it isn’t, I will continue to do what I want – when I want to.

Q:  Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles?

A:  No.

Q:  Is this album a rest away from the Beatles or the start of a solo career?

A:  Time will tell. Being a solo album means it’s #the start of a solo career…’ and not being done with the Beatles means it’s a rest. So it’s both.

Q:  Have you any plans for live appearances?

A:  No.

Q: Is your break from the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal difference or musical ones?

A: Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t know.

Q:  Do you see a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?

A:  No.

Q:  What do you feel about John’s peace effort? The Plastic Ono Band? Giving back the MBE? Yoko’s influence? Yoko?

A:  I love john and respect what he does – it doesn’t give me any pleasure.

Q:  Have you plans to produce any other artists?

A:  No.

Q:  Were there any of the songs on the album originally written with the Beatles in mind?

A:  There older ones were. ‘Junk’ was intended for ‘Abbey Road’, but something happened. ‘Teddy Boy’ was for ‘Get Back’ but something happened.

Q:  Were you pleased with ‘Abbey Road’? Was it musically restricting?

A:  It was a good album. (No. I for a long time).

Q:  What is your relationship with Klein:

A:  It isn’t – I am not in contact with him, and he does not represent me in any way.

Q:  What is your relationship with apple?

A:  It is the office of a company which I part-own with the other three Beatles. I don’t go there because I don’t like the offices or business, especially when I’m on holiday.

Q:  Have you any plans to set up an independent production company?

A:  McCartney Productions.

Q:  What sort of music has influenced you on this album?

A:  Light and loose.

Q:  Are you writing more prolifically now? Or less so?

A:  About the same. I have a queue waiting to be recorded.

Q:  What are your plans now? A holiday? A musical? A movie? Retirement?

A:  My only plan is to grow up.

Paul also prepared his own track-by-track commentary on the album:

‘The Lovely Linda’. When the Studer 4-track was installed at home, this was the first song I recorded, to test the machine. On the first track was vocal and guitar, second – another acoustic guitar – then overdubbed hand slaps on a book, and finally bass. Written in Scotland, the song is a trailer to the full song which will be recorded in the future.

‘That Would Be Something’. This song was written in Scotland in 1969 and recorded at home in London – mixed later at EMI (No. 2). I only had one mike, as the mixer and VU meters hadn’t arrived (still haven’t)

  1. vocal, guitar
  2. tom-tom and cymbal
  3. electric guitar
  4. bass

‘Valentine Day’. Recorded at home. Made up as I went along

– acoustic guitar first, then drums (maybe drums were first). Anyway – electric guitar and bass were added and the track is all instrumental. Mixed at EMI. This one and ‘Momma Miss America’ were ad-libbed, with more concern for testing the machine than anything else.

‘Every Night’ (Blues). This came from the first two lines, which I’ve had for years. They were added to in 1969 in Greece (Benitses) on holiday. This was recorded at EMI with:

  1. vocal and
  2. acoustic guitar
  3. drums
  4. bass
  5. lead guitar (acoustic)
  6. harmony to the lead guitar
  7. double-tracked vocal in parts
  8. electric guitar (not used)
  9. track.

‘Hot As Sun’. A song written in about 1958 or ’59 or maybe earlier, when it was one of those songs that you play now and then. The middle was added in Morgan Studio, where the track was recorded recently.

  1. acoustic guitar
  2. electric guitar
  3. drums
  4. rhythm guitar
  5. organ
  6. maracas
  7. bass
  8. bongos

 

‘Glasses’. Wineglasses played at random and overdubbed on top of each other – the end is a section of a song called ‘Suicide’ – not yet completed.

‘Junk’. Originally written in India, at Maharishi’s camp, and completed bit by bit in London. Recorded vocal, two acoustic guitars, and bass at home, and later added to (bass drum, snare with brushes, and small xylophone and harmony) at Morgan.

‘Oo You’. The first three tracks were recorded at home as an instrument that might someday become a song. This, like ‘Man We Was Lonely’, was given lyrics one day after lunch., just before we left for Morgan Studios, where it was finished that afternoon.

Vocals, electric guitar, tambourine, cow bell, and aerosol spray were added at Morgan, and it was mixed there.

On the mix, tape echo was used to move feedback from guitar from one side to another.

‘Momma Miss America’. An instrumental recorded completely at home. Made up as I went along – first a sequence of chords, then a melody on top.

Piano, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar.

Originally it was two pieces, but they ran into each other by accident and became one.

‘Teddy Boy’. Another song started in India, and completed in Scotland and London, gradually. This one was recorded for the ‘Get Back’ film, but later not used.

Recorded partly at home…(guitar, voices and bass)…and finished at Morgan.

Linda and I sing the backing harmonies on the chorus, and occasional oos.

‘Singalong Junk’. This was take I, for the vocal version, which was take 2, and a shorter version.

Guitars and piano and bass, were put on at home, and the rest added at Morgan Studios.

The strings are Mellotron, and they were done at the same time as the electric guitar, bass drum, and sizzle cymbal.

‘Maybe I’m amazed’. Written in London, at the piano, with the second verse added slightly later, as if you cared.

Recorded at EMI, No. 2 studio

  1. piano
  2. vocal
  3. drums
  4. bass
  5. and vocal backing
  6. and vocal backing
  7. solo guitar
  8. backing guitars

Linda and I are the vocal backing group. Mixed at EMI.

A movie was made, using Linda’s slides and edited to this track.

‘Kreen-Akrore.’ There was a film on TV about the Kreen-Akrore Indians living in the Brazilian jungle, their lives, and how the white man is trying to change their way of life to his, so the next day, after lunch, I did some drumming. The idea behind it was to get the feeling of their hunt. So later piano, guitar and organ were added to the first section.

The second had a few tracks of voices (Linda and I) and the end had overdubbed breathing, going into organ, and two lead guitars in harmony.

Done at Morgan. Engineer, Robin Black.

The end of the first section has Linda and I doing animal noises (speeded up) and an arrow sound (done live with bow and arrow – the bow broke), then animals stampeding across a guitar case.

There are two drum tracks.

We built a fire in the studio but didn’t use it (but used the sound of the twigs breaking).”

 

At the time of release, Langdon Wiiner of ‘Rolling Stone wrote:  “Its explicit and uniform message is that Paul McCartney, his wife Linda and family have found peace and happiness in a quiet home away from the city, and away from the hassles of the music business.”

Some years later, Roy Carr and Tony Tyler in ‘The Beatles Illustrated Record’ were to comment: “It is also extremely hastily made, and the very unpretentious qualities which McCartney tried to emphasise were badly misconstrued as ineptitude. Hindsight displays its charms.”

Generally, most reviewers considered ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ as the outstanding track, although ten years were to elapse before it was issued as a single.

The album cover featured a photograph of a bowl and various cherries on a strip and a gatefold sleeve sported twenty-three of Linda’s photographs of the McCartney family life.

Written by: Bill Harry ©2017. All rights reserved. No unauthorised copying or re-publishing of this material is allowed by law. Please contact the writer for re-print permission.
(Contributor, McCartney Times)

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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