The Thrillington album is one of the few genuinely rare, legitimate commercial LP releases in Paul McCartney's output, mostly a result of its never having been officially credited to McCartney or publicized as one of his releases. An orchestral/instrumental version of Paul & Linda McCartney's Ram album, Thrillington is a very potent work in its own right. Arranged and conducted by Richard Hewson, it avoids the temptation to deliver flaccid elevator music, in favor of very precise playing and finely detailed arrangements. The orchestrations incorporate elements of big-band swing and very elegantly realized pop music, with occasional backing by scatted and vamped choruses, courtesy of the Swingle Singers, who call up memories of the Hi-Los at various points here. "Three Legs" swings like a latter-day Count Basie cut, while "Dear Boy" comes off as light, Swingle Singers-style jazz; "Heart of the Country" is a scat vocal feast by the Swingles; "Eat at Home" is done as a big-band reggae instrumental that would have delighted big-band ska king Byron Lee; and "Monkberry Moon Delight" is a treat for fans of luscious trumpet and trombone work. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," not surprisingly, is the most complicated cut on the album, two distinct halves, a pop/rock combo augmented by recorder flutes augmented by trumpets and strings handling the principal melody in the first half, and then a second half highlighted by a harpsichord. What makes these and the other cuts a special pleasure for fans of the original album is that they all retain their beat, even as Hewson's arrangements carry them in some surprising directions. The tragedy is that almost no one has heard this most interesting of McCartney's albums -- cut during June of 1971, it was forgotten amid the burgeoning activity surrounding Wings; the album sat on the shelf for six years until Paul and Linda McCartney started playing with the name Percy Thrillington, spreading phony stories to the gossip pages and taking out ads announcing his social and musical activities in London; and then it came out as Thrillington, appearing in England (and later America) with no explanation or publicity, sandwiched in between the releases of Wings Over America and London Town.
by Bruce Eder