Paul McCartney: McCartney I & II

What seemed inconsequential 41 years ago sounds positively charming today. When Beatle Paul released his first solo album in 1970, he was going through horribly hard times. A one-man show, with Paul playing every instrument including drums, these 13 tracks include some of his most memorable melodies, songs that would have/should have been Beatles classics. Besides the obvious, memorably melodic gems like “Every Night,” “Junk,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Teddy Boy,” there’s an air of garage-band freedom in the instrumental workouts. Even the 46 seconds of “The Lovely Linda,” put in proper historical context, works well, when at first it was just annoying. Time has tempered these tracks with a sentimental and rewarding gloss. It’s Paul, after all, naked and unassuming.

A full decade later, after nine years of super-success with his second band, Wings, and in a better place personally, McCartney II tried for that same homespun ambiance to less successful results. Sure, there are two bona fide decade-spanning gems in “Coming Up” and “Waterfalls,” but I was hoping never to have to hear Paul’s worst song, “Temporary Secretary” again. As on the first record, all instruments and voices are all Paul all the time as is the production, engineering and composing. Despite II being a bit haphazard, when it comes to Paul, there’s fascination in his misses as well as his hits.

Each package comes complete with a second audio disc of rarities and a home-movie style DVD.

In A Word: Casual