Announced, somewhat controversially, before the official breakup of The Beatles, McCartney was given to the press along with a release that made the band's death apparent.
Expectations were obviously high considering Paul's sterling contributions to Abbey Road. The lush closing medley especially seemed to promise something of ornate beauty.
What Paul delivered however, was something very different.
McCartney is a minimalist, even lo-fi, masterpiece. Far from being the saccharine songsmith that he has for so long been presented as (Though this opinion finally appears to be changing) Paul is often equally as dark.
There are several types of song on display:
1. The conventionally Beatlesque (Every Night, Junk, Teddy Boy, Maybe I'm Amazed). These songs, if taken out of the context of the rest of the album, are the most typically Paul. Maybe I'm Amazed is an immediate standout track, a powerful ballad in the same vein as Let it Be, whilst the others have a closer feel to 'Mother Nature's Son' and 'Two of Us'from Paul's Beatles work. It is too easy to see the rest of the album as 'filler' around these tracks.
Lovely Linda is a cross between the above style and...
2. 'Open form' tracks, often based around a simple motif (That Would Be Something, Man we was Lonely, Oo You). That Would Be Something carries a strong groove, as does Oo You, both of which are strong tracks and ulimately very rewarding on repeat listens. Man we was Lonely hints at the harmonised style of the sublime Ram album, but is less successful than its peers.
3. Instrumentals (Valentine Day, Hot as Sun/Glasses, Momma Miss America, Singalong Junk, Kreen-Akrore). These are the most experimental of McCartney's tracks. Valentine Day and Momma Miss America are both very strong pieces of music, with an almost dance beat. Singalong Junk is an instrumental in the more usual sense, whilst Hot as Sun/Glasses and Kreen-Akrore are the strangest and least accesible tracks on the album. The glasses section is a beautiful piece of ambient sound and reminds me strongly of the feel that Brian Wilson was trying to achieve with Wind Chimes on Smile. The final track, Kreen-Akore, is a drum solo with heavy breathing, closing McCartney with the sound of someone who has nothing left to give, collapsing with exhaustion.
The whole experience is so unexpectedly strange, stark and awkward, that you are left wondering what you have just heard. At least within the context of the album it followed.
Listening to it today, it still sounds fresh. It would be followed by Ram, a return to a more conventional sound, but the wistful spirit it unlocked would permeate that album also.
The remastering is clear, especially for '93. It would be interesting to see if any out-takes or demos exist that could compliment McCartney in any future release. These would be welcomed.