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Ram

Pop - Released May 17, 1971 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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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 November 8, 1993 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released June 10, 2016 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released May 17, 2019 | Capitol Records

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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 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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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released July 12, 2019 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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June 27th, 2007 at Amoeba music - the most popular record store in Hollywood - Paul McCartney steps on stage for an undisclosed, 90 minute performance, to a small but eager crowd. The venue is more like the Cavern Club than Wembley, which might have prompted this introductory statement: "Welcome to Amoeba - it's got to be the most surreal gig ever. The management has asked us to point out no shoplifting please”. Cue 21 songs, from his solo discography as well as his catalog as a Beatle. Four of these recordings would be released the same year in a limited edition: Only Mama Knows, C Moon, That Was Me, and I Saw Her Standing There. In 2009, these were republished in a CD version. But 17 other songs had yet to be made available to the public - until today. Backed by a very solid band, with Dave Arch (piano), Rusty Anderson (guitar), Brian Ray (bass) and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums), Macca is given free reign to sing his heart out. During the opener Drive My Car, his voice is strong and self-assured; as the show goes on, it is noticeably tinged with emotion. On an exceptional performance of The Long and Winding Road, the moment is crystallized - the sheer adoration of the crowd, and the clear enjoyment Paul seems to be taking out of the performance, clearly lend some sort of magic to the whole thing. Live at Amoeba 2007 is a grand slam from start to finish - usual business for Sir Paul McCartney. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz 
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Ram

Pop - Released May 17, 1971 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Pop - Released April 17, 1970 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Ram

Pop - Released May 22, 2012 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Pop - Released June 28, 2011 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released June 10, 2016 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Touted as a personally curated compilation by Paul McCartney, Pure McCartney is the first McCartney compilation since 2001's Wingspan: Hits and History. A full 15 years separated this and Wingspan, longer than the span between that double-disc set and 1987's All the Best, but the 2001 set also stopped cold in 1984, leaving over 30 years of solo McCartney recordings uncompiled on hits collections. In both its standard two-CD and deluxe four-disc incarnations, Pure McCartney attempts to rectify this, going so far as to include "Hope for the Future," his song for the 2014 video game Destiny. A fair chunk of the compilation rests upon songs heard on Wings Greatest, All the Best, and Wingspan -- "Jet," "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," "Another Day," "Mull of Kintyre," "Let Em In," "Band on the Run," "No More Lonely Nights," "Live and Let Die," "Say Say Say," "Listen to What the Man Said," and "Silly Love Songs" are all de rigueur -- so the interesting things lie in the margins, or in the music made since 1984. The standard edition contains three selections from Flaming Pie -- the 1997 album that kicked off a latter-day streak of excellent records from McCartney -- and a couple of cuts from both Chaos & Creation in the Backyard and Memory Almost Full, but it bypasses Flowers in the Dirt entirely. Flowers is also entirely absent on the deluxe edition, which nevertheless offers plenty of room for digressions -- here, the new wave future shock of "Temporary Secretary," the rockers "Junior's Farm," the hippie come-on "Big Barn Bed" and "Hi Hi Hi," and the frivolous synth pop of Press can all be heard -- so it paints a much richer portrait of McCartney's solo work, but even then it feels slightly incomplete. Hits are missing, including the brassy Brit-pop of "Take It Away," "My Brave Face," and the seasonal "Wonderful Christmastime," as are electronic risks like "Check My Machine," but their absence only underscores one fact: McCartney made more great music than what can fit on even a four-disc box. Pure McCartney gets closer to capturing the full range of his career than any of his previous compilations, but it's still only an introduction to one of the richest bodies of work in pop music. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 15, 2019 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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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 November 22, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Rock - Released May 5, 1997 | Paul McCartney Catalog

According to Paul McCartney, working on the Beatles Anthology project inspired him to record an album that was stripped-back, immediate, and fun, one less studied and produced than most of his recent work. In many ways, Flaming Pie fulfills those goals. A largely acoustic collection of simple songs, Flaming Pie is direct and unassuming, and at its best, it recalls the homely charm of McCartney and Ram. McCartney still has a tendency to wallow in trite sentiment, and his more ambitious numbers, like the string-drenched epic "Beautiful Night" or the silly Beatlesque psychedelia of "Flaming Pie," fall a little flat. But when he works on a small scale, as on the waltzing "The Song We Were Singing," "Calico Skies," "Great Day," and "Little Willow," he's gently affecting, and the moderately rocking pop of "The World Tonight" and "Young Boy" is more ingratiating than the pair of aimless bluesy jams with Steve Miller. Even with the filler, which should be expected on any McCartney album, Flaming Pie is one of his most successful latter-day efforts, mainly because McCartney is at his best when he doesn't try so hard and lets his effortless melodic gifts rise to the surface. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 26, 1982 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Like 1970's McCartney, 1980's McCartney II functioned as a way for Paul McCartney to clear the decks: to experiment and recalibrate in the aftermath of his band falling apart. This means 1982's Tug of War is, in many ways, the very first Paul McCartney solo album, a record recorded not at home but in a studio, a record made without Wings and not co-credited to Linda, who nevertheless is present as a backing vocalist. McCartney recognized this album as something of a major opportunity, so he revived his relationship with Beatles producer George Martin and brought in several heavy-hitters as guests, including his hero Carl Perkins, his Motown counterpart Stevie Wonder, fusion star Stanley Clarke, prog rock refugees Eric Stewart and Andy Mackay, and his old bandmate Ringo Starr, whose presence was overshadowed by "Here Today," an elegy written for the murdered John Lennon. Tucked away at the end of the first side, "Here Today" is bittersweet and small when compared to all the show pieces elbowing each other for attention throughout Tug of War: the grave march of the title track, the vaudevillian "Ballroom Dancing," the stately drama of "Wanderlust," and sincere schmaltz of "Ebony and Ivory," the Wonder duet that helped turn this album into the blockbuster it was intended to be. As good as some of these numbers are -- and they are, bearing an ambition and execution that outstrips latter-day Wings -- much of the charm of Tug of War lies in the excess around the edges, whether it's the rockabilly lark of the Perkins duet "Get It," the later-period Beatles whimsy of '"The Pound Is Sinking," the electro-throwaway "Dress Me Up as a Robber," or the long, electro-funk workout of "What's That You're Doing?," a track that's a fuller collaboration between Paul and Stevie than "Ebony and Ivory." Such crowd-pleasing genre-hopping finds its apotheosis on "Take It Away," a salute to eager performers and the crowds who love them, which means it summarizes not only the appeal of Tug of War in general -- it is, by design, a record that gives the people old Beatle Paul -- but McCartney in general. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 12, 2019 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Rock - Released November 27, 2012 | Paul McCartney Catalog

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Way back in 1963, Paul McCartney sang "A Taste of Honey" on the Beatles' debut album, and "Til There Was You" on their second LP, establishing that his tastes ran far beyond the world of rock & roll and R&B. Over the years, he touched upon pre-rock & roll pop -- writing pastiches like "Honey Pie" with the Beatles and, crucially, snatching up the publishing rights to many of these tunes, thereby building his MPL empire -- but he never devoted a full record to the style until 2012's Kisses on the Bottom, a cheekily titled (pun not only intentional but solicited) collection of songs you know by heart. He's not the first Beatle to sing songs his mother should know: Ringo's first step outside the Fab Four was 1970's Sentimental Journey, a record of standards produced by George Martin. Sentimental Journey may share a tune with Kisses on the Bottom -- Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon's "Bye Bye Blackbird" -- but its splashy, show biz sensibility differs greatly from McCartney's intimate stroll through the past. Macca hired Diana Krall's band as his support, enlisted veteran vocal producer Tommy LiPuma, and then set up shop at Los Angeles' famed Capitol Studios, along with spots in N.Y.C. and London, to cut faithful, loving versions of songs he's always sung. Overachiever that he is, Macca throws in two new originals -- the quite good "My Valentine" and "Only Our Hearts," the former featuring guitar by Eric Clapton, the latter harmonica by Stevie Wonder -- that fit right into the soft-shoe shuffle of the rest of the record, enhancing its casual charm. And since McCartney is no longer quite the vocal powerhouse he used to be -- something the spare setting makes all too clear -- the chief appeal is its leisurely vibe, how McCartney settles into his surroundings, savoring each melody and every witty turn of phrase. As a vocalist, this may not be his natural forte, but he takes great care with the songs, and that palpable love is enough to make Kisses on the Bottom worth a spin or two. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo