Possibly inspired by Frank Zappa’s sentimentally retrogressive doo-wop experiments on Cruising With Ruben And The Jets, McCartney similarly returned to the previous decade for Oh! Darling. It was a canny combination of traditional rock’n’roll tropes, blues-rooted Louisiana swamp pop and close harmony vocals, ultimately overwhelmed in the final mix by a lead vocal in thrall to Little Richard. McCartney grafted to nail exactly the right performance, arriving early at Abbey Road, and warming up his voice over understated preparatory takes before finally letting rip in pursuit of the kind of raw perfection he’d routinely nail after three hours behind the microphone in Hamburg. John Lennon’s piano hammered a complementary Fats Domino accompaniment, but by this stage the tension was never far from the surface. The effortless box-fresh Paul McCartney of ’63 had matured, and when particularly impassioned in ’69 sounded ever-so-slightly laboured, a state of affairs that Lennon gleefully highlighted: “Oh!
Darling was a great one of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well. I always thought I could have done it better – it was more my style than his.” Ouch. Although he might have had a point.