C/D Paul McCartney Solo

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OK. Given All The Best by father also. Heard it again in Richard's car. Silly Love Songs perfect. I like other songs also.

Ally C (Ally C), Wednesday, 26 February 2003 21:36 (sixteen years ago) link

So who wants to start a McCartney II viral revisionist campaign? It's only a matter of time before MOJO picks up on it

Too late, it was in the issue with Santana on the cover.

dleone (dleone), Wednesday, 26 February 2003 21:38 (sixteen years ago) link

No one mentioned 'Arrow Through Me' from Back to the Egg. Other than that, side one of 'Ram', 'Maybe I'm Amazed', bits of McCartney II... yikes, though. yikes.

If one's scratching one's head about how badly Paul's solo cheese wears on the nerves, try the following experiment: program disc one of the white album to only play Paul's tracks. Starts off okay but the unrelenting 'Ob-la-di' to 'Martha My Dear' to 'Blackbird', by the time it gets to 'Rocky Racoon' you'll be clawing your face off.

Jon Leidecker, Thursday, 27 February 2003 18:34 (sixteen years ago) link

'So who wants to start a McCartney II viral revisionist campaign? It's only a matter of time before MOJO picks up on it'

Search ILM for 'Coming Up' and see how many times I've mentioned it, and how far back these mentions go. Absolute classic

dave q, Friday, 28 February 2003 11:20 (sixteen years ago) link

"Search ILM for 'Coming Up' and see how many times I've mentioned it, and how far back these mentions go. Absolute classic."

It should be mentioned that it's the MCCARTNEY II version that should be considered "classic." The live version, which Columbia released as a single in the US, pales in comparison (though there's a very strange meteor-shower synth break toward the end).

Am I the only person who thinks BACK TO THE EGG is almost the equal of BAND ON THE RUN/VENUS & MARS? Probably.

mike a (mike a), Friday, 28 February 2003 16:33 (sixteen years ago) link

McArtney & Ram are classic. Everything up through Venus & Mars was great (but not classic), and everything since then has been a bit dodgy. Paul can definitely come on like a real lounge singer/Muzak tape most of the time.

John Bullabaugh (John Bullabaugh), Sunday, 9 March 2003 02:13 (sixteen years ago) link

That's far too sweeping a statement; there is much good in his post-1975 work... 'London Town', 'McCartney II' at least are neglected triumphs for me; and 'Pipes of Peace' and 'Tug of War' are largely very good. Otherwise, certainly a bit patchy as regards consistency in his albums, but good material is there; if being more difficult to find.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:19 (sixteen years ago) link

McCartney solo would fit better in a S/D thread than a C/D thread, because it depends a lot on which album.

Most obvious cases of search:
"Tug Of War", "Flowers In The Dirt", "Band On The Run", "Venus And Mars"

"Wild Life", "McCartney II", "Press To Play", "Wings At The Speed Of Sound", "Pipes Of Peace".

Other than the disastrous "Wild Life", even the worst albums contain at least one or two great tracks each though.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:22 (sixteen years ago) link

You should give Pipes of Peace a listen and Report Back, N. The tablas make it curiously modern in the current climate. And the sentiments are obv. very much in vogue.

The production on that album is definitely classy, but the songs are just too weak for it to avoid the dustbin. "Tug Of War" has the same marvellous production, and contains almost exclusively great songs. (Yes, even "Ebony & Ivory" isn't that bad, really)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:25 (sixteen years ago) link

Only if people promise to biggie up 'Waterfalls'.

"Waterfalls" is the only really good song on that album. "Coming Up" is a dud IMO. Just because John Lennon liked it doesn't automatically mean it was good (in fact, most of Lennon's solo work sucked anyway)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:27 (sixteen years ago) link

The lyric: 'I acted like a dustbin lid!' never ceases to crease my features in laughter. This is from 'The Other Me', one of many enjoyable pop songs on 'Pipes of Peace'. Give it a listen in a light-hearted mood I suggest, and it will reward.
'Tug of War': indeed 'Ebony & Ivory' is pretty decent, certainly likeable, admirable in tune and sentiment, if no McCartney (or indeed Wonder) masterpiece single. 'Wanderlust' is utterly beautiful; surely appreciated by any Beatles fans looking for the inventive balladeering of his heyday in that group...
'Tug of War' has some *awful* tracks though, IMO; 'What's that you're do-ing?' (which goes on for nearly *7* minutes) and 'Get It'.

'Flowers in the Dirt' has a far worse production than 'Pipes of Peace'; it really lacks focus and sympathy for the songs. There is some fine material on there, but much of it is middling.

Do *not* destroy 'McCartney II'... it's a revelation frankly! Such a massive step up from 'Back to the Egg' and more cohesive and compelling I believe than 'McCartney' (though 'Junk' & 'Every Night' are sublime). It is McCartney very interestingly going down the route of electronic music; which sadly he didn't continue so much on his next two (nevertheless good) albums. 'Summer's Day Song' is among McCartney's most beautiful, as is 'Waterfalls'... 'Frozen Jap' and 'Front Parlour' see a Kraftwerk-type influence beautifully used to make jaunty, expressively melancholic electronic pieces. 'Dark Room' is oddball in a great manner... 'One of these Days' is a masterful close to the album.

'Press To Play' possibly does... but it is mis-produced and really inadequate in its music and songwriting (will have to give it another chance, mind).
I fully agree on 'Wings at the Speed of Sound'; apart from 'Silly Love Songs' (a badly produced and sounding recording of it) and the towering pop of 'Le 'Em In', it is a seriously mediocre record and the one with the most detrimental influence of the other Wings members.
'Ram', 'Band on the Run', 'Red Rose Speedway' and 'Venus and Mars' are unreservedly recommended as an fine early quartet of albums.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:40 (sixteen years ago) link

'Tug of War' has some *awful* tracks though, IMO; 'What's that you're do-ing?' (which goes on for nearly *7* minutes) and 'Get It'.

Wouldn't call any of them awful. Although they are clearly tracks that seem like partly failed attempts to copy his duet partner's musical styles.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:42 (sixteen years ago) link

'Flowers in the Dirt' has a far worse production than 'Pipes of Peace'

I love the production on that one too. But, then again, I enjoy most of what Mitchell Froom and Trevor Horn/Stephen Lipson have ever done sonically.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:43 (sixteen years ago) link

Hmmm, I may need to listen to 'FitD' again, as it is a while since I heard it, but it just didn't impress me with its production. Is it actually Horn himself involved?

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Is it actually Horn himself involved?

The hits are mainly produced by Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Suzanne Vega, early 90s Elvis Costello). But Trevor Horn produced "How Many People" and "Figure Of Eight"

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:54 (sixteen years ago) link

'Figure of Eight', 'Distractions' and 'Put it There' seemed to me the best overall songs there... thinks like 'You want her too' and 'My Brave Face' are *good*, but somehow sound unwieldy to me.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 9 March 2003 19:57 (sixteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
i have heard that 'temporary secretary' is a good song. and, 'secret friend', i think?

i have heard neither, and know very little about mccartney solo. what are these songs like?

gareth (gareth), Monday, 24 March 2003 14:58 (sixteen years ago) link

Hey, how come nobody ever talks about Firemen?

dleone (dleone), Monday, 24 March 2003 15:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Especially since it was a collaboration with Youth. Alex in NYC to thread to honour the fire!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 March 2003 15:18 (sixteen years ago) link

Apart from 'Coming Up', solo McCartney's about as appealing as a whack on the head from Heather's falsie.

russ t, Monday, 24 March 2003 16:23 (sixteen years ago) link

"Coming Up" is the most overrated of his solo material. However, every single one of his solo albums has contained at least 1-2 really classy wonderful melodic ballads, which remains what he is best at.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 24 March 2003 18:38 (sixteen years ago) link

i just bought 'ram' last weekend for $3 and so far it's great. the way linda mccartney's voice is processed is totally fucked. i've always dismissed post-beatles mccartney unfairly - this stuff is really great lo-fi pop/psychedelia. olivia tremor control sound more like this than the beatles, i think.
i should get the first one (with the bowl of cherries on the cover) next....

j fail (cenotaph), Monday, 24 March 2003 19:18 (sixteen years ago) link

What about 'Back in the World/U.S.' ? Backstage hi-jinks are promised.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Monday, 24 March 2003 20:58 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I got 'Back in the U.S.' from ASDA but I don't like it very much. It hasn't got as little booklet in it. Is this an oversight on the part of ASDA or PAUL McCARTNEY? The singing is bloody awful and there is too much emphasis on crowd shots. On the plus side, said crowd shots do make me feel very young.

Would anyone care to share their thoughts? You can make them up if you like. I'm just trying to get better value for money.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Friday, 25 April 2003 18:59 (sixteen years ago) link

one year passes...
i have spent the last few days listening to a large amount of this stuff; of course as a kid I was a huge, huge Beatles fan but by the time I got to the solo records, I pretty quickly realized that aside from the obvious classics (plastic ono band, ram), they weren't really for me. The last McCartney album I bought was the Give My REgards to Broadstreet soundtrack. Anyway, Off the Ground: largely pretty bad. Flowers in the Dirt: some great songs but bad performances and annoying production. Press to Play: meh, bad. The surprise for me was Flaming Pie which really is as good as fans were saying it was when it came out; the jeff lyne chunkachunk production works pretty well for him; these songs are all mostly slow or acoustic and let the melodies show though. It's the kind of sophisticated album someone of his age should be making. A lot of Driving Rain is pretty good too but some of it isn't. Run Devil Run is fun but maybe not quite as good as I want it to be. If he's really been working in LA with Jason Faulkner, I'm excited to hear that stuff if it ever comes out, because McCartney is pretty much ripe for some kind of revival, the guy is capable of writing wonderful tunes, his lyrics let him down sometimes. Maybe Rick Rubin should do his next album.

kyle (akmonday), Thursday, 25 November 2004 19:04 (fourteen years ago) link

the other thing that is surprising to me is that no-one ever stops him when he's making these bad albums (or bad songs on relatively good albums). I mean, no-one in the studio stops and says, "dude, that song is terrible. stop."? no-one at the lable refuses to release it? I mean, he's only damaging himself and he can do better. I guess no-one says no to the guy who wrote Yesterday.

kyle (akmonday), Thursday, 25 November 2004 19:10 (fourteen years ago) link

Jason Falkner? I thought I read somewhere that he is currently working with Mitchell Froom.

Your last comment is OTM btw.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 25 November 2004 22:33 (fourteen years ago) link

the album is being produced by nigel goodrich; faulkner might be involved in this (first google search yielded this).

kyle (akmonday), Thursday, 25 November 2004 22:37 (fourteen years ago) link

From the Billboard article:
Falkner Eyes Solo Album, Plays With McCartney

Versatile pop-rocker Jason Falkner, five years removed from the release of his last full-length solo album, "Can You Still Feel?" (Elektra), is nearing completion of its follow-up while balancing multiple side projects and musical endeavors.

Among his recent musical adventures was a recording session earlier this year in Los Angeles with rock legend Paul McCartney. "That was amazing," Falkner tells Billboard.com. "It was just me and Paul and this drummer, James Gadson, who was the original drummer for Bill Withers."

Falkner was called into the sessions by producer Nigel Godrich (who produced "Can You Still Feel?") and he played guitar on a number of songs with McCartney. "He's doing different sessions with different producers," Falkner says of the former Beatle, "but nobody knows ... if those sessions are gonna be his record."

McCartney wasn't familiar with his collaborator's musical history when they met, so Falkner gave him a copy of "Bedtime With the Beatles," the instrumental children's lullaby album Falkner released through Sony/Wonder in 2001. He admits it "blew his mind" after McCartney gave him a glowing review of the disc the next time they met.

If one suspects (as I do) that Falkner has been disappointed/angry/disgruntled over the way the industry has treated him these last several years, essentially reducing him to a sideman/cover-artist/enhancer-of-others'-work, it follows that the Paul love must do his heart good. A moral victory of some sort, I suppose.

The larger point, though, is interesting, regarding Falkner/Godrich working with Paul for material that may or may not be on his next album — it's exactly what you'd expect from Paul, that searching, persistence and sort of endless curiosity. It's funny — because it's exactly what makes Paul's output so maddenly elusive, frustrating and inconsistent for some, while making others (well, me) love him so. For the latter crowd, he's the quintessential restless artist, which is why so many are still waiting for—expecting even—that late-period masterpiece.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 20:00 (fourteen years ago) link

that late-period masterpiece
But NTI, didn't he already deliver that with Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio, by Paul McCartney and Carl Davis?

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 20:13 (fourteen years ago) link

I think you mean Standing Stone.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 20:43 (fourteen years ago) link

Perhaps, although it appears that by this time Macca had ditched Carl Davis as collaborator and replaced him with a new guy, somebody named Foster.

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 20:52 (fourteen years ago) link


Seriously, though — even those (what I assume are) half-assed "serious" works don't come off remotely as pompous and ill-considered as those of, say, Billy Joel, Paul Simon or—most embarrassingly—Elvis Costello. Where those guys seem to be deluding themselves about where their talents lie and what constitutes "serious" composition (as if pop doesn't), with McCartney, the impetus behind his experiments in pop or otherwise has always seemed like geniune curiosity and a love for music. I mean, you can almost hear him going, "Oh yes, well, that's interesting. Perhaps it's something I can try," whether it's him doing a take on Little Richard ("Long Tall Sally", "Get On the Right Thing"), Eno ("Summer's Day Song"), The Orb (his Fireman project), Joplin ("Honey Pie"), Steely Dan ("Arrow Through Me"), John Lennon ("Too Many People"), Brian Wilson ("Back Seat of My Car"), Elvis Costello ("Getting Closer"), or whoever else. The orchestral pieces—which I've never heard, btw—seem very much cut from that cloth.

At the end of the day, there are really just a handful of artists who are capable of pulling off this sort of thing with any measure of success (and no, Stephen Merritt, you're not one of them). So, I'll tolerate the misfires — even if there seem to be an awful lot of them in his discography.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:16 (fourteen years ago) link

OK, you make a good case my friend. And to tell the truth if there was a cherry-picked comp of the most interesting stuff as mentioned above, I'd be willing to listen to it, much more so than for his Spike collaborator.

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:25 (fourteen years ago) link


Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:28 (fourteen years ago) link

I mean, no-one in the studio stops and says, "dude, that song is terrible. stop."? no-one at the lable refuses to release it? I mean, he's only damaging himself and he can do better. I guess no-one says no to the guy who wrote Yesterday.

Yeah, otm. I've thought about this a bit myself. I mean, he's Paul McCartney. Even if someone did have the balls to tell him his songwriting was pants, he'd probably just think "What a retard. I'm PAUL MCCARTNEY."

roxymuzak (roxymuzak), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:48 (fourteen years ago) link

He's already got them running scared if they, say, want to have a hamburger for lunch.

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Unless too early to be considered, "Tug Of War" was his late-period masterpiece. And "Flowers In The Dirt" was damn close too.

Still waiting for something that tops his two great 80s albums, but "Flaming Pie" was close.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 26 November 2004 22:13 (fourteen years ago) link

Aside from a few tracks, didn't really care for FP, its Steve Miller jams and the like. Maybe worth a dl, though...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 22:28 (fourteen years ago) link

it's good!

kyle (akmonday), Friday, 26 November 2004 23:56 (fourteen years ago) link

Well, how about simply going through his solo output then (oratorios and electronica not counted):

Somewhat patchy stuff. Extremely underproduced, but certainly contains some great stuff. "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Junk" remain among his classics.

Already on his second solo effort he was able to come up with a truly great album. "Ram" is great most of the way through, with the title track, "Uncle Albert", "Too Many People" and others all among his best work. Classic!

"Wild Life"
Helpless stuff. Kind of charming in how he tries to pull it off, but he ends up helplessly lame through most of the album. "Dear Friend" is an OK response to "How Do You Sleep", and also the best tune on the album. The rest is rubbish. Dud, although the CD version includes "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" which helps a lot.

"Red Rose Speedway"
Not my favourite moment, although it was a huge leap in the right direction from "Wild Life". The medley at the end is kind of weird. "My Love" is of course a classic, but there's not a lot of classic stuff. Also here, however, the CD bonus tracks helps a lot, "C Moon" and "Hi Hi Hi" both being great songs.

"Band On The Run"
Sort of generally recognized as his best solo moment. Personally, I cannot quite agree with that, but still, this is a great album. "Jet" and the title track are sort of the recognized classics here, but I would also like to throw in a word for "Bluebird" and "Mrs. Vanderbilt". And, yes, btw, classic!

"Venus And Mars"
The only way he has ever managed to follow up a great solo album with another great one. "Venus And Mars" isn't a lot behind, maybe somewhat more patchy, but it contains such gems as "Rock Show", the beautiful (but way too short) title track, "Listen To What The Man Said" and "Love In Song". Classic!

"Wings At The Speed Of Sound"
"Silly Love Songs" is not my favourite McCartney moment. "Let'em In" is kind of OK, but with the non-singles being so obviously below-par, this is not classic stuff. The other members had way too much input here, and their tracks are dragging the entire effort down. Dud!

"London Town"
His most sonically polished effort so far, and actually not too bad. Certainly, there are moments that aren't quite up there, but tracks such as "With a Little Luck" and the title track are among his best.

"Back To The Egg"
Following an OK effort with another OK effort. I am not to keen on Christ Thomas' way too raunchy production, but there are some great songs in here. I am particularly fond of "Baby's Request", one of his better ballads.

"McCartney II"
McCartney doing synthpop might not have been that much of a bad idea, but the trouble he just doesn't cope. "Temporary Secretary" is a nice attempt that simply just doesn't work. "Coming Up" is annoying and his possibly most overrated moment since "Helter Skelter". "Waterfalls" saves the album though, bad production, but still great tune.

"Tug Of War"
IMO, this is his best ever moment as a soloist. George Martin's polished production gave sort of a 10cc feel to it that really fit his music. The songs are his best ever, and there is hardly a weak track here. "Here Today", "Somebody Who Cares", "The Pound Is Sinking", "Wanderlust" and the title track are all among the best he ever wrote (and I also count his best Beatles efforts here). Absolutely classic!!!

"Pipes Of Peace"
A failed attempt to followup "Tug Of War". Most of the songs here lack character and sound like any MOR song would. There are exceptions though, with "The Man" (a lot better than "Say Say Say", the other Michael Jackson duet on the album) and the title tracks being obvious highlights.

"Press To Play"
An attempt at a "different" album that just didn't work out. Most of the tracks here are rubbish. Still, even at his worst, McCartney managed to come up with a great leadoff single in "Press", and one of his best ever ballads in "Only Love Remains". Still, dud!

"Flowers In The Dirt"
Other than "Tug Of War" I rank this as his best album. Somewhat more patchy, but with highlights that are up there with his best. "My Brave Face" may be one of his best ever solo singles, "This One", "You Want Her Too", "Put It There", "Distractions" and "Rough Ride" are all great songs. And it even contains a great mock-reggae song in "How Many People". Classic!

"Off The Ground"
Like "Back To The Egg", it suffers from a production somewhat too raunchy for my liking. And the tracks are weaker here too. I have never been into the rock'n'roll McCartney, and there is way too much of him here. At least "Golden Earth Girl" and "C'Mon People" are two classic McCartney ballad that leaves this album worth checking out anyway.

"Flaming Pie"
Although it lacks the classic song, this album is a pleasant collection of pleasant pop songs, shaped a lot by Jeff Lynne. While it is not my favourite McCartney album, it is not hard to understand why this became his bestselling solo album in years.

"Driving Rain"
Somewhat more patchy again, although this album too has its moment. The title track is notably strong, and there are also (as usual) a couple nice ballads here. Still not a classic though.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 27 November 2004 00:33 (fourteen years ago) link

"Baby's Request" is horrible! One of those horrible attempts at writing and oldtimey song for old people, ergh. A lot of the rest of "Back to the Egg" turned out to be a bit of a revelation, what w/its awful cover/name I'd mentally filed it as his worst record, in fact about half of it's great ("Getting Closer", "Arrow Through Me", "To You", the Rockestra stuff, "Old Siam, Sir", prob one of those medley songs is Ok but I don't get why he did that on EVERY rec). And suddenly I realise I'm gonna end up buying all his damn postBeatles recs, cos they're prob at least Ok and HE IS PAUL MCCARTNEY. Oh well.

Andrew Blood Thames (Andrew Thames), Saturday, 27 November 2004 02:44 (fourteen years ago) link

Can we get NTI back in here to do a similar rundown?

Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 27 November 2004 03:04 (fourteen years ago) link

Ha ha ha, my pleasure:

Fucking brilliant. Some say underproduced, I say an absolute masterpiece of minimalist pop songcraft. In addition to perhaps the only solo track worthy of The Beatles ("Maybe I'm Amazed", of course), it has several minor gems--"Every Night", "Singalong Junk" (better as this instrumental version, I think)--but also tracks like "Hot As Sun/Glasses", which reveal a keen grasp of impressionist abstraction. A remarkable deconstruction of The Beatles' lavish pop structures.

In which McCartney very consciously puts it back together again. Not a bad thing, though, because the songwriting is sharp and the maximalist lo-fi production enticing. In addition to the pop prog of "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" and "Back Seat of My Car", the record has almost too many highlights: the stomping "Too Many People", the additive layers of "Ram On" and "Dear Boy", the slapback nonsense of "Eat At Home" and rustic whimsy of "Heart of the Country" and "Long Haired Lady" -- track for track, his melodic acuity would rarely be this consistent again. The worst that can be said about it is that its pleasures are a touch superficial. Still, one of his best.

"Wild Life"
Charming in places, but tossed-off and inessential. Opening improv, "Mumbo", is a smoking rocker, but the best tracks are, surprisingly, simple duets with Linda: "Some People Never Know", "Tomorrow", as well as "Dear Friend" (which goes on a bit long). Best song is the UK bonus track, "Mama's Little Girl", a ghostly, staggeringly beautiful ballad not unlike "Blackbird", but with lush Wings vocals, if you like that sort of thing. I kinda do.

"Red Rose Speedway"
A favorite of Macca fanatics. None of the songs mean a goddamn thing, and Paul was almost audibly stoned to the gills on this one, but almost all the tracks are melodically sharp. "Big Barn Bed" has a great ensemble vocal chorus, "My Love" is shimmering, "Get On The Right Thing" is Little Richard at run through the Gold Star reverb chamber. Elsewhere, there's a serviceable C&W riff ("One More Kiss"), an appealing light ballad ("Single Pigeon"), a lazy lite one ("When the Night"), and two medleys -- one ("Little Lamb/Dragonfly") utterly gorgeous, with the other sounding like he orchestrated a worktape. Not a bad thing, really.

"Band On The Run"
Honestly? The least exciting of his "classic" solo records, largely because it lacks almost any trace of the carelessness that makes his solo work frustrating but exciting, given that we're talking about someone with the skills of McCartney. Still, "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" is a blast, as is the "If we ever get out of here" section of the title track, and "Let Me Roll It" positively aches. Other moments are enjoyable, but oddly hollow.

"Venus And Mars"
A prototypical McCartney record -- brilliant and fun in places, it's also larded with utter garbage. The brilliant stuff starts with the title track, its reprise in particular, which ends with a lysergic vocal tag that fucking shimmers with a Wilsonian grace. In addition, the eastern-tinged "Love In Song" is gorgeous, "Magneto and Titaneum Man" a shuffling blast, and "Listen To What the Man Said" fun. But where "Letting Go" shows Macca embracing 70s rock with gusto, "Rock Show" is fairly plodding arena rock fare expressly designed for the then-upcoming Wings Over America tour. Oh, and there's the first of his "Old people make me sad" songs. Still, significantly more good than bad.

"Wings At The Speed Of Sound"
Totally disagree with Geir here, because "Let 'Em In" might be the quintessential McCartney single -- in addition to a sharp lyric and sticky tune, the unrelenting piano ostinato and revolutionary war piccolo riff are weird to the point of obsessive. What's the best fuck you to critics in history? An easy listening smash -- "Silly Love Songs". Both tracks are just fucking subversive. Other than these and the startling ballad "Warm And Beautiful", things are thin -- "The Note You Never Wrote" would be great if it were McCartney not Denny singing, "Beware My Love" seems like it should be better than it is, and the otherwise snappy "She's My Baby" errs in repeating "Moppin' it up!" a bit too much -- ick. The idea of letting the band chime in was...not good.

I'll get to the rest in a few...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 27 November 2004 07:41 (fourteen years ago) link

"London Town"
All over the map, but largely in a good way. McCartney's definitely settling into a groove here, with a lush, orchestrated sound that aims less for transcendence than straightforward pop appeal with dabs of experimentation here and there. Highlights include the stately title track and "With A Little Luck", a classic MOR ballad, but also the oddball "Backwards Traveller" and "I'm Carrying", one of his most moving acoustic guitar ballads.

"Back To the Egg"
Though its quasi-conceptual ambitions are far from fully realized, this is probably the best Wings record. He just does everything here--Armed Forces-era Elvis C. ("Getting Closer"), Aja-era Steely Dan ("Arrow Through Me"), Ray Charles ("After the Ball")--and his voice never sounded better. Even the failures are interesting (in theory, anyway), particularly his rock orchestra experiment ("Rockestra" which includes the likes of Pete Townshend and John Paul Jones), as well as the two impressionistic medleys on side two. Another favorite amongst McCartney fanatics and for good reason.

"McCartney II"
Where the first McCartney record embraced a rustic back-to-basics approach, the second volume reflected the advancement of the DIY aesthetic he had unknowingly midwifed. A decade before, Emmitt Rhodes had mimicked McCartney's go-it-alone approach and sound; by 1980, synthesizers were beginning to make possible albums that were truly "solo," from Eno to post-punk to Steve Winwood, whose Arc of a Diver would take its cue from this record in proving that an artist could make a complete pop statement (however minor) all by his lonesome.

Continuing the experimental tack of Egg, McCartney II reflects an awareness of these developments and includes at least four McCartney classics -- the snappy "Coming Up", the melancholy (and bizarre) "Waterfalls", the Eno-flavored "Summer's Day Song" and haunting ballad "One Of These Days". For all the excitement surround the experiments that work, the record also has a collection of interesting-to-mediocre synth instrumentals and aimless drum box jams that don't, making it clear he had an affinity for some DIY developments and merely an interest in others.

Gotta go to bed. I'll try to do "Tug of War", "Press To Play" and "Flowers In the Dirt McGirt" tomorrow...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 27 November 2004 08:39 (fourteen years ago) link

"Tug Of War"
Possibly his most overrated record, but that's understandable given its origins (produced by George Martin) and proximity to Lennon's death. In reality, the record's only differentiating characteristic with its predecessors is its questionable quality. There are undeniable moments of beauty and grace ("Wanderlust", the opening of the title track), as well as inspired eclecticism ("The Pound Is Sinking", the wistful rockabilly of "Get It" with Carl Perkins segue into vocoder link track "Be What You See"). But there is also uncomfortably hamfisted balladry ("Ebony", the plodding middle section of the title track, the disappointing Lennon tribute "Here Today" among others). Part of the blame goes to Martin, who even on the super-catchy hit single, "Take It Away", imposes a supersession lite MOR production that does the material no favors. Frustrating in a lot of ways, because it feels like it should be better than it is.

"Pipes of Peace"
I don't really know it, and what I've heard hasn't really inspired me to pick it up.

"Press To Play"
Ah, the sleeper in his catalogue. The concept was simple: Paul McCartney does mid-80s synth rock a la Genesis and Phil Collins — a terrible idea that ultimately sold like crap. But clearly McCartney heard something symphonic in the production of those records, so he the man responsible for them, Hugh Padgham. Assembling a veritable who's who of the scene (including Collins, SNL saxman Lenny Pickett, Pete Townshend, as well as arrangers Tony Visconti and Art of Noise orchestrator Anne Dudley), writing a patch of tracks with 10cc's Eric Stewart, he set about making his Invisible Touch.

And in truth, unlike Tug of War, most of it works, though in a dated kind of way. "Good Times Comin'/Feel the Sun" bristles with energy and "Only Love Remains" is a solid McCartney piano ballad, while "Press" (about pleasuring his wife) and "Talk More Talk" show Paul excelling at pre-sequenced synth textures. Still, it's the tracks with Stewart that shine brightest; "Stranglehold" and "Footprints" are an ebbulient rocker and haunting atmospheric ballad respectively, but "However Absurd", with its helium bridge and pounding metallic piano, is stunning. There are misfires—the quasi-aboriginal "Pretty Little Head", the pointless "Angry"—but as genre exercises go, the record is fairly brilliant.

"Flowers In The Dirt"
Where Press To Play felt inspired, this feels a bit aimless, as if he didn't know what he wanted to do exactly. Apart from the brilliant Irish gospel of "That Day Is Done", the much-heralded Costello collaborations are overhyped, while those with Trevor Horn are outright disappointing. Plus, several tracks employ plodding arena rock productions that ruin the material. Still, there are moments where McCartney's songwriting shines through: the ebbulient "This One" has a sharp tune, "Put It There" is a charming ode to fatherhood, and "My Brave Face" almost transcends its overproduction. But it's all over the place, and not in a good way.

Beyond that, I don't really know any of his 90s records more than to say "Off the Ground" sounded fairly dreadful, "Flaming Pie" flat and "Driving Rain"...okay. I still haven't quite given up on him, though.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 27 November 2004 17:23 (fourteen years ago) link

This makes me want to hear Press To Play:

"However Absurd", with its helium bridge and pounding metallic piano, is stunning

This doesn't:

"Press" (about pleasuring his wife)

Alba (Alba), Saturday, 27 November 2004 17:51 (fourteen years ago) link

I have heard "All the Best" and "Flaming Pie" and they're quite nice

"Some say he was best with the Beatles" - classic

tremendoid (tremendoid), Saturday, 27 November 2004 21:05 (fourteen years ago) link

Matthew you omitted major non-album singles

you maniac

(Jon L), Saturday, 27 November 2004 22:36 (fourteen years ago) link

Right. In summary, "Spies Like Us" eats ass.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 27 November 2004 23:20 (fourteen years ago) link

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