Longtime friend of the Remnants, Michael Salfino tackles what turns out to be a more interesting question than it seemed on first hearing. How great was Paul McCartney’s solo career compared to the Beatles?
You can read Michael’s thoughts here: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/07/reassessing-paul-mccartneys-solo-career-successful.html
For my part, I think McCartney’s best solo song is Maybe I’m Amazed, but I also think Silly Love Songs is a brilliant bit of self-referential pop fluff (with a side of self referential sarcasm).
Michael doesn’t point out that Sir Paul is the only Beatle to record songs with Elvis Costello, Kanye West, and (the remains of) Nirvana. Constantly exploring, working, imploring, McCartney’s career has been admirable, even when the music is less successful. It’s hard to always write and perform great music.
And for pleasure? This one:
Well done, case closed, not even close. But just in case, there are several songs on my McCartney list that are not on yours. For one, Monkberry Moon Delight. First of all, it’s among the FUNNIEST songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are as good as the best of Lennon or Dylan or (especially) Eno. The singing is a powerful hoot – which is hard to do. The tune is unique as far as I know. And it bops.
You know who deserves credit and never gets it? Linda. Her backup vocals are fantastic, her tone is right up there with early Keith Richard and Johnny Thunders.
Nor does McCartney get enough credit for his guitar playing. The Ram album is every bit as good as Band on the Run imo. It gets dissed, probably because of the Admiral Halsey single, which is Paul at his o-bla-di worst, but the rest of it is engaging and fun.
Simple rockers don’t get critical attention because there isn’t much to say. Drop the needle, click the track, get up and dance!
Gene, I agree. When Ram came out I hated it and, in retrospect, I think it was the “Admiral Halsey” effect. It just seemed too lightweight to me. But now it is one of my favorite McCartney solo discs. I always thought of “Monkberry…” as a guilty pleasure. “Too Many People” and “Heart of the Country” stand up too.
Great guitar on “Too Many People.”
I remember listening to Badfinger and wondering why I wasn’t just listening to McCartney directly. What he does is both simpler, more complicated, and catchier.
Yup. And it’s goody-goody Paul saying “suck it” – not iconoclastic John.
To get a bit more contentious, with the rest of the solo Beatles I can’t even come up with full Greatest Hits albums.
Forget Ringo, he’s got “Photograph” and filler.
John, I would have to throw out Plastic Ono Band, which would damn near fill my list. After that, what? I actively hate the song “Imagine” because it is so smugly full of shit and the melody is a jingle – again Paul takes the sappy rap but what is smugger and sappier than “you may say I’m a dreamer?” No John, I may say you were a hypocrite. I remember eagerly awaitng the Imagine album and being mighty disappointed, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Gimme Some Truth – yeah John, why don’t you do that?
What else from John? I l like this from his much-maligned period with Elephant’s Memory. It “just” rocks, but then why are we here?
Instant Karma is a great record. For years I thought Lennon was singing “yes the cop is gonna get you.” Kept me on my toes. The drumming of Alan White is alone worth the price of admission, and the Lennon/Specter production has an, I don’t know, immediacy, that sounds just as immediate today.
The singles “Mind Games” and “#9 Dream” were the obvious singles from the Mind Games and Walls and Bridges albums, indeed they are the only remotely memorable tunes on either one. Well, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” is memorable in an unlistenable sort of way. I mean really, what a piece of shit. “Minds Games” is passionate in a better way but a little, dare I say, boring. “9 Dream” is a good tune with cool production although it sure could use Ringo. Really it’s marred only by Yoko whispering “John” at dramatic intervals. Did I tell you my Yoko story, or rather my sister’s Yoko story?
My sister was a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman in New York when one day in walks Yoko. Seems she wanted 48 identical white sweaters.Eileen asked her if she was giving them away and Yoko replied “No, they’re all for me.” Imagine no possessions.
Somewhere in there Lennon made an album of rocknroll covers that has some great singing, his best since Plastic Ono Band, but the band of studio pros is mailing it in. And the choice of songs is uninspired. John manages to get something out of them on “Stand By Me” until the guitar player ruins it with that shitty slide “Unchained Melody” melody. I wanna cover my ears. Since it was the single, you figure Lennon thought it was the best song.
Here’s another earlier one that makes my list. Killer tune, and for once Yoko adds something. And the song has no doubt done a lot of good over the years by spreading good will. Makes up for “Imagine.”
Smile Away is one I’ve always liked – I always liked Linda’s backup vocals when she sings “don’t know ho to do that, learning how to do that,” mixes well with Too Many People’s “Too many people holding back/This is crazy, and baby, it’s not like me.” McCartney was seemingly figuring out his next steps and maybe leaving that pall of depression after the breakup. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve never heard McCartney sound as happy as he did on Ram. And Backseat of My Car – I love that one.
I liked some McCartney tunes, and he really is such a killer bass player, it is sick (I appreciate his playing so much more as a bass player), but always thought just about all his Beatles contributions were better than anything he ever did solo.
That said, he did some solo stuff I love “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” and this is not only fave Paul song, it rocks out completely…