Originally released in 1971, Ram is the latest Paul McCartney album to get the deluxe reissue treatment. There are umpteen versions to choose from…a single CD featuring a remastered version of the original album, a double disc set featuring 8 bonus tracks, a five-disc set featuring a mono mix of the album, plus the Thrillington version of the album, plus a DVD with a brief “Making Of” doco plus various promo clips. Fortunately, Ram is deserving of such lavish treatment as it is, in my opinion, McCartney’s best solo effort.
Actually, it’s technically not a solo album as it is the only one to be credited to Paul and Linda McCartney. It also features the contributions of Denny Seiwell (drums) and David Spinozza and Hugh McCracken (guitars). The tracks still retain the loose, homespun quality that was found on the previous McCartney album, but the instrumentation, arrangements and production are more ambitious, which suites this particular batch of songs.
And what songs they are. It sounds like Paul was overflowing with musical ideas and songs like Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Monkberry Moon Delight and Eat At Home sound like multiple songs-in-one. Just listen to the fade out of Back Seat Of My Car…Paul sounds so inspired it’s like he is composing two or three additional songs before he can finish this little gem.
It’s clear that Paul in enjoying his artistic freedom after the Beatles’ split. Later albums, such as Red Rose Speedway (1973), will find him a little too cutesy for his own good and songs like Little Lamb Dragonfly and Big Barn Bed are in need of a good editor (John Lennon where were you?), but on Ram, Paul gets things just right.
I only have the single-disc version of the reissue to work from, but I can say that the new remastering job is excellent. I’ve been listening to this album regularly ever since it was originally released in 1971 (oh my God, I’m old) and I can hear things now that I’ve never heard before.
And speaking of hearing new things…check out this feature on McCartney’s website. He’s posted four songs, Band On The Run, Let Me Roll It, Maybe I’m Amazed and Monkberry Moon Delight that you can mix yourself. There are fader bars to control vocals, drum & bass, guitar and keyboards for each tune. Listen to McCartney’s vocal track for Monkberry Moon Delight; it’s astonishingly over-the-top. He sings like a man possessed.
It’s that spirit and enthusiasm and willingness to take things to the next level that makes Ram such a great record.
Click here to listen to Smile Away from Ram: