Amid all the tripe written about this Ram deluxe reissue, Jayson Green’s pitchfork review struck me as descriptively modest. Always had a curious soft spot for Ram, seeing as it was among my earliest headphone slabs. I keep dismissing and returning to it. The vocals: AMAZING. The tone: elaborately controlled ABSURDIST WHIMSY. “Halsey” earns itself that xgau “major annoyance” lament, and yet still a secret cousin to epics like “Hey Jude,” “You Know My Name,” and an early fluttering precursor 1975’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” McCartney had cheek, stood next to Plastic Ono Band like a giant Jeff Koons marshmellow man. Ram twisted the knife, “Smile Away.” Horribly now.
You have to give him credit: he couldn’t raise the bar any on Pepper or Abbey Road‘s finales, so he simply inverted his target: why polish the chrome when you can overstuff the couch? Even the closers reek of self-conscious disdain: let’s go spin codas off a cliff (“Long-Haired Lady”)! And again (“Back Seat of My Car”)!
Always been fond of his “Another Day” b-side (itself a marvel of misdirection), “Oh Woman Oh Why,” about a man bleeding out from his lover’s gunshot wounds. “Comic” screams. “What have you done?!?!” Here’s the real McCartney “break-up” track; it’s enough to make Plastic Ono Band sound literal. Almost worth investigating: Richard Hewson’s Percy Thrillington orchestral arrangement of the entire album, where bassist Herbie Flowers and drummer Clem Cattini play Impress the Man. Standout track: “Eat at Home” as a reggae two-step. The first muzak reduction of a muzak album?