Ram, Paul McCartney’s first post-Beatles solo album, is a record to which time has been very kind. Released in 1971, Ram contained the #1 hit “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” and the enduring “Too Many People” as well as FM radio staples like “Long Haired Lady” and the sublime “Ram On.” Actually, even if you don’t own a copy of Ram, if you spent any time listening to radio in the seventies, you probably know every song on the album. While Ram was not critically well received upon its release, fortunately, with the majority of its songs being either good or very, very good, the album sold 2 million copies – and not just because McCartney was in the fucking Beatles. Ram isn’t as epic as George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, but it is not an album that anyone is going to give you shit for owning. Forty years after its original release date, Ram is bulletproof.
Songs from the Ram album were recently covered in their entirety by Portland-based multi-instrumentalist Dave Depper, who’s built a successful career recording and touring with other people’s bands. Never having recorded any of his own, original music, Depper was experiencing a kind of musician’s “Dark Night of the Soul,” I suppose you could call it, when he decided to take on the ambitious project of re-recording Ram, all by himself at his home studio. The Ram Project was completed in just 31 days, and the result is simply amazing. Depper’s interpretations sound like what McCartney’s demos might have sounded like if he recorded the album today. Tribute albums went out of vogue a decade ago, but when you are covering material this solid, and the process has so much invested heart, it’s hard to make a mistake.
All twelve original songs from Ram are given loving homage on The Ram Project and there is not a misstep in the bunch. Depper’s versions stay faithful to the original arrangements and even distinctive flourishes such as Linda McCartney’s backing vocals, which are contributed here by Joan Hiller, and signature instruments like the Ukulele on “Ram On” and the comically menacing piano on “Monkberry Moon Delight” are included. The album was mixed as true to the original as possible by Beau Raymond (Devendra Banhart, Little Joy, Laura Gibson) and expertly mastered by Tony Lash (Elliott Smith, Death Cab for Cutie, Dandy Warhols). As it says in Depper’s bio, “The Ram Project is almost eerie in its resemblance to Ram itself.” I think it serves as a fresh companion piece to the original album. Mostly, it just feels really good to rediscover these songs. Highly recommended.
Track listing for The Ram Project is as follows:
1. “Too Many People”
2. “3 Legs”
3. “Ram On”
4. “Dear Boy”
5. “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”
6. “Smile Away”
7. “Heart of the Country”
8. “Monkberry Moon Delight”
9. “Eat at Home”
10. “Long Haired Lady”
11. “Ram On (Reprise)”
12. “The Back Seat of My Car”
Dave Depper’s The Ram Project is available for purchase from Amazon.com at This Link.