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Paul McCartney: 'McCartney' (1970)

The break-up of The Beatles liberated John Lennon, but proved far more difficult for Paul McCartney to come to terms with. Having valiantly tried since 1967 to keep the band together, he now found himself taking the greatest steps to dissolving the sixties most popular band. Legal battles with his former Beatles and his shocked reaction to the abysmal final mix of 'Let It Be' (ignored by Lennon), McCartney cordoned himself up in Scotland with the only person who would arguably have a greater influence on his life than Lennon had : his wife Linda.

Standing at his side through the post Beatle break-up (her resolve necessary at a time when alcohol was playing an unusually large part in her husband's life), she would grace each of McCartney's records until her death in 1998, his aide-de- camp during Wings colossal flight into the mid-seventies. The only other musician to feature on the record (though her contribution would primarily be relegated to backing vocalist), Linda's uncanny eye for photography gave the record its cherry laden album cover. McCartney would pay tribute to his partner on the opening 'The Lovely Linda' and the magnificent 'Maybe I'm Amazed'.

Though Lennon turned to Phil Spector to produce his sombre 1970 release 'Plastic Ono Band', McCartney chose to take producing and recording duties unto himself, primarily recorded on his Scottish farm (though he would record several overdubs at Abbey Road, under the pseudonym Billy Martin). Though 'Ono Band' is the more celebrated of the two releases, 'McCartney' is the more intriguing record, a compilation of ideas, some brilliant, some not so brilliant, some hilariously unfinished, but significantly rawer and more honest than many of the albums Paul McCartney would release in the seventies and eighties. With 'Let It Be' tarnished by strings and choral singers, 'McCartney' may prove to be the closest thing to the original concept 'Be' envisioned a raw sung to and for the listener. Complete with giggles, coughs and mutters, 'McCartney' had an intimacy of a live gig, one which baffled contemporary critics for its unfinished feel.

Beatle leftovers 'Junk' and 'Teddy Boy' showed the range of the records quality, the former a song of lyrical beauty, one which stands nicely with 'Eleanor Rigby' and 'For No One', the other a baffling throw-away, devoid of concept or rhyme. Blues ridden 'Valentine Day' showed McCartney's penchant for the electric guitar, but little else, whereas 'Every Night' proved one of the finest pop songs of the year. Both inspired and unsure of itself, the album is a strong insight into the fractured and fragile mind of its author.

Though Lennon has long been credited as the most experimental Beatle, it was McCartney who proved the most avant-garde (he was the man who suggested the tape-loops for 'Tomorrow Never Knows' and the chaotic orchestration on the band's magnum opus' A Day In The Life '),' Hot As Sun / Glasses' the prototype of The Fireman records he collaborated with Youth within the nineties, a nice diagram for future Cage like compositions and esoteric tunes. 'Ooh You' and 'Momma Miss America' also played to the left of the musical field, 'Man We Was Lonely' his two thumbs up to the blues singers of the nineteen twenties, though the strangely titled 'Kreen-Akore' proved a needless indulgence to follow the albums best track.

'McCartney's indelible strength would be remembered for a four-minute composition, McCartney's finest, second only to' Yesterday ', the incredible' Maybe I'm Amazed '. A low-key piano ballad brought to life by McCartney's tender vocal, the song would be a favorite among soul and rock singers, Rod Stewart, Dave Grohl and Norah Jones only three of the many who have put their stamp on McCartney's love letter. Backed by an image of McCartney with first-born Mary tucked under his coat, 'McCartney' was a family affair in all, Paul and Linda against the world.

Endearingly flawed, but brutally imaginative and upfront in its delivery, McCartney proved he could deliver without his Liverpudlian friends. As if to spell out his intentions further, 'McCartney' was augmented with a Q&A declaring the end of The Beatles, much to Lennon's fury. Such a decision may have proved regrettable, giving critics the license to tear into McCartney and everything he stood for. Lennon labeled the album poor, McCartney would eventually come to agree with him. They were all wrong!

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