Friday, February 22, 2008

Paul McCartney - McCartney II

It’s 1980 and Paul McCartney has finally worked his influence to the point where he convinced the Japanese government to overlook his past pot discretions and let ‘em in (get it?) to do a quick tour with his band, Wings.
So what’s McCartney, a fairly intelligent man, decide to do? For starters, he packs over two hundred grams of weed along with his Hofner bass only to be busted at the airport in Tokyo.
It’s important to remember this as five months after this incident he released McCartney II, his second solo album. And why it’s important to remember this is because McCartney II is an album featuring him playing virtually every instrument under the influence of over two hundred grams of weed.
It’s an annoying album when you’re sober, which probably explains why I hated it when I first bought it. But I’ve smoked enough pot since 1980 to fully appreciate the album’s “I’m totally going to go home and fuck around with some synthesizers as soon as I get out of this Japanese jail” attitude. He even returned the favor by calling one of the songs, a lighthearted instrumental synth ditty, “Frozen Jap.”
And to add to the joke, the album went all the way to #3 in the U.S. after it was released.
When McCartney isn’t fucking around with synthesizers on McCartney II, he’s laying down some half-assed blues (“On The Way”), sleepwalking through another adult contemporary ballad (“Waterfalls”), phony nostalgia (“Bogey Music”) or messing around with a mellotron (“Summers Day Song”) that he must have rediscovered while looking for some rolling papers.
Even the album’s most notorious single, “Coming Up,” isn’t really the version that people are familiar with. The version that reached #1 is actually a live version featuring Wings as the full backing band while the version on McCartney II is Paul’s own solo effort that sounds strangely disjointed.
All of these veritable missteps are exactly why I enjoy McCartney II so much; he’s either too stoned to give a shit what people might’ve thought or completely brave at allowing the release of an album that was so uncharacteristic of the rest of his catalog.
Whatever the reason for the release, it was the last time we really have to hear what happens when you put a Beatle in a makeshift studio with a bunch of instruments and many half-baked ideas.
And I mean “half-baked” in the most affectionate sense of the word.

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