McCartney part 7: John v Paul

The competition between John and Paul is the engine that drove the Beatles to ever-higher feats of compositional glory. It could even be argued that, from Sgt Pepper onward, the Beatles became Paul’s group, that if it were up to the others there wouldn’t have been any more Beatles albums at all after Revolver. And yet they continued to put out masterpieces on a schedule of months (their record company was very unhappy with them for waiting a punishing 18 months between the albums Sgt Pepper and The White Album, with only Magical Mystery Tour, “All You Need Is Love,” “Lady Madonna,” “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” to sell in between — sweet hopping Jesus, what a schedule). The fact that most bands these days can’t be bothered to put out mediocre product on a schedule of decades says a lot for McCartney’s professionalism and ability to inspire.

The competition between Lennon and McCartney’s continued after the Beatles breakup, but took on a much uglier, detrimental turn. It would be nice if these two songwriting titans could bring themselves to compete with the other acts of the day, but the fact was that there were few others who could match their talents. Who is Lennon going to compete with, Bernie Taupin? Is McCartney going to worry about Steve Miller breathing down his neck?

So while it is unhelpful to compare apples and oranges (you know, why didn’t McCartney start an Orange label for his records? That would be just like him), a Beatle fan in the 70s could not help but compare the products of their heroes, and Lennon and McCartney knew it. For the purposes of this piece, I’m going to begin the competition in 1970, even though Lennon started putting out albums before that; the competition ends in 1980 for obvious reasons.

1970: Plastic Ono Band v. McCartney

Directly after the Beatles breakup, both John and Paul decided to remove themselves from the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, Technicolor polish of the late Beatles style, opting instead for stripped-down, raw, home-made sounds. John recorded Plastic Ono Band, a devastating blast of pain and personal anguish. This was not good-time music, it was punishing, harsh and uncompromising. McCartney, on the other hand, didn’t sound uncompromising, it sounded unfinished, like a collection of demos and out-takes, spare, slender and unassuming. Fans might not have bought Plastic Ono Band, but they could at least respect it for what it was. But they hated McCartney, found it disappointing and limp, a poor offering from the man who engineered Abbey Road. No wonder that neither album was hit, but George’s bloated, over-produced All Things Must Pass was — it sounded like genuine Beatle product.

Plastic Ono Band was a huge influence on me; I’d never heard anything like it before (in 1977, when I bought it). It was more punk than punk and more raw than an open wound. McCartney, on the other hand, seemed irrelevant at best, lazy and unfocused. Nowadays however, I never listen to Plastic Ono Band and McCartney is a consistent delight on my iPod. When I do hear songs from Plastic Ono Band, I keep thinking “Okay, John, okay, I get it,” while the slight, unfinished-sounding songs of McCartney continue to beguile and intrigue.

1971: Imagine v. Ram

In “How Do You Sleep?” Lennon snarls “The only thing you done was ‘Yesterday,’ and since you’re gone your just ‘Another Day.'” These days all I can think of that is “Well, ‘Another Day’ is a fine Paul 1 song, and ‘How Do You Sleep’ is a vicious, unfair slab of character assassination.” Imagine was Lennon coming to his commercial senses, a much friendlier, more polished piece of Beatle product than the “I dare you to like me” Plastic Ono Band, while Ram seemed to be even more irrelevant than McCartney. The anger of Plastic Ono Band was directed outward instead of inward and tempered with a more radio-savvy approach to production. I loved both of these records when I heard them (again, at least six years after they came out), but these days I tire of Lennon’s sloganeering easily and Ram seems better and better as the days go by.

1972: Some Time in New York City v. Wild Life

In 1977 I was obsessed with John Lennon and defended Some Time in New York City to anyone who would listen. Not that there were many 16-year-olds in my acquaintance who had any awareness of Some Time in New York City — I had to special-order it from my local record store, who had never heard of it but professed to liking the packaging when I came to pick up my copy (that same store, which also sold greeting cards, had a policy of ordering two of anything that was special-ordered, reasoning that if one person is interested, another might be, and I took it as a point of pride that I could walk into that store for years afterward and see their second copy of Some Time in New York City still sitting in their bin). Lennon was a hero to me, a man who was using his fame for purposes of good, making daring musical choices standing as a man of the people, defender of justice and champion of peace. Some Time in New York City, of course, then as now, is a terrible, terrible album, an aural nightmare of blare and cacophony, accent on phony, ugly and shrill, hectoring, bombastic, dishonest and nauseating.

It wouldn’t be hard to top Some Time, McCartney could have put out nothing but silence (which is really the only appropriate response) and still come out ahead. Wild Life, however, presents an even more extreme case of redemption. It was an outright commercial disaster when it came out; I put off listening to it for years and hated it when I finally did. I bought it only when I was able to find a copy for less than three dollars, just to complete my collection, and only listened to it once, slack-jawed in horror at its laziness, fuzziness and lack of direction. Then, just the other day I put it on again and couldn’t get over how good it sounded. All those old adjectives still applied, but now they seemed like positive attributes. Wild Life is lazy, fuzzy and lacking in direction, but compared to what became the typical McCartney product of polish, sheen and calculation it positively glistens with life and tunefulness. “Bip Bop,” a song I used to cite as the nadir of McCartney’s composing career, is now charming and delightful, “Dear Friend” is poignant, honest and revealing, and “Tomorrow” is one of his overlooked gems on a level with “Every Night” and “That Would Be Something.”

1973: Mind Games v. Red Rose Speedway

It’s hard to imagine, now, two giant superstars putting out competing albums every year. These days they could not possibly be expected to keep up the pace and not have the material suffer. And while Mind Games is a marked improvement over Some Time in New York City (recordings of weasels being tossed into a wood-chipper would be a marked improvement over Some Time in New York City), Mind Games strikes me as weak and perfunctory. Back in the day I could work up some enthusiasm for it, but even then it seemed like a pale imitation of Imagine. There isn’t anything on it as impressive as “Gimme Some Truth” or “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier” or “How Do You Sleep?” and Lennon’s save-the-world-ism even back then sounded naive, silly and ineffective.

On the other hand, back then I found Red Rose Speedway to be a baffling dead-end of misfires and time-wasters. Time, and lowering of expectations, has leavened my opinion of it, but it still strikes me as underwhelming and unfocused (and now I find out that it was supposed to be a double album! sheeesh!). I’m giving Mind Games the edge here.

1974: Walls and Bridges v. Band on the Run

Okay, Band on the Run came out in 1973. Sue me. (Jesus, McCartney put out two albums in 1973, and “Live and Let Die” — what the fuck is wrong with U2, R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen? Who are these poseurs?)

Back in the day, I counted Walls and BridgesPlastic Ono Band in color,” Lennon’s masterful summation of all his obsessions, produced with care and skill, full of wit and imagination. I still like it okay, but time has not been kind to it. It now feels padded, self-conscious and, again, dishonest. I regularly skip over “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” and have little patience for “Bless You,” “Scared,” “Old Dirt Road” and “Beef Jerky.” The big production number, “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out,” strikes me as uncomfortably self-pitying and morose, everything Plastic Ono Band was not.

Beatle fans reveled in Band on the Run at the time; Paul’s career suddenly snapped into focus — it seemed like this was finally his Plastic Ono Band. I talked myself into liking Band on the Run at the time; it certainly provided more Beatlesque polish and entertainment value than anything else McCartney had put out up to that point, but it now strikes me as overhyped, overproduced and even ponderous in places. I love the title tune, “Jet,” and “Helen Wheels,” but otherwise the album seems cold, impersonal and hollow, listenable as it is.

1975: Rock n Roll v. Venus and Mars

I loved Rock n Roll back in the day, I found it bracing, fun, invigorating and vital. Venus and Mars I found cutesy, vague, self-important and annoying. What’s changed since then is I’ve heard the originals that Lennon was singing on Rock n Roll and find his production choices to be dreadfully, tragically wrong-headed. I bought the remastered CD when it came out a few years ago and couldn’t finish listening to it — it was loud, sluggish, hugely over-produced and leaden, everything the original versions of those songs were not. Ironically, or perhaps not, McCartney went on to record superior versions of many of the songs from Rock n Roll — whether this is mere coincidence or yet another backhanded attempt on McCartney’s part to degrade Lennon’s reputation is unknown to me.

My opinion of Venus and Mars remains unchanged.

1975-1979: Lennon abstains

Lennon, as is well known, declined to record for the next five years. That would seem like a natural state of being for an artist of Lennon’s stature today, but back then it was an eternity. McCartney ran the field free of competition for those five years, releasing At the Speed of Sound, Wings Over America, London Town and Back to the Egg, all of which were more-or-less commercial smashes, in some cases mysteriously. At the Speed of Sound is godawful — whatever possessed McCartney to actually share album space with the other members of Wings? What the hell was he thinking? Did he really think this band could compete with the Beatles? How is that possible? Or did he just not have enough songs to fill an album and had to get something into the stores to promote on a world tour? In any case, this is the one Wings album I have yet to be able to listen to all the way through. Wings Over America, on the other hand, presents a compelling case for Wings as a musical statement separate from, if not quite equal to, the Beatles. London Town, an album I virulently despised when it came out, has aged surprisingly well — whenever a McCartney tune comes up on iTunes and I think “hey, this isn’t bad, what’s this?” it invariably comes from London Town. Which is not to say that London Town doesn’t contain its share of filler and dreck — “Girlfriend” leaps immediately to mind, as well as non-songs like “Cuff Link.” Back to the Egg, on the other hand, I loved immediately and is still my favorite Wings album by far. It was reviled and unpopular when it came out, which never made sense to me. I loved the weird avant-gardisms, I thought “Getting Closer” and “Spin it On” crushed, and found all the little linked songs spooky and intriguing. My opinion hasn’t changed — every time a Back to the Egg song pops up on iTunes I still feel a charge.

1980: Double Fantasy v. McCartney II

It is, of course, difficult to separate Double Fantasy from the context it appeared in — coming out days before Lennon’s murder, it took on tragic dimensions of shattered dreams and starcrossed love. I, for one, was greatly looking forward to hearing it and bought it on its release date — and was distinctly let down. Lennon’s songs felt weak, thin and slight, and Yoko’s, well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, in my opinion, Yoko’s songwriting talent is not the equal of John’s. There, I said it. I could kind of work up some enthusiasm for the goofy charm of something like “I’m Your Angel” but otherwise itwas an uphill climb. Of course his murder changed all of that.

Time has not been kind to Double Fantasy. Lennon’s songs stand up well for the most part, but no agency on Earth can compel me to listen to any more Yoko Ono. And this coming from someone who enjoys “Cambridge 1969” from Life With the Lions and side 2 of Live Peace in Toronto. Still, seven decent songs on a record is still pretty good, even if some are too sappy and others are too skinny, and I would have very much enjoyed to see where Lennon was going to go from there.

McCartney II has all the sketchiness and home-made-iness of McCartney and absolutely none of its charm or delight. It is a tinny, clangorous horror, even if TLC swiped the opening lines of “Waterfalls.” “Secret Friend” goes on for a stultifying 10 and a half minutes!

Both were big hits.

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35 Responses to “McCartney part 7: John v Paul”
  1. craigjclark says:

    If you think Red Rose Speedway was thin, did you know that McCartney II was also slated to be a double album at one time? “Secret Friend” and “Check My Machine” — both of which appear on the CD version because they were put out as B-sides — were going to be included, along with a song called “All You Horseriders,” which I have never heard, but it apparently represents the nadir of his self-recorded output.

    Paul prided himself of keeping up with technological advancements, but there are times when I wish he’d never bought a single drum machine. McCartney II‘s “Bogey Music” is bad enough, but “Tug of Peace” from the Pipes of Peace tops it for pure awfulness.

    • Todd says:

      “Bogey Music” is “Paperback Writer” compared to “Temorary Secretary” or “Check My Machine.”

      • craigjclark says:

        Maybe it’s just me, but I was always more amused than annoyed by “Temporary Secretary.” Would I want to listen to it more often than once every six months or so? No, I don’t skip past it when I listen to the album and I almost always skip “Bogey Music.”

  2. jbacardi says:

    As the other 17-year old in 1977 that was listening to Some Time (actually, I got it in ’76 but was aware of it when it came out- I didn’t want to ask my folks for the money to buy it then because of the nudity on the cover), I would like to offer that the Chuck Berry-informed “New York City”, the doo-wopish “Woman is the Nigger of the World”, and the folky “John Sinclair”, if nothing else, make it worthwhile. I could make a case for a couple of Yoko’s tracks (and I could make a case, not only for them but a lot of her early 70’s output), but that’s a battle for another time.

    • craigjclark says:

      I think “We’re All Water” is one of the most bizarre songs Yoko ever committed to vinyl and I used to play it for people back in my college days. I also had part of the Live Peace in Toronto version of “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)” on my voicemail.

      • jbacardi says:

        I think “We’re All Water” is one of the most bizarre songs Yoko ever committed to vinyl…

        Yeah, and that’s saying something! I also liked “Sisters O Sisters”, which had a weird sort of girl-group vibe going on in it.

        You know what I like from that Live Peace in Toronto album? John’s cover of “Money”- it’s got a great sluggish sort of (dare I say) grungy groove going on in it, and while I don’t think it’s necessarily better than the Beatles proper version, I listen to the later one just as much if not more…

    • Todd says:

      “New York City” stands out on Some Time for having something like coherence, but it doesn’t stand up to the slightest of his Beatles songs or anything from Plastic Ono Band. Both “Woman” and “John Sinclair” are obvious, simplistic and leaden, and too loud by half. Although I’ll admit that it’s never occurred to me that “Woman” is a doo-wop song. I was too busy cringing at the lyrics, the best of which I could say was “Well, he’s not lying, I guess…”

      • jbacardi says:

        Well, doowop-ish, anyway- it kinda has (to these ears) the sound of a 50’s song, unsurprising because of Spector’s presence. Yeah, I’ll cop to both Woman and Sinclair being simplistic, and I think that’s the chief sin of that record. He was shooting for immediacy and directness, but sacrificed any nuance and depth.

        • Todd says:

          I would love to hear “Woman is the Nigger of the World” done as a straight doo-wop song. Somehow it didn’t make it onto this record.

          • jbacardi says:

            Have you heard that album yet? I think Regina Spektor did a WONDERFUL job of covering “Real Love”, and R.E.M. pleasantly surprised me by enlivening a Lennon song, “#9 Dream”, that has never been one of my favorites. I’ve just purchased individual tracks; I don’t ever want to hear Green Day do “Working Class Hero” again…

            • Todd says:

              I bought the R.E.M. song, but in general I thought that very few of the artists did a very good job in making these very distinctive songs their own. And I’m even an Avril Lavigne fan.

              • jbacardi says:

                I was a little underwhelmed by the Flaming Lips’ take on “Just Like (Starting Over)” and Corinne Bailey Rae’s “I’m Losing You”. Didn’t really expect much from the latter; I just like her voice and wanted to see how she fared. The Lips’ version seemed to be heartfelt, but slight. Of course, that song is kinda on the slight side as well.

                I guess the biggest surprise for me, of the tracks I’ve heard, was Christina Aguilera’s “Mother”- normally I have no use for her, but she actually undersings it (well, for her anyway) and seems to put some genuine emotion in there. Of course, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but she does a fine job.

                I’ve heard the Elvis Costello track wasn’t all that great, but I haven’t heard it for myself.

                • Todd says:

                  I don’t see an Elvis Costello track listed, but it would be just his luck to get bad reviews for a song he didn’t record. Serves him right for singing “Was it a millionaire who sang ‘imagine no possessions?'”

                  • jbacardi says:

                    Well, I’ll be damned. Over at my LJ, someone left a comment which said that he had heard the “Costello cover was meh“, which of course I took at face value ’cause he’s a pretty knowledgable dude. Then I go over at iTunes and look for it, and lo and behold it isn’t there. So I don’t know what he was thinking.

                    • Todd says:

                      Your correspondent may be confusing John Lennon with Johnny Cash — Costello has a version of “Ring of Fire” on a new tribute disc.

  3. planettom says:

    Are most/all of these ones you now own on CD and/or MP3, or are you going to vinyl to review these?

    Reading through these, it’s just occurred to me, to do an analysis of an author’s books, you can probably find them all in book form even if out of print, and most films will be on DVD or barring that, videotape, but to do a musical review of this type, I wondered how much medium-hopping you had to do, as well as breaking out the 8-tracks, Victrola records, and Edison wax cylinders.

    • Todd says:

      Most of these I have on CD, all of which have been transferred to MP3s. For Red Rose Speedway and Wild Life I had to dust off my vinyl copies.

  4. gdh says:

    The contrast between modern day record release schedules and the standards of the 60’s and ’70s has always puzzled me. When did that end exactly? And what are bands today doing with all their time that it takes them 2 to 5 years between each album? The publicity-industrial complex has all sorts of celebrity activities to fill their time, I’m sure.

    The only modern artist I can think of who comes close to matching the Beatles’ level of rapid and consistently high quality output is Ani DiFranco, who’s put out an astounding (by today’s standards) 15 studio albums (plus several live albums and 2 full-length collaborations with Utah Phillips) since 1990. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that she’s always resisted a major label deal.

    • Todd says:

      I’m sure the “album year/tour year” marketing paradigm was dreamed up by label executives who had their reasons, all of which I’m sure were driven by the market instead of the artist’s creative habits.

      Elvis Presley put out three albums a year for 23 years, but I cannot say with a straight face that they succeed with the same standards of quality as the Beatles.

      Think of this — the band’s manager has just killed himself and everybody is sick to death of being a Beatle. They’re all having marital problems and they all have drug habits. Most bands these days would go on hiatus for a year to sort things out and figure out a way forward, the Beatles made a TV movie, two classic albums and a handful of landmark singles, all while organizing a new record label, following the Maharishi to India and opening a boutique. Their schedule was absolutely fucking insane.

      I am an admirer of Ani DiFranco and Righteous Babe, but if you want to see real artist-driven productivity, polymath saxophonist/composer John Zorn has put out somewhere around 120 albums in the past 20 years, in all sorts of genres and forms, all of staggeringly high quality (depending of course on your taste for avant-garde jazz). Philip Glass has put out about 65, Robert Fripp puts out so much stuff that he has stopped putting out CDs altogether, just issues it as downloads.

      • gdh says:

        John Zorn is insane in more ways that just his productivity. I must admit that avant-jazz is not a taste I’ve acquired.

        Mind you, I’m familiar with him mostly through his association with Mike Patton, whose music usually more than a little towards the odd end of things.

        Now that I think of it, Mr. Patton has been quite prolific too. His bands mostly follow the typical modern release schedule, but he makes up for this by managing to be in at least three or four bands at a time, plus a constant stream of miscellaneous side projects (including a bunch of stuff with Zorn)

        • Todd says:

          I saw Mike Patton “sing” with Zorn’s supergroup Naked City in 1991 or so. Patton was filling in for Yamatsuka Eye, who I guess was in Japan screaming for the Boredoms that night. Patton was game, committed and unaffected.

    • popebuck1 says:

      There’s also Prince, who maintains a back-breaking recording schedule. According to reports, for every album he’s actually released, he has three or four more albums’ worth of material sitting in his vault in Minneapolis.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Lennon’s post-Beatle artform was himself in the public eye, his search, which for a while was really interesting, no matter what. It’s just not delivered on the albums as full albums. As songs, sure. As public figure, sure. Lennon just didn’t translate musically in the same way the Beatles did – but he didn’t need to anymore, he wanted content, if not “message”-medium. Let’s face it, in a less stellar persona it would have just sounded VERY confused, coming off like his appearance with Chuck Berry on Mike Douglas. His return, Double-Fantasy was awful, and it just repeated historical foundations as safe nostalgia, and even the cover was a nicer, glossier, Leibowitz “Two Virgins” update.

    But still, today just waching the “Imagine” documentary, the making-of, reminds you he had the spirit that makes his take on rock and roll more than just music, which is what we all knew. (DESPITE Yoko was butting in and hogging the camera ALOT more than just because she was a so-called political, avant-garde artist.)

    It’s a question if his public figure was difficult and to be populist, his musician side burrowed increasingly into the safety of his past haunts, the Phil Spector productions and so on. Which would make an interesting comparison in that sense to McCartney and his safety built into a sense of commercial values.

    After reading your post, I was thinking how each of the Beatles, for all their desire to be independent voices, “individuals”, once going solo all had seemed too quickly to establish not just a signature, but a very fixed “brand” voice and sound: George, from that first album onwards, we know his slide, his voice, the layers, the tempo, the possible type of harmony; John, the predilection for double-tracking, the grain of his voice he can employ when necessary, the song tempo, the kind of instrumentation, r and b, etc.. Ringo (no need to explain shouty Photograph et al. sound) and then oddly, Paul’s “brand”, which actually seemed sort of unfocused at first, a restart-rethink, sloppy in regards to just WHO he is. Sure, it was that voice, with its evident desire to please, and an awareness of commercial lines. But McCartney didn’t seem to know – what haircut to have, what fashion sense, what position politically, and so on…He just showed his strength in compositional ways, and on occasion things matched up.

    I stopped buying after Band on the Run. Had it on cassette for the car. “Band on the Run”s band/musicians backstory was in competition with Mott the Hoople’s “All the way from Memphis”… In that time period it was song vs song, even with FM radio, no album logic or Beatle one-up favorites… and I got tired of Paul one-good-song-then-fast-forwarding-past-four while trying to drive safely.

    • Anonymous says:

      er—John’s predilection for vocal reverb more so.

    • Todd says:

      I know exactly what you mean about Lennon considering his life part of the art, and I was very much wrapped up in Lennon’s life for many years, paid as much attention to his interviews, concept projects and advertising campaigns as I did to his music. Trouble is, life doesn’t last and art does. Lennon found that out in a particularly painful way. I worry that future generations will look at Lennon’s post-Beatle work (after Yoko is no longer around to hype it) and think “so sad, look at all that wasted potential.”

      A note on Yoko Ono: she’s a lightweight. After so many years of taking her seriously in interviews and on records because of the amount of respect Lennon had for her, I went to her museum retrospective show a few years back and was simply appalled at how juvenile, insipid and clumsy her artwork was. I thought, this is what her reputation rests on? Screw her — she’s a third rate artist who received a world-class platform to express herself and worked it for every ounce of power it could get her. No wonder McCartney hates her so, she’s the worst kind of opportunist and leech.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow – I want to print this out and frame it because it’s rare: an intelligent, brief, clear tough-love position on John solo, and the ultimate definition of a NYC art-poseur, Yoko. I couldn’t have summed up the museum exhi better. Fans were blamed for being stupid because she was avantist art, and to anyone who knew what was really happening in the arts, and was a fan, it was a double insult because she was years late, and copying, silly, empty forms. Just check out whenever Yoko is near someone’s film (Shirley Clarke / “Rome is Burning” for example) she hogs it with the most insipid show-off stuff. She was the minor footnote that married the publisher, nuff said.

        • Todd says:

          Nuff said for you maybe, but I’ll go further. When I hear Yoko Ono on Lennon’s records now, my jaw sets and I fill with resentment at the thought of this third-rate talent sinking her claws into a great man and squandering space on extremely valuable musical real estate. She’s like a con man who beds an heiress to get into her 5th-Avenue penthouse, then proceeds to fill it with black-light posters and ceramic leopards.

          On the other hand, when I hear Linda McCartney on Paul’s records I think “well, at least she’s a talented artist, if not necessarily a talented musician, and Paul obviously couldn’t get by without her, and she seems to be a kind, generous, caring, real person.” In other words, the opposite of Yoko Ono, who seems like a mean, controlling, cold, fake, mind-fucker.

          And you know what? Linda McCartney’s vocals may be thin and amateurish, but they serve McCartney’s recordings well, give them an authentic, specific character, especially on his home-made, “just folks” albums. “Cook of the House” is, of course, a different story.

          • craigjclark says:

            You’re absolutely right. There is a world of difference between, say, Linda’s sweet, quavering shared vocal on “I Am Your Singer” and her stronger, more grating lead on “Cook of the House.” Denny Laine still got to sing a song or two on the albums that followed Speed of Sound because he actually wrote or co-wrote them, but after the “Seaside Woman” single, Linda’s lead-vocal ambitions (if there were, indeed, hers) were back-burnered.

            For a clear example of where her real talents lay, look at the back cover of London Town. Linda, Paul and Denny all took pictures of each other on vacation, which were then composited together. Paul’s picture of Denny and Denny’s picture of Linda look look fuzzy and amateurish, but Linda’s photo of Paul is crisp, clean and, well, professional.

  6. ianbrill says:

    Gosh darn it, you did the kind of post I wanted to. You actually went farther than me. I was just going to compare the albums from 1971 and 1972.

    For all the talk of confession and soul barring on Lennon’s albums (which is valid) I found McCartney to be a very personal album as well. I don’t think the songs sound unfinished. I think there’s a type of purity to them. Here are all these big melodic ideas unbound by song structure. They’re unrefined. It sounds like Paul is working out the songs in front of you and then realizes, “these bits stand on their own, why try to change them?” The ideas are big but the execution is small. It’s a beautiful paradox.

    Of course, at the end we have a pop epic. “Maybe Amazed” is placed at the right time on the album. We see that when Paul is working on all these song fragments he’s using his wisdom of melody and rhythm to lead up to the creation of a truly captivating song.

    While I do enjoy the “primal scream” of “Mother” I think there’s also something very primal about Paul breathing heavily over pounding drums in “Kreen-Akrore.” Maybe Paul could come up with something like Plastic Ono Band and have it be just as good but that’s not how he thinks. After the Beatles experience, nothing those of us not named “Jagger” or “Townsend” can relate to (and even then…), John looked inward. Paul had little time for reflection (although there is a lot of that in Memory Almost Full) and instead threw himself into his work. I appreciate that.

    • Todd says:

      In 1967, John described the difference between his writing style and Paul’s perfectly. Talking about Sgt Pepper, he said “Paul sings ‘Come see the show,’ I sing ‘I read the news today, oh boy.'”

  7. Anonymous says:

    Also Paul won 13 grammy awards in his solo career,a doctorate of music from Sussex University in 1988 and a doctorate from Yale in 2008,and he has been in the Guiness Book of World Records since October 1979 when he got a spec ial award as the most successful song composer of all time!

    His early -mid 1970’s music was his best post Beatles music,his first solo album McCartney where he played every instrument by himself for the first time is a good album and he played so many instruments great,and he played every instrument again 10 years later on McCartney 2 (although I don’t like that album)his Wings albums REd Rose Speedway and Band On The Run are very good and only he and Denny Laine played every instrument on this album,and the 1975 Wings rock album Venus and Mars is a great album and he produced all of these albums too.There are 3 great songs on his second solo album Ram,Too Many People is a great rocker,Uncle Albert is brilliant and Back Seat of My Car is also very good.

    Paul was also already playing the guitar and writing his own songs at only 14 and started to soon after his mother Mary who was a nurse and a midwife died of breast cancer and he wrote the beautiful song Let It Be about her after he saw her alive in a realistic dream he had 12 years after she died,and she told him in this dream to just accept things as they are.He said in his authorized biography Many Years From Now that when he woke up he thought how wonderful it was to see her again.

    He also wrote the pretty song I’ll Follow The Sun when he was only 16.

    And Paul also played most of the instruments on his 1997 Flaming Pie album, and his 2 recent acclaimed popular albums, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard, and Memory Almost Full. And John Paul Jones, David Gilmore, John Bonham & Pete Townsend all played on 2 songs with Paul and Wings on the last Wings album Back To The Egg, in 1979, and they played in the last Wings concert too in December 1979.

    Bob Dylan praised John,Paul and George in a 2007 Rolling Stone Magazine interview and said George Harrison was a very talented song writer in his own right but he said that he got stuck being the Beatles who had to fight to get his songs on their records because of Lennon and McCartney and he said well who wouldn’t get stuck?

    Bob also said that there were no better singers than John Lennon was and Paul was and still is and he said he’s in awe of Paul McCartney and he said he’s about the only one he’s in awe of and he said Paul can do it all,that he’s so damn effortless and that he’s never let up.

    Hopefully that ignorant poster is only 10 or 11 but then there are many Beatles/Pasul fans that age too.Oh and Paul also won quite a few Ivor Novello awards in his solo career in addition to he and John winning about 20 as great singer song writers in just a remarkable 8 year recording career,the first one as early as early 1964.

    You have to be pretty much deaf and dumb not to like at least some of Paul McCartney’s great diverese music,and yes it does need defending if someone says such a totally ignorant ridiculous thing as Paul is an untalented hack!Especially if someone doesn’t like Paul because they believe this,and I’m sure haven’t even heard most of his great diverse music.

    I don’t like classical music but I would never say much less think that Beethoven,Mozart,and Bach were untalented hacks,I don’t like Bob Dylan either but I would also never think or say that he’s also an untalented hack because I would be making a total ignorant fool of myself!I believe that Beethoven,Mozart,and Bach were the brilliant composers they are widely considered to be,and I believe that Bob Dylan is one of the greatest song writers as he is widely considered to be.

    There is a lot of really ridiculous ignorant inaccurate garbage being said about The Beatles all over the place for years,one of the most ludicrious is that ever were a boy band.

    And to Reality Check, your the one that really needs the reality check for what you said about John balancing Paul’s ”wimp” tendencies, mike8 listed on here a great long list of great Paul songs many are very good and great rockers from the 1970’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry I didn’t mean to include the reference to a poster Reality Check and the reference to calling Bob Dylan,Mozart or Beethoven untalented hacks. I posted that part on another board but I didn’t realize I didn’t edit it out of my post on here.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think Paul did a lot of great diverse music including a lot of great rockers even some hard rock in the early-mid 1970’s before and during early Wings which I think is his best post Beatles music period 1970-1975(the great 1975 Wings rock album Venus and Mars I think is last true great album I’m really surpried that you don’t like but you like Back To The Egg and London Town much more)and he wrote and
      played a lot of great obscure album tracks and B-sides many which were better than the well known hits,although I like the hits too.

      Beware My Love for example(which mike8 didn’t include)is a great less known heavy Paul rocker and it’s the best song on the 1976 Wings At The Speed Of Sound album,Wings performed a pretty good rocking version on the very good live rock Wings album,Wings Over America.

      And John also wrote in addition to
      a lot of great rockers,some very sentimental songs even a few mushy like One Day At A Time his song for Yoko on his Mind Games album. As The All Music Guide rightfully says and points out,that the critical party line often champions Lennon as the angry realist rocker and McCartney as the melodic balladeer but they say this is a fallacy:each of them was capable in roughly equal measures of ballsy all-out rock and sweet romanticism.

      There are many Beatles song examples of this too,Paul even wrote some of their earliest very good rockers,I Saw Her Standing There in 1963 which many people have said is a very good rocker,I’m Down which the all music guide calls a peerless and one of the most frantic rockers in their entire catalog,and they said The Beatles proved that they could rock really really hard with this song,John’s I Feel Fine and Paul’s late 1964 blues rocker,She’s A Woman which they said was one of the hardest rocking early Beatles orginals and they said McCartney to often unfairly pegged as a sweet balladeer demonstrates that he was also one of the best white rock hard singers of all time with his shrill yet rich even ballsy vocal.

      John also wrote a lot of very good rock songs in their later career as did John but he also wrote quite a few beautiful love songs as well.Also my sister who is 4 years older and who had a really big diverse music collection, bought Venus and Mars when it came out in May 1975 and she,her friend and my friend listened to it and all loved it. My sister has said for years now that it’s one of the best rock albums she’s ever heard and that it’s unique and she knows no album like it.I love all of the songs on it too,the whole record is very good and enjoyable to listen to and I don’t have to program my CD player at all. Just listening to Paul’s great music in his song,Letting Go shows what a true *music genuis* he really is!

      I like Red Rose Speedway, as usual Paul’s melodies and harmonies are beautiful,his singing and bass playing great and his piano playing is good too. I like most of The Band On The Run alnum too but I like Venus and Mars better.