The Second Disc

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Archive for May 23rd, 2012

Review: Paul and Linda McCartney, “The Paul McCartney Archive Collection: Ram”

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Paul McCartney might have taken the bull by the horns for his aggressively homemade solo debut McCartney in 1970, defying practically all expectations, but he literally took the ram by the horns on the cover photo of its 1971 follow-up, Ram.  By the time of Ram’s release, George Harrison had declared that All Things (including Beatles) Must Pass and John Lennon had exorcised many of his demons with the confessional Plastic Ono Band, wife Yoko at his side.  With Linda McCartney co-billed as songwriter and vocalist, Paul eschewed the grand statements of John and George’s solo projects, not to mention the genre excursions of Ringo Starr’s Sentimental Journey (Ringo goes standards) and Beaucoup of Blues (Ringo goes country).  Ram instead felt like a natural progression from the homespun, “lo-fi” McCartney, expanding the production but having much of the same freewheeling, not-too-serious feel.  Now, Ram is the latest title to receive expanded treatment from MPL and Hear Music as part of The Paul McCartney Archive Collection.  Easily the most luxurious reissue series dedicated to any Beatle, the Archive Collection will likely takes its place as one of the grandest programs for any artist of any genre, should it eventually encompass all of McCartney’s albums.  Ram is, justifiably, as lavish as its predecessors, and maybe even a bit more so.

The only album jointly credited to Paul and Linda McCartney, Ram was largely composed by the husband and wife at their farm in Scotland. Recording commenced in New York in the fall of 1970 with a cast of musicians including future Wings drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarists David Spinozza and Hugh McCracken. The album made it all the way to No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 2 in the U.S. upon its May 1971 release, and the single “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” became Paul’s first U.S. No. 1 single as well as a Grammy winner.  Despite its commercial success, there’s always been an air of mystery about Ram, from its title to its frequently oblique lyrics.  Is it a throwaway album from a disgruntled ex-Beatle or the ironic birth of “indie rock” from a superstar?  Or is it something in between? Though its Archive Collection releases go a long way in providing context and explanations, the album itself is still a delicious enigma.  For those keeping score, the release is available in multiple formats: a4-CD/1-DVD box set edition, a single-CD remaster, a2-CD deluxe edition, 2-LP vinyl edition, 1-LP mono vinyl editionanddigitally.  (You can find track listings for all versions here!)

We’ll explore them all after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 23, 2012 at 10:29