Sound — 9
An album that has its ups and downs - the ups, however, are high up and the downs are pure McCartney in a very touching way. Purity, a deliberate lack of polished production is the motto of McCartney's first solo album, recorded during the last months of the long drawn break-up of The Beatles. Turning his workmanship into a combination of self-therapy and provocative statement, McCartney stripped his arrangements of everything that he was famous for and audiences around the world expected of him: strings and horns, rich but subtle vocal harmonies, endless layers of overdubs - it's all gone.
Lyrics — 7
What is left is the man himself, pretty much alone: except for a few harmonies added by his loving wife, he produces every sound that can be heard on this record. He is good on this album and - as we all know - when he is good, he is nothing short of terrific. There are the beautiful chord patterns of "Every Night" and "Junk" (presented in an instrumental version as well). "That Would Be Something" is an acoustic guitar gem with a bluesy feel featuring a vocal "drum solo." Maybe "I'm Amazed" is an overwhelming, hard-rocking ballad, soon to become a staple in McCartney's live act until the present day. "Teddy Boy" is a leftover from 1968, rehearsed to death during the ill-fated "Get Back Sessions," resurrected here in a moving acoustic version (The Beatles' interpretation nowadays available on "Anthology 3"). Man We Was Lonely patters along airily and the collage "Hot as Sun/Glasses" combines a simple guitar instrumental with the sound of, yes indeed, glasses and a mysterious snippet from an otherwise unreleased McCartney composition called "Suicide."
Overall Impression — 10
When he is not that good, however, McCartney's output may touch the puerile or on a very bad day drift off into pure pettiness. There are, one has to admit it, songs on this collection that are dangerously close to at least one of these regions. "The Lovely Linda" and "Oo You" as well as the instrumentals "Valentine Day" and "Momma Miss America" may have passed neither John Lennon's nor George Martin's quality controls when McCartney was still a Fab. But for all that, the album as a whole is surrounded by a refreshing air of carelessness that definitely saves even the lesser songs: they are either mercifully short - innocent glimpses into the song writing laboratory - or delivered with a sense of urgency making them at least likable. "Kreen-Akrore," wisely positioned at the end of album, is a percussion experiment (heavy breathing of the hard working drummer included) finally giving way to chanting voices. Whether this is hubris or an ironic twist is up to the individual listener to decide.