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Mon, May 6, 2013
Paul and Linda McCartney - RAM
Ram is an album by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, released in 1971, the only album credited to the pair. Set against the backdrop of the legal action taking place in Britain's High Court with the dissolution of The Beatles partnership, following their break-up the year before, Ram was the second of two albums McCartney released between quitting The Beatles and forming Wings, whose future drummer Denny Seiwell played on the record.
Three singles were released from Ram: the American number 1 hit "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey", the minor British hit "The Back Seat of My Car", and "Eat at Home", which appeared in Europe, Japan and Australia. The album was reissued on 21 May 2012.
Recording and structure
Paul and his family flew to New York City on 3 January 1971 to record the new material.While Paul's first album McCartney featured him on every instrument, for Ram Paul decided to hold auditions for musicians, bringing some in under the guise of a session to record a commercial jingle. Auditions were held in an attic on 45th Street for three days,where David Spinozza was tapped for guitar duties, after being asked by Linda, before auditions moved to a basement, where Denny Seiwell was recruited on drums. Seiwell was found, by McCartney "lying on a mattress one day in The Bronx." McCartney invited Seiwell to the album's sessions, which were to start on 10 January 1971. Spinozza was later replaced by Hugh McCracken when Spinozza became unavailable.
The album was recorded between 10 January and 15 March 1971 at A & R Studios, with overdubs added at Columbia Studios. Playing guitar or piano and singing at the same time, Paul chose to overdub his bass later on. Although it was a collaborative project, Linda's vocal duties were mostly limited to singing harmonies and backing Paul, who sang almost all of the lead parts, however, Linda sang co-lead vocals upon "Long Haired Lady". The New York Philharmonic was brought in by McCartney to play on "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey", "Long Haired Lady", "The Back Seat of My Car" and "Another Day". Paul and Linda's daughter, Heather, sang backing vocals on "Monkberry Moon Delight".
In July 1971, Northern Songs and Maclen Music sued Paul and Linda McCartney for violating an exclusive rights agreement by collaborating on the song "Another Day." In June 1972, ATV announced that "all differences between them have been amicably settled" and Paul and Linda signed a new seven-year co-publishing contract between ATV and McCartney Music. The sessions also birthed future songs such as "Dear Friend", released on Wings' debut album, Wild Life, "Little Woman Love", as well as future tracks featured on Wings' 1973 album, Red Rose Speedway; "Get on the Right Thing", "Little Lamb Dragonfly" and "Big Barn Bed". Also recorded was the first incarnation of "Seaside Woman". The album was mixed at Sound Recorders in Los Angeles. By early 1971, the project was completed along with the non-album "Another Day"/ "Oh Woman, Oh Why" single. Apart from the songs released on Ram and the first two Wings albums, McCartney also recorded the following tracks during these sessions:
"A Love for You"
"Great Cock and Seagull Race"
"Now Hear This Song of Mine"
"Rode All Night"
"When the Wind Is Blowing"
According to Peter Brown, John Lennon believed that a number of songs on Ram contained jibes aimed at him, particularly "Too Many People" and "Dear Boy". Lennon thought the line "Too many people preaching practices" was directly referencing him and Yoko Ono. McCartney later claimed that only two lines in "Too Many People" were directed at Lennon. "In one song, I wrote, 'Too many people preaching practices,' I think is the line. I mean, that was a little dig at John and Yoko. There wasn't anything else on [Ram] that was about them. Oh, there was 'You took your lucky break and broke it in two.'" Brown also described the picture of two beetles copulating on the back cover as symbolic of how Paul McCartney felt the other Beatles were treating him. George Harrison and Ringo Starr were said to consider the track "3 Legs" as an attack on them and Lennon. Paul said that "Dear Boy" was directed at Linda's ex-husband, and not Lennon. As well as conducting a war of words via Britain's music press, Lennon's response was the scathing "How Do You Sleep?", and it has been considered too that "Crippled Inside", also from his Imagine album, was directed at McCartney. Early editions of Imagine included a postcard of Lennon pulling the ears of a pig in a parody of Ram's cover photograph of McCartney holding a ram by the horns.
Upon its release, Ram was poorly received by music critics, and McCartney was particularly stung by the harsh reviews − especially as he had attempted to address the points raised in criticism of his earlier album, McCartney, by adopting a more professional approach this time around. Jon Landau in Rolling Stone called Ram "incredibly inconsequential" and "monumentally irrelevant", and criticized that it lacks intensity and energy. He added that it exposes McCartney as having "benefited immensely from collaboration" with the Beatles, particularly John Lennon, who "held the reins in on McCartney's cutsie-pie, florid attempts at pure rock muzak" and kept him from "going off the deep end that leads to an album as emotionally vacuous as Ram." Playboy accused McCartney of "substituting facility for any real substance", and compared it to "watching someone juggle five guitars: It's fairly impressive, but you keep wondering why he bothers." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice panned his songs as pretentious "crotchets ... so lightweight they float away even as Paulie layers them down with caprices." Writing some four years later, Roy Carr and Tony Tyler from NME claimed that "it would be naive to have expected the McCartneys to produce anything other than a mediocre record ... Grisly though this was, McCartney was to sink lower before rescuing his credibility late in 1973."
His fellow ex-Beatles, all of whom were riding high in the critics' favour with their recent releases, were likewise vocal in their negativity. Lennon famously hated the album, dismissing his former songwriting partner's efforts as "muzak to my ears" in his song "How Do You Sleep?". Even the affable Starr told Britain's Melody Maker: "I feel sad about Paul's albums ... I don't think there's one [good] tune on the last one, Ram ... he seems to be going strange."
Decades after the initial release of Ram, critics have reviewed the album more favourably. Some prominent critics have even called it one of McCartney's finest solo works. Mojo said that "today it sounds quintessentially McCartney." Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote: "in retrospect it looks like nothing so much as the first indie pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies". In a review of its 2012 reissue, Pitchfork Media's Jayson Greene called Ram "a domestic-bliss album, one of the weirdest, earthiest, and most honest ever made." Simon Vozick-Levinson of Rolling Stone dubbed it a "daffy masterpiece" and "a grand psychedelic ramble full of divine melodies and orchestral frippery." David Quantick of Uncut felt that, although it is not as "legendary" as publicized, the album is "occasionally brilliant and historically fascinating" as "post-Beatles mish-mash". Steven Hyden, writing for The A.V. Club, said that the "lightweight" style that was originally panned by critics is "actually (when heard with sympathetic ears) a big part of what makes it so appealing." However, Q magazine still found Ram to be "frustratingly uneven."
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Too Many People" Paul McCartney 4:10
2. "3 Legs" P. McCartney 2:44
3. "Ram On" P. McCartney 2:26
4. "Dear Boy" P. McCartney, Linda McCartney 2:12
5. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" P. McCartney, L. McCartney 4:49
6. "Smile Away" P. McCartney 3:51
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Heart of the Country" P. McCartney, L. McCartney 2:21
8. "Monkberry Moon Delight" P. McCartney, L. McCartney 5:21
9. "Eat at Home" P. McCartney, L. McCartney 3:18
10. "Long Haired Lady" P. McCartney, L. McCartney 5:54
11. "Ram On" P. McCartney 0:52
12. "The Back Seat of My Car" P. McCartney 4:26
13. "Another Day"
14. "Oh Woman, Oh Why"