Category: paul mccartney ram

Paul McCartney recording 1971′s RAM, by Linda McCartney


Paul & Mary photographed by Linda at CBS Studios • New York 1970

At work (so to speak) on 1971′s Ram

Paul & Linda McCartney at work on 1971′s RAM, my edit of original at facebook


On this day in music history: September 4, 1971 – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, it is the first solo chart topper for the former Beatles bassist. The first number one single for Paul McCartney following the break up of The Beatles come from a number of different sources. It is pieced together from various unfinished song fragments McCartney has lying around. Paul’s uncle, Albert Kendall (married to his Aunt Milly) is also an inspiration while the song is being written. The track is recorded at Columbia Studios in New York City in November of 1970, and features Paul on electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano, lead and background vocals, Linda McCartney on harmony vocals, Denny Seiwell on drums, Hugh McCracken on electric and acoustic guitars, with members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra playing brass and strings. George Martin actually co-writes the orchestral arrangement for the song with Paul, but is not credited at the time of its original release. After the initial sessions, more overdubs are recorded and final mixing takes place over the next five months. “Uncle Albert” is rush released as a single in the US on August 2, 1971, nearly three months after the album “Ram”, when heavy airplay by American radio stations forces its release. Entering the Hot 100 at #65 on August 14, 1971, it leaps to the top of the chart just three weeks later, making an impressive jump from #12 to #1. The single wins a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 1972. “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Don’t forget the remarkable flugelhorn solo by Marvin Stamm! It was incredibly rare for session musicians to be given credits on record sleeves, but Marvin’s contribution was substantial enough that Paul did exactly that.

At 40, Marvin was a big band veteran whose gigs included Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, and Benny Goodman, among many others – but among the session musicians he worked with, he was young enough to be known as “The Kid”.

Here’s his retelling of the “Uncle Albert” recording sessions.

After we had recorded all the written brass parts to Uncle Albert, Paul came over to the trumpet section, which included Ray Crisara, Snooky Young, Mel Davis and me. Paul said he had a little horn tune he wanted someone to play. Mel Davis said, ‘Let the kid play it,’ meaning me. 

“Paul told me that he wanted the solo to sound a bit like it was coming through an old radio cone. Then he sang it to me. I played it back to him several times until he said it was the way he wanted it. Then we recorded the solo. I played it on the flugelhorn. Then he and Phil [Ramone] did whatever sound alteration he wanted in the mixing session.   

“Paul was great to work with. He knew exactly what he wanted from the musicians and was respectful and clear in relating it to us. This was unusual. Most rock stars in those days seldom listed the personnel on their albums. So for about a year, I was the most famous unknown trumpet player in the world.”

(More here.)

He spent most of the 70s touring with Sinatra, then brought out a solo jazz-funk album called Stammpede in 1983. (Yep, I bought it!) At 79, Marvin still tours and leads student workshops. I’m guessing every one of them includes somebody asking about his solo on “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”.


Paul McCartney Ram Sessions. (edit)

Paul & Linda McCartney, at work on 1971’s Ram

Paul & Linda McCartney, at work on 1971’s Ram

Paul & Linda McCartney, at work on 1971’s Ram


RAM #26


Paul during the ‘RAM’ recording sessions, New York. 

Photo by Linda McCartney.