Just finished listening to the Ram part 1 and part 2 Podcasts and as usual they were fascinating. I personally didn't realize how many songs didn't make it onto the finished album....a very fruitful period for Paul's creativity indeed.
Not surprising to me that Ryan and Chris really love Ram and I get the feeling that Ram might be their overall favorite . In Contrast, the press as a whole buried Paul and Ram upon its release. Again, Ryan and Chris were far too young to remember all the discord among Beatle fans and the music press upon the breakup of the band. They look at Ram with "objective" ears. Some of the critics at the time just didn't like Paul compared to John so they blamed the breakup on Paul. And of course there was all kinds of bickering between the Beatles' themselves. Even Ringo trashed Ram saying that there wasn't one good tune on it (how wrong was that and just showed that Ringo was also putting the blame on Paul). The guys quoted John as saying that McCartney 1 had better tunes on it. But it was the music press including Rolling Stone (Joh Landau) that "killed" the album. Now, of course, the younger music critics generally call it one of the best Solo Beatle Albums perod. The guys mentioned that Pitchfork in 2012 (upon the release of the Ram Remaster from the Archive Series) gave it a 9.2 out of 10. Pitchfork is famous for their very tough rating stance on albums in general.
I have to admit that at the time I personally didn't fully get Ram either. I was a big Paul fan but I was more used to the Paul Beatle vocals like Blackbird, I've Just Seen a Face, Let It Be, Long and Winding Road etc. I didn't have the album in 1971 so I was just listening to several of the tracks from the radio. Heart of the Country and Uncle Albert sounded like Beatle Paul but many of the other tracks didn't. It wasn't until I got the Remastered CD myself in 2012 that I fully appreciated Ram. With the exceptional high quality from my car CD player I started to really love Paul's vocals on songs like Smile Away, Monkberry Moon Delight, Dear Boy, Back Seat of My Car etc.
Another thing that the boys pointed out is that because of all the acrimony between the Beatles at the time of its release (and the fact that some critics loved John and not Paul) they didn't get the album either. They considered Ram as "fluff" whereas the lyrics in retrospect has a real undertone of anger, anxiety, and defiance to it. The domestic parts of Ram surrounding Paul's family sort of hid the anger Paul was feeling. Now I personally consider Ram to be in Paul's top 5 Post Beatles' albums. There is so much creativity in the album and the songs really jell together. I now love all the songs with my least favorite (and only criticism) being "Long Hair Lady" which is a little too long and repetitious for me. I loved Linda but didn't care so much for her vocals on that one. On the other hand, some tracks that now might be considered as 2nd tier songs like 3 Legs, Smile Away, Monkberry Moon Delight, and Eat At Home are "now" among my favorites.
Another surprise is all the other songs during the Ram sessions that didn't make it onto the final album. As the guys pointed out, it was a missed opportunity for Paul not to have done a Ram sequel. Maybe because of all the bad press that Ram received or because Paul was next putting all his energies to start a new Band (eventually Wings) he never thought about all the excess songs. Now to me, it's a moot point and just keeps the idea of the "need" for a "Lost or Forgotten" new Compilation even stronger for Paul's legacy. And even though Paul put like 26 songs from the 70's on his relatively recent "Pure McCartney Deluxe Compilation" there is just so much more good material (easily enough for 2 70's Discs) that could be considered "Lost or Forgotten".