McCartney (Deluxe Version) [Remastered] - Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney's eagerness to get the album to the public was a bullishness attempt at re-asserting himself, in the light of his dismay at the appointment of Allen Klein as The Beatles' business manager. The other three Beatles and Klein attempted to delay the release of McCartney, worried that it would affect sales of Let It Be and Ringo Starr's solo debut Sentimental Journey.

Apple's Neil Aspinall initially asked McCartney if the album could be delayed for a week, to allow Starr's debut more time in the spotlight. McCartney agreed to this, but was dismayed to find on 25 March that Klein had already postponed his album's release. A furious McCartney telephoned George Harrison to reinstate the original release date of 7 April, and sent a confirmation telegram to the other Beatles, Klein and Aspinall.

It felt to McCartney as though he was losing control of Apple, the company he co-founded to allow creative freedom. The other Beatles felt that having three high-profile Apple releases in short succession was commercial madness.

We weren't against him puttin' an album out. I mean I'd done it. And I didn't think it was any different, except for Paul sang, and mine happened to be Toronto because that happened to happen...

There was nothing against Paul having an album out. There was an atmosphere about [Lee] Eastman and Klein, but it's all right. It's business, we all profit from it. But we didn't want to put it out against Let It Be, it would have killed the sales.

John Lennon
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

Phil Spector had recently completed work on the Let It Be tapes, and the album and film were scheduled for release on 31 March 1970. John Lennon informed EMI of Apple's decision to delay the McCartney album, writing that "We have arrived at the conclusion that it would not be in the best interests of this company for the record to be released on that date."

Harrison then wrote to McCartney, marking the envelope 'From us, to you' and leaving it at Apple for a messenger to deliver. However, Ringo Starr offered to take it to Cavendish Avenue, McCartney's north London home. Harrison's letter read:

Dear Paul, We thought a lot about yours and the Beatles LPs - and decided it's stupid for Apple to put out two big albums within 7 days of each other (also there's Ringo's and Hey Jude) - so we sent a letter to EMI telling them to hold your release til June 4th (there's a big Apple-Capitol convention in Hawaii then). We thought you'd come round when you realized that the Beatles album was coming out on April 24th. We're sorry it turned out like this - it's nothing personal. Love John George. Hare Krishna. A Mantra a Day Keeps MAYA! Away.

Starkey handed over the letter, telling McCartney that he agreed with its contents. Although he can scarcely have expected a warm reception, the usually amenable Starkey was shocked by McCartney's extreme reaction.

They didn't send me round. They, as directors of the company, wrote a letter to him, and I didn't think it was fair that some office lad should take something like that round. I was talking to the office, and they were telling me what was going on, and I said, 'Send it up, I'll take it round.' I couldn't fear him then. But he got angry, because we were asking him to hold his album back and the album was very important to him. He shouted and pointed at me. He told me to get out of his house. He was crazy; he went crazy. He was out of control, prodding his finger towards my face. He told me to put my coat on and get out. I couldn't believe it was happening. I had just brought the letter. I said, 'I agree with everything that's in the letter,' because we tried to work it like a company, not as individuals. I put my album out two weeks before, which makes me seem like such a good guy, but it wasn't really, because I needed to put it out before Paul's album, else it would have slayed me.
Ringo Starr

McCartney was acting out of desperation, frustrated at the cumulative obstacles he felt were being put in his way. The clash was indicative of the factional, highly partisan nature of The Beatles' business dealings in the group's final months.

Ringo visited me, bringing two letters signed by George and John with which, he said he agreed. These letters confirmed that my record had been stopped. I really got angry when Ringo told me that Klein had told him that my record was not ready and that he had a release date for the Let It Be album. I knew that both of these alleged statements were untrue and I said, in effect, this was the last straw, and, 'If you drag me down, I'll drag you down.' What I meant was, 'Anything you do to me, I will do to you.'

I had to do something like that in order to assert myself because I was just sinking. Linda was very helpful, she was saying, 'Look, you don't have to take this crap, you're a grown man, you have every bit as much right...' I was getting pummelled about the head, in my mind anyway.

Paul McCartney

McCartney emerged victorious after the decision was made to continue the album's release as planned. The clash with Starkey, however, strained relations between the two men for a number of years.

I was going through a bad time, what I suspect was almost a nervous breakdown. I remember lying awake at nights shaking, which has not happened to me since. One night I'd been asleep and awoke and I couldn't lift my head off the pillow. My head was down in the pillow, I thought, Jesus, if I don't do this I'll suffocate. I remember hardly having the energy to pull myself up, but with a great struggle I pulled my head up and lay on my back and thought, That was a bit near! I just couldn't do anything. I had so much in me that I couldn't express and it was just very nervy times, very very difficult. So I eventually went and said, 'I want to leave. You can all get on with Klein and everything, just let me out.' And they said, 'No, we're not going to let you go.' Because Klein had said, 'Look, he produced Those Were the Days and stuff.' Like James Taylor, same idea, 'Why let him go?' I remember having one classic conversation with George Harrison, I said, 'Look, George, I want to get off the label,' and George ended the conversation, and as I say it now I almost feel like I'm lying with the devil's tongue, but I swear George said to me, 'You'll stay on the fucking label. Hare Krishna.' That's how it was, that's how the times were.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Keen to assert his independence from the group that had come to stifle him, McCartney announced the formation of his own company, McCartney Productions Ltd on 7 April 1970. Its first projects would be the McCartney album and an animation based on the character Rupert Bear.

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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