1971 instrumental version of ‘Ram’, originally released in 1977. Produced by Paul McCartney as Percy “Thrills” Thrillington, musicians include Herbie Flowers, Clem Cattini and Members of the Swingle Singers and the Mike Sammes Singers. Also available on CD.
The songs were re-recorded over three days at EMI Studios in Abbey Road, London, from 15-17 June 1971, and was mixed on the 18th. Paul McCartney was the producer, but didn’t perform during the sessions. The big band arrangements were by Richard Hewson, who had previously orchestrated Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were The Days”, “Goodbye”, “Let My Name Be Sorrow” and the ‘Postcard’ album. He also arranged the James Taylor album for Apple, and - more controversially - did the orchestration for The Long And Winding Road and I Me Mine for the Let It Be album. Hewson was sent an advance pressing of the Ram recordings, and re-arranged them with little or no involvement from McCartney.
It is not known why there was a six-year gap between the recording and release of Thrillington. Certainly the decision to issue the album at the height of punk rock in the UK meant it had little chance of commercial success. And so it proved. The easy listening style was far removed from prevailing fashions, although it did demonstrate that McCartney was still willing to make bold artistic statements.
A single, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, with “Eat At Home” on the b-side, was issued along with the album in April 1977. To promote them MPL placed crytic messages in the personal columns of the Evening Standard and Times newspapers in the UK. The approach eventually led to an article in the Standard speculating on the identity of Percy Thrillington. EMI also advertised the album, with a campaign involving radio advertisements, business cards for the fictitious Percy Thrillington, thought-bubble stickers and publicity photographs.
“So we invented it all, Linda and I, and we went around southern Ireland and found a guy in a field, a young farmer, and asked if he minded doing some photographic modelling for us. We wanted to find someone that no one could possibly trace, paid him the going rate, and photographed him in a field, wearing a sweater and then wearing an evening suit. But he never quite looked Percy Thrillington enough. Due to the commercial failure of ‘Thrillington’, it became a collector’s item for a time - although nobody was quite sure whether or not it was by Paul McCartney. He finally came clean in 1990.