I must admit that I didn’t have high hopes for this album in advance. It’s been in the cupboard for thirty years or so, collecting dust. I only heard Coming Up on the radio occasionly and that was about it. I did not listen to this album since probably 1982. I remember I didn’t really like Paul’s experiments with synthesizer and drumcomputers. Where had the songs like Getting Closer gone?
Fact is that with McCartney II, Paul started a new era in his musical carreer. The times of Wings were over and I guess Paul was trying something different. Now, in 2012, I tried to listen to the album without prejudice and like it was released yesterday. In the past thirty years, we have been struggling with all kinds of electronic music, loops, samples, housebeats and other stuff. I’m not saying I like it, but I’ve grown accostumed to it, which give me a different impression of McCartney II. I’m convinced that should this album had John Lennons name on it, it would have been praised over and over for ‘being able to look further than the beaten path’. Funny thing is that Paul made this album. I’m not saying it’s all good, but I have respect for him coming up with this album that is different than what he had done before. Well, that is, there is some resemblence to McCartney (I), but I do like this one better. There is some nice stuff with synthesizers that may sound kinda normal these days, but were a revolutionary thing in 1980. I dare to state that Paul McCartney reinvented house, loops and sampling with this album. Created in the heat of punk, new wave and disco.
John Lennon on the other hand released Double Fantasy in the same year, one of the most disappointing post-Beatles album ever.
Although the Live At Glasgow-version is valued the better among fans, I don’t mind this album version at all. The drumming is standard, as is through the complete album. Paul just isn’t a very good drummer. He can keep pace, but that’s about it. It’s not really fluent. The rhythm is usually saved by Paul excellent bass and that’s the point with this song as well. I don’t think the ‘brass’ is played with real instruments, but they make a great addition to the song. Vocals are pretty good as well: Paul would wish he could like that nowadays. Certainly not a one take song and it was well worked out: there’s known rehearsals of this song with Wings. As stated, the song was a great live song as well.
Funny, weird song. Thirty years ago, I absolutely hated the constant loop, but it doesn’t matter to me that much anymore. The synthesizer combined with the strange guitar chords create a remarkable sound. The drums sound awful. Lyrics are pretty funny for an non-native speaker like me. The chorus got stuck in my head for days. What are those strange bird-like sounds towards the end of the song?
On The Way
The first thing I noticed was the enormous amount of delay and reverb on Pauls voice. Terrible. Drumming is not very fluent again, to put it diplomatically. Lead guitar sounds okay. Bass doesn’t do any special things. Comes close to much of the McCartney I-album, the song sounds like a leftleftleftover from ten years ago. A certain skip.
Ridiculous lyrics in a love song. That’s some kind of experiment. When you don’t take too much notice of the silly verses, what’s left is a good ballad. The keyboards in the far background create a nice atmosphere. Listen to that in the choruses for example. The acoustic guitar at 1.00 is a nice addition. Paul’s voice sounds as if he’s going to break any moment. Great low synthbass starting at 2.12. Love that, never noticed that before. I could well live without the last verse (Don’t run after motorcars), the point is pretty clear by then. I always felt that Paul is trying to cover up a mistake in the bass at 3.58.
This sounds like McCartney I as well. Terrible drums once again, Paul skips a beat here and there like he did in I’m Looking Through You. Lead and rhythm guitar sounds as if it was played by a twelve year old George Harrison. The usual Paul McCartney singalong. Simple 12 bar chord schedule. Any starting band can play this kind of song and probably better.
Instrumental. A loop chord thingy and Paul plays a melody along with it. That is not a bad melody at all. And at least the drum computer does the job better than Paul. Nothing more to add really.
Summer’s Day Song
Yawn. Paul brings another ballad, but this one is pretty boring. The keyboards songs like a church organ here and there and that does not really add to a lovely atmosphere. The electronics fail to create a balladish thing. Paul’s harmonies with a lot of reverb (around 2.30) sound like a boys choir as well. Not my piece of cake.
Is this written during the nine days of Japan prison? The melody of the synthesizer from 0.40 sounds like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cindy Lauper. The melody is nice enough, the rest is pretty standard. Drum computer is just a beat and the synthbass is nothing special either.
Again lots of delay on the vocals, although it’s getting better towards the end. Makes it pretty hard to listen to. The only highlight is the melody in the guitar break (0.39-0.58 and later again). Furthermore is another 12 bar standard thing. Nothing special.
Usually regarded as the albums weakest song, I think this is pretty interesting. Lots of cool synthesizer sounds and Paul’s voice is pretty good. Bass coming in at 0.40. Maybe the vocal/synth sounds are a little bit to loud in the mix. Drumming is not good again. The song is speeding up towards the end and a change of rhythm in the last few bars. Not one of McCartney’s best ever, but I don’t mind this one.
One Of These Days
Acoustic guitar for a change and immediately there’s the recognizable McCartney back on track. Is that a Linda harmony at 0.57? This is the least experimentally track on the album, just Paul and a guitar. Nice song.
Check My Machine
Hi George – morning Terry. This is supposed to be the first song Paul recorded in the complete session. Hence the name of the song. Great bass at last and a tempting lick in the rhythm makes it dancable song. The lick starting at 1.40 sounds like it was taken from a Disney animation film. Nice. Paul sings in a falsetto with a lot of reverb which makes the lyrics unlistenable. It doesn’t matter. The only thing is the song is far too long. I could have done with half of it.
I love this song. The loop create a hypnotizing atmosphere, although it doesn’t match exactly on all the transition. There’s a little rhythm guitar in the background, plus all kinds of interesting sounds. Bass adds wonderfully to the complete hypnosis and so does Pauls voice. I listened to the full length version (10.32) and it didn’t bore me anywhere.
All in all, a good side 1, a pretty bad side 2 and two bonus tracks that should have been on the original album.