Paul McCartney

By Blackett, Matt | Guitar Player, August 2004 | Go to article overview

Paul McCartney


Blackett, Matt, Guitar Player


James Paul McCartney. He is at once the most beloved and most maligned Beatle. Loved for his obvious contributions to pop-rock songcraft with the Fab Four, but pilloried in the press for solo work that is dismissed as empty fluff. The criticism is not completely lacking in merit. Over the course of 34 years--and more than 20 albums--McCartney has certainly dished out some clunkers. But, at the same time, he has created brilliant pop tunes, fiery rockers, and straight-up classics that can hang with all but his best Beatles songs. (McCartney himself concedes that he did his best work with the Beatles, but defends his music as a solo artist and with his longtime band, Wings.)

Although he has employed many great guitarists over the years--including Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, Laurence Juber, David Gilmour, Steve Lukather, and current 6-string foil Rusty Anderson--McCartney has always played at least some guitar on his albums, starting with his 1970 solo debut, on which he played virtually everything, most notably the guitar solo to "Maybe I'm Amazed."

"It's one of the best solos ever," states Anderson. "The first time I heard it, I was floored. It just comes together so effortlessly."

Lukather concurs. "If you play that song and don't do the lead break," he says, "everyone in the room will sing that solo. It's the perfect solo."

Band on the Run [1973] features McCartney once again handling the guitar chores (with a little help from Laine) and he showed his range on the epic title track. With its various sections and movements, "Band on the Run" has McCartney doing whammied double-stops in the intro, distorted blasts after the verses, gorgeous 12-string strumming, and, finally, delay-drenched slide parts on the outro. …

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