McCartney’s “Secret” Masterpiece!
Based on these photos, Paul McCartney was in a playful mood when he returned to his solo career in 1980 – after many years recording with his band Wings – and from these recording sessions he created what has become one his most acclaimed albums – even though it was trashed by critics – AND SOME FANS – when released!
Time To Spin The Brilliant “McCartney II!”
Even though it was released a decade after the breakup of The Beatles, “McCartney II” is only the second solo album by Paul McCartney, and the first since the formation of Wings in 1971!
Remember that “RAM” is credited to Paul AND Linda McCartney, so even though it was his second solo album, it’s not considered that…which brings us to “McCartney II!”
The final Wings CD was a commercial and critical failure – even thought it has also emerged as a neglected gem as well:
You can read about the final Wings album, “Back To The Egg”, by clicking on my story here:
After Wings broke up, Macca went back into the studio for a very experimental album, a significant departure for McCartney. Much of “McCartney II” utilizes synthesizers and studio experimentation.
It all began when McCartney went north to his farm in Scotland to begin some private recordings in July 1979. The first song he recorded was “Check My Machine” as a way to test the equipment, hence its title. By sessions’ end, he had recorded over 20 songs!
This classic Linda McCartney photo of Paul at works shows just how experimental Macca had become, showing once again how committed he was to music, and his willingness to try anything!
With no immediate use for the recordings, he put them aside – and only released one song – just in time for the holiday season 1979…
Paul released his first solo single since 1971 – the holiday hit “Wonderful Christmastime”, which was recorded during those “McCartney II” recording sessions.
Here is the fun music video Macca released at the time:
As for the rest of the songs, “McCartney II” was released the following May to very mixed reviews; many critics found the album, with its experimental, synth-based compositions and its handful of instrumentals, slight and unlike McCartney’s classic rock of the “Band On The Run” era…
But it was just what the fans wanted at the time, and the album hit number 1 in the UK and number 3 in the US.
The driver of the albums’s success was one of McCarney’s most unique singles ever!
“Coming Up” – an uplifting dance number – appeared that April with a video (Paul playing all the bandmates, dubbed ‘The Plastic Macs’, except for the backing singers – played by Linda!
Here is a great “making of” video as well as the song!
The song was was a #2 hit in England – and it was released with the reverse side a live version recorded during Wings’ December 1979 show in Glasgow…
“Coming Up” was flipped over for the live Wings version in the US where it became another No. 1 for McCartney, and helped launch the album’s success around the world!
Here is Paul McCartney performing “Coming Up” in “The Concert for Kampuchea”, held in London in 1979.
The other song that achieved great notoriety from the album also highlighted McCartney’s experimental phase at the time:
This computerized, synthesized beat was unique, putting McCartney at the forefront of the 80’s new wave sound! Here is Paul still performing the song today, live from London is 2015:
Thanks to “FAB GEAR FAVE RAVE” for posting this on youtube! These first two songs set the stage for a great collection of McCartney songs, from the bluesy “On the Way” to the absolutely gorgeous ballad “Waterfalls”:
Next up was the funky, 50’s sound of “Nobody Knows”, then more experimental songs like
“Front Parlour”, “Summer’s Day Song”, “Frozen Jap”, “Bogey Music”, “Darkroom”, and ending with the beautiful “One of These Days”:
Thanks to MetalGuruMessiah for that very inventive music video honoring the song, which I found on youtube!
As you can see from these photos, Paul was in quite the experimental mood, perhaps feeling freed from having to keep the band Wings going forward….instead, he let his inhibitions go, and released a masterpiece!
“The Record Is Muddled And Confused!”
Or did he?
The initial reviews were mixed, with many criticizing McCartney for the experimental nature of the album. Yet time has, once again, given fans a chance to embrace the unique sound and classic McCartney songwriting.
“McCartney II” Special Edition Extras!
As well as the original album that I have discussed above, Macca’s terrific archive special edition includes a ton of great extras!
Disc 2 – Bonus Audio 1
“Blue Sway” (with Richard Niles Orchestration) – 4:35
“Coming Up” (Live at the Apollo Theatre, Glasgow – 17 December 1979) – 4:08
“Check My Machine” (Regular Single B-side Edited Version) – 5:50
“Bogey Wobble” – 2:59 – Previously unreleased
“Secret Friend (Full Length Version)” – 10:31
“Mr H Atom” / “You Know I’ll Get You Baby” – 5:55 – Previously unreleased
“Wonderful Christmastime” (Regular A-side Version) – 3:47
“All You Horse Riders” / “Blue Sway” – 10:15 – Previously unreleased
Disc 3 – Bonus Audio 2
“Coming Up” [Full Length Version] – 5:34
“Front Parlour” [Full Length Version] – 5:15
“Frozen Jap” [Full Length Version] – 5:43
“Darkroom” [Full Length Version] – 3:45
“Check My Machine” [Full Length Version] – 8:58
“Wonderful Christmastime” [Full Length Version] – 4:15
“Summer’s Day Song” [Original without vocals] – 3:25
“Waterfalls” (DJ edit) – 3:20
Disc 4 – DVD
“Meet Paul McCartney”
“Coming Up” – Music video
“Waterfalls” – Music video
“Wonderful Christmastime” – Music video
“Coming Up” – Live at Concert for the People of Kampuchea – 29 December 1979
“Coming Up” – Taken from a rehearsal session at Lower Gate Farm, 1979
“Making the Coming Up Music Video”
“Blue Sway” – Music video
This special edition is one of my favorites, as it is full of great unreleased music and tons of videos!
It certainly made me appreciate the album all the more…and speaking of under-appreciated McCartney albums – I hope they do a special edition of this as well:
Well, you can call it “Red Rose Speedway”, but it WAS actually “RAM 2!” Read all about it here:
I love all of McCartney’s music, and have come to appreciate his more eclectic music as well, perhaps none more that this:
McCartney’s “Twin Freaks!”
Here is one of McCartney’s most obscure collaborations – read all about this amazing project by clicking on my story here:
And let me know what you think of “McCartney II!”
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