By David Chiu
Coming off the Beatles’ breakup in 1970, it would have been tempting for Paul McCartney to make a huge musical splash with his solo debut record. However, that wasn’t the case with ‘McCartney,’ which was released that year. Rather, it is a low-key record with all the music performed by himself (with accompaniment by Linda McCartney on harmonies). The album wasn’t hit-heavy as one would have expect from McCartney; still, the fact that the songs were folky and intimate make it cohesive, especially tracks such as “Every Night,” “That Would Be Something” and the gorgeous “Junk” and “Singalong Junk.” On a few occasions does ‘McCartney’ does rock out on his debut such as “Oo You,” and the instrumentals “Hot As Sun/Glasses” and “Momma Miss America” are very modern-sounding. If there is one standout song on ‘McCartney,’ it would obviously be the now-classic “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which still gets played as much as a Beatles classic.
Ten years later, after Wings’ last album, ‘Back to the Egg,’ McCartney returned to the one-band approach for ‘McCartney II.’ This time around, the songs have a very experimental and demo-feel to them like “On the Way” and rocking, honky-tonk “Nobody Knows.” Indicative of the time it was made in, some of the tracks also reflect a New Wave-ish feel to them, particularly the whimsical “Temporary Secretary,” the retro rocker “Bogey Music,” and the video game-sounding “Front Parlour.” The lush “Waterfalls,” on other hand, is a lovely if typical McCartney ballad and feels more complete than the other songs. The album’s best known hit is “Coming Up,” marked by a very funny and innovative video. ‘McCartney II’ sounds more experimental than ‘McCartney’ and thus it doesn’t have the same warmth exuded by its predecessor; then again, the avant garde feel of it makes it somewhat appealing.
Both the reissues of ‘McCartney’ and ‘McCartney II’ each contain an additional of bonus tracks—such as live performances of “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Every Night” on ‘McCartney’; “Wonderful Christmas Time,” the gorgeous “Blue Sway” and the popular live version of “Coming Up” on ‘McCartney II.’