ON THIS DATE (32 YEARS AGO)
May 16, 1980 – Paul McCartney: McCartney II is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 2/5 (see TWO CENTS WORTH below)
# allmusic 3.5/5
ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ TWO CENTS WORTH
It seems that every Beatles and/or McCartney fan either loves his albums or hates them… at least to me.
I really try to like all of them but at the end of the day I have to be honest. Sometimes, others can tell how much I like an album by how often I have played it and/or how many formats I have it on. I only have McCartney II on the original release vinyl… love or hate? How about meh… have heard better, have heard worse
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
McCartney II is an album of aural doodles designed for the amusement of very young children. Recorded at home, with the instruments plugged into a sixteen-track tape machine, it’s a crude affair that depends more on synthesizers than do Paul McCartney’s previous discs. As his own one-man band, McCartney doesn’t try to imitate Wings or re-create the precious atmosphere of his first solo LP, now ten years old. Most of the songs are merely sound effects. Instead of developing melodic themes, the star simply supplies hypnotic little hooks, which are then played off one another and “treated”–i.e., filtered, reverbed, phased–to make strident electronic junk music.
It should hardly be a surprise that McCartney II is really about pop sound and nothing else. Ever since “Silly Love Songs,” his 1976 manifesto proclaiming rock’s essence to be frivolous. Paul McCartney has acted on his beliefs with a vengeance. Both Back to the Egg and the new album imply that, for this ex-Beatle, silliness–no longer even the love song! – is the only worthwhile pop form. And as novelties go. McCartney II is passable. Its catchiest numbers make the singer’s voice sound like a cross between an insect and a windup toy.
“Coming Up,” a push-button paean to the future, outdoes Abba in nervous, hook-filled mechanization. Even if you hate it, it’s liable to stick to your mind like chewing gum to the bottom of a shoe. In “Temporary Secretary,” the title phrase is robotically chirped until the syllables become a computer abstraction. “Frozen Jap” suggests Orientalflavored Muzak piped into a prison in outer space. (Japanese music torture?) “Summer’s Day Song” frames a fragment of an old English air in Eno-style wooziness. In the more conventional cuts–the slow and bluesy “On the Way,” the funereal “Waterfalls” – McCartney’s vocals still sound disembodied, as if they were phoned in from far away.
Does McCartney II advance the cause of the novelty tune? Alas, no. “Bogey Music,” which stretches the pun on boogie ad nauseum, isn’t half so clever or terse as Sheb Wooley’s classic “Purple People Eater.” “Darkroom” is cluttered compared to its immortal prototypes. “The Chipmunk Song” and “Alvin’s Harmonica,” by David Seville and the Chipmunks. But perhaps that’s the point. Nonsense being nonsense, the novelty track is theoretically the most timeless of all pop idioms. There are no ideas to worry about if all you have to say is “goo-goo” and “da-da.” Or, in McCartney-ese: “Everybody bogey/Dig that bogey beat.”
~ STEPHEN HOLDEN (July 24, 1980)
All songs written and composed by Paul McCartney.
1. “Coming Up” 3:53
2. “Temporary Secretary” 3:14
3. “On the Way” 3:38
4. “Waterfalls” 4:42
5. “Nobody Knows” 2:52
6. “Front Parlour” 3:32
7. “Summer’s Day Song” 3:25
8. “Frozen Jap” 3:40
9. “Bogey Music” 3:27
10. “Darkroom” 2:20
11. “One of These Days” 3:35
The Paul McCartney Collection’s 1993 reissue bonus tracks
12. “Check My Machine” 5:52
13. “Secret Friend” 10:30
14. “Goodnight Tonight” 4:21
In 2011 the album was re-issued by Hear Music/Concord Music Group as part of the second set of releases, alongside McCartney, in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection. It was released in multiple formats.
A 2-CD Special Edition which includes a CD of bonus material in addition to the original album.
A 3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition which has the aforementioned material as well as a limited and numbered 128-page book containing many previously unpublished images by Linda McCartney. The book features album and single artwork and a full history of the making of the album, complete with a new interview with Paul and expanded track by track information. The DVD features rare and previously unseen footage, including rehearsal footage of “Coming Up” and a new video for the unreleased track “Blue Sway”.
A 2-Disc Vinyl Edition containing the same audio material as the Special Edition.
High Resolution 24bit 96 kHz limited and unlimited audio versions of all 27 songs on the remastered album and bonus audio discs.
The first disc features the original UK version of the album.
Disc 2: “Bonus Audio 1” (Special, Vinyl and Deluxe Editions)
“Blue Sway” (with Richard Niles Orchestration) – previously unreleased – 4:35
“Coming Up” (Live at the Apollo Theatre, Glasgow – December 17, 1979) – 4:08
“Check My Machine” (Regular Single B-side Edited Version) – 5:50
“Bogey Wobble” – previously unreleased – 2:59
“Secret Friend (Full Length Version)” – 10:31
“Mr H Atom / You Know I’ll Get You Baby” – previously unreleased – 5:55
“Wonderful Christmastime” (Regular A-side Version) – 3:47
“All You Horse Riders / Blue Sway” – previously unreleased – 10:15
Disc 3: “Bonus Audio 2” (Deluxe Edition)
“Coming Up” [Full Length Version] – 5:34
“Front Parlour” [Full Length Version] – 5:15
“Frozen Jap” [Full Length Version] – 5:43
“Darkroom” [Full Length Version] – 3:45
“Check My Machine” [Full Length Version] – 8:58
“Wonderful Christmastime” [Full Length Version] – 4:15
“Summer’s Day Song” [Original without vocals] – 3:25
“Waterfalls” (DJ edit) – 3:20
DVD (Deluxe Edition)
“Meet Paul McCartney”
“Coming Up” (music video)
“Waterfalls” (music video)
“Wonderful Christmastime” (music video)
“Coming Up” (live at Concert for the People of Kampuchea – 29 December 1979)
“Coming Up” (taken from a rehearsal session at Lower Gate Farm, 1979)
“Making the Coming Up Music Video”
“Blue Sway” (music video)