This page also includes Wings, Paul and Linda, etc. Paul is weird, since he can write really great stuff as a solo artist and he can also make really mediocre albums for a man of his talent. He's mostly worth listening too, though.
See The Beatles
Suggested first purchase/best of: Wingspan
Suggested first album: Tug of War
Paul McCartney: McCartney (1970) -- The opening song -- the cute little homemade, and not taken seriously, but loving nonetheless "Lovely Linda" -- sets up this album: a cute little homemade album which isn't to to be taken too seriously, but it's made lovingly nonetheless and therefore it's pretty great to listen to. And it's not The Beatles, that's for sure. With the exception of "Maybe I'm Amazed" (which is good for other reasons), all of the songs are pretty good for the homemade-ness, the highlights being "That Would Be Something," "Junk," "Man We Was Lonely," and "Teddy Boy."
Paul and Linda McCartney: Ram (1971) -- A fun album that is helped out by the involvement of Linda, who I like as a musical partner for Paul. It's a slightly more produced version of McCartney, and also a little more listenable and colorful. The little epic "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is a highlight.
Wings: Wild Life (1971)
Paul McCartney and Wings: Red Rose Speedway (1973)
Paul McCartney and Wings: Band on the Run (1973) -- This album is just one of those fun albums to listen to, with all its cycles and melodies and sing-along hits. The highlights are "Band on the Run," "Jet," and "Mamunia," though the album as a whole works just as well as the individual songs.
Wings: Venus and Mars (1975) -- Some of the album just kind of wastes time, but the good stuff is good, and even the time-wasters aren't horrible. The "Venus and Mars" songs are short and nice, the opening "Rock Show" is great (even if it sets up the album in a sort of Sgt. Pepper's kind of way, but then doesn't deliver), and "Listen To What the Man Said" is probably the best song on the album.
Wings: London Town (1978) -- This album has the hit "With a Little Luck," and it's about the best thing on the album, but even it shows what the album is: a soft little synthy thing that's okay but kind of dull.
Wings: Back to the Egg (1979) -- Like London Town in its blandness, but more regular rock and less soft rock--making it more interesting from time to time, but also less focused. There aren't any standout songs here, unless you count the bonus track (included on some editions) of "Wonderful Christmastime."
Paul McCartney: McCartney II (1980)
Paul McCartney: Tug of War (1982) -- One of the best Paul albums. Produced by Big George Martin, it's got the pretty "Tug of War," the irresistible "Take It Away" (which I like to cite as "my favorite radio song as a seven year old"), "Somebody Who Cares," the crazy "Ballroom Dancing," the little epic "The Pound Is Sinking," "Wanderlust," and some messing around with Carl Perkins and Stevie Wonder (on that "Ebony and Ivory" thing). Perhaps the best of Paul.
Paul McCartney: Pipes of Peace (1983) -- Paul was on a roll during this era of his solo career, having just released one of his best and now going on to another pretty solid album. The superstar Michael Jackson helped on this one, appearing on "The Man" and the big hit "Say Say Say," just as Paul had appeared on Michael's Thriller the previous year with "The Girl is Mine." It also helped that George Martin was the producer--even though this fact isn't acknowledged anywhere in the packaging, neither is Ringo's drumming contribution to "So Bad," the prettiest and one of the best songs on the album. The most interesting song is the opening title song, "Pipes of Peace," which shows how Paul can still do those complicated Beatley switcharoo songs. The rest of the album is mediocre at worst, and much of it is really good.
Paul McCartney: Give My Regards To Broad Street (1984) -- A weird soundtrack to the movie of the same name that Paul starred in, this is a sort of greatest hits album of Paul's songs from the Beatles and his solo career except that everything has been re-recorded. The re-recordings (produced by George Martin) don't do anything different, and if anything they just sound a little watered-down. The new song, "No More Lonely Nights," is great and has become one of his greatest hits. There are also a few little soundtracky things on here like the "Eleanor's Dream" instrumental section. While some might find fault (or downright pointlessness) in all this (and I do a little), you almost can't go wrong with these songs, so it's nice to hear them again in any form, especially all together.
Paul McCartney: Press To Play (1986) -- Another somewhat bland album with a few listenable moments and one truly good song ("Press").
Paul McCartney: CHOBA B CCCP (1988/1991) -- Recorded for and released in the Soviet Union in 1988 (then in America in 1991), this is a run-through of "oldies." There's nothing special about the arrangements or performances, but it's at least a little fun to hear Paul sing these old songs. He would improve on the same idea a decade later with Run Devil Run.
Paul McCartney: Off the Ground (1993) -- I pick up Paul's solo album when I see them cheap because usually there's at least one or two good songs on there. This one barely has that. I haven't listened to it much, but it doesn't make me want to much either. Not entirely dismissible, but certainly not one of his better efforts.
Paul McCartney: Flaming Pie (1997) -- Paul had a great approach to this album, inspired by working on the Beatles anthologies, which was to not make a big deal about the album and have fun with it. Because of it, we simply get to hear good Paul songs without all the slick production that sometimes follows him around and renders the songs too plastic. Sometimes it sounds like Paul is just in the room with you sweetly strumming a guitar. Almost every song here is pretty good, but the standouts are "The Song We Were Singing," "The World Tonight," "Young Boy," and "Beautiful Night."
Paul McCartney: Run Devil Run (1999) -- This could have been just another oldies cover album, but the production of the record and Paul's superrockin' backing band -- and of course Paul's just-having-rocking-fun singing voice and selection of great songs -- make it sound like something brand new. A good release for Paul (and us too) after Linda's death.
Paul McCartney: Driving Rain (2001)
Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard (2005)
Paul McCartney: Memory Almost Full (2007) -- What the hell? By this point we buy Paul McCartney albums because he's Paul. They're pretty good for background music and one or two songs you'll like. But this is, like, a really good album. Not just for Paul, for anyone. It begins with the disarming and bright simplicity of "Dance Tonight" and goes right into "Ever Present Past," one of the best songs of his catalogue. Everything else is as pink and pretty as the cover, including the weird "Mr. Bellamy." Paul is back!
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