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Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010

As we previously discussed, Paul McCartney’s first solo album was heavily criticized, perhaps most of all by his former Beatles bandmates. This is somewhat surprising, seeming that several songs on it came close to being on Beatles albums. “Junk”, originally dubbed “Jubilee”, was written by McCartney in 1968, when the Beatles took a trip to Rishikesh, India to study transcendental meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Though there are many different accounts of what actually took place there, one thing is for sure: the group wrote and worked on an amazing amount of music while there. “Junk” was passed up for inclusion on both on the band’s 1968 self-titled album and Abbey Road, but it did eventually end up on the 1996 Anthology 3 album, which was made up of the group’s unfinished material and studio rarities.


McCartney must have really liked “Junk” by the time he finished it in 1970, because he included it twice on his debut solo album. It first appears as the last track on side A of McCartney, and then later appears in instrumental form on side B. Titled “Singalong Junk”, it is not only shorter than its vocal counterpart, but it sounds slightly different. With its melody played out on the piano, more prominent drums and mellotron (an early precursor to the electric keyboard) strings are added. It was the first take of the song, but McCartney chose to record a longer, more simplistic take for the vocal version. Unlike most of McCartney, they were both recorded not at his home, but at Morgan Studios in London.


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Monday, Jun 28, 2010

In my opinion, “Hot As Sun/Glasses” is one of Paul McCartney’s best instrumental tracks. However, it is actually several different compositions put together and there are some lyrics at the end.


The first part, “Hot As Sun”, written in 1959, is one of the first instrumental songs McCartney wrote. A happy-sounding guitar-based melody, it uses an organ to make the carnival-sounding middle part. It then abruptly cuts into “Glasses”, which is mostly composed by the sound of electronic waves traveling through the rims of drinking glasses. This is a technique that McCartney seems to be fond of; in the PBS TV special Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road (available on The McCartney Years DVD set), he shows how it can be done.


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Monday, Jun 21, 2010

“Every Night” is one of Paul McCartney’s greatest solo accomplishments. For the life of me, I don’t understand why it (or any songs from the McCartney album) wasn’t ever released as a single. It is rare to find a song that paints such a perfect view of romantic love while staying unique, personal, and cliché-free. Several artists have covered it, including Richie Havens, Phoebe Snow, and Claudine Longet, but not as many as you would expect from a song this great. At least McCartney himself seems to hold it in high regard, featuring it on several live albums (Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, Unplugged (The Official Bootleg), Back In The US, and Back In The World) and a greatest-hits collection (Wingspan: Hits And History).


A lot changed for Paul McCartney in the year 1969, and he reportedly didn’t handle it well. The band that his entire life revolved around—the biggest band in the world, the Beatles—was falling apart, and the resulting tangled mess of hurt feelings and legal matters left him sorely depressed. Getting him through this difficult time was his wife, Linda, who suggested that he should start working on his own music apart from the group. “Every Night” became the resulting tribute to his inspiring spouse.


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Wednesday, Jun 9, 2010

This week, we look at “Valentine Day”, a short instrumental track from Paul McCartney’s his first solo album McCartney. Perhaps because it appears on the same album as five other instrumental songs, it isn’t commonly known. McCartney himself doesn’t seem to place much emphasis on it, describing the song as, “Recorded at home. Made up as I went along…, This one and ‘Momma Miss America’ were ad-libbed with more concern for testing the machine than anything else.”


I’ve heard it described as only an acoustic guitar riff, but drums, bass, and electric guitar can also be heard in it. Paul played all of the instruments on the entire album himself, a lengthy process that he currently rarely attempts. In recent interviews, he said he feels silly doing all of the instrumentation by himself.


With its short length, maybe we should reconsider “Valentine Day” as a bright, lively interlude that eases the transition from the slow-paced rocker “That Would Be Something” to “Every Night”, a tender, romantic ballad.


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Friday, Jun 4, 2010



Despite the fact that it was never released as a single, “That Would Be Something” has been well-loved and critically praised throughout the years. Shortly after the McCartney album’s release, George Harrison, who harshly criticized the rest of the album, called both it and “Maybe I’m Amazed” “great”. He wasn’t its only admirer, though. The Grateful Dead started covering it at some of their concerts in 1991. A part of their version appears on the Dick’s Picks, Vol. 17 CD. Paul McCartney himself seems to have some fondness for it, performing it at his 1991 MTV Unplugged TV special. That version also appeared on the Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) album.


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