Looking Back at Paul McCartney's Wonderful, Bizarre McCartney II

Next week's Paul McCartney show at Minute Maid Park is sure to be one for the books, as the former Beatle and lauded solo artist comes to Houston for the first time in years.


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His set lists are largely built on his Fab work, making it a historic chance to hear one-half of one of the greatest songwriting duos of all time play some of the most cherished musical works of the past century.

But out of everything The Cute One has touched musically the past 50 or so years, nothing seems to compare to his third proper solo record, 1980's McCartney II. For people who couldn't get down with the earnestness of Wings, or who were waking to New Wave and post-punk around this time, this album was a bright and shining anomaly.

It also makes a great companion piece to other major releases of the time, including the Talking Heads' Remain in Light, David Bowie's Lodger, and Roxy Music's Manifesto.

If you ever though that McCartney was a saccharine grinner and not as innovative or weird as his former bandmates, you should take a look at McCartney II.

"I was fed up with formally playing records. I just wanted to hire a machine," McCartney said in some of the promo material for the album's reissue.

For one, if you were to play some of this album, unlabeled, for your average uninformed indie-rock listener today, they would probably name a dozen current groups -- including Battles, Animal Collective and the Flaming Lips -- that could have recorded tracks like "Front Parlour," "Darkroom" or the awkwardly named "Frozen Jap."

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Absolutely spot on. I bought the McCartney II reissue and became an instant convert.. So many great tracks -- Check My Machine, Temporary Secretary, Secret Friend, and, yes, even the awkwardly named Frozen Jap. One of These Days is a gorgeous ballad, too. The record is more interesting and more forward-thinking than anything produced by the other three ex-Beatles. After all, John  did some avant garde stuff with Yoko (the Two Virgins album) but its unlistenable. McCartney II just feels ahead of its time. 


It's amusing, though, how many Wings fans still hate the record. They never got it and never will.



I have to say that, after a friend turned me onto it years ago, McCartney II is probably my favorite thing he's done. Check My Machine is just cool.

Creg Lovett
Creg Lovett

I didn't recognize a couple of those songs on his Mexico City set list

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