McCartney album artwork - Paul McCartneyRecorded: December 1969-February 1970
Producer: Paul McCartney

Released: 17 April 1970 (UK), 20 April 1970 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, guitar, steel guitar, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, organ, Mellotron, xylophone, drums, maracas, bongos, tambourine, cowbell, wineglasses, hand percussion, aerosol, bow and arrow
Linda McCartney: backing vocals

The Lovely Linda
That Would Be Something
Valentine Day
Every Night
Hot As Sun/Glasses
Man We Was Lonely
Oo You
Momma Miss America
Teddy Boy
Singalong Junk
Maybe I'm Amazed

It's safe to say that Paul McCartney's debut solo album was never part of a grand masterplan. A selection of home recordings, studio tracks, Beatles rejects and ad-libbed offcuts, it was a swiftly assembled collection, released to coincide with The Beatles' break-up, that divided fans and critics alike.

McCartney (Deluxe Version) [Remastered] - Paul McCartney

McCartney was far from a spent creative force by the end of 1969, but had devoted much of his time to works by The Beatles, Mary Hopkin and Badfinger. As a result, he resorted to reworking old songs, improvising others and recorded several instrumentals.

They were almost throwaways, you know? But that's why they were included. They weren't quite throwaways. That was the whole idea of the album: all the normal things that you record that are great and have all this atmosphere but aren't that good as recording or production jobs. Normally that stuff ends up with the rest of your demos, but all that stuff is often stuff I love.
Paul McCartney

The earliest song, Hot As Sun, dated from the Quarrymen days, and was part of that band's early repertoire. Junk and Teddy Boy were composed in India during The Beatles' sojourn with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the summer of 1968, and both were performed during the strained Get Back/Let It Be sessions in January 1969.

Although they pulled together a final time to record the Abbey Road album, by the middle of 1969 The Beatles knew their time as a band was all but over. McCartney had fought to keep them together during their final months, but had eventually given up as legal, business and personal wranglings overshadowed their music.

McCartney was dejected and pained by the group's collapse, and retreated into depression and alcohol dependency. He was lifted by the love of his wife Linda, whom he married in London on 12 March 1969. She encouraged him to channel his energies into new projects, leading to the recording and release of the McCartney album.

The album polarised fans, with many feeling disappointment that McCartney had seen fit to issue so many half-finished songs. Even his fellow former Beatles were restrained in their praise, with George Harrison describing it as disappointing. He astutely noted that, with few checks on his output, the quality would continue to be variable.

That Would Be Something and Maybe I'm Amazed I think are great and everything else I think is fair, you know. It's quite good, but a little disappointing, but maybe I shouldn't be disappointed, it's best not to expect anything, then everything's a bonus. I think those two tracks are very good and the others just don't do anything for me. The arrangements for Teddy Boy and Junk, with a little bit more arrangement could have sounded better. Me, Ringo and John, not only do we see each other, but we see so many musicians and other bands, maybe Paul does too. But I just get the impression that he doesn't. That he's so isolated from it, he's out on a limb. The only person he's got to tell him if the song's good or bad is Linda. In the Beatle days, if someone came in with a song that had a corny line and some of the others got a bit embarrassed by it, we'd say it!
George Harrison

John Lennon, perhaps inevitably, compared McCartney to his own solo work.

I was surprised it was so poor. I expected just a little more, because if Paul and I are sort of disagreeing and I feel weak, I think he must feel strong. That's in an argument. Not that we've had much physical argument, I mean when we're talking - but you expect the opposition so-called. So I was just surprised. And I was glad, too. I suddenly got it all into perspective.
John Lennon
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

17 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!!

    1. Sal

      I disagree Mr. Sun King, , Abby Road was superior musically and vocally compared to “McCartney”. This album was put together very quickly in haste.
      His second album “Ram” was written well.

  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


      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.

  9. Billy Shears

    Well spoken Art. I always liked “Every Night” and thought it could have made its way onto a Beatle album along with “Maybe I’m amazed” and the single “Another day”. All three seem to work together and compliment each other. The rest of the songs from Paul from that specific time period often don’t seem to make the grade. Although I must say that I still prefer Paul’s stuff on “McCartney” and “Ram” to much of Lennon’s anger, self-lothing and political angst on his albums within the same time period. ( There are exceptions such as “Love” and “Imagine”).

  10. Graham Paterson

    With the fullness of time, this album is rightly now seen in a better light than when it was first released. John Lennon and George Harrison came out with masterpieces in 1970. Whilst McCartney was not, two of his best songs are on this. Every Night and Maybe I’m Amazed are beautiful songs and Paul McCartney at his best. I know a live version of the latter was released on 45, a few years later, but the studio version of Maybe I’m Amazed would have been a massive hit if it had been a single. Which I believe it should have been.

  11. Bachman

    McCartney at his best, this was simple and great..Paul treated us to his creative genious at work..yes some of the material not finished or polished..but that is the door he opened for us…as if we were in the Studio with him…as he was creating and recording.

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