FP 04 – Beyond The Beatles Part 3 – Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney episode artwork
FP 04: Beyond the Beatles Part 3 – Paul McCartney – Shownotes

The third in a four part series looking at the lesser-known stories of each Beatle’s solo projects. This episode looks at some of the outside projects Paul McCartney worked on while still with the Beatles, as well as his first two post-Beatles albums, McCartney (1970) and Ram (1971).

Part 1 – George Harrison »»
Part 2 – Ringo Starr »»
Part 4 – John Lennon »»

During the second half of The Beatles career, starting with Sgt Pepper, Paul McCartney really became the driving force behind The Beatles, much to the later annoyance of John Lennon, who complained he became sick of being a backing musician to Paul.

A touch harsh I feel, as it was Paul’s enthusiasm and excellent work ethic that got projects like Sgt Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be off the ground. He was also coming up with the goods in terms of songs and the healthy competition between him and John led to some of the best songs of all time.

Living in St John’s Wood (not far from Abbey Road Studios) while the others lived isolated in their country estates, Paul found it easy to pop into central London at the height of the swinging 60s to keep his finger on the pulse of the latest fashions and cultural events. It also meant he was a regular in the Apple offices, finding out what was going on with the business and taking an interest in Apple Records, home to a range of artists.

Paul McCartney’s outside projects during 1967 – 1971, included:

1967 – Soundtrack to The Family Way, winning an Ivor Novello Award for Love In The Open Air
1967 – Recommended Jimi Hendrix to the organisers of the Monterey Pop Festival
1967 – Present at the Beach Boys recording session for ‘Vegetables’ and strongly suspected of eating celery on the final recording.
1968 – Played bass on James Taylor’s ‘Carolina On My Mind’. James Taylor’s debut album was released on Apple Records.
1968 – Produced the song I’m The Urban Spaceman by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
1968 – Produced much of the ‘McGough & McGear’ album for his younger brother, Mike McGear (McCartney). Two songs, “So Much” and “Ex Art Student” featured Jimi Hendrix. More can be read about the McGough & McGear album here.
1968 – Produced Mary Hopkin’s #1 hit ‘Those Were The Days.’
1969 – Produced Mary Hopkin’s album Postcard and wrote and produced her #2 hit single, ‘Goodbye.’
1969 – Wrote and produced the Top 10 hit ‘Come & Get It’ for Badfinger. Also produced their songs ‘Rock of All Ages’ and ‘Carry On Til Tomorrow’. All appeared on The Magic Christian soundtrack album.
1970 – Release of ‘McCartney’ – Paul’s first post-Beatles solo album
1971 – Release of ‘Ram’ – album credited to Paul & Linda McCartney

Both ‘McCartney’ and ‘Ram’ received terrible reviews in the press and all 3 other Beatles were fairly critical of these two albums. You can read the dreadful 1971 Rolling Stone review of Ram here. I completely disagree with this original review and the other Beatles’ opionions (though I think much of their criticism was as result of the tension between them at the time). These albums seem to have been reappraised in recent times and are quite rightly considered to be great. What do you think of these albums? Please leave a comment below!

Credits & Acknowledgements

Rolling Stone Magazine, BeatlesBible.com, BeatlesInterviews.org, Happy Nat @ TheBeatlesRarity.com, Ritchie Unterberger, BBC Television, Wikipedia.org, Apple Records, Blue Note Records, EMI Columbia, Capitol, Columbia Pictures, Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes.