The Paul McCartney Project

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

Album This song officially appears on the Ram Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1971
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1970 (Paul McCartney was 28 years old)

Related songs


Uncle Albert Jam

Unreleased song

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.

Song facts

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is a song by Paul and Linda McCartney from the album Ram. From Wikipedia:

[…] Released in the United States as a single on 2 August 1971, it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 4 September 1971, making it the first of a string of post-Beatles, McCartney-penned singles to top the US pop chart during the 1970s and 1980s. Billboard ranked the song as number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1971 year-end chart. It became McCartney’s first gold record as a solo artist.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is composed of several unfinished song fragments that McCartney stitched together similar to the medleys from the Beatles’ album Abbey Road. The song is notable for its sound effects, including the sounds of a thunderstorm, with rain, heard between the first and second verses, the sound of McCartney’s voice with a “telephone” effect heard after the second verse, and the sound of chirping sea birds and wind by the seashore. Linda’s voice is heard in the harmonies as well as the bridge section of the “Admiral Halsey” portion of the song.

McCartney said “Uncle Albert” was based on his uncle. “He’s someone I recall fondly, and when the song was coming it was like a nostalgia thing.” McCartney also said, “As for Admiral Halsey, he’s one of yours, an American admiral“, referring to Fleet Admiral William “Bull” Halsey (1882–1959). McCartney has described the “Uncle Albert” section of the song as an apology from his generation to the older generation, and Admiral Halsey as an authoritarian figure who ought to be ignored.

Despite the disparate elements that make up the song, author Andrew Grant Jackson discerns a coherent narrative to the lyrics, related to McCartney’s emotions in the aftermath of the Beatles’ breakup. In this interpretation, the song begins with McCartney apologizing to his uncle for getting nothing done, and being easily distracted and perhaps depressed in the lethargic “Uncle Albert” section. Then, after some sound effects reminiscent of “Yellow Submarine,” McCartney claims that Admiral Halsey – who had died on 16 August 1959 – notified him that he (Admiral Halsey) needed a “berth” in order to get to “sea” (mixing up Uncle Albert, not an admiral, and who would need a berth to get to sea, with Admiral Halsey, an admiral who would not need a “berth”, but rather a “command” to get to sea), although McCartney remains more interested in “tea and butter pie.” Although McCartney may have been aware of butter pie as a Lancashire dish he makes a literal interpretation of the term as a nonsensical joke, stating that he put the butter in the pie because it would not melt at all. The “hands across the water” section which follows could be taken as evocative of the command “All hands on deck!“, rousing McCartney to action, perhaps to compete with Lennon. The song then ends with the “gypsy” section, in which McCartney resolves to get back on the road and perform his music, now that he was on his own without his former bandmates who no longer wanted to tour.

Paul McCartney won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971 for the song. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.

According to Allmusic critic Stewart Mason, fans of Paul McCartney’s music are divided in their opinions of this song. Although some fans praise the song as being “one of his most playful and inventive songs” others criticize it for being “exactly the kind of cute self-indulgence that they find so annoying about his post-Beatles career.” Mason himself considers it “churlish” to be annoyed by the song, given that the song isn’t intended to be completely serious, and praises the “Hands across the water” section as being “lovably giddy.”

In a contemporary review for RAM, Jon Landau of Rolling Stone gave “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” a negative review, saying the song is “a piece with so many changes it never seems to come down anywhere, and in the places that it does, sounds like the worst piece of light music Paul has ever done.

On the US charts, the song set a milestone as the all-time songwriting record (at the time) for McCartney for the most consecutive calendar years to write a #1 song. This gave McCartney eight consecutive years (starting with “I Want to Hold Your Hand“), leaving behind Lennon with only seven years.

Paul McCartney in "Wingspan: Paul McCartney's Band on the Run":

I had an uncle – Albert Kendall – who was a lot of fun, and when I came to write Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey it was loosely about addressing that older generation, half thinking ‘What would they think of the way my generation does things? ‘That’s why I wrote the line ‘We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert’. There’s an imaginary element in many of my songs – to me, Admiral Halsey is symbolic of authority and therefore not to be taken too seriously. We recorded it in New York and George Martin helped me with the orchestral arrangement. I was surprised when it became a big hit.

This song represented a breakthrough in our musical relationship. Paul is a genius. He sees and hears everything he wants, and would give specific instructions to me and the drummer. But he didn’t know what he wanted the guitar part to be like on this song. I asked him to trust me and he did. After I came up with the parts, he was very pleased. For the rest of the record [RAM], Paul let me try things out before making any suggestions.

Hugh McCracken, from MixOnline, August 1, 2004

Last updated on June 6, 2020

Lyrics

We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
We're so sorry if we caused you any pain;
We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But there's no one left at home
And I believe it's gonna rain.

We're so sorry, but we haven't heard a thing all day;
We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But if anything should happen we'll be sure to give a ring.

(Spoken) We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day;
We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But the kettle's on the boil
And we're so easily called away.

Hands across the water, (water),
Heads across the sky.
Hands across the water, (water),
Heads across the sky.

Admiral Halsey notified me,
He had to have a berth or he couldn't get to sea,
I had another look and I had a cup of tea and a butter pie.


Hand across the water, (water),
Heads across the sky.
Hand across the water, (water),
Heads across the sky.

Live a little, be a gypsy, get around, (get around),
Get your feet up off the ground,
Live a little, get around.
Live a little, be a gypsy, get around,(get around),
Get your feet up off the ground,
Live a little, get around.

Hands across the water (water),
Heads across the sky,
Hands across the water (water),
Heads across the sky.

Officially appears on


Ram

Official album • Released in 1971

4:55 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey / Too Many People

7" Single • Released in 1971

4:47 • Studio versionA1 • Single edit

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Ram (Mono - promotional)

Official album • Released in 1971

4:55 • Studio versionB • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Thrillington

Official album • Released in 1977

4:58 • Studio versionC • Instrumental version

Percy "Thrills" Thrillington :
Producer
Richard Hewson :
Arrangements, Orchestration
Tony Clark :
Mixing, Recording
Vic Flick :
Guitar
Clem Cattini :
Drums
Herbie Flowers :
Bass
Steve Gray :
Piano
Jim Lawless :
Percussion
Alan Parsons :
Second engineer
Unknown musician(s) :
Flutes, Harpsichord, Recorder, Strings, Trombones, Trumpets
Carl Dolmetsch :
Recorder
Carl Dolmetsch Family :
Recorders

Session Recording:
Jun 15, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 16, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 17, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Wings Greatest

Official album • Released in 1978

4:42 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Paul McCartney ROCKS

Official album • Released in 1990

4:50 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Ram (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:55 • Studio versionA1993 • Stereo • 1993 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Peter Mew :
Remastering
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


RAM (by DCC Compact Classics)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:55 • Studio versionA1993.1 • 1993 remaster by Steve Hoffman

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer
Steve Hoffman :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Wingspan Hits And History

Official album • Released in 2001

4:51 • Studio versionA2001 • 2001 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Remastering
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Peter Mew :
Remastering
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Ram - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2012

4:55 • Studio versionA2012 • Stereo • 2012 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Bootlegs


James Paul McCartney

Unofficial live

2:20 • Live


The Alternate Ram

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

4:52 • Studio versionB • Mono • Original mono promo LP, especially made for the American AM stations. All the songs have different mixes

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Studio Rarities Vol. 1

Unofficial album • Released in 2014

4:52 • Outtake


Alone Together Vol.1

Unofficial album • Released in 2014

2:13 • Studio version


Ram - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

4:55 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
George Martin :
Orchestration
Denny Seiwell :
Drums
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mix engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Marvin Stamm :
Brass
Mel Davis :
Brass
Ray Crisara :
Brass
Snooky Young :
Brass
David Nadien :
Violin
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra :
Strings
Paul Beaver :
Synthesizer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 06, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Jan 03 & 11, 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
Mar 01, 09, 10, 12 & Apr 07, 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


Contribute!

Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Robert Szymanski 3 years ago

I can't find the info I'm looking for. The part where Paul says "wa-ter", what is that effect used on his voice? Land across the water "wa-ter", land across the sky! Land across the water "wa-ter"...... For several years I been trying to find this interesting sound effect! My email address is .. Robert


The PaulMcCartney Project 3 years ago

Hi Robert,
I can't help you on this one, but promise to do a bit of research
I'll keep you posted!
Thanks !