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Review: McCartney’s RAM remastered: A turning point for Paul

22 Comments

RAM may be considered Paul McCartney’s second solo album after the breakup of The Beatles, but it should really be considered his first album as “Paul McCartney, the ex-Beatle”. RAM was originally released 41 years ago on May 17, 1971 and today is being released as a remastered edition in several different formats.

In the summer of 1970, after the success of “McCartney”, Paul and Linda retreated to Mull of Kintyre in Scotland, where they wrote songs for the album. It was a turning point for Paul. This was the album where Paul made Linda part of his musical legacy, and openly criticized John Lennon.

RAM is credited to Paul and Linda McCartney as a pair, with Linda having co-written six of the tracks. In the bonus video segment called “Ramming” available on the Deluxe Edition Box Set, McCartney explains that he asked Linda if she wanted to join the new band he was putting together. Linda replied, “Yeah.”

This would be the first time Paul worked closely with female harmonies. Linda would serve as his backing vocalist for many years to come. On the deluxe release, you can hear just plain and simple that Linda McCartney had a good singing voice. Just watch the bonus video for “Hey Diddle” and you’ll hear Linda harmonizing with Paul while he plays acoustic guitar outside sitting on the grass.

RAM gave Paul McCartney his first number one US hit single post-Beatles with “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”. The album also contained the song “Too Many People” which McCartney admits was a jab at former bandmate John Lennon.

“I did feel he [John] was preaching a little bit about what everyone should do, how they should live their lives,” Paul explains on the ‘Ramming’ video segment. “I felt some of it was a bit hypocritical.”

Reacting to John’s musical response of “How Do You Sleep” released on the Imagine album five months later, McCartney replies, “I nearly did a song ‘Quite Well, Thank You.'”

Other highlights from the original album include “Smile Away”, “Heart of the Country”, “Monkberry Moon Delight” and “The Back Seat Of My Car”. Music videos for “Heart of the Country” and “3 Legs” are also included on the bonus DVD from the Deluxe edition.

While the standard CD features the original tracks on the album remastered, the special edition CD contains a bonus disc which contains the single “Another Day/Oh Woman, Oh Why” as well as lesser known songs “Little Woman Love”, “Hey Diddle” and “Rode All Night”.

The Deluxe edition contains 4 CDs, 1 DVD, 112-page book, photo prints, handwritten lyrics and notes. This set includes two additional CDs of the remastered mono version of the original RAM album and the remastered “Thrillington” album from 1977 which was an instrumental version of RAM produced by Paul, a.k.a. Percy “Thrills” Thrillington.

The remastered edition of RAM also comes in digital and vinyl formats.

As Paul McCartney explains, RAM symbolized “pushing forward”. RAM was definitely the start to the second career of Paul McCartney, the performer who some people were surprised to know was in a band before Wings.

–Trina Yannicos

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22 thoughts on “Review: McCartney’s RAM remastered: A turning point for Paul

  1. Loved it since I was a kid……The Mono verison really ROCKS !!!

  2. Loved this album when it came out; still do! Waited a long time for this remaster. Thankyou, Paul!

  3. Masterpiece – One of the best post-Beatles albums written by an ex-Beatle. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

  4. I must say that the mono vinyl album cover is CRAP! It is on a ‘authentic-looking’ dirty white with NOTHING on it but a small inscription of ‘Ram Mono’ in the upper left corner. Hardly what Brian Epstein used to insist upon as ‘value for money.’ CRAP!

  5. John, the idea was to give you exactly what radio stations got when they received their very limited copy of the mono pressing of RAM. Had he done something else, purists would yell foul! So they took a photo of a surviving copy from someone’s collection and made that into the cover.

    The article was more about the whole deluxe package anyway which HAS value for the money with everything from 4 CDs, a DVD and replicated hand-written lyrics on note paper he had lying around with the McCartney album cover on it. It’s very well done! You also get the mono CD (and hi-res download). Not to mention Thrillington!

    I’ll take your mono copy if you are dissatisfied! They are already sold out of those!

  6. Question…

    Trina….
    WHY did you write: RAM may be considered Paul McCartney’s second solo album after the breakup of The Beatles, but it should really be considered his first album as “Paul McCartney, the ex-Beatle”.

    What does that mean?

    Chris Carter
    Breakfast w/ the Beatles

    • Chris, I was trying to emphasize that with RAM, Paul McCartney seemed to accept the fact that he was no longer a Beatle and was moving on. He wrote ‘McCartney’ while The Beatles were still considered to be together. With RAM, he seems to set the course for his new life away from The Beatles involving Linda in the co-writing of songs, openly dissing John Lennon, and creating a new band. As Paul says in the ‘Ramming’ video segment, the title “RAM” meant ‘pushing forward’ to him. It seemed like Paul found his new direction with this album.

  7. That’s what I figured you meant…but you gotta remember that same thing can be said for the McCartney LP…he knew the Beatles broke up when he recorded those tracks and he included that Q&A in the LP…so I think HE thought of that as his first post Beatle album….but I know what you mean. If you get SIRIUS/XM radio (Ch.21), this Sunday I have a RAM special on BWTB featuring NEW interviews about the LP w/ Paul, Hugh, Dave and Denny between each song….Ram On!

    • Chris, he may have known they were broken up by the time he released McCartney, but a month or so prior he recorded with George & Ringo one last track for Let It Be- I, Me, Mine. And while many songs were written during the Beatles on McCartney (Teddy Boy, Junk) & Ram (Back Seat of My Car) by the time RAM was recorded & released the other three Beatles all had released their first efforts outside of the Beatles as solo artists.

      RAM was also a very conscious attempt by Paul to sound totally different than the Beatles. Although that’s not always possible, by having a totally different approach and not being the perfectionist with lyrics and such, Paul did achieve a different “sound” than that of the Beatles. In fact, as a whole, they all avoided sounding like their Beatle counterpart.

      Now, as far away as he tried to get, Paul still used tricks from the Beatles. Like plugging in pieces of Big Barn Bed (as yet unrecorded for Red Rose Speedway) and he book marked the album with Ram ala Sgt. Pepper. He does it again with Band on the Run and Venus & Mars.

      What should be noted is that Paul still was filled with music. He put out McCartney, Ram, Red Rose Speedway, Wild Life, Band on the Run, Venus & Mars as well as Wings at the Speed of sound by the time he toured in 1976. Plus many little side projects like Suzy & The Red Stripes.

      • I know this goes against the consensus abd received wisdom but I actually dont think Paul intended to break up the Beatles at all. If you read the infamous Q&A self interview which he put together for the McCartney Album he doesnt actually say hes leaving or that the band are finished. His comments are more along the lines of he doesnt forsee them doing anything together for the time being. I get the impression that he was engaged in a kind of brinksman ship in the hope it might goad the other three into action.

        However it backfired spectacularly with the press perhaps reading more into his comments than he intended.
        When the headlines appeared saying the Beatles had split and Paul was leaving I just think nobody could be bothered disputing them and Paul just resigned himself to the inevitable and the band broke up by default.

        Maybe this explains why he initially came out of the break up in a deep depression and not exactly brimming with energy and optimism , invigourated with the new opportunities a solo career presented.

        In Scorceses recent documentary on George watch the footage of Paul signing the legal documentation that officially ended the band (around 1976 I think) you can see how upset he is . The look on his face and his body language tells you he couldnt believe it had actually come to this.

  8. I am sorry, but I can not agree with everyone that this is one of the best releases of the year. I am extremely disappointed in the new Ram release as well as the Collector’s Deluxe Edition. This title has been released on CD at least 4 different times through out the world. There were 3 different releases in the UK. It was released at least twice in Japan (once in a very nice mini LP cover) and once in the US.

    As with most of Paul McCartney’s Deluxe Collector’s Edition re-released CD’s there aren’t very many un-released songs or great DVD footage. Several artists/record companies load up their discs with singles, outtakes and/or un-released songs, but there are only 5 un-released songs on 4 CD’s and 3 of those 5 songs are remixed versions. CD 1 (44:11) and CD 2 (33:05) could have all been put on one CD (77:16). You could have the Stereo LP on 1 CD with ALL of the singles. Several singles are missing that were released from Ram at that time. The Mono LP (which by the way was released in the same cover as the stereo in the US as well as in a couple of countries overseas) and the Brung To Ewe promotional LP (on CD instead of on the DVD) and/or mono versions of the promotional singles could have been included on this CD. Ram is just like the other 3 re-releases that have come out. After all, the McCartney release has several live tracks that were recorded live by Wings 9 years after its release.

    Then there is this Thrillington release that could have had several Ram outtakes or unreleased tracks on a third CD. Even outtakes of Thrillington (with Paul’s voice instructing the orchestra at the beginning) could have been included on this CD. I bought Thrilllington when it was originally released in 1977 on LP (UK and US versions) as well as when it came out on CD (UK and US versions) and now I have it again, whoopeeeeeee! Even though Wings appeared instead of Paul McCartney there could have been some live tracks from Ram on a fourth CD if they decided they had to have 4 CD’s. I understand why Mary Had A Little Lamb was not on this set, but I think it should have been included because of its B-side, Little Woman Love, being included. Promo copies listed Paul McCartney as the artist instead of Wings.

    Why do you release a single CD as well as a double CD? And why does the single CD cost more than the double CD? Is it because you need make more money from those people that want to have all of your releases? Release the promotional version instead of the single CD. That would be something people could get if they couldn’t afford the Deluxe Collector’s Edition.

    Most of the paper goods are nice, but come on Paul, give us something that is cool to listen to that is worth the cost of these expensive sets. You could have had mini LP covers on the CD’s inside this expensive box set instead of plain black sleeves. I, myself or a few people I know would be very happy to help you out with suggestions to release something that is really special. You have us all by the balls because we want what you release, but give us something that is worth getting our hopes up as well as our credit card balances. Yes, this is a nice set, but come on and give us something that is really cool to listen to.

    • Richard, stop speaking the truth! lol

      I have not bought RAM as much as you have, but I have in my lifetime bought the vinyl back in the early 80s, bought the import CD (UK), the domestic CD (US), the DCC Gold Master CD but I also had to buy the 1993 remaster because of the bonus tracks.

      So, without the option of a deluxe box set, I’d not have bought it again. But I too was disappointed it didn’t have ENOUGH rough demos or alternates or B-Sides SOMETHING I didn’t already have! So as nice as the books and handwritten lyric sheets are, I love that stuff, I want more video/audio content.

      I read somewhere that it was going to include more initially, but now they held things back for the HP Cloud project. Which sucks! My plan is to grab what I can from that anyway and make my own stuff from it. Then, I’ll probably let my subscription lapse.

      So you are right on Richard. I paid $100 for a few tracks I never heard before officially bootlegged by Paul. Otherwise, it’s all about the paper goods.

      • PS and Thrillington is exactly the same as the previous remastered CD but without the artwork! Which I also bought. :-/

  9. Oh come on guys….it’s still a pretty FAB package…plus you didn’t really just pay for a “few new tracks”…you can’t forget yer getting (without a doubt) the BEST sounding RAM ever available…plus ya finally got a “real” MONO version…and outtakes that SOUND better that what we’ve all had for years….and that Deluxe package is not too shabby…..Overall I’d give the RAM package an A-……
    Which is a higher grade than I’d give that McCartney LP package…..
    (audio anyway)…the book was GREAT….audio selections WEAK!!!
    Ram On

    • I believe I said the package was excellent, Chris. It’s the extra tracks which were not as extensive as they could have been where I felt a slight bit stiffed. The album sounds terrific. No question. I’ve been listening to it all weekend. But I’d have appreciated more songs than what was there as bonus. The mono has some noticeable differences. So that’s a pleasant surprise.

      But I definitely said I love the hand written lyrics and stuff. I like the books with replica memorabilia like the deluxe Help! box set with the book. Those kinds of books bring more tangible life to the content of the music we have heard for years. It helps with context as well. Like in the RAM box how he write lyrics on sheets with images of McCartney’s album cover at the top. It both breaks down the magical mystique and adds even more mystique as those words don’t mean as much as those same words given life with Paul’s voice on record.

      Now, I can’t wait for the next issue!

  10. Lucky for me. I am 29. Never purchased Ram before. Had a copy of it. This was my first purchase of Ram and that’s why I waited. I knew it would get this kind of treatment. Which is great for me. Never heard the bonus songs. With the exception of oh woman oh why and another day. Never heard mono till now. Thrillington I had bought on iTunes but being a child of the 90’s I wanted a cd copy. Plus I really enjoy pics of his family as taken by The Lovely Linda. I hope you crybabies didn’t also complain about the other sets and how they were housed in the book too tight. Because they change it for this set and it still isn’t good enough for you. Next time a set comes out buy the digital deluxe version. Then maybe you won’t have to complain as much about the amount of money you wasted.

    • Well, Child of the 90’s, I stated specifically I would only buy the deluxe editions because it’s the only way for me to get value. As much as I truly love each deluxe edition issued to date (with no problem with the way the discs are stored in any book set) I only felt they could have added more music to the bonus CDs.

      Hey, I didn’t spend $90 on this box set then complain I spent $90. I didn’t say I wanted more items in the box. I just felt a few more tracks (which exist) would be nice. Instead, it’s being held back for the HP Cloud project. But to say what you got for the money wasn’t enough isn’t true. Just a minor letdown. These remasters sound great!

  11. I have not bought the remastered version yet as I just heard about it, but I must say I enjoy all the talk about RAM. I remember buying RAM when it first came out in 1971 at age 13. There was a huge void in our hearts with the Beatles now gone and because of it; there was great resistance by the masses to accept new solo work. But I could never figure out why so many people did not appreciate what Paul could do. I always thought Paul was by far the most musically gifted of the Beatles, but I think it was his high voice and softer sound that some of the hard rockers types could not connect with. During the 70’s I was a rabid McCartney fan and took shots from some of my friends for being so dedicated to him, but as a musician myself I could recognize his extraordinary gift and his music just made me feel good. I would always go buy his new albums, even if the “reviews” were not that great. For me, the work of Paul was always something to behold and every album has at least a few fabulous gems. I think with Paul now getting older and less able to recreate his best work, the world is now really noticing how he stands out from the crowd. His world tours have been outstanding gift to generations of fans and the internet has really allowed people to explore his body of work. It is especially heart warming to see people under 30 becoming interested in hearing his post-Beatle work while he was still in his prime. Even my 16 year old son loves both the Beatles and Paul McCartney especially. What amazes me when listening to Ram today is the early emergence of the unique Wings sound, the quality and clarity of Paul’s voice which is still so youthful and vibrant. I have listed to Ram on and off for 40 years and it never fails to lift me up. Ram is just one of many albums new listeners should check out. While Paul has put out a few sappy duds that have made me wince over the years, I would say 95% of his stuff is a pleasure to hear. From this era try driving to work listening to McCartney or Red Rose Speedway; you’ll be in your own world in no time- singing along at the top of your lungs.

  12. This record always reminded me of summer