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Paul McCartney has released many successful and iconic albums in his long music career. However, there is an album not many of his fans know about because it was released under a pseudonym. Why he did that is still a mystery to this day.
After The Beatles broke up, McCartney embarked on a solo career. The bassist released his first album McCartney in 1970 before following it up with his second solo album, Ram. Ram debuted in 1971 and included songs such as “Too Many People,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” “Dear Boy,” and “Monkberry Moon Delight.”
Ram featured the talents of several other musicians, including Linda McCartney on backing vocals, Hugh McCracken on guitar, and future Wings member Denny Seiwell on drums. While the album didn’t receive a warm reception from critics, it still dominated the charts in the U.K., The Netherlands, and Canada and reached No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
Shortly after recording Ram, Paul McCartney hired Richard Hewson to arrange an instrumental version of the album called Thrillington. While Hewson recorded Thrillington shortly after Ram’s release, McCartney didn’t release it until 1977. When he did release it, it was under the name “Percy ‘Thrills’ Thrillington.” In an interview with We Are Cult, Hewson said he still isn’t sure why McCartney used a pseudonym.
“It’s a mystery that I’ve never quite figured out why he did it,” he said. “I wasn’t totally for it. Maybe he felt it was a better way to show his crazy ideas, but if he’d released it as Paul McCartney Orchestral or something, it might have sold much better, because it didn’t sell very well, a lot of people didn’t know about it that I’ve spoken to. Some people knew, some people didn’t. They never tell me anything anyway, I knew they’re reissuing it on vinyl from reading about it on Facebook.”
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While critics were initially harsh to Ram, it’s regarded as a highly acclaimed album today. Many call it their favorite of McCartney’s solo works. In an interview for his website, Paulmccartney.com, Paul McCartney said his perception of the album has changed over time. Upon its release, he thought it wasn’t good due to the critic’s reactions, but he later learned to appreciate it after hearing positive feedback from fans.
“The saving grace in all of this is that years later people would tell me RAM was their favorite album, and that made me go back and listen to it and think again,” McCartney shared. “The critics put me off it, and the fans put me on it! I remember my nephew Jay said to me ‘oh, my favorite album of yours is RAM’, and that was especially nice to hear because he grew up with it. Whenever I had a new album, I’d want to play it for my family, so the kids got to hear it, which means he’s probably got nice memories of listening to it at home.”