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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Ram

Rock - Released May 17, 1971 | Paul McCartney Catalog

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After the breakup, Beatles fans expected major statements from the three chief songwriters in the Fab Four. John and George fulfilled those expectations -- Lennon with his lacerating, confessional John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Harrison with his triple-LP All Things Must Pass -- but Paul McCartney certainly didn't, turning toward the modest charms of McCartney, and then crediting his wife Linda as a full-fledged collaborator on its 1971 follow-up, Ram. Where McCartney was homemade, sounding deliberately ragged in parts, Ram had a fuller production yet retained that ramshackle feel, sounding as if it were recorded in a shack out back, not far from the farm where the cover photo of Paul holding the ram by the horns was taken. It's filled with songs that feel tossed off, filled with songs that are cheerfully, incessantly melodic; it turns the monumental symphonic sweep of Abbey Road into a cheeky slice of whimsy on the two-part suite "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." All this made Ram an object of scorn and derision upon its release (and for years afterward, in fact), but in retrospect it looks like nothing so much as the first indie pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies, a record that's guileless and unembarrassed to be cutesy. But McCartney never was quite the sap of his reputation, and even here, on possibly his most precious record, there's some ripping rock & roll in the mock-apocalyptic goof "Monkberry Moon Delight," the joyfully noisy "Smile Away," where his feet can be smelled a mile away, and "Eat at Home," a rollicking, winking sex song. All three of these are songs filled with good humor, and their foundation in old-time rock & roll makes it easy to overlook how inventive these productions are, but on the more obviously tuneful and gentle numbers -- the ones that are more quintessentially McCartney-esque -- it's plain to see how imaginative and gorgeous the arrangements are, especially on the sad, soaring finale, "Back Seat of My Car," but even on its humble opposite, the sweet "Heart of the Country." These songs may not be self-styled major statements, but they are endearing and enduring, as is Ram itself, which seems like a more unique, exquisite pleasure with each passing year. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released December 18, 2020 | Capitol Records

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At crucial moments in his epic career, Paul McCartney has turned to a self-titled solo record as an emotional palette cleanser. In 1970 as the Beatles were in the throes of dissolution, he made the shambolic, rough-hewed McCartney (on the back cover was a shot of his infant daughter Mary nestled in his coat—her photography is now part of the McCartney III packaging). Ten years later as Wings was crashing back to earth, he made the synth-driven McCartney II. Both were initially savaged by press and fans alike but have since become much-beloved entries in his ever-lengthening discography, now seen as more personal and experimental efforts in a solo career that has often been commercially focused to a fault. While the scenario of a 78-year-old Paul McCartney locked up by the pandemic in his Sussex home with a computer, a plethora of musical instruments and a desire to do the one-man band thing screams incoming indulgence, McCartney III is certainly that, but in a good way. The stylistic freedom inherent in being isolated and alone is a welcome antidote to his legendary sense of what sells. Macca's best album since 2007's Memory Almost Full, the variety of McCartney III is its strongest point. For those still looking for wisps of Beatlesque genius, "Lavatory Lil"—whose title recalls "Polythene Pam"—is exuberance that very nearly tips from sass into offensive ire. And if it's the White Album you're missing, "The Kiss of Venus," sung in his fading yet still capable falsetto, recalls his former band's devotion to baroque pop as it makes its spidery way, eventually adding harpsichord accents. For the sound of Sir Paul cutting loose and rocking out with abandon, the ponderous proto-metal sendup of "Slidin'" is the sound of the shrieker of "Helter Skelter" again getting his ya-yas out with, "I know there must be other ways of feeling free, but this what I want to do, who I want to be." As for intimacy, the unprocessed sound of McCartney's now weathered voice, sounds wise and ruminative in "Pretty Boys," singing lines about "bicycles for hire" and "working for the squire." The crisp, mostly uncompressed sonics here prove that Sir Paul's ears have lost none of their acuity as the slow, careful home recording process challenged him to limit excessive layering and to capture his voice, warts and all, in a natural way. On the looped beat and repetitive lyrics of the oddly attractive R&Bish groove of "Deep Down," he even goes hoarse and talky. Finally, the album's sleek and rolling centerpiece, "Deep Deep Feeling," which wrestles with the sweet and sour aspects of love, is built on acoustic piano and an impressive fusion of lead and background vocals. While the album's opener "Long Tailed Winter Bird" and closer "Winter Bird / When Winter Comes" could be taken as signs that McCartney intends to flutter off the scene, the vital energies audible in McCartney III say otherwise. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released June 10, 2016 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released July 23, 2021 | Capitol Records

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Take note of the title. This is McCartney III Imagined, not "re-imagined." The difference may be slight, but the implication is clear: this collection of remixes, covers, and interpolations from Paul McCartney's 2020 album McCartney III by a variety of guest stars isn't a revision of the original, but rather an album that exists on its own parallel plane. McCartney's presence naturally looms large on McCartney III Imagined, as he provided the essential foundation for the record, not only through its songs but the original instrumental and vocal tracks. His vocals float in and out in the remixes, the apparent aging of his voice standing in striking contrast to the sleek, seamless electronic expansions. These remixes are interesting, but the most compelling moments on McCartney III Imagined arrive when artists cut their own version of one of the album's tracks: Phoebe Bridgers finding the sweet, spectral pulse on "Seize the Day," Beck singing along to his funkified version of "Find My Way," and Josh Homme treating "Lavatory Lil" like a Desert Sessions jam. These moments help elevate McCartney III Imagined into something a little more than a curio. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 5, 1997 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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This remaster of 1997’s Flaming Pie is a most pleasant surprise and includes, in addition to the original album, an array of demos, home recordings and acoustic versions. The album, which was as popular with the critics as it was with the public at the time of its release, totals forty-five tracks including plenty of surprises and variations. It’s the tenth album in Sir Paul’s solo discography, coming four years after its predecessor. During his four-year solo hiatus, Paul was preoccupied with The Beatles Anthology project from which he emerged with a renewed energy. In fact, the experience inspired him to record little pop tunes again as had been done during The Beatles era. Upon listening, one can truly feel an atmosphere of freshness and self-enjoyment in which things aren’t taken too seriously. It is not an entire success, but it is convincing overall and several critics hail this album as his most successful since Tug Of War in 1982… On the bluesy Really Love You Paul is joined by his old friend, Ringo Starr, who cowrote the track - in fact, its the first song to ever be cowritten by Paul and Ringo. We also find Starr on Beautiful Night… A special mention should go the outstanding closing track, Great Day, complemented by choirs and little syncopated percussion instruments which accentuate Paul’s beautiful vocal performance rooted in soul. For context, the title Flaming Pie references an anecdote from his friend John Lennon who explained in 1961 to Mersey Beat magazine the origin of The Beatles' name: “It came as a vision… a man appeared on a flaming pie and said to us 'from this day forward you are The Beatles with an A'”. As for the rest of the album, the demos and preliminary, often acoustic, versions of tracks are real gems which demonstrate the true talent of Paul McCartney, whose pleasant and down to earth personality makes us almost forget that he isn’t just any ordinary guy… A legend through and through. © YC/Qobuz
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Ram

Rock - Released May 17, 1971 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released April 17, 1970 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released May 16, 1980 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Ram

Rock - Released May 17, 1971 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released September 7, 2018 | Capitol Records (US1A)

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Not easy to be Paul McCartney in 2018… Anyone who listens to Egypt Station knows that at 76, the former Beatle has very little chance to deliver an album, or even just a handful of songs, that can match his masterpieces of the previous century. Sir Paul must be aware of that as well… And yet, this album hits the nail right on the head. And while his voice understandably has lost some of its haughtiness compared to his golden years, Macca is still a master at writing finely refined pop songs. After writing hundreds of them, he has no lesson to receive from anyone, but listening to Hand In Hand, Do It Now, Dominoes or Confidante, the imprints of his very singular craftsmanship shine through. And in terms of production, the Wings’ former front man was smart enough not to fall into the trap of trying to sound younger than he is. It’s indeed classicism that prevails throughout this Egypt Station, which will surely delight his die-hard fans! © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 1, 2015 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Paul McCartney Catalog

Flowers in the Dirt did earn good reviews but perhaps more important was its accompanying tour, McCartney's first full-fledged world tour in years. Given the tour's enthusiastic reception, McCartney could wait until 1993 to deliver the album's proper sequel, Off the Ground. Though it isn't as consciously ambitious, Off the Ground certainly picks up where Flowers left off, as McCartney feels no shame in making an album that doesn't aim for the charts (though success would certainly be welcomed), yet is still classy, professional, and ambitious. Two key differences appear: it's a leaner production (making the midtempo numbers seem less cloying and giving the rockers real kick), and McCartney's social conscience dominates the record (which is easily his most politically active, as he rails against animal testing and pleads for world peace several times). He doesn't leave love or whimsy behind ("Biker Like an Icon" is easily his worst, most studied stab at whimsy), and he still has a pair of fine McCartney/MacManuss songs ("Mistress and Maid," "The Lovers That Never Were") to pull out. This all results in a record that has its virtues -- it's clean and direct, where many of his solo albums are diffuse and meandering, and it's serious-minded where many rely on cutesiness -- but, overall, Off the Ground feels like less than the sum of its parts, possibly because the seriousness is too studied, perhaps because the approach is a bit too stodgy. Nevertheless, this has nearly as many successful moments as Flowers in the Dirt, standing as a deliberately serious comeback record by an artist who spent too much time relying on his natural charm, and who feels no shame in overcompensating at this stage of the game. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 12, 2005 | Paul McCartney Catalog

Quiet though it may be, Paul McCartney experienced something of a late-career renaissance with the release of his 1997 album Flaming Pie. With that record, he shook off years of coyness and half-baked ideas and delivered an album that, for whatever its slight flaws, was both ambitious and cohesive, and it started a streak that continued through the driving rock & roll album Run Devil Run and its 2001 follow-up, Driving Rain. For Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, the follow-up to that record, McCartney tried a different tactic, returning to the one-man band aesthetic of his debut album, McCartney, its latter-day sequel, McCartney II, and, to a lesser extent, the home-spun second album, Ram. Apart from a guitar part or two, a couple of drum tracks, and, of course, the strings and horns that pop up now and again, McCartney played everything here, from the guitars and keyboards down to the bass and drums. The difference here is that instead of producing the record by himself, McCartney brought in alt-rock auteur Nigel Godrich, best known as the producer behind Radiohead's OK Computer and Beck's Mutations, as well as being the only producer responsible for a streamlined Pavement record. Godrich has a gift for making messy or difficult music sound simple, logical, and clean, and he has that same effect on Chaos and Creation, removing the obvious rough edges and home-spun charm that characterized Macca's previous one-man affairs. Consequently, Chaos sounds as polished as a normal McCartney album, as polished as Driving Rain, but the process of its creation and recording does make this a very different album from not just its predecessor, but from most of McCartney's solo albums. It's quiet and meditative, not without its share of eccentricities, nor without its share of sprightly tunes -- certainly, the opener, "Fine Line," is a propulsive, hooky song that burrows into your head after just one spin and sounds like a tune you've known all your life, and "Promise to You Girl" also zips along nicely -- but the overall feel of the record is one that's reflective and ruminative, not messy or silly. Or whimsical or treacly, for that matter, since the combination of introspective ballads and intricately detailed but not overly fussy or polished production means that Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is a rare thing indeed: a McCartney album that's devoid of cuteness or easy sentiment. Which doesn't mean that it's somber or lacking in romantic material -- Paul loves his love songs, after all -- but the tone and timbre of the album is so simple, stripped-down, and sincere that all the music resonates a little deeper and feels a little more heartfelt. If there are no outright knockouts here, there are no weak spots, either, and if the album doesn't have the sprawl and quirks or overt humor of his classic solo albums from Ram through Tug of War, that's OK, because Chaos and Creation in the Backyard offers something different: not only is Paul in an unusually reflective mode, but he's made a lean, cohesive record that holds together better than his previous latter-day high-water mark, Flaming Pie -- which is unusual, since McCartney albums rarely, if ever, come without spots of filler. The quiet nature of Chaos and Creation may mean that some listeners will pass it over quickly, since it's a grower, but spend some time with the record and it becomes clear that McCartney is far from spent as either a songwriter or record-maker and, in many ways, continues to make some of the best music of his solo career. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released December 11, 1976 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Basically, there are two things that rock bands do: they make an album and they go on tour. Since Paul McCartney fervently wanted to believe Wings was a real rock band, he had the group record an album or two and then took them on the road. In March of 1976 he released Wings at the Speed of Sound and launched a tour of America, following which he released Wings Over America, a triple-album set that re-created an entire concert from various venues. It was a massive set list, running over two hours and featuring 30 songs, and it was well received at the time, partially because he revived some Beatles tunes, partially because it wasn't the disaster some naysayers expected, and mostly because -- like the tour itself -- it was the first chance that millions of Beatles fans had to hear McCartney in concert properly (the Beatles had toured, to be sure, and had played before millions of people between 1963 and 1966, but as a result of the relatively primitive equipment they used and the frenzied, omnipresent screaming of the mid-'60s teen audiences at their shows, few of those present had actually "heard" the group). Wings were never a particularly gifted band, and nowhere is that more evident than on Wings Over America. Matters aren't really helped by the fact that the large set list gives McCartney full opportunity to show off his vast array of affected voices, from crooner to rocker to bluesman. Also, the repertory, in retrospect, is weighted too heavily toward the recent Wings albums Wings at the Speed of Sound and Band on the Run, which weren't really loaded with great tunes. (It's also hard to believe that there were two Denny Laine vocals so early in the program, or that the concert ended with the plodding rocker "Soily," which was never released on any other McCartney album.) In its defense, the album offers bracing renditions of "Maybe I'm Amazed" -- arguably the best of McCartney's post-Beatles songs and possibly his single greatest composition -- and "Band on the Run," as well as nicely distilling the harder side of his repertory, with a few breaks for softer songs such as "My Love" and "Silly Love Songs"; another highlight is the rippling bass sound, showing off that instrument in a manner closer in spirit to, say, a John Entwistle solo LP than to McCartney's more pop-focused studio work. The triple LP, issued two weeks before Christmas of 1976, was priced so low that it was offered by most stores as a "loss leader" to pull customers in; what's more, the Beatles mystique was still very much attached to record and artist alike -- at the time, John Lennon had seemingly burnt out a major chunk of his talent, George Harrison was losing his popular edge and had done a disastrous 1974 American tour, and no one was expecting great things from Ringo Starr -- and it seemed like McCartney represented the part of the group's legacy that came closest to living up to fans' expectations. Thus the album ended up selling in numbers, rivaling the likes of Frampton Comes Alive and other mega-hits of the period, and rode the charts for months. The double-CD reissue offers considerably improved sound, though the combination of workmanlike performances and relatively pedestrian songs diminishes the appeal of such small pleasures as the acoustic Beatles set or the storming "Hi Hi Hi." Wings Over America is most valuable as a souvenir for hardcore fans and also as a reminder of the excitement -- beyond the actual merits of the group's work -- that attended McCartney and Wings' work in the lingering afterglow of the Beatles. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 26, 1982 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released November 20, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | Paul McCartney Catalog

Paul McCartney always got the short end of the stick when he was in the Beatles and again in the '70s, as he and his erstwhile partner John Lennon pursued solo careers. McCartney was attacked for his virtues -- for his melodicism and his domesticity, along with his desire to form a real touring band following the Beatles. None of these were celebrated at the time, but he moved many, many records and sold countless concert tickets, which only hardened opposition toward him. But, in retrospect, McCartney's albums make for the most fascinating body of work among any of the ex-Beatles, and really among any of his peers. Yes, there were pitfalls among the heights, but that's part of what makes his career so fascinating -- each record is distinctive, and even if the songs themselves are shallow, at least lyrically, the melodic skill and studio savvy behind each are hard not to admire. This may require a bit of conversion, and if you're not up to trudging through his individual works, even such masterworks as Ram (truly the roots of homemade pop), the double-disc set Wingspan is ideal. McCartney has had a number of career overviews before, including such seemingly comprehensive discs as All the Best, but those were plagued by vaguely haphazard sequencing. This is nearly perfectly executed, dividing McCartney's career between the "hits" and "history," with the latter being devoted to album tracks that are acknowledged classics, yet never were singles. Now, it's true that this isn't completely comprehensive -- some will notice that superstar duets with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson are missing, and others will wonder where such terrific latter-day singles as "Press" are or why such charting hits as "So Bad" are bypassed, or why album tracks like "Ballroom Dancing" are absent -- but nothing has come as close to capturing the quirky brilliance of McCartney's solo career, how it balanced whimsical pop with unabashedly sentimental romantic ballads, piledriving rockers, and anything in between. And what makes Wingspan so impressive is how the "History" disc fills in the gaps that "Hits" leaves, whether it's on the tremendous "Maybe I'm Amazed" (one of the very best songs he ever wrote), the charming "Junk," the clever "Take It Away," or such absolutely stunning miniatures as "Heart of the Country," an effortless folk-pop tune that ranks among his very best songs. That's why Wingspan isn't just a good hits collection -- it's a convincing argument that McCartney's solo recordings are a rich, idiosyncratic body of work of their own merits. Ram, Red Rose Speedway, and London Town all have their merits, but if you need to be converted, this is where to start. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo