Let’s give Ram its due.
The second solo album from Paul McCartney (and the only one attributed to Paul and Linda McCartney) is really much, much better than what was portrayed during its original release and the new remastered version is really a joy to behold. The sound is far superior to any prior version, allowing the brilliance of the album to shine through.
Let’s face it, Paul McCartney was never a really deep writer like John Lennon or George Harrison, but he was the master of the three-minute pop song and could, on occasion, put together a rip-roaring rocker. All of that is here, and more, from the rocked out (and lyrically silly) Smile Away to the countrified Heart of the Country to the bluesy Three Legs to the beautiful closer Back Seat of My Car.
Of course the one song everyone knows from the album is the pop confection Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, a piece that at first sounds like a merging of two throw aways but the beautifully clear remaster gives you a whole new appreciation for the superb arranging and production on the song.
While there are a number of tracks on the album that deserve to be McCartney classics, one stands out as a mix of great songwriting and production that should have been pushed as a single at the time of release. Too Many People, the opening cut on the album, did get quite a bit of play on progressive stations in 1972 and was the flipside of the Uncle Albert single, but could have easily been a mainstream radio hit had it been released as an a-side by Apple.
The deluxe version of the album adds a second disc with eight cuts broken between previously released music and a few tracks from the vaults. The disc starts out with the double sided hit Another Day/Oh Woman, Oh Why which was Paul’s first official solo single (Maybe I’m Amazed from his solo album debut, McCartney, was never released as a single). That is followed by Little Woman Love, the b-side of the 1972 single Mary Had a Little Lamb.
The rest is a mixed bag of songs that never made it to an album ranging from mid-rocker A Love for You, the folky Hey Diddle and the rocker Rode All Night. The other two tracks are both instrumentals, the rock jam Great Cock and Seagull Race and the highlight of the five unreleased cuts, the easy listening Sunshine Sometime.
Some of the configurations of the album also includes a DVD with two documentaries and three promotional videos.
The main documentary is the 11-minute Ramming which tells the story of the album in McCartney’s own words using archival photos and footage. Along with sections on the conception, auditions and recording of the album, there is also background information on a number of the album’s cuts including Heart of the Country, Dear Boy and Too Many People. The documentary really packs a lot of information into a fairly short period and should be a treat for both Beatles and McCartney fans but it would have been even better if they had lengthened it to include background on all the cuts. .
Two of the promotional videos were for songs on Ram, Heart of the Country and Three Legs. The third is, in essence, a home movie of McCartney performing Hey Diddle with his family around him.
The other documentary is a four-minute piece on the Eat at Home tour with a lot of hand-shot footage of the band and crew on the road and in concert.
Fans will enjoy the bigger (and more pricey) configurations of the album while the average listener may very well be set with just the remastered original disc. Either way, you can enjoy what has become apparent forty years after its original release, that Ram may very well be one of Paul McCartney’s best solo works.