5 Shades of RAM or The Vinyl Wouldn’t Melt So I Put it in a Protective Sleeve

“Ram” by Paul and Linda McCartney.

Does it ring a bell?

If you’ve never heard it, you really should give it a try. It’s a great album!

Probably one of the best solo Beatles albums ever released and there are quite a few excellent ones; definitely in my top five along with “All Things Must Pass”, “Imagine”, “Band on the Run” and “Ringo”.

Top five you say? Wasn’t that album practically panned when it came out in 1971?

Well, yes it was BUT you see dear readers hindsight has revealed that much of the music press at the time had a huge grudge against McCartney who was seen as the man who broke up The Beatles.

“Ram” was Paul McCartney’s second full solo album (third if you count “The Family Way” soundtrack which I’m not lol) away from The Beatles.

McCartney’s first album, titled simply “McCartney”, was practically a one-man show with McCartney playing all the instruments himself and recording much of it at his home.

Critics weren’t overly fond of that first solo album and really had their knives out for McCartney’s second release especially since he credited his wife Linda as co-writer and performer, which to say mildly didn’t go down well.

Taken out of the context of its time, Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Ram” is one hell of a great record. It was lushly produced and more in line with a Beatles style production than what McCartney had done on his first solo album.

The songs and production on “Ram” have a very whimsical quality about them and are filled with slightly mad characters like Uncle Albert from the No. 1 U.S. hit “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” and slightly mad takes on the world like the almost manic “Monkberry  Moon Delight” along with dream like interludes like the songs “Long Haired Lady” and the ukulele based “Ram On”.

With musical styles ranging from rock to pop to country to almost psychedelic, “Ram” takes listeners on an aural journey filled with rich textures and swaths of color much like the musical equivalent of an impressionist painting.

Even the brightly colored cover of “Ram” with it’s cut out photos and scrapbook like  appearance suggest an almost adult comic book feel which along with the music makes the album stand out as some sort of post psychedelic reaction to the 1960s.

Well, at least to me.

You see as a second generation Beatles fan I discovered “Ram” in the summer of 1976, the same summer I discovered The Beatles’s “Magical Mystery Tour” album.

I had no preconceived notions of McCartney’s music, I was just taking his career as one big whole – Beatles music and solo music were all one thing to me.

In fact it’s funny how “Ram” and “Magical Mystery Tour” fit so well next to each other. Both are slightly mad and colorful and both are impressionistic.

“Ram” has always seemed to me to be a natural extension from the music of “Magical Mystery Tour”.

That’s why I believe some of McCartney’s solo work has been seen in a much different light lately as the cloud that surrounded The Beatles break-up is long gone and people now look at the music more on its merits than its history.

Anyway, take a look at some of the different “Ram” pressings in my collection. The first copy of “Ram” that was given to me was on the black Capitol label (see below).

I also have an original U.S. copy (in shrink wrap), a copy from France, a copy on the Columbia label (from McCartney’s short stint on that record label) and a lovely copy of the mono pressing which was released a few years ago in 2012.

The mono copy comes from a true mono mix of the “Ram” album that McCartney made for radio use in 1971 when the album was released.

When the “Ram” album was given a special re-issue in 2012 as part of McCartney’s Archive Collection this rare mix was released on CD as part of a big box set as well as this limited vinyl pressing.

The mono mix is fantastic sounding and well worth seeking out if you are or become a fan of this album.

To quote Paul McCartney – Ram On!

Until next time …

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