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 (fifteen years ago) link
― Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 20:13 (fifteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 20:43 (fifteen years ago) link
― Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 20:52 (fifteen 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 (fifteen years ago) link
― Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:25 (fifteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:28 (fifteen years ago) link
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 (fifteen years ago) link
― Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 26 November 2004 21:49 (fifteen years ago) link
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 (fifteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 26 November 2004 22:28 (fifteen years ago) link
― kyle (akmonday), Friday, 26 November 2004 23:56 (fifteen years ago) link
"McCartney":Somewhat patchy stuff. Extremely underproduced, but certainly contains some great stuff. "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Junk" remain among his classics.
"Ram"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 (fifteen years ago) link
― Andrew Blood Thames (Andrew Thames), Saturday, 27 November 2004 02:44 (fifteen years ago) link
― Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 27 November 2004 03:04 (fifteen years ago) link
"McCartney":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.
"Ram"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 (fifteen years ago) link
"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 (fifteen years ago) link
"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 (fifteen years ago) link
"However Absurd", with its helium bridge and pounding metallic piano, is stunning
"Press" (about pleasuring his wife)
― Alba (Alba), Saturday, 27 November 2004 17:51 (fifteen years ago) link
"Some say he was best with the Beatles" - classic
― tremendoid (tremendoid), Saturday, 27 November 2004 21:05 (fifteen years ago) link
― (Jon L), Saturday, 27 November 2004 22:36 (fifteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 27 November 2004 23:20 (fifteen years ago) link
― Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 28 November 2004 00:56 (fifteen years ago) link
― Ken L (Ken L), Sunday, 28 November 2004 01:33 (fifteen years ago) link
― Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 28 November 2004 02:37 (fifteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 30 November 2004 05:51 (fifteen years ago) link
― kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 05:26 (fourteen years ago) link
― The Amazing Jaxon! (jaxon), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 05:28 (fourteen years ago) link
― yuengling participle (rotten03), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 06:10 (fourteen years ago) link
― AleXTC (AleXTC), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 08:41 (fourteen years ago) link
Did he let her?
― kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 12:17 (fourteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 13:33 (fourteen years ago) link
― Billy Pilgrim (Billy Pilgrim), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 13:44 (fourteen years ago) link
― Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 14:51 (fourteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 14:55 (fourteen years ago) link
― Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 14:57 (fourteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 15:01 (fourteen years ago) link
― AleXTC (AleXTC), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 15:07 (fourteen years ago) link
― Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 12 July 2005 22:39 (fourteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 13 July 2005 19:44 (fourteen years ago) link
― ZionTrain (ZionTrain), Wednesday, 13 July 2005 23:55 (fourteen years ago) link
― David Allen (David Allen), Thursday, 14 July 2005 00:08 (fourteen years ago) link
― Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 14 July 2005 00:21 (fourteen years ago) link
― ZionTrain (ZionTrain), Thursday, 14 July 2005 00:25 (fourteen years ago) link
― Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Thursday, 14 July 2005 01:51 (fourteen years ago) link
that one's a search, definitely
― Mike O. (Mike Ouderkirk), Thursday, 14 July 2005 02:21 (fourteen years ago) link
― kyle (akmonday), Thursday, 14 July 2005 02:42 (fourteen years ago) link
― ZionTrain (ZionTrain), Thursday, 14 July 2005 02:52 (fourteen years ago) link
― MerkinMuffley (MerkinMuffley), Thursday, 14 July 2005 05:15 (fourteen years ago) link
Must say, the song seems rather excellent, as if he really has upped his game. A more frenetic "Let 'Em In" for these times; typically McCartneyesque, yet with more intensity than he's had for decades. Fantastic ominous piano part... This is without question looks likely to be his finest album since "Tug of War".
― Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 7 August 2005 19:34 (fourteen years ago) link