While the souped-up doo-wop of "Oh! Darling" never caused any real problems musically — 'a typical 1950s-'60s-period song', quoth George — the precision of both the performance and production is what makes it such a standout. It certainly restores any credibility and impetus which Paul may have lost with the preceding (mis)adventures of "Maxwell"
The lead guitarist's synthesiser also has something to do with setting a distinctly late 1960s-70s slant on it, as does the masterful control of aforementioned production. GM's 'widescreen' eight-track Abbey Road
sound accommodates the vocal and instrumental enormity with almost casual ease.
John on piano, leaving Paul to interarpeggiate with George's guitar, as well as ringling his bass with Mingo's drums. How deftly they all walk the line between taut precision and what-the-hell thrash! And, with those sweetly underplayed chorus voices as the icing on the cake, it really couldn't've worked out better...
Paul's vocal preparation, both in the bathtub and the studio, is well documented, and you gotta admit it paid off. I ain't so sure, though, about his claim that 'five years ago I could have done this in one take...' Macca had always had his equally great rocker and crooner voices, and a more than ample high-low range. Nevertheless, through the Let It Be
and Abbey Road
sessions, he was just beginning to experiment with his newly-acquired mid-tones. Even a couple of years before, he simply couldn't have pulled of the tonsillar acrobatics he performed here.
The lack of lyrical complexity obviously offered him the opportunity to really give it a work-out, Maybe Amazing himself just as much as everyone else with the results. He was obviously lovin' it, whatever: whoopin' up an' sighin' down the fills to just the right point of hamminess. The arrangement may have been retro, but the performance had Mr McCartney looking firmly to his post-Beatle future full of big-production mini-epics.
John always griped that he could've sung it better: his brief "I'm Free" improvisation from the start of the year (on Anthology 3
) hardly giving him the opportunity to demonstrate it. While he certainly wouldn't've done it no harm, I'd personally've loved to've heard 'em take it tandem,Oh believe me darling!