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Top 10 Underrated Paul McCartney Songs

Paul McCartney
Central Press-Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Of all the members of that little combo known as the Beatles, Paul McCartney may have the distinction of being the most loved, and at the same time, most loathed of the four. For all those who cherish his every note, there are those who can’t get past his “silly love songs.” Despite his immense popularity all these years, Sir Paul still has many songs that have just been ignored, forgotten, or maybe just never heard. To help rectify this, we have dug out his tracks that cry out the loudest for rediscovery, or perhaps to be heard for the first time. Here are our Top 10 Underrated Paul McCartney Songs.


'Jenny Wren'

From 'Chaos And Creation In The Backyard' (2005)

"Jenny Wren" is another in a long line of beautiful Paul McCartney acoustic ballads. The mid-song solo is played on an obscure woodwind instrument called a duduk, which adds an odd yet very effective color to the song. The whole Chaos album stands of one of Paul McCartney's strongest albums from his later years, and this is one of many wonderful moments on it.


'Cafe On The Left Bank'

From 'London Town' (1978)

In 1978, Paul McCartney was about as unfashionable as he could get, but that didn't stop him from hitting the top of the charts with the sappy "With a Little Luck" from this album. Elsewhere on London Town, however, you will find this lost little diamond. It features an almost boss-nova like groove which, coupled with some dynamic lead guitar work, helps this rise above the sap. Where McCartney finds these amazing melodies we will never know, but he seems able to toss them off in his sleep.


'Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five'

From 'Band On The Run' (1973)

Did 1985 really seem that far off in 1973? This one ended up as the B-side of the "Band on the Run" single as well as the closing number for the album of the same name. We think it's a headliner in its own right. A funky groove holds the song together as Paul delivers a gritty bluesy vocal. Two brief vocal-only interludes interrupt the bluesy flow but add something indefinable to the proceedings. Pounding drums, grunting vocals, squalling synths and heavy brass build to the song to its illogical climax just before a Band on the Run slight reprise ends the album. Perfect!


'Run Devil Run'

From 'Run Devil Run' (1999)

This title track is one of McCartney's most all-out, pedal to the floor stompers, found on a tribute of sorts to the music Paul loved growing up. It features a batch of well chosen '50s rockers, along with this self-penned barn burner. With a band made up of guitarists David Gilmour and Mick Green (of famed '50s rockers Johnny Kidd and the Pirates), and drums by the amazing Ian Paice of Deep Purple, this is Paul and friends having a blast kicking out jams.


'The World Tonight'

From 'Flaming Pie' (1997)

Though Flaming Pie was one of Sir Paul's best-received albums in a long time, there were tragically no hits. "The World Tonight" was actually released as a single, but barely made the top 40. Still, the song and performance are so strong that you almost forget it was produced by sometimes-constraining Jeff Lynne.


'Coming Up'

From 'McCartney II' (1980)

Paul McCartney's second all-solo album, aptly named, came 10 years after his first one and it couldn't be more different in style and approach. The earthiness of solo album No. 1 is replaced by a plastic gloss very influenced by the then current new wave movement. The album's lead-off track is pure pop, put through a very quirky filter. Sterile drums, thin guitars and an effects-laden vocal make it sound like it's being beamed in from some odd radio broadcast.


'Big Barn Bed'

From 'Red Rose Speedway' (1973)

This would prove to be a huge year for the former Beatle. McCartney's single "My Love" started the year off atop the U.S. charts, and the year would end with another smash in the form of the theme from the James Bond film Live and Let Die. In between came the made for TV special, James Paul McCartney and the release of not one, but two albums: the landmark Band on the Run and the earlier, seemingly forgotten Red Rose Speedway. "Big Barn Bed" leads off the lesser-known album in wonderful fashion. A seductive rhythm lures in the listener and the echo-laden vocals keep you hooked as a catchy-as-can-be chorus ices the cake.


'Nothing Too Much, Just Out Of Sight'

From 'Electric Arguments' (2008)

The lead-off track from a project released under the Fireman alter ego, this is easliy Paul McCartney's rawest performance since "Helter Skelter." (It also works as a thinly veiled rant against his second wife, Heather Mills.) McCartney piles in loud guitars, bashing drums, distorted harmonica, and a fierce vocal – all delivered by the man himself. Brutal, almost Captain Beefheart-ish stuff, this will blow your speakers out.


'Spin It On'

From 'Back To The Egg' (1979)

McCartney's last record of the '70s, and the last released under the Wings banner, is also one of his most forgotten. That's a crying shame, as it features several lost gems. "Spin It On" is a full throttle, no -frills rocker that never lets up for all of its two minutes of glory. A voice at the start whispers "This is it!" Yes, yes it is. There are elements of classic primal, early rock and roll, but with a totally contemporary urgency and drive. Obviously, melody is still front and center – the man can't help it – but it's a real corker.


'Monkberry Moon Delight'

From 'Ram' (1971)

One of many fantastic songs from what die-hard Macca fans consider Paul's finest all-around solo album, "Monkberry Moon Delight" features one of his rawest vocals tracks ever. He has a primal bluesy growl here that still catches the listener offguard decades on. The lyrics, possibly about a homemade elixir of sorts, are not your typical Paul McCartney fare, either. "Well, I know my banana is older than the rest, and my hair is a tangled beretta; when I leave my pajamas to Billy Budapest, and I don't get the gist of your letter." But one of the lines that calls for a head scratch. Stomping rhythm and whimsical backup vocals only add to the track's barrel-house romp.


Paul McCartney Albums, Ranked Worst to Best



Next: Top 10 Wings Songs

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