Tonight's Slab: Paul (and Linda) McCartney - Ram (1971)
RAM was the second solo offering by the cutest of the Beatles, although it's not truly a solo effort as his wife and new musical collaborator Linda appears on most of the tracks providing both lead and back-up vocals. The rumor is that she is credited as part of a duo with Paul due to disputes with the other Beatles that entitled them to a cut of Paul's income related to their partnership in Apple. Linda was not a signatory to any Apple shenanigans, so she was entitled to her full share of the income from the record, which also meant (by amazing coincidence of course) Paul was too, as they were married, her money was his, etc...
But all cynicism aside, I love this record. This is currently the second copy I have purchased as the first one had a huge skip that occurred during the last track of side 2. Thanks CD Warehouse in Kzoo! I spent $3.99 for that?
I like to call this album "McCartney 1.5" as it is very close in spirit to Paul's first record, "McCartney" (Paul has an album called "McCartney II" that came out in 1980 after his venture with Wings imploded. It features Paul experimenting with synthesizers and, with the exception of one song, is pretty forgettable). It is more professionally recorded than that first one, which Paul recorded at home on his own equipment.
This album can definitely be described as "pastoral," as the cover no doubt indicates. Paul and Linda had been spending a lot of time at their Scottish farm getting away from all the hustle and bustle of London and the gloom attached to it from the very recent split of the Beatles. The songs range from mellow romps through the country to epic ballads with soaring choruses filled with orchestration and vocals. Linda's voice is in fine form, and while she was not an overwhelmingly good singer she puts in a competent performance, and sounds better than she did on "McCartney." The production is fuller too, and not as spartan as that of the first record.
|Paul (looking pretty grizzly) and Linda, out and about in '71|
Allmusic has this to say: "...in retrospect it looks like nothing so much as the first indie pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies, a record that's guileless and unembarrassed to be cutesy."
I'd say that is pretty accurate. Some of the songs ("Too Many People," "Dear Boy," and "Three Legs") were seen as digs at the other ex-Beatles at the time, Lennon in particular. John answered back later that year on his Imagine album with the track, "How Do You Sleep?" This song was considerably more blatant in pointing out who it was about, whereas the Paul tracks were at least a little bit vague. John even included a postcard insert of himself holding a pig by the ears. Now that's symbolism, folks.
Here's a video showcasing my favorite track. It reminds me of my own long-haired lady.
This video features Paul performing the track "Ram On" (with a mandolin!) in 2010.