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Paul McCartney - McCartney II: Check My Machine

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Uploaded on Jan 1, 2010

McCartney II is the third solo album by Paul McCartney, and the first since the formation of Wings in 1971. It was released in 1980, a year before the band's dissolution and while their future lay in limbo. The album is a significant departure for McCartney, as much of the album relies heavily on synthesizers and studio experimentation.

Background

After the release of what turned out to be Wings' final album, Back to the Egg, McCartney went north to his farm in Scotland to begin some private recordings in July 1979. The first song he recorded was "Check My Machine" as a way to test the equipment, hence its title. By sessions' end, he had recorded over twenty songs. With no immediate use for the recordings, he put them aside for the time being and returned to work with Wings in order to prepare for a UK tour that November and December. Simultaneously with the performances (which included the new "Coming Up"), Paul McCartney released his first solo single since 1971, the festive Top 10 UK hit "Wonderful Christmastime" b/w "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reggae". The A-side was recorded during the McCartney II sessions, while its flip side had been cut in 1975. However, upcoming events were about to change McCartney's plans with Wings.

After years of visa refusals due to his past marijuana busts, Japan had finally allowed McCartney, and thus Wings, to perform. It would be McCartney's first time playing there since 1966 with The Beatles, and anticipation was running high with Wings' tour completely sold out. However, upon his arrival in Tokyo on 16 January 1980, a search of McCartney's luggage revealed a bag containing 219 grams of marijuana, prompting his immediate arrest and eventually cancelling the tour. After a nine-day jail stay, McCartney was released and returned home to his Scottish farm. Deciding to put Wings on hold while he contemplated his future, he now decided to issue his solo recordings from the previous summer.

"Coming Up" — an uplifting dance number — appeared that April with a video (Paul playing all the bandmates, dubbed 'The Plastic Macs', except for the backing singers (played by Linda)) and with two B-sides by Wings: "Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)", recorded during Wings' December 1979 show there, and the piano laden instrumental "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" (a Venus and Mars outtake). An immediate UK #2 hit, "Coming Up" was flipped over for the live Wings version in the US where it became another #1 for McCartney, greatly raising hopes for his first solo album proper in years. The live Wings version of "Coming Up" was also issued as a white-labeled, one-sided bonus record in many copies of McCartney II within the US and Canada.
[edit] Reception

McCartney II was released in mid-May to mixed reviews; many critics found the album, with its experimental, synth-based compositions and its handful of instrumentals, slight. That did not stop it from reaching #1 in the UK and #3 in the US. The next single, the introspective "Waterfalls", was a UK Top 10 hit, but failed to make an impact in the US. Despite its less-than-rapturous critical reaction, McCartney II has continued to remain a favourite of McCartney devotees.

The initial issue of this album on compact disc featured "Check My Machine" and "Secret Friend" as bonus tracks. The two songs were originally released as the B-sides of "Waterfalls" and "Temporary Secretary", respectively. In 1993, McCartney II was remastered and reissued on CD as part of "The Paul McCartney Collection" series with Wings' 1979 hit "Goodnight Tonight" added as a third bonus track. Although "Goodnight Tonight" was recorded during the Back To The Egg sessions, it was deemed more appropriate for a bonus cut on McCartney II rather than Back To The Egg because it was actually recorded sans Wings, with McCartney playing all the instruments.

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