Like everyone of my generation I have been [over] exposed to the Beatles. I think it is impossible to view them objectively due to the massive media hype. I think that squirreled away behind the myth has always been the amazing oral music skills of McCartney in particular and the band as a whole. The songs may at times leave me cold [more and more the older I get] but the way they could get together and play has always impressed me in terms of their sheer skill. I am referring not to the studio music [from 'Revolver' onward] but to the earlier 4-piece band music. Of course even as they got more intricate in their music [or, if you prefer, pretentious] they could still bang out fun, sharp and tightly played R&B like 'The One After 909' and 'Get Back' which I like a lot more than most of the ballads and the more 'famous' songs that seem to get played more.
I haven't a clue if it is true that these songs were done in one or two takes as is claimed in the liner notes. What I can say is that in 'Maggie Mae' there is a perfect sound which is the equal of the Carl Perkins original, you see a man with slicked back hair humbly asking his girlfriend to ride on a mule to the pictures! He's a bit embarassed by the mule, but not too much to not take Maggie out as he hasn't got a car! [Of course a bit out of place, with McCartney showing up in the tabloids with a chauffeur, but that's show biz!] The songs chosen are ones that tell stories and they do this with simple dignity of the old 1950s songwriters [dignity even when the music is wild!] which McCartney matches with his wonderful performance skills.
The studio musicians contribute some beautiful parts, the piano player is especially good. It makes you want to listen to country music [a large influence on this album one way or another] where the studio musicians have always improvised their parts on the day.
Most of all, it is fun to hear how many voices McCartney can 'do' because not only does he sing beautifully, he can make his voice suit each style. I remember reading that he likes to call people up and impersonate people Rory Bremner style and listening to this I can well believe it.
I would like to give it 3 1/2 stars but of course the rating system doesn't allow me to.