5 Best Paul McCartney Solo Albums

Of the four Beatles, Paul McCartney has been arguably the most versatile and successful solo-artist. Yes, John Lennon had a lot less time since he died in 1980. Who knows what he would have produced hadn’t he been murdered? Of his output as a solo artist, especially his first two albums were great (‘Plastic Ono Band’ and ‘Imagine’), but after that the quality somewhat declined. George Harrison, same story. ‘All Things Must Pass’ and ‘Living in the Material World’ were brilliant, but the rest of his albums are far less memorable.

McCartney also peaked after the Beatles, but he continued to make great albums right up until his latest gem ‘McCartney III’. Below are the five albums he made post-Beatles that I love the most.

5. Venus and Mars

Recorded in New Orleans and released in 1975, this was the fourth studio-album McCartney released with his band Wings, and his sixth album after the Beatles-break-up. It is a sort of concept-album and features a number of beautiful compositions: the title-track that returns later (much like St. Peppers), ‘Rock Show’, ‘You Gave Me the Answer’, ‘Magneto and Titanium Man’, and ‘Listen to What the Man Said’. The album was a huge success. It reached number 1 in the US, the UK and other countries around the world (as did the single ‘Listen to What the Man Said’ in the US) and sold four million copies worldwide.

4. McCartney

His first album after the break-up in 1970 – which had a lot to do with the tension within the disintegrating band – was not received very well. John Lennon was one of the main critics. I think it contains a number of terrific songs, some of Beatles-level greatness. This makes sense since they were written during the band’s golden years: ‘Junk’, ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, ‘Every Night’, ‘That Would Be Something’ are the best. Yes, the album is underproduced, but this gives it some of its charm. McCartney basically performed the whole album by himself and recorded it in secrecy. It is the perfect showcase for his amazing talent.

3. Band on the Run

Generally considered as the highlight of Wings’ output. It opens with the classic title track about McCartney’s search for freedom. ‘Band on the Run’ consists of three parts that form a perfect integrated composition. This is pure McCartney. There are only eight more songs on the album, but they are all beautiful. The album was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, by a trio consisting of Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine. The rest of the band had left. No matter, the final result was generally praised and it became a huge commercial success. Look out for actors James Coburn and Christopher Lee on the album’s cover.

2. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

This 2005 masterpiece re-establishes McCartney as one of the greatest living musicians/songwriters. It took 18 months to make and Paul once again plays most of the instruments, like he did on his first album McCartney. The 13 songs are unusually reflective and intimate-sounding for the ex-Beatle, which is a good thing. They are all great, but my favorites are: ‘Fine Line’, ‘Jenny Wren’, ‘Friends to Go’ (dedicated to George Harrison), ‘A Certain Softness’ and ‘Follow Me’. The cover is from a photograph of McCartney strumming a guitar in his family’s backyard in Liverpool, taken by Paul’s brother Mike.

1. Ram

‘Ram’ is the only album credited to the husband-and-wife music duo Paul and Linda McCartney. It is a terrific collection of extremely enjoyable songs, like: ‘Too Many People’, ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’ (Paul’s first number 1 hit in America without the Beatles), ‘Ram On’ and ‘The Back Seat of My Car’. The recording sessions also yielded the terrific non-album single ‘Another Day’. ‘Ram’, very much like Paul’s debut album ‘McCartney’, initially received unfavourable reaction from music journalists, but has since been recognized as one of Paul’s best efforts as a solo musician.

Paul, thanks for all your terrific output. It is impossible for me to describe how much your music means to me personally.

Read also:
The Beatles: Reunion Project
The White Album Compressed
Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke
My 10 Favourite Beatles Songs

My 10 Favourite Beatles Songs

The Beatles
Well, this was a tough challenge. ‘The Beatles’ made so many great songs, and in my life I loved them all. But I had to choose, and I did (I only cheated once). So here they are, my 10 favourites. Let it be…

10. Sexy Sadie
Lead vocals: John Lennon
Writer(s): John Lennon
Album: The White Album (B-side)

I just love the structure of this one with every line coming back. The history of how it came to be is amusing as well. Apparently Lennon started writing it in India where he and the boys were staying at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Lennon became disillusioned after Maharishi made sexual advances towards several female group members. The song was originally called ‘Maharishi’, but George Harrison insisted they change the title.

9. Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Lead vocals: John Lennon
Writer(s): Lennon-McCartney
Album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

This one sounds like it was composed with a head full of acid and it probably was. The lyrics are based entirely on a circus poster from the Victorian age Lennon had at home. The final result, a combination of psychedelic rock, circus music and waltz is more an experience than a song. A truly unique sound that stimulates all senses. Brilliant.

8. The Fool on the Hill
Lead vocals: Paul McCartney
Writer(s): Paul McCartney
Album: Magical Mystery Tour

This musical power performance is full of sadness and wisdom. Makes heavy use of flutes that send shivers down my spine every time I listen to it.

7. Michelle
Lead vocals: Paul McCartney
Writer(s): Lennon-McCartney
Album: Rubber Soul

It a shame nobody on the talent shows like ‘The Voice’ ever picks a love ballad like ‘Michelle’. Maybe it’s not allowed, but even if they did, they would never be able to sing it like Paul McCartney. ‘Michelle’ is tasteful, romantic and lovely. Never fails to move me.

6. Happiness is a Warm Gun
Lead vocals: John Lennon
Writer(s): John Lennon
Album: The White Album (A-side)

Bizarre poetry from John Lennon. It is inspired by the cover of a gun magazine that read ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’. Lennon thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say and he wrote these lyrics that are terrific and crazy. The song rocks so much it gives me a massive hard on whenever I play it insanely loud in my car.

5. Octopus’s Garden / Norwegian Wood
Lead vocals: Ringo Starr / John Lennon
Writer(s): Richard Starkey / Lennon-McCartney
Album: Abbey Road / Rubber Soul

It is truly amazing how much atmosphere these artists could create with their songs. ‘Octopus’s Garden’ – by far the greatest contribution from Ringo Starr – takes you deep into the ocean for a magical experience. ‘Norwegian Wood’ is extremely atmospheric as well due to the sitar played by George Harrison. The lyrics are beautiful and poetic. I love to go there any day of the week.

4. Because
Lead vocals: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison
Writer(s): John Lennon
Album: Abbey Road

I experience their final album ‘Abbey Road’ as one large and beautiful opera, and ‘Because’ is one of the highlights. Why? ‘Because’ it’s a powerful and astonishingly beautiful song. Can make me cry like a child.

3. In My Life
Lead vocals: John Lennon
Writer(s): Lennon-McCartney
Album: Rubber Soul

Wonderful trip down memory lane with John Lennon. It’s about love and friendship and you believe every word he so gently sings. It is ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone’s ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. Mojo magazine named it the best song of all time in 2000.

2. She’s Leaving Home
Lead vocals: Paul McCartney
Writer(s): Lennon-McCartney
Album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Besides the hallucinogenic ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and the mood-setting ‘Fixing a Hole’ this is a song that makes me think of the love of my life. In the year that I met Loesje, I would listen to this all the time thinking about her. The lyrics are sad, but stunningly beautiful. McCartney came up with the runaway story, which he read about in a newspaper and Lennon added the Greek chorus, the parents’ view: ‘We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.’ Genius teamwork.

1. Here, There and Everywhere
Lead vocals: Paul McCartney
Writer(s): Paul McCartney
Album: Revolver

This is it: my funeral song. I don’t know what McCartney thought about when he wrote this powerful masterpiece, but for me it is about love and eternity.

Thanks again, Boys.