Our Top 10 Paul McCartney Albums list picks ten of the best Paul McCartney solo albums including the records he released during the Paul McCartney & Wings years. Of course, that makes it much more difficult to choose only ten, but that’s what makes these top 10 lists so much fun to compose. Paul McCartney’s first solo album was released while The Beatles were breaking up. The album entitled McCartney featured Paul McCartney playing all the instruments himself with only his wife Linda providing some backing vocals. His debut solo album was followed up with the album Ram in 1971.
Paul McCartney would form his band Wings with Denny Laine who had previously been a member of The Moody Blues. For the rest of the decade every solo album Paul McCartney released was under the name Paul McCartney & Wings. At one point, with the album Wings at The Speed Of Sound album in 1976, the record was released just under the name Wings. Paul McCartney would release seven albums under the name Paul McCartney & Wings. These included the records, Wild Life in 1971, Red Rose Speedway in 1973, Band On The Run also in 1973, Venus and Mars in 1975, Wings At The Speed of Sound in 1976, London Town in 1978 and Back To The Egg in 1979.
In 1980, Paul McCartney released the album McCartney II. It would make the end of the Wings period. Paul McCartney would release four more solo studio albums in the 1980s entitled Tug of War (1982), Pipes of Peace (1983) Press to Play (1986) and Flowers in the Dirt (1989) He would also release the covers album CHOBA B CCCP in 1988.
Paul McCartney would continue into the 1990’s releasing two studio albums of new materiel entitled Off The Ground in 1993 and Flaming Pie in 1997. Another covers album would be released in 1999 entitled Run Devil Run. The 2000s would find Paul McCartney releasing three more new studio albums entitled Driving Rain in 2001, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard in 2005 and Memory Almost Full in 2007. In the 2010s, Paul McCartney started out the decade with another covers album of standards in 2012 entitled Kisses On The Bottom. Paul McCartney’s last two solo albums as of this writing in 2020 were released 2013 and 2018 entitled New and Egypt Station.
Paul McCartney had also released a handful of classical albums, soundtrack albums and has collaborated on three albums under the name The Fireman with Killing Joke bassist Martin Glover. The ex-Beatle has also performed on countless albums by other artists and has participated on many duets with other performers. Paul McCartney has been a busy man throughout his career and stands as one of the hardest working musicians and composers of all time.
We hope you enjoy our top 10 Paul McCartney albums list. Without a doubt we will get an earful from all the hardcore Paul McCartney fans who will disagree with our picks. In the end, we love sharing our picks with the hardcore fans, but our main goal is always to serve as a starting point for those who are just starting to explore the catalog of an artist as brilliant as Paul McCartney. It was really hard to just choose ten. There were some really good ones we left out.
# 10 – Wings At The Speed Of Sound
We open up our Top 10 Paul McCartney albums list with the 1976 Wings album, Wings at The Speed Of Sound. It was obvious that McCartney had grown tired of off those stupid critics who complained about McCartneys’ music being to lyrically simple. His response was the great single “Silly Love Songs,” with the chorus that simply stated over and over again the words “I Love You.” The album’s opening track “Let Em In,” was another great number with simple lyrics and a melody and groove to die for. Both songs turned out to be huge hits for Paul McCartney. “Silly Love Songs,” became a number one record for Paul McCartney.
One of our favorite tracks on the album was the great rocking number “Beware My Love.” The album also featured lead vocals by Denny Laine on “The Note You Never Wrote,” and “Time To Hide,” Jimmy McCulloch on “Wino Junko” and Joe English on the great song “Must Do Something About It.” If there ever was a solo album by Paul McCartney that could actually be defined as a Wings album, it was this one.
# 9 – Egypt Station
There’s always a sentiment that when Paul McCartney released a new record we all wanted to anoint it the best Paul McCartney solo album ever released. Deep in our musical hearts and souls we wish The Beatles never ended. That yearning for a new Beatles record always has us hopeful that the next McCartney solo album will be the best. Before I began composing this list I listened back to Egypt Station once again. When it was first released I loved it. I wrote a great review on it. However, I wondered was it that old settlement that made me love this album so much initially. A year later I’m happy to stay I still feel the same way about it. Egypt Station is one of the best Paul McCartney solo albums ever released.
Egypt Station’s opening track “I Don’t Know,” is a bit haunting, yet soothing at the same time. It seems extraordinary that Paul McCartney at his age and with his catalog of music that rivals no one still actually seems to be growing as an artist. The maturity in the song “I Don’t Know,” may of course be reflective, but still resonates musical growth in some sort of way. The rest of the album sounds like songs that could have been on Beatles records. Sometimes we tend not to hear that because the Beatles records are so ingrained in our memories. In the 2010s Paul McCartney is still writing incredible pop songs. Egypt Station is a wonderful record if you just give it a chance.
# 8 – Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
Well speaking of continued growth as a songwriter. The release of Paul McCartney’s thirteenth solo album in 2005 entitled Chaos and Creation in the Backyard blew us all away. This was a great Paul McCartney solo album. From the steady eighth note piano parts of the album’s first single “Feel Fine,” to the albums beautiful closing ballad “Anyway,” Chaos and Creation in the Backyard demonstrated that the genius of Paul McCartney still burned brightly.
# 7 – Venus and Mars
I have always loved the Paul McCartney & Wings Venus and Mars album. In fact, it’s my second favorite Paul McCartney & Wings album. It was a very successful follow-up album to Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run. And that was one heck of an album to have to follow up. I have noticed over the years many Paul McCartney fans don’t like this one. I really don’t know why? Did it become fashionable to not like Venus and Mars. Did one big mouth fan or snotty critic pan the album and everybody just followed along. It seems to be what happens nowadays on social media and all that other nonsense.
Venus and Mars is a great record. In my humble opinion, it contains one of Paul McCartney’s greatest singles ever in the song “Listen To What The Man Said.” How could you not love that song? It’s one of his most catchy melodies he’s ever written. The chord changes were outstanding and the production was superb. The album contained so many great songs such as “Magneto and Titanium Man” “Rock Show,” “Treat Her Gently – Lonely Old People” and great rocker “Letting Go.” The Venus and Mars album was released on May 27th 1975.
# 6 – Flaming Pie
Continuing with our top 10 Paul McCartney albums list we turn to the album Flaming Pie. The Flaming Pie album was released in the Spring of 1997. Paul McCartney had supposedly been very inspired to write great songs after having spent so much time working on The Beatles Anthology series the previous couple of years. That inspiration was clearly evident on the record as it stands as one of Paul McCartney’s best albums of his career.
The Flaming Pie album contained many guest appearances by other musical legends starting with Paul McCartney’s ex-Beatles band mate Ringo Starr. Famed producer and founding member of the Electric Light Orchestra that we all know as Jeff Lynne also appeared on the record as well as the great Steve Miller. Beatles producer George Martin also worked on some orchestrations on the great Flaming Pie album.
# 5 – Flowers In The Dirt
Paul McCartney’s Flowers In The Dirt album was released in the Spring of 1989. The album featured the results of a short lived writing partnership with Elvis Costello. A third of the songs released on the album were songs that Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello wrote together. Five singles were released form the Flowers In The Dirt album.
The album also featured a stellar lineup of legendary musicians including Nicky Hopkins on piano Pink Floyd’s legendary guitarist David Gilmour and The Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes. The album won a Grammy Award in the States and a Brit Award in England.
# 4 – McCartney
Paul McCartney’s first solo album was both a happy and sad affair. Of course, everyone was happy to hear new music from Paul McCartney. However, Paul McCartney’s solo album in 1970 defined what everyone did not want to admit; The Beatles were done. Paul McCartney’s first solo record was released on April 17 1970. There have been many books and articles written about the break up of The Beatles and all that happened between 1969 and 1970 in the group. It just must be noted that many critics originally were harsh in their writing about the album upon first release. In reality some of that may have been directed at the album because people were arguing that the album helped fuel the end of The Beatles. An assumption that has been pretty much proven false over time. We will leave that for another article. This one is about the album
Paul McCartney’s first solo album contained the song “Maybe I’m Amazed.” The song would become one of the signature songs of Paul McCartney’s solo career. The song “Maybe I’m Amazed.” was revitalized in a live version released a few years later on the album Wings Over America. In the end, the beauty of Paul McCartney’s first solo album is found in the record’s simplicity. As they say in the blues world “less is more.”
# 3 – Ram
Paul McCartney’s Ram album was released in 1971. It was the follow up album to his first solo album entitled McCartney in 1970. It was an album filled with personal songs some even taking swipes at The Beatles and tilting towards John Lennon. This was an emotional time for Paul McCartney and you can hear those emotions throughout the record.
The Ram album was filled with musical treasures that were not all recognized at the time. Many of the great tracks on Ram have been given their proper credit as many years have passed. However, one of the tracks entitled “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” was a huge hit upon first release. The song reached all the way to the number one spot on the Billboard music charts making it Paul McCartney’s first number one single as a solo artist.
# 2 – Tug Of War
Paul McCartney’s Tug Of War was one of those Paul McCartney albums that when first released critics and fans all heralded it as Paul McCartney’s best work since he had left The Beatles. They were pretty close. With the exception of Band On The Run at least in this writers opinion Tug Of War was Paul McCartney’s greatest solo album. The album contained twelve great tracks two of them which were duets with Stevie Wonder and one with Carl Perkins. One of the duets with Stevie Wonder was a track entitled “Ebony and Ivory,” which became a huge hit for Paul McCartney. Although, the other duet with Stevie Wonder entitled “What’s That You’re Doing?” was far more interesting.
The albums opening two tracks “Tug Of War,” and “Take It Away,” presented fans once again with a killer opening to a Paul McCartney album. Side one’s closing number was a song that was very difficult for Beatles fans to listen to as it was written about John Lennon who had been murdered two years earlier. The album’s second side opened up with a roaring rocker entitled “Ballroom Dancing,” that was very Beatlesesque on many fronts. More standout tracks from the album also included the phenomenal song “Wonderlust,” “The Pound Is Sinking” and “Somebody Who Cares.”
# 1 – Band On The Run
Band On The Run is one of those once in a lifetime albums. That’s actually a rather bold statement when one recognizes that the artist behind the Band On The Run album is the same artist behind albums like Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Abby Road, Revolver and eleven others spectacular Beatles albums. But Band On The Run is not a Beatles album. Its a Paul McCartney solo album and it’s his best one. The album opens with a spectacular one two punch of “Band On The Run,” and “Jet.” How many times have you listened to the the album and have never gotten sick of the record’s first two tracks?
The Band On The Run album doesn’t stop after its first two tracks. Songs like “Bluebird,” “Let Me Roll It,” “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)” and “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,” rounded out the legendary Band On The Run album. The musicians on the album at the time consisted mainly of just Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney and Denny Laine. There were additional studio musicians who performed on the record including a cameo by ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker.