PAUL and LINDA McCARTNEY RAM (1971/2012)
PERCY “THRILLS” THRILLINGTON Thrillington (1977)
VARIOUS ARTISTS RAM On L.A. (2009)
VARIOUS ARTISTS TOM: A Tribute To RAM (2009)
TIM CHRISTIANSEN Pure McCartney (2013)
Five Takes On Paul McCartney’s Best Album
Debate it all you want, RAM is still Paul’s most consistently rewarding solo album. After being eviscerated by the critics in 1970… for breaking up The Beatles… for a debut album considered unworthy of The Beatles’ legacy… for not being dead… Paul McCartney buckled down and got to work. RAM was the result. It’s a surprising album in that it spotlights every strength McCartney honed as a Beatle, but sounds nothing like a Beatles album. Which, in itself, is amazing. RAM is dense, for sure, but repeated listens provide hidden charms within the jammed-packed harmonies and wonderfully cluttered arrangements. It’s not commercial pop candy, though, so it refuses to quickly wear out, as Band On The Run did for me. More importantly, its “filler” quotient might be the lowest of all Paul’s LPs. You can quibble about some of the tracks, of course… but, you can do the same with any Beatles album, too. To this day, one of my all time favorite McCartney moments is the ripping guitar solo that climaxes “Too Many People,” the first grooves that disintegrated on my old vinyl copy. I could go on, but most have already made up their minds about RAM, pro or con. We’ve included the bonus tracks disc from the 2012 Archive Collection release. Find it at Amazon (HERE), along with the 4CD/1DVD version (HERE). Hear 5 versions of “Dear Boy,” below.
It’s obvious Paul thought highly of RAM, because he used it as a launching pad for the first of many inexplicable concepts and releases (not to mention aliases) throughout his career. This idea he took to the extreme, by placing ads and news items into various UK papers long before the album’s release, just to establish the name of fictitious socialite, Percy Thrillington, man about town. Thrillington, the album, recorded in 1971 but not released until 1977, is a song for song instrumental muzak version of RAM. But… why do a muzak album? And, why RAM? It never added up. Though Paul’s ghostly visage was seen on the back cover, nobody knew the album was McCartney’s doing. Why would he? Even those who might have been suspicious were never sure. It was a full-fledged ruse that McCartney maintained until the 80s, when he officially admitted his involvement. Years later, Paul attempted a similar gambit with his electronic alter-ego, The Fireman, but by that time people were wise to his antics (and his production company logo). To this day, Thrillington is still one of Paul McCartney’s least known LPs.
I’m generally suspicious of various artist gatherings of unknown bands (unknown to me, anyway), but this 2009 collection is a charmer. While each band has their individual strengths and weaknesses, no one here attempts to disembowel or re-invent the material, so – as a whole – RAM On L.A. remains, first and foremost, a pop album… just as it should be. Bands include (in order); Earlimart, Frankel, The Parson Redheads, Bodies Of Water, Radar Bros., Naptunes, Los Baby Fools, Le Switch, The Broken West, Amnion, The Parson Redheads (again, for the “Ram On” reprise) and Travel By Sea.
Here’s another tribute to RAM from Tom, over at WFMU. It was originally created in 2009 for a station fundraiser, and includes material recorded specifically for this compilation. Along with the original album, Tom added bonus covers of PM’s first single, “Another Day”/”Oh Woman Oh Why.” Artists include; Aimee Mann, Death Cab For Cutie (hear “Dear Boy,” below), Portastatic, The Black Hollies, Dump, Hank IV, The Royal Purple, Danielson, Cynthia Santiglia with The Thrillingtons, Spider Bags, Themeweavers LLC, Ted Leo, The Barbaras & The Stone Throw Singers. Note: There’s a little distortion at the end of Ted Leo’s track, sorry. Many thanks to JB for the tip.
An April 2013 release of Danish singer/songwriter Tim Christensen’s live concert tribute to RAM. I don’t know the guy myself, but Wiki’s got some info on him and his activities (HERE) that may be common knowledge to others. The album’s idea, entitled Pure McCartney, was hatched between Christensen and Mike Viola (Candy Butchers) who surprised each other by pinpointing RAM as their all-time favorite album. The song for song live RAM also includes a few extras/encores, “Venus And Mars/Rock Show,” “Coming Up,” “Live And Let Die,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Junk” and “Band On The Run.”
Too Many People
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
Heart of the Country
Monkberry Moon Delight
Eat At Home
Long Haired Lady
Ram On (Reprise)
Back Seat of My Car
RAM Bonus Tracks
Another Day (3:43)
Oh Woman, Oh Why (4:36)
Little Woman Love (2:09)
A Love For You (John Kelly Mix) (4:09)
Hey Diddle (Dixon Van Winkle Mix) (3:50)
Great Cock And Seagull Race (Dixon Van Winkle Mix) (2:36)
Rode All Night (8:45)
Sunshine Sometime (Earliest Mix) (3:22)