Great expectations killed this album. I (the dork reviewing this) was a teenager when this album was first released in 1970 and can tell you that people wanted a major Beatle-type production from him at that time. Obviously, there was no way he could have lived up to the publics’ expectation. However, ‘McCartney’ is a great album and was not appreciated like it should have been at the time. I like every song on the album, and after recently listening to it again a few times, I find Paul is still very much a “Beatle” on both ‘McCartney’ AND ‘Ram’. While the tracks sound a bit raw and have Linda on background vocals, both ‘McCartney” AND ‘Ram’ have a Beatle feel to them. Very different than his Wings’ sound. I find both Albums interesting for their Beatle-istic sound alone. Basically, if you like the Beatles, you’ll like ‘McCartney’ and ‘Ram’. They both sound great! P.S. I’m not a McCartney fanatic. I believe he began his downslide with his ‘Wings at the Speed of Sound’ album. With the exceptions of of a few tracks on that album, he really hasn’t been the same since.
“McCartney II” was recorded in 1980 right after Paul disbanded Wings. Like his first solo album, “McCartney II” is another stripped down, at home, McCartney-only production, “McCartney II” finds Paul in a rather experimental-possibly drug-induced-state. Paul explores synth-pop here a year before it blew up in the pop-market. Taking a cue from artists like Kraftwerk, Devo and Brian Eno, “McCartney II” has everything from New Wave spaz-outs (“Temporary Secretary”), ambient/folk ballads (“Waterfalls”) and paranoid techno ditties (“Darkroom”). Plus, there is funky and ebullient pop (“Coming Up”). Sadly, “McCartney II” marked the end of the Wings era in the same manner “McCartney” marked the end of The Beatles era. But also like “McCartney”, “McCartney II” is a charmingly oddball album. And even though he was following the path of techno pioneers, McCartney managed, through his raw production and mixing of real instruments, to create an album that’s far less dated than other, colder techno albums from the time-period. It often sounds like the low-fi electronica from 1990s indi-rock acts. Early Stereolab springs to mind. Like two other unsung gems, “Wild Life” and “Back to the Egg”, “McCartney II” was snarled at by the critics. However, there was one cat who praised it in 1980: John Lennon. He even cited the “Coming Up” single as inspiring him out of retirement and to record what would be his final album, “Double Fantasy” (a FAR more conservative recording than “McCartney II”). Overall, “McCartney II” is a great album for those who like funky, witty, homespun, experimental pop-music with a rock & roll edge. Those interested in the album should definitely get the import CD with extra tracks. Especially for the extra track “Secret Friend”: an atmospheric ambient/trance song. It’s such a beautiful piece of music and really shows McCartney’s stylistic range.