on 3 September 2011
It's good to be thrown off balance every once in a while and this record certainly dose that! Before this, I'd only really heard stuff like "Flaming Pie" and "Flowers in the Dirt" - both containing great tunes but nothing quite as daring or uninhibited as this record. It seems that when McCartney is not thinking about the final outcome and just allows his mind to wonder and be excited by the process of making music (he never meant to put this out) that he comes up with stuff as original (and frankly barmy) as Temporary Secretary or Frozen Jap. The single 'Coming Up' has such a great feel to it because it is not polished! Yet he is still capable of excellent musicianship (his electric guitar playing interests me far more than say, Eric Clapton) and writes exquisite ballads like the closing track or Waterfalls. Sod the fact it's slightly self indulgent - it's called being highly creative! (and not always churning out schmaltz) A hidden gem of an album.
on 23 December 2005
McCartney II, it's Macca, by himself, writing music that nobody else could. I don't think there is any attempt to be trendy or particularly stylelized, or keep up with the new wavers or punks. I think the blight of McCartney's career has been people trying to second guess or expect a certain type of product from him. So when McCartney turns up with probably his most original release since he left the Beatles, a lot of people are unhappy that it isn't 'Band on The Run' or 'Venus and Mars' part two.
Prehaps as a result, McCartney II displays some of his outstanding melodys and dissonant styles of production that people never even tried to copy. "Temporary Secretary" is a good example of that. I'd love to see someone present me with another song with a structure anything like that. "Waterfalls", and "Summer's Day Song" show McCartney at his lyrical and melodic best, while ignoring nearly all production conventions. I mean, McCartney wouldn't even use a mixing desk when recording this album! Those who mock McCartney's collaborations in dance music, should check out "Darkroom", where he seems to predict or inspire several of the common motifs of the genre. And "One Of These Days" is one of those songs that would have been legendary if it had finished a Beatles album.
I am still amazed at how many people hate this album, but in my opinion it is a corker. Ok, Maybe 'Frozen Jap' or 'Front Parlour', might not be your cup of tea, but otherwise, you are getting eight superb Macca songs that have no parallel. But those of you who prefer your Macca trying to turn slight songs into another anthemic "Hey Jude" may have no interest here...
on 9 September 2002
Another curate's egg from the back catalogue of a highly underrated (Beatles work obviously excepted) and insane pop genius. 'Coming Up' is a brilliantly executed stoopid pop moment, a masterpiece of homemade disco. 'Temporary Secretary', one of Macca's loopiest tunes, must be heard to be believed. 'Waterfalls' is a lovely yet also deranged ballad. There's some bluesier stuff hanging around which is okay but less interesting. The synth-dominated instrumentals on what used to be Side 2 suggest that the permanently surprised one had been cocking an ear to Bowie's Berlin trilogy, but of course McCartridge being pop's premier optimist they come out all bouncy and happy, like. 'Darkroom' is wicked too. Altogether a funny, inventive pop record from an artist unafraid to be very, very silly.
Whoever said that out of the two reissues McCartney and McCartney II, that this is the best of the two needs their ears cleaned out. Where McCartney is an absolute classic, this is a pleasant enough album - most notable for how experimental it is rather than the music itself. There is some great stuff on here though and the sound quality of these remasters is superb. I'm a McCartney fan and I love this album - I think the only other Macca album it resembles is Press to Play as both rely on unusual and surreal soundscapes, but if you're not a fan they you may be better avoiding this and checking out the more accessible stuff first, but McCartney becomes addictive and you will want to get this one eventually.
on 5 September 2007
Not your typical McCartney album,if your looking for pretty songs sung nicley forget it,`Yesterday`and `My Love`would not fit into this album at all,alot of electronic sounds,wierd voices and things that go bump in the night...ha ha ha...but when all said and done a brave and brilliant album,another reviewer said it was "his best solo album",well if it aint its dam near close to it,underated in my book,slated by the music critics but hey what do they know....not the place to start your McCartney collection,but when you got fed up with `Moon in June`...give it a try.....
on 27 April 2004
This is McCartney "messing about" and so is a bit patchy in my opinion. Itcame after the excellent ,but at the time much maligned album "Back to theEgg" and the high quality production of "Tug of War". This sounds likeneither. Here is my track by track analysis
1. Coming up - a crazy and somewhat successful single. Good fun and verylighthearted.
2. Temporary secretary - Sounds like the sequencer got stuck and Paulstrangely records something very very annoying.
3. On the way - OK - but mostly forgettable
4. Waterfalls - Could havebeen a Beatles song. Best on the album.
5. Nobody knows - A throwaway piece that sort of gets on your nerves aswell.
6. Front parlour - Lift music
7. Summer's day song - Nice and gentle and very nursery rhyme lyrics butstill has a lot of charm.
8. Frozen jap - Instrumental about life in prison ? More lift music.
9. Bogey music - Better than the Frog song .
10. Dark room - Another bit of leftfield pop and quite good.
11. One of these days - one of the best on the album,mellow and easy onthe ear with a catchy melody.
12. Check my machine - Instrumentalrubbish (previously a b-side)
13. Secret friend - ditto
This album is really a demo with a few polished tracks. However it reallywasn't meant to be a classic. It is Macca refusing to "play it safe" andtrying something a bit different. Does it work ?
For casual pop fans not really. For Macca/Beatles fans it's patchy.
This album to me is better considered along with McCartney's Firemanalbums or Thrillington LP. Unlike them though, this was commercial hit. Ithas it's moments but really lacks depth. Worth it though just to get"Waterfalls" and "Coming Up".
on 18 June 2011
I first heard this album in the late 80's,when I was on my "voyage of discovery" of the beatles and everything connected with them.I have to say that at the time I was not impressed. Sandwiched between the underrated "Back To The Egg", and the superb "Tug of War" albums, this came as something of a shock. It started well with "Coming Up", (even John Lennon liked this one!), and then went into the almost unlistenable "Temporary Secratary". After that it was all downhill for my young ears! This album was the one I hated, and did not bother to purchase when the back catalogue was remastered in the early nineties. Flash forwars to 2011, and I decided to redress the balance, and fill the gap in my Macca collection, and take the plunge with this album! I was pleasantly surprised. Although it doesn't quite reach the heights of some of his other albums, there is much to enjoy on this. Tracks like "On the Way", and the closing track "One of these Days" bring back some of the vibe and feel of "Mcartney" and others like "Bogey Music" and "Darkroom" see Macca embracing the coming decade, synths and all. Maybe now, at the age of 41, I can see where he was coming from. The second disc has some outtakes and unrealeased tracks, the best of which are "Blue Sway" and "All You Horse riders" If you enjoyed Maccas last outing as the Fireman, Electric Arguments, then you should enjoy these. Overrall very impressed with these re-issues, although would have liked some sleeve notes, putting everything into context, and deatails of where the extra tracks came from. After the great treatment of the Band On The Run re-issue, is it to much to expect the same for the rest of the catalogue? Docked half a star for lack of sleevenotes! (Temporary Secratary is still a pile of c**p!)
on 22 February 2005
The start of McCartney's second solo career got off a pretty disastrous start with the 'Wonderful Christmastime' single in December 1979 which although quite an inoffensive catchy yuletide offering was so obviously no serious attempt to match Lennon's 'Happy Xmas War Is Over' single from 1971, that it must have been some kind of joke. It is far worse than the Wings album 'Back To The Egg' from earlier the same year. So it was a one off mistake we all assumed.
Then in the late spring of the following year, 1980, Paul put out a Solo Album. Called 'McCartney 2'. This would not only provoke debates as to why this wasn't a Wings record bit inevitably invited comparisons with Paul's first solo venture, entitled 'McCartney' from ten years earlier in 1970. And suffered by comparison. For this record is not only not in the same league as that inauspicious though pretty damn impressive debut, it is also not even as good as the last Wings album 'Back In The Egg' (1979). Which invited its fair share of unwarranted criticism from the usual quarters. But at least 'Back To The Egg' was a full blooded attempt at something different. With more than a few highlights and a great spirit in evidence throughout the entire album.
McCartney 2 like its predecessor from 1970, is obviously a Home Recording. Recorded at home. And in its way it is as brave an attempt at a different sound as 'Back To The Egg' or anything Paul has done before or since. But here it is a lacklustre effort, mostly. For unlike on 'McCartney', the doodling here is for the most part uninspired in its melody, vastly inferior in its lyric and just comes across as what it actually was. Not a serious attempt at making an album. And no reason to split Wings up for sure. And although Paul has said that it was not until after Lennon's death (in December 1980) that he finally decided to 'fold' Wings, it cannot be a coincidence that the poor sales of 'Back To The Egg' surely prompted Paul to try his luck under his own name, infinitely more well known after all. Not until his 1982 album 'Tug Of War' (1982) did he do this decision anything like justice. This first solo album for 10 years was a mediocre affair if we are honest. Not that you would think that from the opening track (and single) 'Coming Up'. Which was a brave and interesting single and so different from anything he'd done up to this point that you would hardly recognise it was from him. Bliemy...even New Musical Express gave it a good review. Precisely for that reason. So a good start.
But it's pretty much downhill from here. 'Temporary Secretary' is still as pretty bad as it was back then. Awful synthesiser. 'On The Way' is a pretty good bluesy rocker, 'Waterfalls' is a decent ballad for sure, and the last track of Side 1 (vinyl record) is an engaging non sensical romp which is fun to listen to.
But Side 2 is nowhere near as interesting. Two forgtettable instrumental doodles (yes, Doodles), a melodic but meandering slow number 'Summer's Day Song', the funny but disposable 'Bogey Music', the avantgarde-ish but equally disposable 'Darkroom'. Side 2 is only rescued at the end by the sublime ballad 'One Of These Days'. Which is simply Great.
So in summary, I first bought and enyoyed this album back in 1980. And even with hindsight it has its moments, if not the Tale Of Two Ditties some critics have said of it, it is at best, even from me, the tale of no more than four or five ditties. And that by my standards is a little disappointing. By this great man's standards anyway.
The bonus tracks are no better I'm afraid.
on 13 June 2001
Following his last ditch attempt to make Wings fly, here we see him return to the simplicity and quirkiness of his first solo record. He writes, produces, plays all the instruments and even makes the tea on this rather patchy affair.
On the plus side there are some fantastic ballads on board in Waterfalls, and the lesser known but far more effective One of These Days. There are some great rockers too with the hit single Coming Up and the unsung On The Way, which is an undiscovered gem.
Unfortunately there is also some of the niff naff and trivia which often make up the nether regions of McCartneys solo albums. Bogey Music is as worrying as it's title and much of the second side is a little bland - although the instrumentals are at least very pretty.
It's another case of McCartney not coming up with the expected and that in itself is to be applauded. This is even more noticeable on this reissue which has the long experimental synth workouts that were oringinally B-Sides to the attendant singles (Secret Friend is strangely exuberant - if a little long!).
McCartney was going through a very productive period around this time, as this album is flanked by the brilliant Back to The Egg and the pop mastery of Tug Of War. The quality here outways the filler by a fair ratio, and this is an album well worth further investigation.
One of the side-effects of the great success that The Beatles enjoyed was that it led them to believe they could release anything and it would find a willing audience. This attitude carried over into McCartney's solo work. Operating for most of the 1970's as his own producer and without anybody close to him to put the brakes on, he could easily go from the sublime Band On The Run to the ridiculous Mary Had A Little Lamb in a short space of time.
McCartney II, released in 1980, belongs to this same period. And in a way it's his last hurrah at putting out whatever he felt like, at least under his own name. In the future, experimental recordings would go out under aliases, such as The Fireman.
McCartney's next album, Tug of War (1982) would see him reunited with George Martin, and like the rest of his 80's albums and beyond, it would be solidly crafted, and therefore a little lacking in the wild and off the cuff moments that make McCartney II sometimes fascinating and sometimes just plain irritating.
The album yielded a couple of hit singles, Coming Up is a great slice of pop and Waterfalls is a lovely ballad, which he really needs to add into his live set.
A fairly unknown gem is the last track - One Of These Days - and Summer's Day Song is another strong song. Once you get past these, then your appreciation for the rest of the album may vary. The likes of Frozen Jap and Bogey Music are throwaway stuff which are impossible to imagine on Tug of War or Pipes of Peace.
Still we must be grateful that there was some sort of quality control in operation as some of the tracks included on the bonus disc - like Mr H Atom - are even less appealing.
A curate's egg then, but not without a certain wonky charm.