Key Tracks: “Too Many People”, “Ram On”, “Dear Boy”, “Another Day” (Bonus Disc)
Paul McCartney created some kind of fascinating world with the oddly homespun DIY sound of Ram, and it’s the sort of place he should have stayed for the rest of his career. Sure, Wings and Band on the Run are pretty solid musical ventures – but nothing that McCartney released after 1971 even approaches the bizarre beauty of his second album.
Songs like “Heart of the Country” and “Long Haired Lady” sound a bit like they escaped off of The Beatles (aka The White Album). Not that similarity to McCartney’s collaborative work is exactly what we are looking for when we are examining Ram for signs of greatness.
The highlights of the album come in the frank way that the album understands that it is merely a collection of silly love songs. With quirky, nonsensical lyrics (listen to “3 Legs” one time; those three-or-so minutes is really all you need,) and endearing lo-fi melodies (“Ram On”) it becomes clear quickly that McCartney is not trying to be anyone but the music-obsessed goofball he is.
But, like any good rock n roll album, the release has its punky, anti-establishment moments. “Too Many People” is an anthem for anyone itching to emote some discontent with society; and with “Eat at Home”, McCartney seems pretty adamant about only needing his partner to get by.
Some of the songs on the album show characteristic signs of McCartney’s general style, although it is pretty safe to say that nothing he has made since truly resembles Ram.
“Admiral Halsey/Uncle Albert” is a dip into the kind of epic pop piece that McCartney experimented with throughout his career, but perhaps received the most recognition for concerning “Band on the Run”.
The revamped original, on its own, is definitely worth the investment, but the true gem for fans lies in the bonus disc. The unreleased material – and the material is pretty hefty at eight tracks running almost as long as the original album. “Hey Diddle” and “Little Woman Love” retain the goofiness factor of the released album, while sounding different enough to really be worth listening to.
The second disc is a bit like a look into the kind of music that McCartney could have made, and could still be making. The opening track, “Another Day” is a slice of the life of some everywoman; McCartney’s songwriting turns everyday despair into something breath-taking. Breath-taking and still shoe-tapable.
Looking at the barren liner notes, made up largely of domestic bliss-style photographs of McCartney and his young family around the time of the album’s recording, it’s pretty clear what kind of album Ram is. This is a young album, but not young enough to be completely free of melancholy or maybe even a bit of guilt (“Smile Away”, “Dear Boy”).
Maybe part of what makes Ram so remarkable is that it is so one of a kind; not saying that it wouldn’t have been pretty cool if McCartney had kept on making albums just a little more like Ram.