By Gillian G. Gaar
Paul and Linda McCartney
Ram (Deluxe Edition)
Hear Music/Concord Music Group
“Ram” could be considered Paul McCartney’s “Sgt. Pepper.” There’s a grab-bag, something-for-everybody musical approach, with folk, screaming rock, unabashed pop and lavish orchestrations. But there are no truly hard edges; even raucous songs like “Monkberry Moon Delight” and “Smile Away” are on the lighter side, due to the sheer absurdity of the lyrics.
It’s this lack of the balancing gravitas John Lennon or George Harrison might have provided that so irked the critics on “Ram’s” initial release; this is an album that’s just for fun, and some clearly weren’t ready for a playful Paul.
McCartney’s simply enjoying himself musically — the lyrics do tend to seem like afterthoughts — and it’s his obvious delight that wins you over. Who can resist someone who’s having such a good time? The words to “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” might not make sense, but you can’t help singing along.
In addition to the remastered album, the box includes a CD with McCartney’s first single, (“Another Day”), B-sides and five previously unreleased outtakes. Considering McCartney’s substantial archives, it’s a pity there aren’t more alternate takes or demos.
The same can be said of the DVD, which has three videos, a four-minute “On Tour” piece, and an 11-minute short of McCartney discussing the album. There’s also a mono version of the album, and a remastered version of the “Thrillington” album (an instrumental version of “Ram” released in 1977 and credited to Percy “Thrills” Thrillington). You also get a softbound book (with a none-too-substantial spine), two photo books, facsimiles of handwritten lyrics and five 8-by-10-inch prints.
There’s also a 2-CD version; a double album vinyl version; and a single-album vinyl mono version. “Ram”-o-philes will probably want to pick up the deluxe packaging of one of McCartney’s more offbeat albums.