Review Summary: Just Ram On Paul, Ram On
This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest albums ever released ever. The album just oozes everything from happiness, to simple family life, transcending everything about Paul McCartney
's life at the time. During the recording, he had of course, a year before left the Beatles
, fed up with John and George, even Ringo. McCartney had worked hard with George Martin making the Beatles' final recorded album Abbey Road, putting his own solo album 'McCartney' on the back-burner. The result, McCartney suffered, he recorded it secretly and quickly out of leftovers that the Beatles had rejected, and all the other Beatles trashed it, partly due to McCartney's quite-rightful insistence that it would be released on the date he chose, after McCartney and its apparently failure, he took a similar approach involving a homespun style, and merged it with Abbey Road, creating an album so painfully simple at times, yet incredibly overblown at others.
The album opens with the superb 'Too Many People', a full rocking track that showed McCartney still had it, Lennon even took offence to its lyrics, 'you had your lucky break and you broke it in two', writing How Do You Sleep? as a rebuttal.
Next comes along '3Legs' a charming little blues spoof, 'my dog he got three legs, and he can't run', once again Lennon took offence to this oddly. 3 Legs literally feels like it was recorded in a field somewhere at the height of summer. Following this is the title track, 'Ram On', a delightfully sweet ukulele number with lovely little lyrics, this pops back up later too.
Following 'Ram On' comes Dear Boy, a nice big piano track with effects, this is where the rustic charm starts to merge with AOR flourishes. The album then diverges into full production territory with the massive American hit Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, with sombre lyrics about an Uncle all alone, complete with sound effects swiftly orchestrating its why into a nonsense rhyme about an Admiral and gypsies. The orchestrations are fantastical. This fades into the rollickingly distorted rock piece 'Smile Away', complete with a great dirty solo and Linda backing vocals, ending the first side.
The second side opens with 'Heart of the Country', returning to the rustic feel after the previous diversions. Heart of the Country is the single piece that defines the album 'I look high, I look low, I'm looking everywhere I go, looking for a home in the heart of the country', it tells the tale of a man searching for his dreams in the country leaving the city for where the 'holy people grow' in the heart of the country. Lyrically, the second half is brilliant as is it musically, as summed up by the next track 'Monkberry Moon Delight', quite what McCartney was on when he wrote this is unknown, but whatever it was, what can I say?
Monkberry Moon Delight is a twisted little nonsense rocker that sounds like Lennon wrote the lyrics. It tells of a man sat in the attic, a piano up his nose, with numerous other bizarre words and hooks. The song was inspired by a drink Linda made for the children called 'Monkberry Moon Delight'. This song goes hand in hand with its successor, 'Eat at Home', a double entendre-laden sex song, that... well, you can probably guess what it means.
As the album changes gear and enters its final phase, you go into 'Long Haired Lady', a long love song that seems over blown when first heard, but by the second listen, it's brilliant, as it gradually builds up into a great coda sung by Paul and Linda. Somehow, this carries on the feel of the previous two songs, rustic yet rocking at the same time.
Now for the second and final helping of Ram On in this penultimate track, this version with its long fade in culminates in a rollicking taster of a ukulele version of 'Big Barn Bed', a song which would appear in electric guitar form as the opening to Wings' album 'Red Rose Speedway'.
Now for the finale, the genuinely beautiful song 'Back Seat of My Car', a piece of brilliance that would've been the centrepiece of any Beatles album, and in fact it nearly was, the song began its life in the latter Get Back and Abbey Road sessions as a Beach Boys tribute, but transformed into this. The harmonies and lyrics are tremendous, a real piece for McCartney to be proud of.
And there you have it, Ram is an album of pure brilliance from McCartney, and despite reaching No. 1 in the UK in '71, the rock press hated it, they still resented McCartney for apparently breaking up the Beatles. But, today, we can listen with fresh ears and hear this album for what it really is, simply stunning, and it's one of those rare albums where its ramshackle cover really matches the innards.