Paul McCartney: Underrated Songs

Yes, Sir Paul had songs that were overlooked or did not get any love. Here are a few that I feel like fell into that category. Almost every studio album is represented. Only one of these songs appeared on a single, the rest were album tracks. Macca was been a prolific writer and discography owner. Are these classic, mostly not, but they show his songwriting and performance talents for writing melodic hooks and memorable song arrangements.

“Every Night”McCartney (1970). It was hard for me to pick just one song from his first solo album. This homemade effort is refreshing and shows off McCartney’s writing talent more than anything. “Every Night” is a breezy, acoustic song. Here is a live version he performed later.

“The Backseat of My Car”Ram (1971). This is technically a solo album and it is a very good one. It took a hit because of the album cover and the “Uncle Albert/Admiral Hasley” single. That aside, it is a great album of hooks and harmony. McCartney can go from rocking out to soft acoustic ballad, and have them fit together like puzzle pieces. This song is overlooked, sadly. It is a theatrical song, changing speeds and styles, a great arrangement.

“Smile Away”Ram. Another terrific song from the album. It is a rocker, that has a faux-50s groove, but shows how good McCartney is at making a basic song sound special.

“Some People Never Know”Wild Life (1971). The first Wings album, it is pretty weak by McCartney standards. Through the years, its status has grown. This is one of two songs I like. It is a bouncy, up-tempo ballad, but a sad one. Written in reference to his complicated relationship with John Lennon. My only complaint is that it is too long and repetitive, which works against what is nice about this song.

“Get On the Right Thing”Red Rose Speedway (1973). This album is much better than its reputation. “My Love” is the best known of the songs, but there are several really fine songs, this being one of them. A number of the songs on this album are acoustic, or stripped down arrangements, reminding me of the White Album.

“Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)”Band on the Run (1973). Every song on this album is terrific, but this odd little number is charming. It changes style several times, has a nice string arrangement and is poignant yet cheery.

“Love in Song”Venus and Mars (1975). I always felt this album was a bit bloated and pretentious. The songs are good, it’s the production and rock star imagery that gives me trouble. “Love in Song” is rarely mentioned, but it is a nice melodic ballad without getting sappy.

“San Ferry Anne”At the Speed of Sound (1976). This was a “group” album where everyone got to write and sign a song. Obviously the best ones were from McCartney. “San Ferry Anne” is an electrified folk song with a creative bass line and horns.

“Bluebird”Wings Over America (1976). I included a live track, because this version is even better than the one on Band on the Run. This track is from the acoustic suite of songs from his 1976 tour.

So Glad to See You” Back to the Egg (1979). One of my least favorite Wings albums. There are a few good songs, the rest filler. Wings was running out of steam.

“Dress Me Up as a Robber”Tug of War (1982). After his solo, McCartney II album, he teamed with George Martin to create an album that sounded mature with good arrangements. This song is not a classic, but it shows a finely crafted song that soars with Martin’s complex arrangement.

“So Bad”Pipes of Peace (1983). An album that was derided, even though it contained two collaborations with Michael Jackson. Half the album is very good, the other half, forgettable. For me, this is the best song on the album, full of McCartney melodic hooks.

“Footprints” Press to Play (1986). This was one of his weakest albums. Unfocused and songs that did not measure up to his talent. “Footprints” is a nice, gentle song that is sweet but not over the top.

“Once Upon a Long Ago” (1987) – Released as a single. I do not recall this song, but when I heard it on a greatest hits collection, I thought it a very good, but not great effort.

“We Got Married”Flowers in the Dirt (1989). A very underrated album, one of his stronger efforts in the 1980s. The production and musicianship are quite good. Macca used a lot of different musicians and producers on this album as he was really trying to make a relevant pop album.

“Kicked Around No More” (1993) – Leftover track from Off the Ground. I found this song on a CD single, as a bonus track. It has a haunting piano groove. I am amazed that it was not included on an album and considered as a single.

“Heaven on a Sunday”Flaming Pie (1997). McCartney continued his work with Jeff Lynne after the Beatles Anthology project. Recorded over several years, this is one of his strongest solo albums. There were several quality singles, but some of the best songs were not singles, like this one. A jazzy, love song. Great guitar work throughout. This reminds me of the Band on the Run period.

“Somedays”Flaming Pie. A second non-single from the album. A gentle, reflective song of days past. A nice string arrangement.

“Your Way”Driving Rain (2001). An album I dismissed. Macca claimed to have recorded it quickly, and it sounds like it. This was during his marriage to Heather Mills. Most of the songs seem unfinished or without ideas. This song has some of the old McCartney early 1970s magic.

“Too Much Rain”Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005). This song could have been on Revolver, it is a brisk, bouncy tune with piano, acoustic guitar and a prominent bass line.

“See Your Sunshine”Memory Almost Full (2007). Another bouncy, piano song, with a very significant bass line. Great production. Another Beatlesque tune.

“Everybody Out There”New (2013). A driving acoustic guitar, foot-stomping song. Nice melody, especially on the chorus.

“Hand in Hand”Egypt Station (2018). A slow, gentle piano love ballad. He does not need big production to communicate a lovely message.


One thought on “Paul McCartney: Underrated Songs

  1. Your amaze me again with your wealth of knowledge on Paul’s solo music, which never did much for me. But I’m sure there are songs that I might like from your list. “Listen to What the Man Said” is a guilty pleasure of mine. Great sax and background vocal arrangement. “Take it Away” is another one I like.

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