McCartney

The recording

McCartney (Deluxe Version) [Remastered] - Paul McCartney


McCartney was recorded between December 1969 and February 1970. Paul McCartney began by recording at his home at 7 Cavendish Avenue, St John's Wood, London, assembling a Studer four-track recorder and a single microphone. A mixing desk he had ordered was yet to arrive, so the microphone was initially plugged directly into the Studer.

The home-made nature of the recordings was reflected in much of the songwriting. The 30-second opener The Lovely Linda was a test recording which McCartney intended to replace with a fuller version. The next two songs on the album, That Would Be Something and Valentine Day, were also simple home recordings, as were Momma Miss America, Glasses, Oo You, Teddy Boy, Junk and the instrumental Singalong Junk.

Some of these were begun at Cavendish Avenue but completed at EMI Studios on Abbey Road, or at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London. McCartney took the songs to Morgan early in February 1970, although no detailed documentation is known. He made eight-track recordings of Hot As Sun and Kreen-Akrore, added overdubs to Junk, Singalong Junk, Oo You and Teddy Boy, and made stereo mixes of those songs as well as The Lovely Linda, Glasses and Momma Miss America.

McCartney was keen to keep the recordings under wraps, partly to keep press speculation at bay, but also as a measure of his distrust of Allen Klein at Apple. He initially didn't even tell his former bandmates, although ironically the first public mention came in a BBC interview given by George Harrison on 11 March 1970 in a show titled The Beatles Today. It was broadcast on 30 March, a full 10 days before the press learnt of The Beatles' demise.

On 21 February 1970 McCartney began work at EMI Studios, recording under the pseudonym Billy Martin - a reference to the US baseball player. In just one week he made new mixes of The Lovely Linda, Momma Miss America, Glasses, Singalong Junk, That Would Be Something, Valentine Day and Hot As Sun.

He also recorded three new songs in Studio Two: Every Night, Maybe I'm Amazed and Man We Was Lonely. McCartney had entered the studio on 22 February with the intention of mixing That Would Be Something, but completed it more quickly than expected. With the remaining session time he remade Every Night, which had previously been a home recording, and then taped Maybe I'm Amazed.

A private playback was held in Studio Two on 16 March 1970, followed by final mastering seven days later. The album then entered a swift pre-production stage, and was released on 7 April in the UK.

Cover artwork

The McCartney album was issued with a stark photograph by Linda McCartney on its front cover. On the rear of the sleeve was a photograph, also by Linda, of Paul with their daughter Mary - who had been born on 28 August 1969 - looking out from inside his jacket.

The album was issued in a gatefold sleeve, with various other family portraits taken by Linda. The record was placed in the front pocket rather than the rear, and the package was designed by the McCartneys with artist Gordon House and graphic designer Roger Huggett.

Chart success

McCartney spent three weeks at number one in the United States, and was eventually certified double platinum. It fared slightly less well in the United Kingdom, being held off the top spot by Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water.

There were no singles taked from McCartney in 1970, although a short film was made for Maybe I'm Amazed using Linda McCartney's photographs. A live version of the song was issued belatedly in 1977. It reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, following its inclusion on the 1976 album Wings Over America.

McCartney was reissued in June 2011 as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, as a single disc, double-disc special edition, two-CD and DVD version with a 128-page hardcover book, double-disc vinyl and digital download.

The original album was presented with bonus tracks: the out-takes Suicide, Don't Cry Baby and Women Kind, a version of Maybe I'm Amazed from the One Hand Clapping film, and live versions of Every Night, Hot As Sun and Maybe I'm Amazed from 1979. The bonus DVD with the Deluxe Edition featured a film containing various live performances and documentary footage.

13 responses on “McCartney

  1. mr. Sun king coming together

    This album is written off quite easily, because Abbey Road to this isn`t great, but this album might reveal the most about Paul`s state of mind at this time. I love it!!

  2. robert

    Great article Joe – a couple of thoughts – when the album first came out most of us thought the reversed placement of the actual disk was based on McCartney being left-handed so he made a left-handed album.

    The cherry cover we always heard represented a broken cherry – meaning Paul’s first solo album.

    Just something to think about.

    1. Dave Schulps

      I’ve always interpreted it as a play on the idea of “life is just a bowl of cherries,” with the implication being that at that time the cherries were out of the bowl, therefore, no bowl of cherries for him.

    2. Albert Cunning

      I just got the idea into my head that they’re not cherries, but cranberries, and that the cover was meant as an allusion to the Paul-is-dead rumours at the time. Cranberry sauce on a zebra crossing line. I might be wrong.

  3. Jake

    I’m guessing is was done more out of anger or maybe a feeling that he was trapped in the Beatle implosion and he had to do something. So he did it all on his own. I’m looking forward to “Mccartney” I love it. It’s very listenable. “Ram” even better.

  4. Tweeze

    The thing that is forgotten in the history of all of this, mostly by people who didn’y live through it, was that Paul was considered by all who believed they knew him to be some kind of musical genius and, unfortunately for him, he threatened to unleash upon the world music that would put the world ‘on its ear’ once he was free from the Beatles. So, having that, and because he threw such a fuss to get this collection to market, we were all quite hyped. Perhaps we should not have allowed ourselves to be subject to expectations. George said it best in the article. Perhaps Paul believed his own hype? You can’t possibly live as he and the others did for all of those years and not get caught up.

  5. Keith Bates

    This album gave 1970s musicians a blueprint for multitracking and home recording, one of the most famous musicians on the planet producing a successful album at home, with roughcuts being displayed alongside polished gems. The album allows you to hear bad edits and tape machine glitches, outtakes, half-baked ideas and unfinished tracks all spliced in together. It comes across as heartfelt and intimate. And an object lesson in sound-sketching and experimentation; close-miked mouth-music, overdubbed yet still sounding spontaneous, and a collage approach to songwriting and compiling album tracks. This was do-it-yourself punkiness in sharp contrast to Phil Spector’s overproduction that ruined the Let It Be recordings.

    1. James Ferrell

      +1

      And I always thought it was interesting that both Paul’s and John’s first post-Beatles albums were so raw and intimate. It’s like they were both still in sync. Warm and intimate in Paul’s case, angstful and intimate in John’s. Both great records.

  6. Surfeast

    This is one of my all time favorite albums, probably due to the raw and primitive tracks which counter the polished sounds of the last Beatles albums and future Wings efforts. It shows that the recording techniques while revolutionary at that time were only a part of the real mix with such talented guys like McCartney creating memorable grooves.

  7. J. Allen Crute

    Like many, either involved in the music industry or just enjoying the sounds, I looked forward to the individual albums to hear their own voices. Both John and Paul surprised me by producing albums that suggested they were tired of impressing us with slick, polished, commercialized works. They, too, were human. Lying on a couch, listening to McCartney for the first time with headphones, I felt as if I had been invited into his home – a home of genuine love. Forgive me for sounding dramatic, but that day changed my life.

    Like the film, “Across the Universe,” my own life of peace, love and flowers in our hair had fallen into a dark hole of job hopping, broken relationships, friend’s overdoses, and anger over all of the world problems that were everyone else’s fault. “McCartney” was a wake-up call for me.
    I walked out of my friend’s house, sans leather colors and weapons. I moved into my own apartment, got a better job, better friends, and reunited with a forgotten spiritual life of genuine love, joy and fellowship. Even two FBI agents came for a friendly visit, curious about the changes.

    No, I didn’t start a McCartney Cult Fan Club. Ironically, however, I met Linda’s sister ten years later when we both worked for the same broadcasting company. While I neglected to take advantage of that to finagle a meeting across the pond, I was able to share my thoughts with her; we both shared similar changes and each other’s company.

    Just saying – some albums go beyond chords, riffs and mixes. Music was our medium for personal, spiritual and social changes, and McCartney continued that in a surprising way of suggesting that everything doesn’t have to be “great.” Imperfect simplicity, while basking in love and family intimacy, makes “good” even better.

  8. Art

    I don’t have a contemporaneous impression of the album (I was only nine at the time but was a big Beatles fan and can recall listening to their music from about age four) but hearing the material in full for the first time some 40 years after release I understand both the criticism and praise of it. I can imagine it may have been underwhelming and disappointing to many who plunked down $5 to buy it at the time. Even today I wonder why Paul didn’t bother to work some of what are barely past motives into fuller/complete songs. On the other hand no matter how consciously he went about it, this is the only document he left reflecting how he felt and what he produced on his estrangement from the group after its practical breakup and pending the formal acknowledgement or announcement of that fact. I think it has some fascinating sounds on it and it has a lot of merit from this perspective. “Charmless” is a word I seen mention in connection with the album but it sounds quite the opposite to me. It sounds very charming – as if you’d been invited to tea at Paul and Linda’s and he demoed a bunch of tunes for you during the visit.

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