REVIEW: Paul McCartney Chaos and Creation in the Backyard Yields at Least One Classic

Posted by Al Barger on October 16, 2005 11:33 PM

Look, Paul McCartney's getting to be an old dude, and he's pretty much shot his creative wad. Don't expect the guy to make the earth move at this point. Nothing he's going to do now is going to make you forget Tug of War, much less Sgt Pepper.

Still, on a slightly less exalted level, this is a pretty good album. It has at least one classic song, and a number of other interesting songs. You could be a notch below Venus and Mars and still make a worthwhile album.

"Riding to Vanity Fair" has been working on my brain for a couple of weeks, so that's a good start of justifying the album right there. He wrote a real haunting melody, with a strong and unique moody emotional tone that really works.

The simple chimes and the whole quiet undertow of the arrangement sell this. This doesn't sound quite like any other record I ever heard- and I've heard a lot of damned records. This is a production worthy of his name.

Indeed, the song is so good as to motivate me to ponder the lyrics for clues in deciphering that crazy vibe. It seems that the narrator is expressing regrets for a lost love who was too busy "riding to vanity fair" to be his friend. The words would probably look like something of a rebuke on the page, fairly unusual for McCartney.

But then the melody conveying them, and the arrangement, and most of all McCartney's vocal performance make it much more an expression of empathy than rebuke. Sort of like he's in "Hey Jude" mode, but with a slight emotional edge. "Riding to Vanity Fair" is worthy of McCartney's name.

There's nothing else on the album quite up there, but the whole album is well constructed. You can clearly tell that Sir Paul McCartney seriously sat down and spent the time and concentration to write real songs. For starters, this album reconfirms that he's capable of constructing a decent batch of pop songs at will just by pure craft.

My other favorite on this so far has been "English Tea." This has a very distinctive British flavor, and it's quite catchy really. As a sentimental invocation of place, I'd personally take this over "Mull of Kintyre." At 2:12, this song gets bonus points for brevity. Economy is an underappreciated value in art. He makes his point and gets out, rather than milking two minutes worth of song for five or six minutes. He even gets in a little pennywhistle solo, or something like that. This is a proud, stately little tune.

Other songs aren't quite as inspired as those best couple, but by pure craft the single "Fine Line" comes out a good, gently pounding midtempo rock grabber. There's at least minimally a decent song here, and the whole arrangement helps to sell the thing- especially that pounding piano. There are lots of these little touches in all these arrangements that help him get the most out of his basic tunes.

"Jenny Wren" sounds a bit like "Blackbird," though not nearly in that exalted league, but still a fair standout.

Putting it in terms of the geezer sweepstakes, this rates ten to one as an album over the contemporary Rolling Stones album A Bigger Bang. Unlike the strolling bones, Sir Paul actually put forth the proper compositional elbow grease to sit down and make his best effort. Some of these songs are more inspired than others, but all of them will repay your effort to actually sit still and listen carefully and critically.

 

vaudeville Beatles - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Richard Starkey, George Harrison


BEATLES PICTURE COLLECTION - 100 pages PAGE  1 PAGE  2 PAGE  3 PAGE  4 PAGE  5 PAGE  6 PAGE  7 PAGE  8 PAGE  9 PAGE 10 PAGE 11 PAGE 12 PAGE 13 PAGE 14 PAGE 15 PAGE 16 PAGE 17 PAGE 18 PAGE 19 PAGE 20 PAGE 21 PAGE 22 PAGE 23 PAGE 24 PAGE 25 PAGE 26 PAGE 27 PAGE 28 PAGE 29 PAGE 30 PAGE 31 PAGE 32 PAGE 33 PAGE 34 PAGE 35 PAGE 36 PAGE 37 PAGE 38 PAGE 39 PAGE 40 PAGE 41 PAGE 42 PAGE 43 PAGE 44 PAGE 45 PAGE 46 PAGE 47 PAGE 48 PAGE 49 PAGE 50 PAGE 51 PAGE 52 PAGE 53 PAGE 54 PAGE 55 PAGE 56 PAGE 57 PAGE 58 PAGE 59 PAGE 60 PAGE 61 PAGE 62 PAGE 63 PAGE 64 PAGE 65 PAGE 66 PAGE 67 PAGE 68 PAGE 69 PAGE 70 PAGE 71 PAGE 72 PAGE 73 PAGE 74 PAGE 75 PAGE 76 PAGE 77 PAGE 78 PAGE 79 PAGE 80 PAGE 81 PAGE 82 PAGE 83 PAGE 84 PAGE 85 PAGE 86 PAGE 87 PAGE 88 PAGE 89 PAGE 90 PAGE 91 PAGE 92 PAGE 93 PAGE 94 PAGE 95 PAGE 96 PAGE 97 PAGE 98 PAGE 99 PAGE 100

 

   

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