- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the McCartney LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
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In October 1969, after John Lennon told the other Beatles he was leaving the band, Paul and Linda McCartney escaped London to isolate themselves and their two daughters (Heather and baby Mary) on their Scottish farm. It was a period of depression for Paul.
They stayed in Scotland from late October to mid-December 1969. They then went on holiday in Antigua, where the photograph used for the cover of the “McCartney” album was taken. Back in London, in late December, Paul started recording his first solo album at home.
On February 12, 1970, Paul McCartney took his Studer tapes to Morgan Studios, in the northwest of London, in order to copy all the four-track recordings onto eight-track tape, to allow for further overdubbing.
On February 21, 1970, he moved to the more familiar Abbey Road Studios, to complete the recording and mixing of the new album.
Later in February 1970, McCartney moved to the more familiar Abbey Road Studios, with the booking again under the name of Billy Martin. There, he carried out further mixing on the previously recorded material, as well as taping new selections. On 22 February, McCartney recorded “Every Night” – another composition rehearsed during the Get Back sessions, and a song that authors Chip Madinger and Mark Easter note as the “first ‘professional’ recording” on the finished album, given its position as track 4, following “Valentine Day”. Also on the 22nd, McCartney recorded “Maybe I’m Amazed”, a piano-based ballad dedicated to Linda, and, in Madinger and Easter’s description, “the most elaborate instrumental track on the LP“. The final new recording for McCartney was “Man We Was Lonely”, which he taped on 25 February, having composed it earlier that day.
Final mixes of songs such as “Junk” and “Teddy Boy” had been completed at Morgan Studios, and McCartney now did the same for the remaining tracks on the album. During this process, “Hot as Sun” and “Glasses” were segued into a medley, ending with a snippet of McCartney performing the song “Suicide” on piano. Unacknowledged in the track listing for the album, “Suicide” was a composition that he had intended for Frank Sinatra to record; a full performance of the song by McCartney was eventually released on the 2011 reissue of McCartney. He also edited two separate instrumental pieces into one for “Momma Miss America”, the first portion, as he announces on the recording, having the title “Rock ‘n’ Roll Springtime” originally.
With his homemade approach to recording, McCartney eschewed the musical sophistication that had distinguished the Beatles’ work with producer George Martin, particularly the band’s 1969 album Abbey Road, and instead returned to the “as nature intended” ethos of Get Back. McCartney played all the musical instruments on the album – from acoustic and electric guitars and bass to keyboards, drums and various percussion instruments – with Linda supplying backing vocals on some songs, most noticeably on “Man We Was Lonely”. She also contributed the breathing and animal-like sounds, with McCartney, on the album-closing “Kreen-Akrore”. McCartney has said that Linda was instrumental in bolstering his spirits and confidence during the making of McCartney.
On 23 March, while American producer Phil Spector began mixing the Get Back tapes for release as the Beatles’ Let It Be album, in Abbey Road’s Studio 4, McCartney completed work on his eponymous album in Studio 2. Although McCartney has frequently maintained that he was ignorant of Spector’s involvement until receiving an acetate copy of Let It Be for approval, author Peter Doggett writes that after “several weeks”, McCartney had finally “answered the string of messages he’d received about Phil Spector” and had agreed to let him prepare Let It Be for release.
You recorded your first album (McCartney) under the pseudonym BILLY MARTIN.
Well, sometimes if you don’t want people to know that you’re recording at a place – it’s quite widely done now – you use a fake name. For two reasons, really: fun and privacy. I think there’s a big character in American baseball called Billy Martin so that’s where the name came from.Paul McCartney – Interview with Club Sandwich N°62, Spring 1992
The job of a balance engineer in the studio was to record on to tape (at that time) the sound the engineer heard in the studio, to the best of his ability. Multi-track recording was different as one could overdub instruments separately, one at a time, eliminating the need for other musicians. The album McCartney was done that way as Paul played all the instruments himself. “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Every Night” were recorded and mixed in Studio 2, EMI. Paul recorded a lot of tracks at home, some were put on multi-track and overdubs were added. The title “Glasses” was fun as we ended up with a huge amount of glasses all filled with water on a big table in Number 3. All glasses were meticulously filled with water to the desired pitch of the song. It seemed a very personal and warm album to do at the time, and good fun.Phil McDonald – Engineer – From “McCartney – Archive Collection” book, 2011
Last updated on April 9, 2022
Feb 22, 1970 • Songs recorded during this session appear on McCartney
Feb 21, 1970 • Songs recorded during this session appear on McCartney
Written by Paul McCartney
Recording • "This came from the first two lines, which I’ve had for years. They were added to in 1969 in Greece (Benitses) on holiday. This was recorded at EMI with 1. vocal and 2. acoustic guitar 3. drums 4. bass 5. lead guitar (acoustic) 6. harmony to the lead guitar 7. double-tracked vocal in parts 8. electric guitar (not used) 9. track." Track-by-track commentary by Paul McCartney, 1970
Written by Paul McCartney
Recording • "The chorus (“Man We Was Lonely”) was written in bed at home, shortly before we finished recording the album. The middle (“I used to ride…”) was done one lunchtime in a great hurry, as we were due to record the song that afternoon. Linda sings harmony on this song, which is our first duet together. The steel-guitar sound is my Telecaster played with a drum peg"
Written by Paul McCartney
Recording • "Written in London, at the piano, with the second verse added slightly later, as if you cared. Recorded at EMI, No. 2 Studio. First 1 piano. 2 vocal. 3 drums. 4 bass. 5 and vocal backing. 6 and vocal backing. 7 solo guitar. 8 backing guitars. Linda and I are the vocal backing group. Mixed at EMI. A movie was made, using Linda’s slides and edited to this track."
We owe a lot to Chip Madinger and Mark Easter for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details!
Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium is the ultimate look at the careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr beyond the Beatles. Every aspect of their professional careers as solo artists is explored, from recording sessions, record releases and tours, to television, film and music videos, including everything in between. From their early film soundtrack work to the officially released retrospectives, all solo efforts by the four men are exhaustively examined.
As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the authors' website