Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
PAUL MCCARTNEY | McCartney
Selected by Justin Chadwick
Twelve studio albums in seven years. Thirteen, if you include the double-EP Magical Mystery Tour (1967). Never before, never since, and never again will the world witness such a prolific—and consistently brilliant—recorded output in such a relatively condensed timetable as that of The Beatles. No wonder they’re the most universally revered band of all time.
So as the Fab Four embarked upon their respective musical paths upon dissolving the group in 1970, they each had the weight—and admittedly the advantages—of recent history to contend with. Despite his bandmates’ admonitions, Paul McCartney wasted precious little time in issuing his inaugural solo effort, with the no-brainer title. In fact, Sir Paul cleverly convinced the Apple Records’ brass to release the album in mid-April of that year, three weeks before The Beatles’ final studio LP Let It Be arrived in stores in early May (not to mention just one week after the group formally announced their split).
No longer constrained by the pressures, egos and idiosyncrasies of his peers, McCartney crafted a deeply personal and DIY-driven 13-song set, across which he played every instrument with no additional personnel employed beyond his wife Linda, who contributed vocals here and there, while serving as Paul’s muse for the intro track “The Lovely Linda.”
Though critics and fans alike approached his solo debut with resistance upon its release in the wake of The Beatles’ collapse, McCartney has aged rather well. And on the strength of stellar compositions like “Every Night,” “Junk,” and “Maybe I’m Amazed,” it offered the first—albeit unsurprising—signal that, well, Mr. McCartney was going to be just fine as a one-man show.