Sunday, 17 July 2011

Paul McCartney - McCartney (1970) - Part One

Welcome to my new blog.  I'm not completely sure what I'm going to be doing yet, but I hope that you find it interesting.  I do know that I will be looking at albums, and discussing them in some length.  I will be looking mainly at the songs on the albums, including the musical side of them, and in a lot of cases posting links for you to follow to versions of the songs that I have recorded at home especially for this series of blogs.

It is a series that will be very infrequent, because obviously it takes time to dissect songs to such a degree, and to record versions of the songs as well.  I am hoping that there will be information that is of interest to people whether they are musicians or not.

Presently though I am starting on the solo career of Paul McCartney, in which I will include Wings releases as well, although I believe them to be a band in their own right and not just a solo Paul project.

So, let's start with where it all started, with Paul's very first album

ALBUM 1 - Paul McCartney - McCartney (1970)

UK Amazon - 
US Amazon -

1. The Lovely Linda
2. That Would Be Something
3. Valentine Day
4. Every Night
5. Hot As Sun / Glasses
6. Junk
7. Man We Was Lonely
8. Oo You
9. Momma Miss America
10. Teddy Boy
11. Singalong Junk
12. Maybe I'm Amazed
13. Kreen-Akrore

The album starts with the song "The Lovely Linda", which Paul seems to shake off as a test of the recording equipment.  I think that it is a lot more than that to be honest.

I see the song as an affirmation of his love for Linda, and a very heartfelt one.  She was definitely everything to him, including his muse.  In much the same way as John Lennon was writing songs about Yoko Ono and what there was between the two of them, this song is much the same only I think better because of the naturalness of the song and the laid back performance of it.

Not that I am comparing myself to him in any way of course, but I can see where Macca is coming from with this song.  To me it sounds like he was just playing around with a chord pattern that came to him and just made up something on the hoof, then pressed record and recorded it straight away. 

It has that immediacy to it, which I think lends it an air that overworking on it would have destroyed.  I sort of do the same sometimes, and in a way I should perhaps record more of these things.  As it stands this is perfect for the song.

Here he is actually playing in A Major - A B C# D E F# G#.  It could seem like he's playing in a variation of E, but my version of the song (which has a link at the end), proves it by finishing on the A major chord, which in the original version off the album starts with the opening run of A to D/A.  Macca is full of tricks like this, where he takes a section of a song and places it at the beginning as an intro (a la the intro to Goodnight Tonight starting with same thing as the instrumental break that leads into the instrumental section).  Sometimes he even puts something at the beginning that is nowhere else in the song at all, such as The Beatles song I've Just Seen A Face from the Help album.

From the A major scale he uses the chords A (AC#E), D/A (AF#AD), E (EG#B), and E6 (EG#BC#), which he had obviously got attached to because he couldn't let it go and just had to record it.  All of us who are musicians know how this feels.

A sweet song made better by the fact that it has such a basic arrangement and instrumentation.

The second song on the album is "That Would Be Something" which, I think I would have worked on the song a bit more first if it were mine.  What is here is good, but I reckon that if it was up as a potential Beatles song, then maybe an idea of John Lennon's would have been added to it, a bit like they did with I've Got A Feeling and A Day In The Life, where they each added bits they had to help finish the other's song, John added something to I've Got A Feeling and Paul added something to A Day In The Life.  I like this song very much, but that little extra something would maybe have taken it from a nice song to a classic.

The music itself is good, with a nice riff and the chorusy bit.  I may have added a middle eight or something in there at least, but I feel like I'm being too critical there.  I admit that I find the song itself very sweet and, like I said, a nice song but not a classic.

I would say that musically he is playing with the mixolydian scale, this time in E, because once again he uses the flattened seventh - E F# G# A B C# D.  The riff itself plays on that straight away, as well as the fact that he plays an E7.  So you have the riff itself, which is sort of a take on E4 (EA), E5(EB), E3 (EG#) and the E chord (EG#B) itself, and then the chorusy thing of A (AC#E) and E7 (EG#BD).

I will say that the home recordings he made, of which this sounds definitely like it was, have a great sound to them which I think suits the material very much.

The next thing on the set is the instrumental Valentine Day, which is really a jam based around the A and D power chords, although the guitars are tuned slightly sharp (compared to the tuning on my guitar).

It utilises a few different riffs in there, and I think it is really just a case of Macca going for it.  It works really well to be honest, but has no real structure to it as such which, this may seem surprising to say, I think makes it great.  There's something about that initial spark of an idea where you just get into what you're doing and, to be honest, as someone who enjoys playing (obviously), I can really get into this.  Maybe when I couldn't play I didn't appreciate this as much as I do now.  I am sure that the album did initially take some getting used to though, and pieces like this even more so.

I have recorded a version of this myself, although with slight alterations, specifically the ending.  There is a great groove there, which is in A minor this time.  I've expanded on this, but in a way that shows how it is so easy to just go with the flow when you are "in the zone".

Links -
My version of The Lovely Linda (retitled The Lovely Louise)
Paul McCartney - That Would Be Something (Live from MTV Unplugged)
My version of That Would Be Something
My version of Valentine Day
Paul McCartney Chord songbook at Amazon UK