Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews
Paul and Linda McCartney – Ram – Apple-EMI (1971)/ Concord Music Group (2 CDs)
Published on July 12, 2012
Paul and Linda McCartney – Ram – Apple-EMI (1971)/ Concord Music Group (2012) (2-CD Re-mastered Album), 76:21 1/2 [5/22/2012] ****:
(Paul McCartney – guitars, bass, vocals, keyboards, arrangements; Linda McCartney – keyboards, vocals; Denny Seiwell – drums; David Spinoza – guitar; Hugh McCracken – guitar)
When you are a key figure in arguably the most influential band in history, expectations are extremely high. Paul McCartney wrote a slew of unforgettable songs (“Yesterday’, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Let It Be”, “Lady Madonna”, “Get Back”, “Hey Jude”…the list seems endless) with The Beatles. His brilliant vocals and instrumental diversity set him apart from his peers. Despite hard-edged songs like “Helter Skelter”, he was known as the “sentimental” melody-driven tunesmith. This frustrated him, and his solo career would attempt to rectify this. The first release, “McCartney” was a fragmented collection of pieces that drew lukewarm reviews (even with “Maybe I’m Amazed”), and did nothing to mitigate the clamor for a Beatles reunion.
McCartney’s sophomore effort, Ram has been re-mastered to a 2-disc set. Unlike the previous album, McCartney’s music is more complex and developed. The opening track (“Too Many People”) is a testament to his versatile singing. After a rolling falsetto, the hard rocking vocals take over. In a swirling psychedelic jam, he howls about the human condition. There are some acid-rock guitar licks and a spacey “Beatle-esque” ending. The title track is vintage McCartney playfulness with a ukulele accompaniment. His instrumental arrangement is layered and quirky with a whistling coda. The centerpiece of Ram may be the hit single, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”. A two-part suite, the first half is a heartfelt ballad with lovely captivating voices (and some “Yellow Submarine” special effects). Then a transition (with a Flugelhorn) segues into a goofy, country/music hall romp.
Some Beatle fans have trouble accepting that McCartney likes to write accessible pop material and tries to have some fun. The raw vocals and absurd lyrics on “Monkberry Moon Delight” are refreshing and a departure from the self-aggrandizing pretense of rock. This song would get covered by Bahamian singer, Exuma. In a similar vein, “Smile Away” eschews lyrical vanity in a classic rock groove. Whatever is attributed to Sir Paul’s legacy, he is one of the most prominent rock and roll singers ever. His sensitive folk aesthetic is expressed on “Heart Of The Country” with its jaunty acoustic guitar and scat technique. For those searching for messages to John Lennon (in response to Imagine), “3 Legs” feeds the controversy with lyrics such as… “When I thought you was my friend…”.
There is a disc of “bonus” material. “Another Day” – the hit single not included on the original album – is a smooth harbinger of future Wings numbers. On a more up-tempo note, “Little Woman Love” has some rollicking boogie woogie piano riffs. Also, some instrumentals (“Sunshine Sometime”, Great Cock And Seagull Race”) enliven CD 2. Paul McCartney (or his former band mates for that matter) will never escape comparisons to The Beatles. However, Ram is his most appealing solo project. (Note: for the avid fan, there are various releases, including a multi-disc Deluxe set which features a DVD plus a mono CD).
CD 1 – Re-mastered Album: Too Many People; 3 Legs; Ram On; Dear Boy; Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey; Smile Away; Heart Of The Country; Monkberry Moon Delight; Eat At Home; Long Haired Lady; Ram On; The Back Seat Of My Car
CD 2 – Bonus Audio: Another Day; Oh Woman, Oh Why; Little Woman Love; A Love For You (Jon Kelly Mix); Hey Diddle (Dixon Van Winkle Mix); Great Cock And Seagull Race (Dixon Van Winkle Mix); Rode All Night; Sunshine Sometime (Earliest Mix)