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Paul McCartney Song Reviews


McCartney (1970)

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McCartney

The Lovely Linda A-

The mourning Beatles fan must’ve put on this album for the first time with more than just a little bit of anticipation… and they got THIS. A 45-second ditty consisting of Paul strumming somewhat sloppily to his acoustic guitar and singing a goofy thing about lovely flowers in her hair. Well, I think it’s just fine! The melody (what little there seems to be of it) is quite catchy and the instrumentation is homely and likable. His little laugh at the end was cute!

That Would Be Something B

It’s funny that this seems like a throwaway song, but it’s far catchier than the average pop song. That riff was all right, but it’s a tad stale. McCartney, being the lovable goofball he is, subtly goes nuts with the drums. At one point he even lets his voice imitate the drums. This is an example of a relatively so-so melodic idea is saved through sheer charm.

Valentine Day B

Because it was a nice, loving day, McCartney decided to deliver a bit of a bluesy jam. Though since he was the only one playing instruments on the album, he’s essentially jamming with himself… Somehow, it might have been more fun to make his “Coming Up” music video based on this, instead!

Every Night A-

Ah, here’s the first song with pop-radio potential! His melody is nice and sweet, and it could have been made into quite a Beatles song if not for the fact that it’s homemade and misses collaboration with all his old buddies. The melody is enormously catchy, and I do actually adore the homemade quality. McCartney sure knows how to play all these instruments!

Hot as Sun / Glasses A-

A song made out of leftovers. The “Hot as Sun” part apparently was written in 1959 when he was a member of the Quarrymen. Well… the guy was a gifted songwriter; let’s leave it at that! It’s an instrumental with the lead “voice” is a guitar playing a sweet melody. This eventually turns into the “glasses” bit that consists of him playing around with crystal glasses. The song fades out with a clip of “Suicide” a song that was never officially recorded… Well I will say for a guy trying to get a studio album out as quickly as possible, he sure seemed to have a lot of material to sift through!

Junk A

This was written in the Beatles era and considered for The White Album. I guess that album was so great that it didn’t have much need for such a sweet melody as this… Perhaps it was too pretty or something! Anyway, it’s certainly great here… There’s something lovable about McCartney singing this very sweet and modest song with a homely acoustic guitar (and a toy xylophone for effect). Very pretty!

Man We Was Lonely A-

This is probably one of the better songs with the most pop potential though the melody is a tad too cheesy for my taste. The instrumentation is certainly interesting… he got a few strange sounds out of the electric guitar, which turned out better than any synthesizer would get, mind you.

Oo You A-

A few bluesy licks and a derivative melody … but that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome on that very modest level. McCartney’s vocals are strikingly soulful and genuine. Surely, he made everyone mad when he released this, because he could make great music without seemingly trying.

Momma Miss America B-

An instrumental! This one’s rather murky and I sort of miss out on the melodies. However, it’s not bad, and he gives us a chance to hear how he can shred his guitar… a lot better than I can do it!! This is filler… but to be fair that’s what this whole album really is, and he gets away with it.

Teddy Body A-

This was also slated to be a Beatles tune (and appear on the Let it Be album). I can see why it didn’t go on that album… it wouldn’t exactly fit. But it’s certainly nice to hear now!! That simple, choppy riff seems almost medieval. The melody is catchy but not certainly not among his finest.

Singalong Junk A

Junk was a nice song, and here’s the sweet elevator version of that. McCartney might have made a good soundtrack composer… This isn’t any worse than Burt Bacharach! (He tried that before, but I think he might not have liked it.)

Maybe I’m Amazed A+

At least there was a big ole hit on the album. The melody is catchy and Paul delivers a remarkably soulful performance… if you needed more proof that the guy had a remarkable singing voice. The instrumentation continues to sound homemade … These must have been the old days when you didn’t need an overproduced piece of dance pop to have a major hit.

Kreen-Akore C-

Consider this early proof that McCartney’s experimental side didn’t exactly produce any Picassos! This track consists of Paul playing around on the drums for awhile, some monkey sound effects come in, and he delivers a few long sustained chords (giving us an early hint of Sufjan Steven it seems… very reminiscent of him, except he does it better). Then, he picks up the drum beat and starts breathing in the microphone, which will give you the image of him running or … doing something else.


Ram (1971)

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Ram

Too Many People A+

Geez, if this was on any Beatles album, it would have been loved to death by every music critic on the planet no matter how hard-nosed they are. One could argue that this doesn’t even sound like The Beatles, but The Beatles wrote such diverse music that I have no trouble picturing this on a Beatles album. Of course, John is replaced with Linda on back-up vocals, and I miss George’s guitar… But hell, Paul’s a great guitarist, too! Anyway, what’s so special about this song? EVERYTHING! The melody is incredibly catchy, and McCartney shreds some great guitar. That sort of spaced-out introduction is great, and the transition to the main section of the song was flawless… Much more impressive than that is the transition to that unusual “jamming” section at the end with those pounding, marching drums and that “sitar” sound. Beautiful.

Three Legs A

This starts out as an above-average blues tune with McCartney giving a beautiful vocal performance… He gracefully ups the instrumentation as it goes along eventually bringing in a shredding and tuneful electric guitar! And extra points for creativity; he completely changes the riff at the two-minute mark. This could have made another two or three minute song in itself … geez, inspired ideas were just flowing out of this guy!!

Ram On A+

Hardly worth disliking this song, either. It’s utterly light and airy, but that’s a good quality when done right. I heard it described as filler, but that’s ridiculous! It seems to open with studio noise (just as their warming up, apparently, to play this song). McCartney strums the ukulele and sings a rather spaced-out though still catchy melody. This is accented by an astounding and wonderfully constructed drum rhythm with a beat that sounds like someone’s tap-dancing in a large ballroom. The instrumentation is utterly inspired… a variety of very subtle synthesizers and especially Linda’s back-up vocals were fantastic. I can’t even imagine what’s supposed to be so awful about this… It’s a masterpiece!!

Dear Boy A+

Absolutely charming! … That describes every song on this album, but this one especially. It’s only two minutes long, but it has more melodic ideas than any 12-minute Yes song in existence… Heck, it even has better development and more emotion than any Yes song. Yes, I like Paul McCartney! The vocals are wonderful! You have Paul singing his wonderful melody and then back-up singers (consisting of Paul and Linda) singing something completely different in the background. Amazing work.

Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey A+

And none of those previous songs were hits! Here’s the song that I hear very frequently on the radio. I do receive a number of flame letters, so I feel perfectly justified for flaming anyone who doesn’t like this song: u suK, donky ballZz!!!!!!!! I’m sure you all know this thing by heart whether you like it or not… The melody is an utterly wonderful, whistleable tune, and the arrangements are an utter triumph! Anyone else love that tuba during the “Admiral Halsey” section?!!?!?!?? … Sorry, I’m droning on like a mind-numbed fan. Actually, I am one. Need to stop.

Smile Away A

Not inappropriately, Paul decides to deliver a bit o’ hard rock. (Well, “hard rock” in McCartney’s terms… meaning that there’s a driving rhythm and electric guitars.) Again, his melody is excellent, and I do love the guitars. More proof that McCartney’s a fantastic vocalist here… he can belt out his lyrics in a bluesy manner better than any of ‘em, I believe. More of that wonderful development here… this isn’t your ordinary R&B song. The arrangements aren’t as impressive as, say “Uncle Albert” or “Ram On,” but tons more creative than any Led Zeppelin song I’ve heard. Seriously, anyone who can’t appreciate this guy can’t appreciate life.

The Heart of the Country A+

I love this song, too! Again, the melody serves as more proof that this guy is one of the greatest songwriters on the planet. Ever. This is more of a folksy tune featuring just McCartney singing with lightly strummed guitar, light drumming and bass. Don’t you love his singing voice? So light and airy… Geez, Paul McCartney had it all! He makes this sort of thing look too easy (probably the principle reason some critics don’t like him) … I’ve heard enough perfectly nice Joan Baez compositions that are utter %&$! comparatively.

Monkberry Moon Delight A+

The most fun, most inventive song on the album. Probably correctly identified as the album’s most Beatles-esque track, it revisits the psychedelic era. McCartney sounds like he’s singing at the top of his lungs (though not quite as much as he did on “Helter Skelter”). The melody is catchy, the development is flawless and I love the arrangements! (Geez, these track reviews aren’t being too helpful, are they? This is really a drawback from spending so much time listening to this album.) Some might also consider this Ram’s least fillery song, though I hope you all realized by now that nothing on this album is filler. It’s very distinctive, though, and it’s a highlight among the highlights.

Eat at Home A+

Help! I’m being bombarded by too much perfection! This one’s with a bit of a country twang without actually resorting to real country-rock (thank god). The bass guitar is as bouncy as can be, and the guitar crunches follow suit wonderfully. Again, the melody is excellent, and the song development is amazing. YAY!

Long Haired Lady A+

Can you ask for anything more? Can I say anything in this track review that I haven’t already said about the other songs??? Everything’s perfect, as usual. I suppose I could try describing it for you, though I urge you to pick up the album and hear it for yourself! This is a six-minute tune and never grows tiring. Not even a little bit. It probably could have gone for longer, and I wouldn’t have cared. The melody is very whistleable and the arrangements are sweet and intricate. More of that excellent vocal work with a beautiful duet between Paul and Linda… The last two minutes repeat the same hook over and over, but Paul keeps layering on instrumentals… Excellent!

Ram on (Reprise) A

Anyone with the “filler” argument might have a point with this… There was really no reason to bring this song up again. Back in their face, though, it’s only a minute long… All that said, it’s really nice to hear it again.

The Back Seat of My Car A+

Proof that McCartney was interested in creating a fully congruent album and Ram is far from inconsequential. It’s actually an extremely well-planned album. This is a perfect “conclusive” song… Specifically designed to be the album closer. McCartney delivers a sentimental tune, and you get to hear him belt out lyrics in a bluesy fashion at the end. Again, the development is wildly varied and interesting (at one point even sounding like a cinema soundtrack). You just wish your favorite rock star was this good of a composer… no wonder so many people resent Ram.

BONUS TRACKS:

Another Day A+

There are bonus tracks, apparently! … Thanks to Rhapsody, I get to hear them. The version of this album I’m always playing on my car stereo simply ends with “Back Seat of My Car.” I do know this song very well, though. My first solo McCartney experience was the then-new greatest hits compilation Wingspan, and this was one of my favorite bits from it. It would’ve fit perfectly well with Ram. The melody is up to his usual standard, and the instrumentation is nice and modest. Very very good.

Oh Woman, Oh Why B+

Lesser though still likable… I haven’t heard much of this song before this point, but I’m glad I finally get to hear it! Unlike “Another Day,” this wouldn’t have fit too nicely in Ram, and I guess I’m grateful that my version of the album is without these bonus tracks. More of a bluesy song with heavy electric guitars and McCartney delivering a sloppy though still spirited vocal performance. Problem is that the melody doesn’t do it for me… this is predominantly why it doesn’t fit with Ram. It also seems like a parody, which is fine in other contexts. You know, I still actually prefer listening to this than Eric Clapton!!! It’s much more playful. That just goes to show you about my taste in music, I guess.


Wild Life (1971)

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Wild Life

Mumbo A-

A nice enough song… Paul sings in a sort of droning, wailing that supposedly mimics John Lennon’s “Mother.” That’s an interesting tidbit, I guess! Whatever the case, this vocal performance is excellent! Other than that, this is an above average, straight-ahead rock song. You’ll notice that it’s much more standard sounding than anything on Ram suggesting that McCartney wasn’t too interested in writing another great album like that. Surely, he was still in the business of writing good songs, and this is definitely one of them. The melody is catchy and the instrumentation, while not so innovative, is playful.

Bip Bop B-

I used to really hate this song… I mean, I wanted to murder it, however that’s possible. But really it’s not so bad. Funny that it sounds homemade like Ram though strictly a wannabe. Nothing too compelling in the instrumentation, and the bluesy melody is trite for McCartney. He gives his voice an interesting effect, but it does tend to grow annoying after awhile.

Love is Strange A-

Every time I hear this, I think it’s a reggae song… But actually it’s an old cover from a ‘50s hit by Mickey & Sylvia. Certainly McCartney was at least aiming for a reggae take on it. That groove sure seems like it! The first two minutes or so of it is an instrumental, and it isn’t for awhile the vocals are introduced. Probably just filler though pleasant all the same.

Wild Life B+

Actually, this is a good song. McCartney belts out his animal rights lyrics at the top of his lungs proving, again, that the guy had a fantastic voice. Can’t say it was the best idea to drag this on for nearly seven minutes, but I also can’t say that its melodic ideas didn’t warrant the length. Well… you could also legitimately call this filler.

Some People Never Know B+

Lovely! The six-and-a-half minute running length does seem excessive, but not so much when you consider that it has such a fantastic melody. That’s something I do wish Neil Young would figure out! (If only these two collaborated…) I still have to complain that it’s not that fun to hear develop. For the most part McCartney keeps the same hooks and melody. Their instrumental innovation isn’t too great… though it works well enough. The trumping factor, in the end, is that the melody is catchy.

I Am Your Singer C+

Er… this isn’t bad, I guess. Melody seems very trite and unmemorable for McCartney, and their undeniable charm can only take it so far. The drumbeat is fine, but the sparser instrumentation (predominantly featuring a very wobbly guitar) doesn’t seem like it’s enough. Those recorder sounds are icky.

Bip Bop Link B-

An unnecessary one-minute long revisit. Though this one’s probably better because it doesn’t have those vocals.

Tomorrow A-

Ooo, I like this one. The melody sounds like a classic McCartney ditty. The instrumentation is simple, but that’s all it seemed like it needed. I still have to imagine what it might have sounded like with a bit more elbow grease, but it probably wouldn’t have improved that much. It’s unpretentious and sweet. Cool.

Dear Friend A

A leftover from the Ram sessions, and it’s not unclear why this song ultimately didn’t make the cut. (More or less, it’s the same melody repeated over the course of six minutes… any melody on Ram tended to last for three minutes at most. It’s very down key and the instrumentation is somewhat sparse… Might have worked better with more instrumentation. But let’s not pay attention to that… Let’s hear the melody and what Paul is actually singing. It’s very touching! Very striking blow against anyone who thinks McCartney only wrote trivial music. It’s was written in response to John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep At Night?”.

Mumbo Link B-

Another minute-long unnecessary retread. The guitars are heavy, though! This seems more like a warm-up outtake or something… eh!

BONUS TRACKS:

Give Ireland Back to the Irish B+

Seems McCartney’s trying out Lennon for size with this protest song. The result is lyrics that mean nothing to me, but a pretty dang catchy pop song! It’s an understatement to say this isn’t Paul’s best melody, which of course means it’s still catchy as hell.

Mary Had a Little Lamb A-

A song worth hearing if you haven’t before. McCartney rewrote the nursery rhyme, music lyrics and all, and (needless to say) improved it. Really cheesy, but that’s sometimes a good attribute! The melody is pleasant and the chorus surprisingly soars.

Little Woman Love B-

Going for more of an R&B thing here… it’s not too special. Charming enough to be worth a sit-through, but nothing more than that. The melody is original enough (especially for the genre), but not especially catchy.

Mama’s Little Girl A-

VERY charming. Like Ram-era charming though not quite as inspired. The melody is light and sweet as can be, and I like the instrumentation (at one point featuring a pretty clarinet). Not sure why McCartney wrote this (I’m supposing for one of his offspring), but it’s very sentimental.


Red Rose Speedway (1972)

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Red Rose Speedway

Big Barn Bed A-

Cool opening! A nice, restrained rocker with a fantastic melody; nobody expected anything less of him. Not quite as great as a McCartney hit, but it’s about as good as his best non-hits! The instrumentation is the typical rock combo with nothing too amazing with the orchestration apart from that expertly executed build-up at the end.

My Love A

Just as good as a Paul McCartney hit! Wing’s first #1 hit in the USA, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song. The melody is very catchy and the saccharine sweet orchestration containing tons of violins seemed just the ticket. Of course, the fantastic melody seems to trump everything else out. Put it on your next Valentine’s Day love CD to impress your girlfriend.

Get on the Right Thing B

Still a good song! The melody doesn’t strike a particular chord with me, but the instrumentation and arrangements seem fully baked and solid. A few nice electric guitar bits, and a well mixed choir of bad singers add to the atmosphere. (OK, Linda’s not that bad.)

Only One More Kiss A-

It’s charming country-rock it seems. A little on the badly generic side but not without its charm as you’d come to expect from McCartney. The melody is catchy though he obviously wasn’t thinking to far out of the box for that one.

Little Lamb Dragonfly A+

I love this chord progression… It’s the sort of thing that’s beautiful just hearing the chords play. Of course, McCartney comes up with a melody for it, and it follows remarkable suit! The instrumentation is, as usual, charming. Much of it adapts an orchestral quality like “My Love” except it’s less saccharine and more dramatic. Other parts are just McCartney singing with a bunch of thickly arranged acoustic guitars. It goes on for more than six minutes and I love every second of it! This would have been a highlight on any Beatles album… a gorgeous masterpiece!!

Single Pigeon A-

Some of that old timey music McCartney was always fond of. Just McCartney singing a jazz-ish song with the piano and a little bit of orchestral embellishments… It’s less than two minutes long but it makes enough of an impression because it’s charming and melodic.

When the Night B

Melodically average for him, but that’s just proof of how great the guy is. As a result, this song doesn’t make as much of an impression as the others. It seemed like some more creative instrumental arrangements might have added to the appeal … Everything’s pretty straight-on-the-line. A pounding piano, a nice drum line, bass guitar, electric guitar comes in at the right places. Hm. Solidly done, for sure, but I miss the creativity.

Loup (1st Indian on the Moon) C+

The vocal chanting at the beginning of this sounds a lot like those Atlanta Braves fans… the dorks… they thought they were so special in the 1990s. Anyway, here’s McCartney defying the last sentence of the previous track review and going for sort of a psychedelic collage… an instrumental that, I guess, is supposed to represent a moon trip. Perhaps he was trying to one-up Pink Floyd… Well, it’s not quite up there and the “imagery” he’s trying for isn’t exactly vivid. It’s not unlistenable, but it’s certainly proof that McCartney should stick with the melodic stuff… Well, kudos for the effort.

Hold Me Tight / Lazy Dynamite / Hands of Love / Power Cut A-

As you might have guessed, this is a lengthy (11-minute) suite. As you might also have guessed, this 11 minutes is more melodic than most albums in the world. I suppose you would say that it’s his attempt to repeat the end of Abbey Road (maybe wanting to prove to the world that it was his idea) except it’s not quite as genius. It’s still good though! “Hold Me Tight” is a very tuneful and upbeat song that’s very playful in a Vegasy way. “Lazy Dynamite” isn’t quite as fun though still heavily tuneful with a pretty harmonica playing around subtly in the background. A sudden though somehow awesome transition to the more lighthearted “Hands of Love” consisting of a funny groove and another great melody. Some charming vocal interplay keeps it airy and unserious, which was always one of McCartney’s greatest strengths. Sort of a fade-out fade-in to “Power Cut” (which prompts the question whether it was actually a good idea to do this medley). The melody is a tad lesser even though it still has its shining moments. It features a nice, lighthearted groove… and he must be playing a toy piano or something!

BONUS TRACKS:

C Moon B

Paul was gentlemanly enough to provide the versions of his albums with the bonus tracks on Rhapsody, which the record company wouldn’t provide to the store where I bought this album! Anyway, now’s my opportunity to tell you that I never cared much for “C Moon” even though McCartney does a reggae vocal impression surprisingly well, and the melody is certainly fine. It’s been known to annoy me in the past, though. OK, it’s a good song… I’ll give my past opinions a rest.

Hi, Hi, Hi B+

Yup, Paul loved his marijuana. It seems that this was meant to be the widely released single in the UK but “C Moon” took its spot since the UK head honchos didn’t like the lyrics. A boogie rock ditty with a relatively common melody… but there’s some spirit here, which helps. It’s certainly nice that McCartney felt reason to feel enthusiastic about it. Great voice!!

The Mess B+

A live recording… In the end, probably one of McCartney’s most convincing rockers… it definitely makes the previous boogie rock tune seem lesser. It’s very interesting for McCartney… except for the more ballad-like bit in the middle, it’s something like a heavy metal band from the era could have recorded. Not too difficult to see why he never put it on a studio album, but it sure sounds nice live.

I Lie Around A-

Such a nice tune! I never heard it before until today… so it’s a bit of a treat. A pretty little melody, as usual, and Denny Laine takes on the lead vocals. The instrumentation is plucky and homely--- it almost seems clutterly but everything is well placed and seemingly where it should be. Quite nice!


Band on the Run (1973)

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Band on the Run

Band on the Run A+

It seems like he’s reverted back to his great idea from Ram’s “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” to write a song that includes starkly distinct melodic sections and meld them flawlessly into each other. (Although apparently Tony Visconti helped quite a bit with that…) This is a wildly wonderful song… starting up as a beautiful ballad, which turns into some light riff-rock … a rather bombastic bridge … AND then it’s the main tune! There’s hardly any need to describe this song, since it’s so freaking famous. If you think you don’t like it, then think again. Every one of these sections are catchy as hell. If you’re one of those weirdoes who still thinks it’s cool to dislike Wings, then I gotta feel sorry for you, ‘cos you’re missing out on such a great tune!

Jet A+

I rented a British sit-com DVD this weekend called I’m Alan Partridge (such a rare TV show that I literally couldn’t go for two minutes without belting out a hearty belly laugh). For the rest of my life, whenever I listen to “Jet,” I’m going to have Steve Coogan’s hilariously campy rendition of it in my mind! (No real reason to mention that, except to officially recommend to you watching that brilliant comedy!) … OK, let’s talk about the song now. GREAT SONG! Another one of McCartney’s wildly popular songs that continues to get significant radio airplay. It’s a rather dramatic song with loud, voluptuous synthesizers, a boisterous vocal performance from McCartney and even a bit of funk guitar thrown in for good measure. Hooray!

Bluebird A-

I’m a bluebird?? I just remembered that my history of this album goes back to 2001… remember this song going through my brain when I just started my freshman year of college. Actually, I still remember what part of the campus I was at even though I’ve been away from there for more than five years!! Oh… those were crappy days… Actually, the album takes a bit of a dive with this ballad. The melody, while wonderful, isn’t too infectious. The instrumentation takes the form of slightly more sophisticated elevator music…… though elevator music all the same. Still a fantastic song though.

Mrs. Vanderbilt A+

Arguably the coolest song of the whole album! I played this song in an office I used to work at and turned some people onto Paul McCartney’s solo stuff. This isn’t an unlikely place, either, since it has a rather voluminous bass-line! (I only say that ‘cos hip-hop and that nonsense has loud bass-lines.) Actually, it has a catchy melody, as well. The first part is light and bouncy (with the cool bass) and he brings in a remarkably catchy chorus with a lovely sax solo… Definitely more of that solid songwriting as he’s reputed to have!

Let Me Roll It A-

Easily a source of debate for McCartney fans, and I certainly understand why a few listeners would call this one of their favorite tunes on the album… But my “Mrs. Vanderbilt” is someone else’s “Let Me Roll It!” When I first got this album, I thought this was a positive drag on the album… Well, I changed my mind now of course! McCartney delivers what’s probably his best bluesy song… Excellent, fuzzy guitar licks highlight this one as he delivers a mighty excellent melody. As wonderful a song it is, it still somewhat lacks excitement and “spark” in my opinion to be denied an A+.

Mamunia B+

Just to prove that McCartney was utterly on top of his game, this is the weakest spot on the album! Oh… but it’s still wonderful, with a catchy melody and an inspired idea to combine his melodic gifts with some African folk undertones. Surely something that waaaaay precedes Paul Simon! This is a lighthearted tune with instrumentation that consists mostly of an acoustic guitar, bass and bongo… Nothing that’ll move you too deeply, but it’s excellent to sit back and soak up.

No Words A-

For some reason, this sweet and simple pop song was the perfect follow-up to “Mamunia” even though they’re stylistically very different. It just seems to lead into it wonderfully… in a way that the end of Abbey Road worked so well. Nonetheless, I’m going to say that this also is one of the weaker bits of the album, though I remember liking it quite a lot more than I do now. Naturally, the melody is fantastic!

Helen Wheels A

What a good pun! What a nice song, too!! Nothing too especially original here since this is based on a typical old-school R&B groove. Nonetheless, McCartney still manages to put a fresh face on it, and he delivers a wonderful melody to boot. The guitar licks are splendid and so is the melody (of course).

Picasso’s Last Words A

I always felt this was one of the more underrated entries on this album… although I recognize that it’s not always the nicest idea to revisit melodies already on the album. Though he does work them in well better than most artists… The central melody is certainly very catchy (that he apparently wrote in front of Dustin Hoffman when they were sitting together taking a meal). It’s a laid back tune that brings in all sort of unpredictability. It’s very nice!

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five A+

Absolutely one of the best songs the guy ever did… Amazingly, it wasn’t included in his greatest hits compilation, which is a shame since this would likely be a song that anyone would love… even before realizing that it’s a Wings effort. This is a moody, futuristic rocker (well, the distant past now obviously). This one features a very driving beat, cool bass-line, a catchy melody, weird synthesizers and (every once in awhile) he brings in a bit of a ballad-like section. This is hardly worse than the Beatles, that’s for sure…

BONUS TRACKS:

Country Dreamer B+

Such a charming song! Just like what you’d think it would be… a simple country song. They bring in some slide guitar… seems more like they were having fun with it instead of seriously trying to deliver good country licks… which is the way it flipping should be! Anyway, this is a nice bonus track… surely worth hearing! (Though honestly, I think you’re better off letting the album let off with “1985” … it just seemed the perfect conclusion to a great album!


Venus and Mars (1975)

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Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars 10/10

Even though this song is not even a minute and a half long, it sure is dang pleasant. Nearly and acoustic song, McCartney just sings a sweet song with a guitar and a flute thing ... Unless you're a total dork, it'll likely put a smile on your stupid face ...

Rock Show 10/10

And then that song metamorphoses into a very convincing though slightly generic rock song ... It's upbeat with a mightily catchy tune (although, the lyrics do feature the word "Silly Willy," which probably put off 1/4th of listeners, but ... that 1/4th also hates bands like ABBA for being too delightful). I like the diversity of instrumental interludes in here, though ... a slightly unusual instrumental interlude features bells ... another instrumental interlude would have made a perfectly good song on its own. And the end of the song also would have made a great song by itself ... As the title suggests, this is Paul McCartney's chance to totally rock out! Yay!! I can't imagine giving this song a lower score.

Love in Song 9/10

A pretty good ballad-type song ... Sort of a sweet, slow song with a nice chorus that picks up some steam. The melody is very strong, as it typically is with McCartney.

You Gave Me the Answer 9/10

McCartney seems to have a sort of joy in making old time ditties. The melody is so well-written, that it's almost amazing that it wasn't actually a Rudy Valee song in 1920! Very catchy and it's fun in a charming way.

Magneto and Titanium Man 9/10

Another extremely good melody ... Geez, no wonder I'm constantly comparing everyone as inferior to McCartney in terms of melody-writing! It's an enjoyable song, but ... I don't know ... it's not a 10.

Letting Go 10/10

First of all, this groove ought to be considered a classic. Very very nicely done, and it establishes a severe and ominous tone that we rarely ever get from McCartney. Not to mention, the melody by itself is extremely catchy. ... This is such a cool song that makes pretty good walking music ... (yeah, I was listening to this once on my iPod while on a walk ... quite nice). Fantastic pop.

Venus and Mars Reprise 8/10

Yay ... that one song that wasn't even a minute and a half yet is ... um ... played again. It's pretty, but ... why not just put this with track one and make it a full song? ... Eh, this isn't the first time he's done this... I liked it better the first time, anyway! The end of this is ... too weird. Like he's in a weird outer space thing.

Spirits of Ancient Egypt 8.5/10

Eh... this is fairly throwaway for a McCartney song. Though it's still done well and the songwriting is still something to be envied by every other songwriter! ... It just doesn't make its presence too well known.

Medicine Jar 8.5/10

Not bad ... McCartney writes another solid melody and the performances of this rock song are, again, quite solid. ... I like it a lot, but ... seems ... umm ... too routine and not exciting enough ...

Call Me Back Again 8/10

Yayyyyyyyy... Paul McCartney is going SOULLLLLLL... This song comes fully equipped with a brass section, a bluesy electric guitar and ... a distant vocal performance from McCartney.

Listen to What the Man Said 10/10

...This song (the only one that the average person would have probably heard of) seems almost out of place here. After being quasi-bored with the album for the past four songs or so, McCartney inserts this hit-single. ... Every time this song pops up, it surprises me! Of course, McCartney probably didn't intend for that to happen, but ... I am pleased. The melody is easily one of his smoothest ... the cheese-fied saxophone borders on Kenny-G-style easy listening, but it's totally delightful. ... This is such a nice, nice song ... I can't fathom what possesses some McCartney detractors to dislike this! Bluh!!

Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People 9.5/10

Ew ... country ... and it's generic country, too. ... But, then again, Paul McCartney is British! And British people (and seemingly about three Americans, one of which is me) tend to be able to tell bad-country apart from good-country. Fortunately, he's able to give it a strong country flavor without being totally nauseating. McCartney's melody-writing is totally on-par with this one, too. And, this is such a sweet song, that I can't imagine disliking this ... geez, I'm such a dork ...

Crossroads 8/10

This song is barely more than a minute long ... It's almost short enough for me to discount it in the track-count! ... Well, it's an instrumental that doesn't really say anything ... It's not stupidly nauseating or anything, but ... what's the point of it? I'm at a loss!


Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976)

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Wings at the Speed of Sound

Let 'Em In 9/10

Well, he's off to a good start at least! This is more of a modest pop song ... it's quiet mid-tempoed. But that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable! Paul McCartney's songwriting prowess is in full gear as well as a few nice bits in the instrumentation. The military snare drums seemed to suit the song fine ... and there's some well used horn hits. It's not a great McCartney song, but it's harmless and unpretentious. It would have been a below-average Beatles song!

The Note You Never Wrote 7/10

Who's that singing vocals? ... Um, Denny Laine. I guess Paul McCartney was embarassed for this or something! ... OK, it's not such a bad song, but ........................... FOR GOODNESS SAKE, Paul has a great voice! Anyway, this track certainly has its moments. Parts of the melody soars, but other times it just seems to fall flat. The electric guitar solo also soared ... but they didn't let it keep the energy. This one seems sparse. That's not a bad quality all the time, but it comes off as boring in this case.

She's My Baby 8/10

Much better this time ... and that's not only because McCartney sings vocals again. The melody is quite a bit better ... although not extremely catchy. Still, it's not a bad poppy song. The instrumentation is simple--it mostly consists of a drum beat and some guitar work. That's not a crime, though. I like this song, but it's mostly forgettable.

Beware My Love 9.5/10

Ah, yes! McCartney's wonderful creative juices are fully engaged once again! This is a fun soft-rock tune with some disco undertones. There's some excellent guitar work as McCartney gives a very spirited performance. It sounds epic, but the instrumentation wasn't busy enough. (For the record, it sounds much nicer like this.) It lasts for six minutes, but it's completely enjoyable and he changes up the rhythms and tones for variety. Thanks, Paul McCartney. Thancartney.

Wino Junko 8.5/10

Co-written by Jimmy McCulloch and Colin Allen ... it's really not that bad. It has an entirely decent melody although not among the album's best. It chugs along nicely. The studio work is probably the song's most memorable aspect .... in the middle, there's a sparkly almost surreal bit involving some twinkly bells, electric piano and random sounds. It almost seemed unnecessary, but I'm never opposed to a bit of weirdness.

Silly Love Songs 10/10

The lyrics are easy to scoff at, but I would never want to scoff at this song musically. The beginning of the song is a pretty interesting quasi-industrial, light use of sound effects. I don't know what's coming up after that, which is a good quality. And then, McCartney jumps into one of his more famous melodies. The melody is cheery and charming. It's simple, but he layers melodies on top of each other, which turns into something that's rather glorious to the ears. Above everything else, my favorite aspect of the song is listening to that bouncy bass-line. This is excellent stuff.

Cook of the House 6/10

I don't get this one at all ... He let's Linda sing lead vocals, but she was always more of a back-up singer. I always liked her as a back-up singer because she added to the characteristic of these albums, but she clearly wasn't suited for lead singer position. The song isn't bad ... it's bouncy. The melody is very trite, though ... This really doesn't seem to belong in any Paul McCartney album. I'm sorry.

Time to Hide 7.5/10

Oh no, the song is written by and sung by Denny Laine! OK, he's not a bad songwriter. This is a bluesy song and doesn't really fit with McCartney's style, but it's not bad. I'm kind of liking it. The guitar-work is pretty nice. Unfortunately, this track does much to contribute to the patchy feel of this album.

Must Do Something About it 7/10

McCartney wrote the song, but drummer Joe English sang vocals! He has a nice voice, at least ... it's pleasant.The melody isn't bad, but it's one of the worse ones. The melody has a tendency to repeat too much and it gets quite stale by the end. Pleasant but very throwaway for McCartney. The sliding synths at the end were a nice touch.

San Ferry Anne 8/10

Not too bad this one ... It's light, poppy and not too long. It has a nice hook but it does get repeated a bit too much. It's saved some interesting horn and flute solos (it's even better when they conflict with each other). And the tempo changes help a lot too.

Warm and Beautiful 7/10

It's an OK but somehow lacking piano ballad. McCartney's at it again with recycling the same hook way too much throughout (and this time, it wasn't such a good hook ... it's kind of like what a 10 year old McCartney would have written). The instrumentation is sparse ... there's a little bit of an orchestral build-up, but it doesn't do much. He wasn't trying hard enough! ... Oh no, he's living up to his reputation!


London Town (1978)

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London Town

London Town 9/10

Paul McCartney doesn't try to impress you, and he makes that pretty clear right from the beginning. This track just wants to please you. And why shouldn't it? It has a sweet, simple melody that proves why McCartney is considered such a songwriting genius. The fairly subtle instrumentation all produces quite a nice effect. McCartney merges different melodic sections (each intriguing in its own right) of this track together masterfully. The result is a subtle but beautiful product!

Cafe on the Left Bank 8/10

He goes for a more rock vibe now. Naturally, McCartney proves how great he is as a songwriter... This song is so catchy that he makes it seem so effortless! I guess that's characteristic of all the masters! The big problem here is the melody is just a tad too repetitive, and the song's development rating suffers as a result.

I'm Carrying 9/10

Ah, beautiful! This is a lovely throwback to old British folk songs with a sweet melody to match. The instrumentation is pleasant and subtle ... just consisting of a light violin backing track and a lightly picked guitar.

Backwards Traveller 8.5/10

Everybody who says that McCartney throws away all his brilliant melodic ideas have a point with this track. It's a very catchy song, but it's only one minute long! He even has some nice instrumental ideas ... I like the bouncy guitar, and that bubbly sound effect going off in the background was a nice touch. This song surely had more potential than just a minute!

Cuff Link 8/10

This isn't bad. It's a pretty off kilter instrumental with a few odd choices in instrumentation. It has a nice groove, at least. It's a very throw-away moment, but it's pretty pleasant to the ears. McCartney is still awesome.

Children Children 8/10

The overabundance of cutsiness of this is already pointing to the relentlessly cutesy turn that he's going to take in the '80s. For the love of god, this cute fantasy song that sounds like Tolkein was overdosing on cotton candy. Oh, but the melody is very good that this manages to be a delightful song regardless.

Girlfriend 8/10

Many of you know Michael Jackson's version, but you might not know that it appeared on this Wings release a year earlier. So, bwah hah!!! It's basically the same thing as the Jackson song except without the funky guitars. The melody is nice although even "Children Children" had a much better melody. McCartney sings in a falsetto voice, and it's kind of cute.

I've Had Enough 9/10

This has one of those melodies that's likely going to get stuck in your head for a long time! Oh, and it's not an unpleasant experience either. McCartney lands a very strong hook here and a fun riff that would have turned into a great arena-rock song if he wanted to go in that direction. It's quite a bit dumber than McCartney usually does, but ... well, it still works. It's much better than the average Foreigner song.

With a Little Luck 9.5/10

This would have made a great Beatles song if they never broke up. It has a such a catchy melody and McCartney delivers an appropriately soulful vocal performance. Who says he throws everything away? He does seem like he cares about what he's singing! This is a snappy little tune.

Famous Groupies 8.5/10

I should hope there were no "Famous Groupies" touring around with Paul McCartney, because he also toured around with his wife! Anyway, this is a fun song. He writes a sort of gyspy folk song ... well, nobody ever denied that McCartney enjoyed trying different styles! He delivers a goofy but appropriate vocal performance. He has a lot of fun with it, and I enjoy listening to it likewise.

Deliver Your Children 9.5/10

McCartney takes an extremely welcome turn toward folk-rock with this enormously tuneful track, which he co-wrote with Denny Laine. Heavy guitar strumming provides its base, and he adds some nicely played noodly acoustic guitars! Laine takes lead vocals and even manages to be pretty convincing in its folky lyrical subject ... he sings it with plenty of passion!

Name and Address 8/10

This traverses some of the sides of '50s rock ... well, the era was going through a revival at the time at least. McCartney emulates Elvis with that vocal performance, and the guitars are appropriately sloppier than usual. What I miss here is the typical *catchy* melody. It's generally well done, but it's not too catchy.

Don't Let it Bring You Down 8.5/10

It's an odd little tune. It's pretty simple (though catchy) for McCartney, but the instrumentals are weird. There's an odd effect on those guitars! Well, I guess he could afford all the time he wanted to spend in the studio to mess around with stuff like that! He does a very nice job with an Irish folk sounding flute! The end, in particular, you can notice a pretty awesome guitar groove... mmmm!!!!

Morse Moose and the Grey Goose 8/10

This begins with a strange space-age groove. McCartney was experimenting, but not in the greatest sense that he probably thought he was! He then explodes into a rather furious melody that really manages to help the song pick up sing. Then that stops, and that spacey groove takes over... The middle of the song seems to turn into a sea shanty. It's like a sea shanty from hell!!! That all breaks up and it eventually turns into a *ahem* disco song. Above everything else, this is a unique song, and I don't think it turned out as badly as it's reported to have. But this is the only actual unpleasant song of the album. For that reason, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

BONUS TRACKS

And the first of the two lovely bonus tracks is "Girls' School." It begins with some silly vocals and cheering, and then a very catchy little riff starts up. This must be one of McCartney's most convincing rockers. It's a toe tapper, and it's also quite catchy!

McCartney goes all Scottish with "Mull of Kintyre" bagpipes and all! The folky discourses he's been doing lately have all turned up rather treasurable products. It's a shame that he wouldn't revisit this idea much in the future. Well, the melody manages to be great and sound like a genuine Scottish folk tune. Interesting how McCartney can make old fashioned songs that you might be surprised didn't actually come out of the era.


Back to the Egg (1979)

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Back to the Egg

Reception 8.5/10

This is a brief track that's allegedly supposed to mimic tuning in a radio. We hear talk shows, an opera channel and some high-pitched oscillator noises. Then, pretty quickly, a funky disco groove starts playing. This is a rather creepy track that I think McCartney pulled off pretty well. Even that groove is a little odd (featuring a sort of out-of-tune synthesizer). Well, weird beginning.

Getting Closer 9/10

A catchy, middle-of-the-road rocker. The electric guitar is heavy, and McCartney's vocal performance is convincing enough. Most of all, I love the songwriting. He seems like he's not even trying, because he does everything so right. The harmonies, the chorus and a very enjoyable fade out (in rock jam style) are all in their perfect spots. This is just a solid rocker from a veteran who knows what he's doing.

We're Open Tonight 8/10

This is so brief that you wonder why McCartney didn't develop it a bit. I certainly like what I hear. It's a simple arrangement featuring him picking an ominous acoustic guitar and singing a simple but catchy melody. He inserts a few nicely done sound effects throughout. It's a shame this wasn't longer...

Spin it On 9/10

This opens with, what sounds like, a nice windmill chord! But then McCartney delivers a glammy tune that reminds me of a more fast-paced Sweet composition. (Obviously, he's catering to the developing New Wave genre!) It's nice to hear him try these new musical styles, and I think he pulled it off. It's an enjoyable and spirited track --- that's all new wave was supposed to be.

Again and Again and Again 7.5/10

The country-western tinged track is OK though it's cheesy even for Wings. The melody is fine and goes through a few nice discourses, but it seems more forced that what we're used to.

Old Siam, Sir 9/10

McCartney delivers an interesting composition that even has an interesting song title! This is a complex and (relatively) wild track. He seems to be combining some elements of New Wave (notably, there's the "My Sharona" choppy guitar) along with his usual composition know-how that he always had. The melody is a bit strange, but McCartney delivers it with confidence. Those flooded power chords in the instrumental interludes also lend to this song's unique atmosphere. Hey, at least this proves McCartney didn't completely lose his creativity. At least at this point.

Arrow Through Me 9/10

This is a bit of a soft-funk track. Despite that, it sounds fresh enough to not seem that dated to me. The horns are nicely arranged (though maybe some sections are a bit too lengthy). His chord progressions here are so simple but they sound weird. Almost brilliantly weird. Who said McCartney's creative juices were running low?

Rockestra Theme 8/10

This managed to win a Grammy. But that's meaningless, because Grammies are meaningless. Specifically, this won a Grammy as an instrumental, but it's not an instrumental so even that's meaningless. (We hear Paul singing but it's drowned out pretty heavily, and there's even a distinct chorus.) The music is fine, and it's fun. But it's fairly inconsequential. It doesn't do much for me. More of a historical basis of this track is that it features quite a few big name musicians on the instrumentals. I'm protesting this, so I won't even name who they are.

To You 7.5/10

A fairly middle-of-the-road rocker that's not particularly memorable or notable in any significant way. There's some interesting guitar performances, though --- it sounds like someone's playing a tape of it backwards.

After the Ball/Millions of Miles 8/10

It's OK. It's another middle-of-the-road rocker that's in a blues anthem format this time. I'm never too keen on listening to blues rock, although I have to admit that I do like McCartney's idea to stick to diversity at all costs! The melody isn't his best, and this track seems a bit weak. The more minimal second half of the track seemed like he was genuinely wanting to do something spiritual, and I like hearing the attempt, but he's just not as good at it as he is with rock.

Winter Rose/Love Awake 8/10

This is more classically inspired (in the first half) and soft-rock inspired (in the second half), and it's all pretty boring to me. It's a tad stronger than the previous track, but I expect I only think that because I like these genres better! The melody is certainly among McCartney's weakest --- the instrumentation works nicely but it's nothing to get excited about.

The Broadcast 8.5/10

This is a one-minute track meant to fulfill this album's 'concept,' which is weak mind you. But honestly, this track is interesting enough to have been worthwhile. We hear a guy speaking monologue whilst some cinematic music plays. It's effect is weird and placid. Quite nice.

So Glad to See You 7/10

Another attempt at arena-rock. Remember, McCartney's the one who composed "Helter Skelter," but I guess his main talent in the genre ended at that! (OK, there were a few other good examples.) This track doesn't make much of an impression on me --- the melody is bland for the most part and the instrumentation is nothing special. McCartney's performance is fun and spirited but that doesn't make up for it.

Baby's Request 8/10

And he ends it with a bit of old timey jazz. This is fun though not too original (I guess you could fathom that, though). This is well written, but it also means this album sort of ended with a sputter. But at least there's the bonus tracks!

BONUS TRACKS

I understand that "Daytime Nighttime Suffering" is a solo McCartney track and not a Wings track. Well, who cares. I just care that it's catchy as hell, and it's one of his finest post-Beatles tracks. The melody is wonderful! The instrumentation is rather simple, but what's here seems like it was perfectly in place. It's not as flamboyantly creative as "Old Siam, Sir," but it's overall stronger.

I always felt that "Wonderful Christmastime" was a bit of a drag, but maybe I reject all Christmas songs because I used to love them in my early childhood. Who knows. The electronica instrumentation is a bit odd. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, but ... it's weird. McCartney had to add in jingle bells to actually make this sound Christmas-like. The melody is fine, but flakey. Like a snowflake.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae" isn't reggae as far as I know the genre. It sounds more like hoe-down country music version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to me. Anyway, this was the B-side to the previous single. If I owned that single back then, I probably wouldn't have listened to the B-side much. (Yes, I am Ebeneezer Scrooge.)


McCartney II (1980)

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McCartney II

Coming Up 9.5/10

Yay! It's Paul McCartney going electro-funk! This has a catchy old groove and a fun melody. It's kind of cool for McCartney to take the Talking Heads innovations of the times and transform it into his usual Beatles-esque charm. Well, that's my opinion of it. It seems slighter than his monster songs from Band on the Run, but this is a load of fun... The music video is a gas, too. One of my favorite music videos ever. Go watch it on YouTube. (It's nice to see that McCartney was apparently a Sparks fan!)

Temporary Secretary 7/10

Well, McCartney wanted to experiment with his electronic instruments although you'd have to wonder why he couldn't have been a little more tuneful. The reason so many fans reject McCartney II is only because of its lack of melody. Kudos for trying to be weird, and this song is kind of fun in a perverse way. It's grown on me quite a bit from the first time I listened to this a week or so ago --- but why must Paul McCartney abandon his melodies?? That's why I like hearing him.

On the Way 6.5/10

It's hasn't been more clear that McCartney wasn't on top of his game. Apart from an over-emphasized bass and some weird vocal effect, this isn't particularly experimental (so he can't hide under that cover as he was able to in the previous track). So, the bluesy melody and chord progression mostly has to stand on its own feet......... And neither of them are convincing whatsoever. Meh.

Waterfalls 8/10

But at least he can still do OK ballads. This has a nice melody and a rather touching vocal performance although one could rightfully take issue with these corny lyrics. (And seriously, a garden doesn't need a flower. For reals...) The instrumentation could have used some more spice of life --- it's too dang bare. Plus, this thing seems like it goes on for three minutes too long. Meh.

Nobody Knows 6/10

He's certainly being quirky, but the sloppiness of this comes at a disadvantage. Why can't it be fun and enjoyable? Why can't McCartney find a decent melody? Trust me, I'm trying to be nice. The drums are done horribly, and the mixing seems completely wrong...

Front Parlour 8/10

And now, he's going fully off the deep end with his electronica. Here is an instrumental, and he has a nice enough theme going with that synthesizer. Some of the sound-effects were kind of neat although not so much when you consider this was done in 1980. (I mean, you know the electronica song "Video Killed the Radio Star" ... released the same year.) This stuff was covered by Kraftwerk in 1974. Too late, dude... All that said, I still find this enjoyable. Nothing I need to listen to much... Ever...

Summer Day's Song 7/10

Here is a fairly lethargic slower track. If McCartney were able to make a solid synthscape, this thing might have been glorious, but again, McCartney's head was too far into 1974 to do anything remotely groundbreaking with electronica. The melody isn't even that great, and this song gets pretty boring. Maybe if McCartney weren't being so dang boring................

Frozen Jap 7/10

An upbeat electronic track that, again, would have been on the cutting edge a half a decade previously. The theme works fine, however it's not as hooky as I'd come to expect from him. And all those incessant drum machines are driving me nuts... This isn't hypnotizing like a Kraftwerk song might be... 'Tis a shame.

Bogey Music 6.5/10

Here, McCartney writes a usual R&B Elvis tune, except the instrumentation is a little odd. Mostly his singing, which he puts to a crazy echo. Really weird. This comes off as some rich guy playing around with his new gadgets instead of a genuine attempt at making entertaining music. Sorry...

Darkroom 8/10

Here is an interesting track in an almost good way. McCartney creates a synthscape that sounds almost like a bird-ridden forest. His drum machines and synth loops are kind of fun to hear, and the melody is OK. Again, it's nothing that's too impressive for 1980!

One of These Days 7.5/10

At least he closes it with one of his more normal ballads. However, this doesn't really work for me... The instrumentation is rather bare (just a strummed acoustic guitar) and McCartney sings it with an extreme reverb effect to his voice. Not that any of this was a bad idea, but I don't care a whole lot for the melody... This isn't bad, but it needed more.


Tug of War (1982)

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McCartney II

Tug of War 10/10

Do you know what's so awesome about this first song. It's probably Paul McCartney's most brilliantly orchestrated song of his career to this point. This is undoubtedly the doings of George Martin who reunited with McCartney for production duties. The melody is pretty and the orchestration (consisting of violins, a pizzicato bass, trumpets, timpani drums, etc.) are quite lavish but somehow being subdued enough for us to still clearly hear Paul's voice and strumming acoustic guitar. This is such a nice song!

Take it Away 9/10

Back to the good old pop music Paul. This is briefly a reggae-inspired tune (probably done to honor The Police) with a very simple though catchy melody. It goes through several stages of development (and never again sounds much like reggae) in a very McCartnian turn of events. This one isn't too spectacular, but it's impossible for me to snub in even small amounts...

Somebody Who Cares 7.5/10

It is getting blander and more insignificant. (That, incidentally, is what many people have been saying about Paul McCartney all along!!! ... But they're dead wrong about that, of course.) The melody doesn't do much for me, but there's certainly some value to its laid back feel. Eh, who am I kidding? I'm yawning to death.

What's That You're Doing? 6.5/10

Huh, I was just about to ask Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder the same thing about this song. OK, let's put it in perspective. I've been much more wronged by former employers than this robotic funk song, but ... well, it's still pretty wrong. The groove is annoying and bland --- and the real damning factor is that they felt the need to extend this well past six minutes. This isn't a complete waste, because I like listening to some of the song's instrumental developments... whenever I'm able to get past that annoying groove, that is.

Here Today 9.5/10

This is Paul's tribute to his fallen, fellow ex-Beatle. It's much better than George Harrison's strangely insincere-sounding tribute! It's hard to criticize this song for any reason because of its context (and it's funny that I can feel pretty sad about the death of John Lennon even though he died almost two full years before I was even born). The melody is nice and the production is subtly lovely. Probably a few steps away from sheer perfection, but who really cares?

Ballroom Dancing 9/10

This has been a funny favorite of mine ever since I started listening to rock music. (I'm certain it was within the first month I began exploring with Napster when we got a cable modem connection.) It possibly had something to do with Strictly Ballroom being in my Top 10 favorite movies at the time, but it's probably also because it's so fun and irrelevant. It has a novelty aura to it, and I was also quite a fan of Dr. Demento. Well, my appreciation for this song has wavered slightly, but I still find this to be quite a hoot.

The Pound is Sinking 9.5/10

This is a funny song that's difficult to categorize. There are tons of different melodic and musical ideas packed into less than three minutes of time --- it makes me wonder why they even bothered with the whole six minutes worth of "What's That You're Doing?" This is a fun song that you should probably hear at least once in your lifetime. It sort of proves that McCartney is creative, after all.

Wanderlust 9.5/10

What a nice melody! This is a fantastic cross between an old British classical music song (a few steps down from Handel -- or maybe not really that far away) with McCartney's pop-rock sensibilities. It's a classy and gracious song with beautiful instrumentation. He even layers on two completely different melodic lines on top of each other --- even classier than his similar work in "Silly Love Songs."

Get it 7/10

A duet with Carl Perkins ... and also one of the more boring songs from the album. It could possibly be because I generally find R&B music boring ... especially when it's being treated so lightly. I don't care enough about Mr. Perkins to find a whole lot of personal value in this. Nonetheless, this is a fairly tasteful song... so there's value there...

Be What You See 8/10

Enya? Funny that this is thirty seconds of music that sounds exactly like Enya. The vocal effects are exactly the same except it's Paul's voice. That's pretty neat... I wonder why he didn't bother making this any longer... Maybe he wasn't that bored!!

Dress Me Up Like a Robber 9/10

No matter how much you might want to write this off for sounding too much like a post-disco era song, it's way too complex and original for such treatment. The funk guitar is admittedly catchy, the melody is wonderful and McCartney's falsetto singing is pretty fun. It's very polished, but there's no crime in that, is there??

Ebony and Ivory 7.5/10

This is a funny and pretentious song that's also one of the most maligned songs in rock history (including one of the few memorable SNL skits to feature Joe Piscopo). But this song wouldn't be so fun to make fun of if the melody wasn't catchy. Though I share the opinion that the subject matter is silly, optimistic and pretentious (more fodder for cynical comedians), this is a decent if imperfect song. My main concern is the instrumentation, which gets pretty corny in a bad way. Though I do like that synth banjo --- that's a cool sound.


Pipes of Peace (1983)

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Pipes of Peace

Pipes of Peace 10/10

This is easily the album's greatest song. It even features Paul McCartney's most successful bit of electronic "experimentation." The beginning fades into some really strange industrial sounds... For once McCartney did something interesting. What ensues is a remarkably catchy melody that I can never seem to get out of my head. Not only is the melody great, but I like the instrumentation --- For once, his use of drum machine sounds are interesting, and I like the orchestral quality of the synthesizers he uses and the excellent choir, as well.

Say Say Say 7.5/10

What a boring collaboration between Michael Jackson. Obviously, Jackson was returning the favor for Paul McCartney's participation in the mega-hit Thriller except of course McCartney's collaborations consisted of some of the low-lights of that album. Alternately, Jackson's presence doesn't do much to increase the value of Pipes of Peace. I think it's safe to say it wasn't God's will for these two to collaborate! The hooks are absolutely nill, and the production is slick, corny and meaningless. Oh, please bring me back to the glories of the title track!!

The Other Me 6.5/10

Why does that bass sound so much like Madonna? No, McCartney doesn't have to reduce himself to these lows! Oh well, this has a melody that's ... OK, I guess. I'd think it'd be pretty good coming from Madonna, but from Paul McCartney, this is just one of his worst and most annoying songs. It doesn't help that his little vocal grunt throughout come off as more of a parody than serious.

Keep Under Cover 8/10

Not so bad. The problem with it is it contains so many subsections and the transition between them are unexpected and rocky. The whole of these parts don't exactly equal something that's wholly worthwhile. This comes off as a pretty mediocre ELO song when it comes down to it --- but at least it's kind of fun.

So Bad 5/10

...is so bad!! I'm not kidding, either, so we won't have to sue Mr. McCartney for false advertising. His singing performance is pretty disheartening since I have direct knowledge that he can pull off a great falsetto performance. He sounds like a heartless Prince imitator here and absolutely nothing like Paul McCartney. The melody is bland and the instrumentation is as unimaginative as it gets. ... How can this be the same guy responsible for Ram? ... Heck, how can this be the same guy responsible for the title track on this album?

The Man 7/10

The second and final collaboration between McCartney and Michael Jackson. It sounds great only because it follows up "So Bad." (OK, now I'm thinking about Jackson's 1987 song...) Back on topic, these two probably should never collaborate again. Separate from each other, they're able to come up with great songs! (And their only decent collaboration was "Girlfriend" from Thriller, but that was previously written and recorded by McCartney before anyone predicted Jackson's adult surge in popularity.) The melody is bland and there are absolutely no hooks in it. There's some value in the orchestration, I suppose. It has a sort of pleasant, '60s Burt Bacharach feel to it... Just don't listen directly to this and you should be alright.

Sweetest Little Show 7.5/10

What a peculiar little thing. It's not necessarily bad, but it seems pretty weird and clueless. Neither his acoustic riff nor the melody is catchy at all. But at least it tries to be pleasant! A completely unrelated instrumental section pipes up after the melody's through, and you can hear all sorts of twinkly guitar noises --- it's weird but meaningless. Then McCartney inserts some audience sound effects clapping (essentially giving himself a round of applause). What a titt! (To borrow and misspell the British phrase.)

Average Person 9/10

This is a guilty pleasure for me. OK, maybe it's time for me to stop feeling guilty about liking this. This seems to be a combination between synth-pop, arena-rock and novelty-rock. Well, that with a marginally memorable melody makes this experience into something that's really extremely fun to hear. The sound effects are pretty joyous --- so this is one of his "experimental success stories" I suppose. The flow is nicely done, and he changes around the rhythms every once in while (much of which is toe-tapping)!

Hey Hey 7/10

Hey Hey! Here is a collaboration with Stanley Clarke! ... Yeah, that's what I was thinking: "Who is Stanley Clarke?" He's a pretty renowned bass player who released many albums. So, what can come of a song when two world-renowned bass players unite? ... Based on this, nothing too special. This is an involved but bland instrumental. The unfortunate thing is you get the impression that McCartney wanted to give this a lot of attitude.

Tug of Peace 3/10

This is so embarrassing that I'm depressed! It uses a hook that he used from the title track of his previous album as well as the title track from this album, and he melds them together over an absolutely unlistenable funk groove. This is depressing.

Through Our Love 8/10

At least McCartney chooses to end this with this subtly beautiful ballad. It reminds me of the title track of his previous album (in a much better way than "Tug of Peace") in that it's orchestrated in a classical vein. It's a little more sloppy and pompous, but I almost don't even mind that. The melody isn't that memorable, but it makes for perfectly decent at-the-moment listening.

BONUS TRACKS

Wow, "Twice in a Lifetime" is really boring adult contemporary sludge. Why I had to associate McCartney with such music is a real piece of CRAP! Listen to that saxophone. Don't you want to kill that saxophone?

OK, here's something. "We All Stand Together" is a return to McCartney's delightfully silly songwriting. In fact, I don't think McCartney ever did anything sillier than this song. It sounds like something someone would come up with if they were commissioned to write music for an "It's the Whole World After All" style song. He gives all sorts of cartoon characters singing parts. A deep voiced bear goes "bum-bum-bum" while the squirrels and rabbits take on the higher choral parts. The melody is very cheesy, but it works in ways that I'm in no position to explain. It even seems to feature a whole orchestra (making this seem perfect for some type of cinematic Disney production) --- admittedly my favorite part is that operatic voice we hear very briefly. It makes me giggle inside!!!!

"Simple As That" turns out to be one of McCartney's best straight pop tunes from the album. He's taking on some reggae-pop in the same vein as The Police. It has nice flow, and it's devoid of McCartney doing any more of his "experiments." It's a little bland though, and it gets a little tiring.


Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)

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Give My Regards to Broad Street

No More Lonely Nights A

This is one of Paul McCartney's most well-renowned songs, and that's for a good reason. (Every entertainment journalist quoted this song title around the time of his marriage to Heather Mills.) Naturally, the reason it's so good is because the melody is damn catchy. The chord changes are wonderful. Nothing is otherwise so special about it ... the instrumentation seems to be a quasi-stadium rock. Generally run-of-the-mill stuff. Well, David Gilmour does a guitar solo, which is a plus for those who like him.

Good Day Sunshine / Corridor Music B+

On the original Beatles album, this deserves a higher score. So, I'll give this an underwhelmed B+ to show that I still like the song, but he really didn't do much different to it. I'm not sure why he wanted to re-record all these songs. There's some incidental music at the end (as well as chatting at the beginnings and ends of these).

Yesterday B+

Another Beatles classic redux! It's not bad or anything... It's shorter than the original version, which I suppose suggests that McCartney was more interested in revisiting the old classics instead of simply re-recording them.

Here There and Everywhere B-

Quite a bit more sluggish than the original. (Nobody in their right minds would prefer this album to the Beatles originals, right? ... Of course no one in their right minds would venomously dislike this album who doesn't venomously dislike the Beatles.)

Wanderlust B

Ah, now we're into Paul solo territory. Yes, we heard this song previously on Tug of War. The original sounded smoother and more polished, which makes you wonder why you're even bothering! Again, however, it's a perfectly nice tune no matter where it's being recorded.

Ballroom Dancing B+

I always loved this song! It's exactly like the original from Tug of War. Yup.

Silly Love Songs / Reprise B

This song seems updated for the '80s, which I suppose is what we were all fearing about this whole album in the first place. But it's not bad. Really, all that's here is a louder snare drum. Generally, the production sounds smoother, which doesn't ultimately add much to it. (Who needs smoother production?) Oh well... we like this song anyway. Yes, indeed. The final few seconds is a goofy psychedelic collage thing... meh...

Not Such a Bad Boy B

The second new song that he wrote for the movie. It's a catchy guitar-rocker and little more. The hook is OK albeit very simple ... It's a likable song... like everything else here.

So Bad C-

I remember disliking this quite a lot in the original... Well perhaps I was underrating it originally, but I do find this to be a slight improvement. For a start, McCartney's vocal performance is quite a bit better. (He worked on that falsetto voice, apparently.) The melody is still utterly uninspired... and this still sounds like one of those horrible gospel-tinged things we heard out of everybody in the late '80s and early '90s.

No Values / No More Lonely Nights C

This is also an original, but it's very derivative. I guess this was the reason Paul decided to re-do his old songs... he was turning into a lazy songwriter! I'm not too sure what the point of tacking on the name of “No More Lonely Nights” to this. I know I'm not studying this album like I would a broad on the street, but ... I don't hear that song anywhere...

For No One B+

At long last a hastily revisited Beatles classic! Hey, whatever, the melody is great. It reminds me of those times when McCartney wasn't being a lazy middle-aged fart.

Eleanor Rigby / Eleanor's Dream C

The first part is a reworking of the famous string quartet Beatles song. “Eleanor's Dream,” as you might expect from reading the title, is “Eleanor Rigby” extended... More violin stuff. This sounds much more cinematic than classical. It's not poorly composed, but it goes on past nine minutes and never does anything that cannot be called “generic.” I suppose this proves that scoring soundtracks weren't McCartney's thing... or maybe it might have been his thing, but he was only interested in writing generic, fillery passages instead of actual music. Geez...

The Long and Winding Road C+

I'm not joking when I say the sax intro to this sounds like Kenny G's interpretation of the Beatles classic. McCartney starts singing like a cheap lounge performer. It gets worse toward the end when he briefly does a solo with himself. Brr!! Making it even worse is the electric piano that can be heard pittering about. Geez.

No More Lonely Nights (Playout) C-

Oh boy! They got the tapes! (That has something to do with the movie plot... I really don't know.) And now there's a new version of “No More Lonely Nights” made to sound like Michael Jackson. Dear Paul! Nobody wanted you to sound like Michael Jackson! You're simply not good at it! ... These electro funk grooves couldn't be more out-of-place. It's such a shame to disgrace the album's only good original so quickly!!

Goodnight Princesses C+

A generic jazz instrumental... I guess this counts as another new Paul McCartney song. Ho hum.

BONUS TRACKS

No More Lonely Nights (Extended Version) C-

This is a little better than the Michael Jackson version, but not a whole lot. All in all this dance re-mix is just pointless. It's difficult to even listen to much less would it give you the desire to dance to it. I don't understand why everybody has to do these dance remixes. I really don't. Listen to the original again.

No More Lonely Nights (Special Dance Remix) C-

Holy crap, how many times are you going to remix this?


Press to Play (1986)

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Press to Play

Stranglehold B

As long as McCartney's making typical '80s music, I suppose its nice that the melody is formidable. The power '80s synth-groove reminds me of Paul Simon's Graceland even though I doubt Paul had time to hear it before the album went to press. His vocal performance is definitely nice... He's in his '80s pop showman mode, and his voice certainly suits it. I just wish the material was richer.

Good Times Coming / Feel the Sun B

The first half of this track consists of his attempt to sound like The Police, and it really could have been a lot worse. The groove is likable, and the tune is light and snappy. Again, McCartney has written better melodies, but I sort of like this one anyway! The synthesizer sound effects are sometimes distracting, though... It was evident all throughout his 1980 release McCartney II that the guy's synthesizer works was never interesting. This is no exception. The second part is a more typical '80s rocker. The melody is bland as hell, and I cannot embrace his attempts to sound like such a faceless '80s pop star.

Talk More Talk C-

The beginning consists of synthesizers and muffled dialogue. I don't care enough to figure out what they're saying! But the actual song pops up as a Phil Collins wannabe. The only thing catchy about it is the chorus, which is something I accuse Foreigner of doing too much. Who wanted McCartney to sink to those lows?

Footprints B-

Not bad... He's not trying to live up to Phil Collins this time, but the songwriting is awfully bland. The melody is virtually non-existent, and the chord progression sounds awkward. Some of the instrumental ideas might have been OK (I hear a lot of twinkly synthesizers here), but they don't seem to add a whole lot.

Only Love Remains B+

A little better and more reminiscent of the glories that McCartney's work once possessed. It's a piano led ballad without any of those electronic distractions. By the end, it turns dramatic and cinematic. Again, it's not bad, but it's not what I wanted to hear out of him. The melody is OK though far too bland and not anything that McCartney should be proud of. Still, it's perfectly listenable.

Press C+

Another mediocre attempt at sounding like an average '80s popster. I think even Phil Collins sounds better than this. However, the melody is pleasant enough to remind me of earlier McCartney tunes, but the instrumentation is woeful and depressing. This is similar to “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley; to make matters worse, that song is about a billion times better. Oh, that is the worst.

Pretty Little Head D

Public Image Ltd. would try writing songs like this, except they would have found a catchy bass line. Peter Gabriel might have tried a song like this, but he would have given it an engaging atmosphere. Kate Bush might have tried a song like this, but she would have upped the dramatics and thought of a few, greatly weird embellishments. Paul McCartney would have tried something like this, but he would have thought of a catchier melody. ...Er... Can you see how this album is so unlike this guy? This is a go-nowhere wannabe atmospheric/psychedelic piece. There's nothing appealing about it whatsoever.

Move Over Busker B-

Apparently “busker” is a real word. Whattaya know? Here is a typical pub rocker that's likable enough. It sounds like McCartney was listening to those Huey Lewis albums a little too much... and he sounds pale by comparison. Nonetheless, it has a beat you can dance to, so why should I complain so much?

Angry C

The one likable quality of this song is McCartney's playful, screaming vocal performance. Though the music is still too tame to be considered a “furious rocker,” and it would have been nice if they upped that a bit! The melody does sound awfully bland, and there's not a great reason to listen to it.

However Absurd C-

However absurd this may seem, this melody is really bland and generally awful. A nice bit with electric guitar chords coming in sound like they should've technically been OK, but there's nothing around that adds even an iota to this nothing-melody. The instrumental build-up at the end is nice, however, and that keeps it away from D-territory.

Write Away C

A light groove plays along as McCartney delivers a cheeky melody that's without any endurable hooks. Come on, Paul, give us just a hint of your real talents!

It's Not True D

Yuck. Bland “soulful” utterings of the title amidst horrible stadium drums. This would be something I might hear out of a Cyndi Lauper album released at the time... Geez, why is Paul sucking this badly? The melody is worthless and miserably bland... it's sucking everything good in life right outta my soul!!

Tough on a Tightrope B-

This is better, and not a bad song to end this album with. The melody is likable and contains a few hooks. Still, I'm horribly disappointed that it sounds so dang bland... If you ever force yourself to sit down and listen to this song, you might enjoy yourself a little bit. But it's nothing that you'd probably care to hear again. That is, unless you like stupid/boring pop music.

BONUS TRACKS:

Spies Like Us C-

Was this for the movie with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd? Yeah, that movie sucked. This song isn't much better.

Once Upon a Long Time Ago B

This isn't too horrible. It's a typical '80s ballad, but the melody is likable enough. It outshines most of the original album but that's not saying much.


Back in the USSR (CHOBA B CCCP) (1988)

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Back in the USSR (CHOBA B CCCP)

Kansas City C+

Right off the bat, just by listening to Paul's vocal performance, you can tell how unprepared these guys were! He does his best to produce the gruffest voice out of his throat, but it sounds like he sang however the heck he wanted to without any real thought to how it would sound. Even if he heard his performance, he didn't mind enough to do another take or anything... Eh, he sounds like he's having fun, and that's the whole point. The band seemed to be in well form although they do nothing phenomenal whatsoever.

Twenty Flight Rock B

This is fun, and McCartney did end up give something of a damn of how he sounded, and it's a bit like Elvis! This time covering an old '50s classic by Eddie Cochran. It's a fun rendition and it has a beat you can dance to. Other than that, there's nothing special about it, but let's not spend too much time splitting hairs. Get on your '50s groove!

Lawdy Miss Clawdy B

I believe this was one of rock 'n' roll's first big hits. McCartney's definitely enjoying himself, this time delivering another well-done vocal performance. The run-of-the-mill band produces all the right notes without ever impressing me. I like The Hollies' version much better, which tells you that these renditions can't be too good. (Mind you , that wasn't supposed to be a dig at The Hollies.)

I'm in Love Again C+

Here's another fun cover of a Fats Domino song! While it doesn't grab me quite like some of the previous numbers, it's a technically well-done rendition. Of course, it's throwaway, but that's the whole point of the album if you didn't notice! There's no reason to dwell too much on these track reviews. (There's this weird barking noise at the end! How peculiar!)

Bring it on Home to Me B-

This is a mid-tempo number, an old Sam Cooke composition. Not one of McCartney's better vocal performances, but it's keeping with the general off-the-cuff spirit of the album. Well, I sorta like it.

Lucille B+

McCartney delivers possibly one of the finer performances on this disc with a very convincing rendition of Little Richard's “Lucille.” That guy can really growl when he wants to! Awesome.

Don't Get Around Much Anymore B

Arguably one of the better song selections he made, but that's a matter of opinion. A Duke Ellington number with a catchy melody and relatively interesting chords. McCartney's goofing around, and having fun. So, we can have fun too! This is just a tad sloppy, though, and should have packed a larger wallop. (OK, that describes most of these songs, so...)

I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday D+

The delivery was wrong. Either that, or Fats Domino's original song wasn't that good. I'm admittedly low educated on '50s stars, which is something I should probably address someday. Anyway, this is the least compelling song yet. Everything's too ordinary, and McCartney sounds like he's trying to sing too low. This reminds me of Branson music, which is not a good sign.

That's All Right Mama C

Yikes... after comparing this to Branson, I don't think it can overcome that! Granted, nothing can overcome that. Well, the corny instrumentation isn't so bad this time. McCartney's vocal performance is bland again, though. Come on, dude!! Do some of that wailing stuff again! That was awesome!

Summertime B

An interpretation of a Geroge Gershwin aria from Porgy and Bess. It sounded gospelish to begin with, so their R&B treatment definitely fits. McCartney's performance is quite spirited and even beautiful in spots. Really, it's a shame he didn't spend an extra week on this or so... Oooo. Points were taken away because it starts to get boring halfway through.

Ain't That a Shame C

Another song that seemed like it was done wrong. Whoever was playing that piano either hadn't a clue or he was having too much fun messing around. His patterings are way too busy and overly distracting. Otherwise, I don't find this particular song compelling... it's just a normal bluesy thing, which is the sort of thing that never impressed me much.

Crackin' Up B

This song has an interesting groove, which seems to keep it apart from the pack. The keyboardist completely redeems himself with an unconventional but soulful solo in here. Weird... just as I was previously complaining about the piano, he does a 180 and becomes the star of the show!

Just Because B

Not bad... Perhaps if someone was playing this in Branson, I might find myself tapping my toes! McCartney really is a great singer when he applies himself. He does an other Elvis-ish performance. He was undoubtedly being goofy, but he's intriguingly convincing at it.

Midnight Special C

This old folk cover was a somewhat weak choice to end the album with if only because it's so dang boring! There's not a whole lot appealing here, unfortunately. I wouldn't expect any old tribute band would do any worse. Is that what Paul was really shooting for with this album?


Flowers in the Dirt (1989)

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Flowers in the Dirt

My Brave Face A-

Er, whatzis? A melody?!?!?! Me likey! Me likey! The McCartney album I reviewed previously to this was Press to Play, and that almost made me forget that Paul McCartney was once the world's awesomest songwriter. And here is is, strutting his stuff again. Cool. You can date this production style to the late '80s (notably the introduction and those loud snares). The melody is catchy and the ultra polished instrumentation makes the experience as smooth as possible. This is an enjoyable opener!

Rough Ride C+

Well, it's not as good as the previous track, but it has its likable qualities. There was still an attempt at giving his music a distinctly '80s sound, but I don't mind so much as long as the melody is likable enough. The groove is a typical late '80s groove... Funnily enough, there are some moments when he slows everything down and almost starts singing a ballad --- I get visions of the real Paul McCartney trying to come back like some convoluted sci-fi Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde rip-off. I have to fault this thing for sounding, overall, too repetitive and bland.

You Want Her Too B

I've gotta assume this was more written by Elvis Costello than Paul McCartney, because it sounds exactly like an Elvis Costello song. In fact one moment especially sounds like it was lifted from “Little Triggers.” He even duets with Costello, who sounds something like his testicles are being electrocuted. ... I haven't heard any late '80s Costello albums yet---is that how he sounds like? The one appealing aspect of this song is the weird groove they deliver here. They also have a weird idea to fade in a big band song at the end... Who knows why they did that, but at least he is actually developing his work for once.

Distractions A-

Lovely! While not quite to the same level of many of his old ballads, this is a rather lovely little tune. The melody is mildly catchy, but the real attraction here is the instrumentation, which provides a few tasty treats! Everything is here from violins to woodwinds to cheesy acoustic guitar solos... Surely, this isn't groundbreaking stuff, but it's a great thing to sit back and soak up if you're in that mood. It'd be better if it was during a warm summer afternoon by the pool instead of sitting in my cold and dark bedroom.

We Got Married C+

We did? ... Uh oh ... This is a quite a bombastic power ballad that Paul wrote here, and obviously a loving tribute to his wife. The melody is only mildly likable, and this seems about as bland as any ordinary power ballad from the era. Surely not worthy of his reputation or anything --- but yes, this song is surely likable enough even though there's an over-reliance on sickeningly polished instrumentation standards.

Put it There A-

Now this is what we need more of! Two-minute songs with a pleasant melodic idea!! Do you know what this reminds me of??? RAM! That's it!!! Back then, McCartney's melodic prowess was so pungent that all he had a great, new melodic idea every two minutes. Oh yeah... This is a sweet blast from the past...

Figure of Eight B+

Get a load of this chorus! Cool!! ... I suppose I should be depressed that this is a McCartney song that's best remembered for its chorus (that's the sort of thing I go after bands like Foreigner for doing), but we should definitely count our blessings. This is a sweet radio-bred '80s tune that has an excellent chorus.

This One B-

This is good... sort of. The melody can be considered trite by most standards, but it's good enough to give you something to mildly bob your head to. Some of the production tricks were neat... There's a mechanical pound at the beginning and it sounds like it's fading into the Twilight Zone at the end.

Don't Be Careless Love D+

Ew... Why is Paul sounding like some washed-up R&B soul-singer? His voice is awful sounding ... it's squeaking. Geez... that's not what you'd except to hear from such a great rock singer. Yucky. The songwriting is horrible here, too. It sounds a lot like one of those Michael Jackson “save the world” ditties except the melody is nowhere near as enjoyable. Unlike many of these other songs, the instrumentation sounds like a halfhearted one-off. Yeah... you can skip this one.

That Day Is Done C-

Ugh... This doesn't seem much better, unfortunately. I can't tell whether he was trying to write a gospel or a country song. No matter what it is, it sounds awful. The melody is worthless... The instrumentation is a bunch of nonsense, too. The gospel singers don't have any idea what to do, and McCartney's doing his best to sound like Whitney Houston except with his head in a fish tank.

How Many People B-

Do you hear that awful vocal intro here? Not that I don't appreciate this resurgence in songwriting quality for McCartney, but it's disconcerting to hear him trying to sound like people other than himself. Come on, man, I watched Saturday morning cartoons in the late '80s and they were always telling me to be myself! Maybe Paul should've watched some G.I. Joe instead of smoking pot all the time! On the plus side, I like this melody, which features a few good hooks here and there. It's a light reggae number with a few electric guitar “explosions” here and there. It's not bad.

Motor of Love D

Oh great, he's writing songs about his willy now! Alright, not really, but I have even worse news: This sounds like a song from Spandau Ballet's True. It's a sickening flood of synthesizer sounds with a faux-soul melody and vocal performance. As if that couldn't get any worse, this extends past six minutes. Oh give me strength!

Ou Est Le Soleil B+

That's French for “Where is the Spoon?” To answer your question, the spoon is in your drawers. (Kitchen drawers---I don't mean your pants.) ... Just to prove how much he hated everyone who was still buying vinyl in 1989, this song was only included in the CD release, and everybody else had that previous piece of doodie to end the festivities with. Really, this song is just an extended groove... but what a fun groove it is! A number of sound effects come into make it interesting from start to finish. Why, to my surprise, it sounds comparable to a Peter Gabriel song! Who wouldda guessed?

BONUS TRACKS:

Back on My Feet B-

Geez, bonus tracks. The fun never ends! This song is OK, and it probably would've benefited the album had he replaced it with any number of tunes. It still sounds horribly dated to the '80s, and the melody doesn't do much for me. Blah-biddy-blah.

Flying to My Home D

At the beginning, it threatens to be another one of his Whitney Houston things... But then, if that was even possible, it turns into an even more nauseating pop number. The snare drum is so loud that it's activating the vomit trigger in my stomach, and making it worse, Paul's singing in some sort of voice distorter. This is garbage.

Loveliest Thing B

I think my brain hurts or something, because this song seems a lot like dead air. It's like when I turned on the radio and all there is is static. I know there's some sort of Paul McCartney song playing, but I'm really not registering anything.


Unplugged (1991)

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Unplugged

Be-Bop-A-Lula B+

Here's the Gene Vincent '50s cover that I believe The Beatles covered very early on in his career. I like this a little better than anything on the CHOBBA B CCCP album just because the band sounds like they practiced. They do all they can to give what sounds what you'd like to hear whilst sipping champagne an exclusive dinner party. ... And I think it must've been close to something like that, because there's a very small audience cheering politely after its through. ... The mood of this song is especially tranquil for a '50s rock cover, but we hear Paul saying the purpose of the Unplugged series was to take out all the plugs and go mad. Maybe there were dancing cats with bananas on their heads doing acrobatics in the background!

I Lost My Little Girl B He introduces this song as something he wrote when he was 14, and as far as I know this is the only place you can hear this! For that reason, this is an especially important release for any McCartney-phile! ... Well, definitely moreso than CHOBBA B CCCP. It only lasts 1:45 minutes, it's a simple song that I'm sure he borrowed heavily from something he heard on the radio, but it still shows he was a talented writer early on.

Here There and Everywhere A-

And many years later, he wrote this one when he was the member of a very obscure rock band. People should listen to this band more often; they were pretty good! Here is an awfully sweet rendition, with McCartney delivering an earnest performance. This even features somebody playing what sounds like an accordion in the background. Does it get more peaceful than that?

Blue Moon of Kentucky C

Here's another pleasant cover... this time, it's from the Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe. The first section is played like a light country western song, and the last part is played more like Elvis. It's not disagreeable and McCartney's being as sweet as can be, but I wish that it could grab me a bit more.

We Can Work it Out B+

He's acting really goofy before this song gets up... like he was sucking helium except his voice didn't change. They start playing this famous old song, and forgets the words! But he says it's so informal that he's going to start again. Then he acts goofy again, and ... well, I guess that's pretty funny! (He screws up in the middle of the track, too, but he doesn't start over again.) Anyway, I have nothing against hearing these old songs again...

San Francisco Bay Blues B

A surprisingly enjoyable blues song... All the elements are right in place! The shuffley drum, piddly piano and Paul's warm vocal performance. It's a light, snappy number that'll please you for a few minutes, and then you'll probably forget that it existed. But that's OK. I can say that about a lot of things!

I've Just Seen a Face C+

HELP!! ... Er, false alarm. Sorry. Here is one of his popular old classics. Something tells me he could have thought to do something other than furiously strumming what sounds like a million acoustic guitars to create what sounds mostly like a sloppy mess! Well, luckily, the melody is still 100 percent intact, as you'd expect it to be!

Every Night B+

This guy really was on something during this performance... What's with that “yeehaw and woohoo” nonsense? Nothing against helium suckers, but you're scarring the kiddies, Paulie. But hey, here he's playing a great song! Something from his usually despised first album, which I assume was finally starting to gain some momentum in the public psyche by now. Just to prove that he wasn't any worse of a songwriter after leaving The Beatles, this manages to hold well its own in the lot. Nice.

She's a Woman C

An old-style Beatles tune that's only available on the first Past Masters compilation. This certainly wasn't their best song, and this rendition is frankly rather tepid.

Hi-Heel Sneakers C+

Just an ordinary boogie-woogie tune with a piano lead and a melody that I've heard before even though I've never heard this song before. The lyrics might have be the most interesting thing about it... Hi-Heel Sneakers? That's just silly...

And I Love Her B+

Aw, this is pretty! Here Paul somebody else is singing that old hit very breezily. The original, and I'm sure you remember it, was played much quicker. But this time, they slow it down and let those acoustic guitars and pianos sound more hypnotizing as opposed to the sloppy brawl from “I've Just Seen a Face.” OK, whoever was singing back-up vocals should have practiced what he was going to sing a bit...

That Would Be Something B

I get the feeling that he cared much for his solo songs and not so much about his old band! Ah, just as well... If I was Paul, I'd feel really confused why everyone universally had a history of embracing The Beatles but more or less despising his solo career. Granted, the constraints the other band members had on him meant that he would never have recorded something like “Kreen Akore” or “Loup: First Indian on the Moon” with The Beatles. But still. ... Hey, about this song! This is not the best rendition of it that I can think of. Nice melody, though, and that's good enough for me!

Blackbird B+

This song was pretty much “unplugged” to begin with! Well, hey I love this song just like everyone else! ... Er... It's just McCartney singing along with his acoustic g'tar. Coo'.

Ain't No Sunshine B+

If you read the Wikipedia entry about this album, they'll give you little tidbits like: “It features McCartney on drums – the first time ever on a Wings or solo show.” Hey, nice drumming dude! It's well known he's a multi-instrumentalist, and he's recorded a small handful of albums in which he played most or all the instruments. BUT, I'd be more impressed if he played all the instruments live. And no, I'm not talking about that “Coming Up” video, which was soooo faked. I like this song even apart from the drumming... it's a jazzy song written by Bill Whithers in the '70s. Not too shabby.

Good Rockin' Tonight B-

This guy sure liked his old school R&B tunes! It's a shame he didn't assemble a more skilled band for this sort of thing. It's a fun and snappy song, but it leaves me underwhelmed. Well, Macca was playing his roots, after all, which I'm sure was therapeutic in a way. He was sucking way too much helium, and he needed to recover somehow.

Singing the Blues C+

Sing them blues, Paul! SING 'EM! ... This is a catchy old song from the '50s. It's not bad, but it's not good either. The piano player sounds like he's playing in a saloon. It isn't bad. McCartney's vocal performance is too goofy, though. He was a bit tired by now, I think.

Junk B+

The audience calls for an encore, and McCartney gives them “Junk.” A beautiful instrumental from McCartney. He must've really been wanting people to re-look at that old classic... it's the third song he performed from it. Well, I do hope it worked, because that really is a lovely work.


Off the Ground (1993)

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Off the Ground

Off the Ground A-

This song is a triumph all around. We have a very likable melody and instrumentation that sounds thankfully far removed from the 1980s. In fact, I really like this instrumentation. The first thing I notice is the rhythm, which is more involved than usual and features a few nicely placed hand-claps for good measure. Very nicely arranged! Notably, while the guitar is properly polished, I'd wager it was slightly influenced by the grunge movement. So, yes... I love the '80s style as much as possible, but the '90s was a lot kinder.

Looking For Changes B+

Just a regular boogie rock song with lotsa polished guitars and drum beat. The melody is nice enough that you'll probably want to bob your head with it. This threatened to become an ordinary bland song that we've heard a billion times before, but McCartney brings in a number of nice ideas to keep things interesting. Notably, that “oooh-oooh” with the back-up singers and a few nice guitar crunches pop up.

Hope of Deliverance B

This perhaps isn't anything special, musically, but the stark change of texture makes it just the right change of pace. It's the third track, and it would seem that a slower song is in order. Well, I wouldn't call this a “slower” song, but it's a laid back one with some tropicana connections. I love its laid back vibe and the plethora of rhythms keeps it snappy. The melody is probably the weakest point, which isn't that hooky.

Mistress and Maid A

Excellent! This is a collaboration between McCartney and Elvis Costello (those two went rampant throughout Flowers in the Dirt). The melody is the main attraction here, which is what it should be, and there are a few great hooks that grab my attention and never let go! The instrumentation is great, too. It's a waltz, and they found the right mix between acoustic guitars, goofy synthesizer sounds and horns. Beautiful!

I Owe it All To You B-

I really like the way this starts! It sounds like it's going to be an atmospheric ballad with a distorted synthesizer ... sounding like some weird old '60s band. But then a rather run-of-the-mill pop rock song pipes up, and doesn't really do a whole lot to interest me. Well, it has a likable melody, and that's definitely something.

Biker Like an Icon B+

Another heavy rock song with an anthemic quality. This has an interesting groove that's highlighted by the weird, quirky addition of a pizzicato violin sound. It's weird ideas like that that sometimes makes a song interesting regardless of how catchy the melody is. (Although, thankfully, this melody is quite good.) For some reason, I'm drawn to these lyrics ... it's about a girl who falls in love with a biker who doesn't love her back. Yeah, these aren't great lyrics... but I'm just drawn to them.

Peace in the Neighborhood B+

Essentially, this is an average song from McCartney that doesn't do much to leap out at me except for a few isolated incidents of good melodic turns. McCartney's giving a great vocal performance, however. It's much more soul-bearing than those sad attempts in Flowers in Dirt to sound like Whitney Houston. Of course, this thing is a joy to sit through... I don't have to strain myself to like it.

Golden Earth Girl A

A very sweet ballad! This is surely one of the album's finer melodies, and it even reminds me of those Beatles days. I suppose it's not a perfect song, but I love listening to it. It begins with a lovely passage from a piano, and then McCartney starts coming in with some beautiful vocal ideas. Gradually, he brings in a fuller orchestra that includes acoustic guitars, woodwinds and tasteful synthesizers. What a joy!

The Lovers That Never Were B

I also like this song, but it doesn't really stand out from the others in any major ways. (OK, there's a faux-stadium-rock pounding bit toward the end of it.) It's another collaboration with Costello... The melody doesn't do much for me, but it's good and bold enough to make it easy to sit through! ... This is well-done, of course.

Get Out of My Way B+

Without ever turning into something that's overly melodic or memorable in any way, McCartney delivers an entirely rollicking piece of pub-rock. It's derivative of the usual influences, but he's clearly having fun with it. Besides, the public was eager for this sort of roots-rock in the '90s and probably even moreso now.

Winedark Open Sea B

He welcomely slows down the tempo and delivers a nice ballad. This is just as good as it needed to be, but I would never confuse this as a *great* tune. The melody is nice enough and hummable, but it doesn't grab me by the ears! Still, it's smart and pleasant enough. Those exhaling sounds are straight from The Zombies' “Time of the Season,” but that was a nice idea for the song, anyway. Some spacey, atmospheric synthesizer sounds in the background also were nice.

C'mon People B+

This sounds bred as the conclusive sounding end to the album. It has a nice, somewhat anthemic feel to it that makes it enjoyable to sit through. Still, the melody ranks as average for McCartney. Nonetheless, it's easy enough to get caught up in the spirit, and it is a nice conclusion to the album. That silly whistling at the end was a nice addition... If the album was full of more quirky ideas like that, then it might have been a near classic. Anyway, just as it stands

Cosmically Conscious A

Oh yeah, we have to consider this track, too. This was apparently written by Paul in 1968 when the Beatles went off to their famous vacation in India. ...Wow! It's just a brief snippet, but it's so melodically rich that it shows how many great ideas was gushing out of him during that period in history. It would've sounded great on Magical Mystery Tour, as perfect as that album was. How did he resisted the urge in 1970 to put it on his rushed-out debut album? Well, here it is... as a two-minute, weird, un-asked-for coda to his 1993 album. I want to hear more of this, actually!


Flaming Pie (1997)

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Flaming Pie

The Songs We Were Singing B+

Not bad! It's a nice, understated tune with a few good melodic ideas. I don't think this really needed to last four minutes (after the two minute mark, he pretty much just repeats the same song again). It's official that he's no longer trying to pander to the mainstream, and that mentality benefits his work greatly. It's just me and McCartney again!

The World Tonight A

How can I say 'no' to such a likable groove? This is a cute song that begs so much to be liked that you're gonna feel bad about yourself if you do. And why on earth would you put up a resistance? Hear that bass guitar? ... I don't think I heard something that great since the old Wings days. This is a fun song with a catchy melody and laid-back atmosphere. Yes, that's what I wanna do... sit back and soak this pleasant stuff up.

If You Wanna A

One of my favorite Web reviewers hates this whole album, and I love it, which is why I have to be so definitive in this review! What I'm receiving is another wholly catchy and lovable melody. It's upbeat, pleasant and even rather beautiful. He even throws in a few good guitar licks in here. This song is delicious just like homemade pie!

Somedays B

A ballad was overdue, and Paul follows suit here. The melody is a tad bland in this instance, but it has its good qualities. The real star of this show is the instrumentation, however. It's McCartney singing with a hypnotizing acoustic guitar, and he smartly brings in some crunchy violins and a gorgeous oboe. That's what gives it life... really the melody seems somewhat of an “Eleanor Rigby” flash-back. I haven't been this impressed with a McCartney arrangement since Tug of War!

Young Boy A-

Another happy little groove! I think calling these songs “little” are perfect compliments, too. They don't want to murder us with overblown lyrics and guitar solos. It's just McCartney being as pleasant as ever delivering a catchy, snappy melody and making our lives seem better while it's playing! In this way, Flaming Pie marks a very welcome return to the Ram days... Middle of the way though the song, he stops everything and for a moment I think he's going to start playing a different tune (which would be a return to Ram indeed), but alas he's playing the same chord progression. Ah well. Lovely song, anyway.

Calico Skies B-

The simplistic mentality Paul was revisiting perhaps went too far with this one. This consists of Paul playing with an acoustic guitar and nothing else. Oddly, it seems to alternate back and forth between a piece of classical guitar music and a generic folk song. It's inoffensive but not all that appealing.

Flaming Pie B

This is sort of a half-hearted boogie-rock song. I understand why they would have done it like this (if they were any rawer or rougher, it would've stuck out like a sore thumb). All in all, it's not a bad composition, though. I like the chord progression, as good as that can be, and the “Lady Madonna” piano rambling was a nice touch.

Heaven on a Sunday B

This is pretty good. A light groove plays the whole time, and Paul delivers a very simple melody. This one steers way to close to corny, meaningless adult contemporary for my tastes. (Don't laugh... I don't really get this impression from the other songs even though they can also be correctly be described as “adult contemporary.”) A few nice production ideas were thrown in the mix, though ... we hear that accordion thing at the end, for example.

Used to be Bad B-

A straight blues, and it suffers from the “generic” label that it comes with it. Nonetheless, I don't find this any less likable than all those R&B cover albums he released around this era in his career, so I don't mind this at all. It won't inspire me to get up out of my seat and do a dance, but it's likable enough to hear.

Souvenir B+

Back to the ballads, and I couldn't have asked for anything more! The melody surely isn't one of his better ones, but it's purely likable and has a few nice ideas in it. The song development keeps things interesting ... a few times it sounds like it's about to explode, though it never does. The old record player sound effect at the end was a weird idea.

Little Willow C+

Everybody who calls this album boring would certainly have a case about this song! This is a very slow ballad that doesn't do much interesting, melodically. A few nice instrumental touches keeps it nice... His voice fades in and out sounding like someone was playing a bit too much with the volume knob. What kills this song in the end is not the melody, but the repetitiveness.

Really Love You B

A simple R&B song that's just about as fun as his cover albums he was releasing lately. He does this goofy high pitch yelp in the middle of this, which didn't really seem to fit his sound. John Lydon would've gotten away with doing that, but not Paul, really. The groove is generic, but I've certainly spent five minutes listening to worse things.

Beautiful Night A+

And this is what reminded me that I owned this album for a looooong time, and I used to love this song. (OK, it was 6.5 years ago, but that does seem like awhile!) Hearing it again to review this album was like opening up a time capsule of something... I guess that's the effect music has sometimes! The melody is absolutely the best thing here, and the chorus absolutely soars. It might sound too plastic for a Beatles tune... but with a little work, I'd wager it would've fit well on The White Album or something. If that's not true, we know this would've sounded great on McCartney. I haven't described it yet... it's a pretty ballad that starts out with just Paul singing with a piano, and gradually a full-scale “orchestra” comes in. And it all ends with a bit of rock-a-rolla. Quite good!

Great Day B

This sounds like something from Wild Life. Yeah that album wasn't so great... but it had its good aspects. This is a very simple acoustic guitar ballad with Paul delivering a simple and pleasant melody and little else. I like it, of course!


Run Devil Run (1999)

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Run Devil Run

Blue Jean Bop B

An ancient old song that McCartney's resurrecting. A nice chugging beat and there's quite a sloppy guitar solo in here. Other than that, the song is surprisingly minimal sounding... Well, it's not bad. McCartney reportedly recorded this album as quickly as he could to capture some excitement, but this comes off as fairly reserved.

She Said Yeah B+

Here we go. Good old rock-a-rolla! Now, you get the impression that he was trying to be exciting with this release! It's nothing that'll impress you greatly, but it might be enough to rock your socks. (Oh wait, I don't want my socks to turn into rocks... I'll never be able to get out of them then.)

All Shook Up B+

This is probably quite a bit less obscure than the previous two tracks, because it was an ELVIS song! And it's a good one, certainly. McCartney's giving the best that his vocal chops would allow him, and the band sounds quite nice.

Run Devil Run B+

McCartney actually wrote this ... putting himself into the shoes of an old school '50s rocker, and I suspect he would have been pretty good at it! I'm not especially interested in hearing him write semi-generic old school tunes, but he's good enough at it. It just needed a little more kick from the band...

No Other Baby C+

Even though this is nowhere near as good as the previous tracks, it was nice enough to give us a ballad... five heavy-ish rockers in a row might grow a little bit tiresome! This was an OK song, but not a particularly brilliant thing. It's heavily repetitive, and it almost turns into a drone by the end.

Lonesome Town B+

A lot of B-pluses. Well, these are adequate; what else can I say? This is another ballad, and this one seems to have a bit of a country twang. McCartney's vocal performance is excellent here... He really sounds like he's singing about something. (And it's easy to guess what was going through his mind...)

Try Not to Cry C

Not too bad... I like that smashing snare drum. I don't really care for the melody, though, and it's a bit disconcerting to hear this was a McCartney original... isn't he supposed to be a great songwriter?? ... Uh, YES!! It's too monotonous and he repeats a not-that-interesting melody way too much. Sorry.

Movie Magg B

This Carl Perkins cover is the same sort of semi-minimalist idea that opened the album. I say it's bouncy and pretty fun to hear! ... Other than that, there's not much else to say...

Brown Eyed Handsome Man B+

An accordion? ... Sweet. He's playing something that sounds like “Tequilla!” I think I must be clinging to something as silly as an accordion because I'm getting so bored with the adequacy of all of this. But this song was pretty fun. Yay.

What it Is B+

What it is is another OK old-school-style hard rocker original from McCartney. The guitars are a little heavier here, which makes it more fun. There's a nice twang to it, too. Funny, I still can't imagine giving it anything higher than a B+. I would feel like I was cheating if I did.

Coquette C+

Geez... I'm sorry about skimping out on these track reviews, but what do you expect me to write? This song is a bit more tiresome than the others. A '50s style pounding piano wasn't that well-conceived, and McCartney's not doing anything special with his performance. Errrrgghhh...

I Got Stung C

A furious rocker, except it fails to really pick up any real energy. ... No matter how much McCartney tried doing these '50s covers, he's always confirming my sentiments that he was never very great at it... This sounds particularly tiring here. The sound is murky. McCartney's singing like he just got stung, but it wasn't that attractive.

Honey Hush B

One of the more furious songs on the album, and I suppose that's a good reason to like it! This is a song by Joe Turner written in 1953, in case you wanted to know. McCartney's definitely doing what he wanted to ... can't argue that.

Shake a Hand B-

Again, it's not bad, but it's not great, either! I'm getting really bored with this.

Party B

Yayyyy... I can stop writing these track reviews now! Just one more. Come on. This is Macca's interpretation of another old song (it's credited to “Robinson” and I assumed that was Smokey Robinson ... but apparently, it's Sylvia Robinson). It's a nice, upbeat thing to end the album with. Yaaaaay...


Driving Rain (2001)

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Driving Rain

Lonely Road A-

Very nice opening! It sounds that Paul is finally really bearing his soul to us, a sensation that I hadn't felt from him this distinctly in decades. He's layering a lot of heavy, polished electric guitars, and the mix sounds perfect. The compositional quality is wonderful, too, with a complex song structure and a fitfully catchy melody. The best part is McCartney's vocal performance ... at the end, it turns into an extremely soulful and passionate excursion. Wonderful!

From a Lover to a Friend A-

This production is excellent. We hear twinkly pianos coming in and out of the speakers ... yes, this is definitely an album that I have to listen to with headphones, because I want to immerse myself in this texture. Let's not overrate this song, though, because this piano is the only production trick here. The melody is flowing and likable though not particularly catchy. I'm hypnotized by this, and that's what makes it most alluring. That's a quality I wouldn't have readily expected from a Macca work.

She's Given Up Talking B-

The production makes the song pretty complex here ... more than the others. I like that subdued, pounding drum that we hear, and those calculator synthesizers that pop up at opportune times. But this time, the actual songwriting doesn't interest me much. The melody is *blah* and it seems like all these complex arrangements were just an excuse to cover that up. You wouldn't expect such production on a McCartney album, but some of the transitions are terribly awkward, and I can't get that caught up in it. (P.S. He shouldn't sing in that voice decoder ... that's what Madonna does, and Madonna sucks.)

Driving Rain B+

This is OK. This melody definitely reminds me of those silly melodies he would write in the '70s, which is refreshing, of course. The lyrics sound like he's touching up a popular nursery rhyme, but I guess that's not so bad. The production is clean and crisp, but it seems like there were a few missed opportunities here. I don't know what this says about me, but there are too many guitars, and I can imagine hearing a very nice, cheesy violin synth line in here, and it's beautiful. But let's judge what's here, and I say it's good.

I Do A

This sort of sweet ballad is exactly what drew me into McCartney to begin with! The melody is sweet and the pacing is just right. He even brings in some crunchy violins even though they're a tad too busy. But what else does he bring into the mix? Timpanis, blaring tubas, glockenspiels, trumpets ... all of which are subdued in the background. If nothing else, McCartney obviously worked his heart out for this album, and it benefits as a result. Tiny Bubble B-

I think he might have been listening to Macy Gray. But that's OK. This is more of a straight-ahead pop rock song along the same lines as “Driving Rain” except this is less bouncy and distinctive. It's fine, but nothing special. I still admire the increased production standards ... very faint murmurs of someone playing a pure electric organ doesn't go unnoticed!

Magic B

This is another good song that doesn't do much to particularly jump out at me and grab my ear. The melody is just an averagely good one for him. There are a few notable tricks in the production ... that light hand-clap that pops up occasionally was a good idea. I also like this song's steady and lucid flow. That crazy string quartet we hear at the end was also a nice touch ... I'm pretty sure he composed random notes for that, though!

Your Way B-

This sounds like an improved variation of “Bip Bop” ... but I never liked that song, so maybe that's why I find this song boring as well. It features a very simple melodic idea that doesn't do enough to charm me. The production is minimal, but I do like the intricate layering of guitar sounds he's giving me ... especially that slide guitar that's greatly used to pepper it up. I upped the rating by one notch just cos of that.

Spinning on an Axis B-

Rotational inertia... oh god, this school stuff is going to follow me around forever, isn't it. Get out of my head, you demon! ... OK, it's out now. Er, Paul seems to have let himself fall into a funk of being mildly enjoyable. He hadn't crossed the line of being completely boring, but this doesn't have massive doses of inspiration tacked to it either. We have an average melody and the usual polished '00s-style production. It's just another guitar song. I can sit through it bobbing my head, but there's not much that's interesting here.

About You B

It's louder and more rambunctious this time, but we're missing personality. You get the feeling that anyone could have done this song, so the fact that it's Paul McCartney doesn't make much of a difference. Anyway, I like the loud drums, and the melody is OK. I'm not crazy about the bland vocal performance, though.

Heather A-

I suppose every time McCartney meets a new broad, he's going to write a song for her! Certainly, this is not as lovable as the short-and-sweet “The Lovely Linda” but Heather Mills wasn't that lovable, so she didn't deserve it. Being serious now, this starts out as a very pretty instrumental with McCartney providing “oohs” and “aahs” in the background. The Elton-John-style piano is piddling away with a solid drum beat.

Back in the Sunshine Again B+

Adapting a jazz tone this time, Paul delivers yet another likable tune. He's seemingly having fun with this vocal performance, but I think he could have done better. (I know the voice could hit better notes, and who know why he needed to put production on it ... I know he's getting old, but he still had a great voice.) This is an engaging song that unlike some of these others, seems to gain momentum as it progresses. Always a nice quality for a jazzy tune.

Your Loving Flame B-

This ballad is pretty good. I like listening to McCartney going back to deliver melodic ballads the way he used to ... and the production sounding much richer than it did on Flaming Pie. I struggle to find anything incredibly notable about this tune, however, other than his soulful delivery... Well, I guess he was believing in what he was singing!

Riding Into Jaipur A-

This is funny! This is the sort of song George Harrison used to compose for The Beatles' psychedelic albums. There's a lot of sitar here, and the structure is very surreal. The thing is, some of the lines that these instruments are playing are catchy. There's a lot within this production, but the one bit that strikes out at me the most is those waves of piano... Beautiful!

Rinse the Raindrops A-

Ten minutes? Aren't we going a little too far now, Sir James Paul McCartney? ... But wait! This is actually an interesting 10-minute song. It's structured as an overextended jam, but they take the time to change the textures, and every texture is actually interesting. We get new guitar textures every so often, and a few times the backing beat even changes. This is hardly a perfect song, by any means, but this definitely flows better than the medley from Red Rose Speedway even if the melodies aren't as endearing.

BONUS TRACK:

Freedom C+

This was something that Paul felt compelled to compose after the 9/11 attacks. I remember watching something on the news or something when he released it and didn't think much of it. Of course, I didn't hate it, because those were crazy times. Now this just sounds dated. Paul used to perform this a lot live until people started commenting this seemed to echo a lot of the knee-jerk, right-winged rhetoric going around. That's not what he meant, but he still stopped performing it. Musically, the hook is OK, but it's repeated way too much ... It's done in the same spirit as those John Lennon protest songs, I guess ... but I never really liked those.


Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005)

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Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Fine Line A

Right from the get-go, we can hear how wonderful Paul started to sound. He gives us an utterly catchy melody with some excellent song development and simple though smart instrumentation. It has a driving force behind it, and the harmonies are gorgeous. Bringing in those crunchy violins at the end was a great idea. Do you know what this is? It's the beginning of the McCartney Renaissance! (...Sorry to get melodramatic. I spend too much time on this stuff, you know.)

How Kind of You A-

Wow, I gotta love this atmosphere. That twinkling piano we hear surely beats out the similar song from Driving Rain. This is also beats out all McCartney's attempts at being atmospheric in that album. Nothing was nearly as good as this. The melody doesn't even sound that McCartnian, but it's surely loaded with hooks. Nigel Godrich must've put a few jolts of electricity through him or something!

Jenny Wren A

Similar to “Blackbird” from that Beatles album, but different. It's much sweeter. It's just McCartney singing with an acoustic guitar, and he's sounding so melodic and intimate that it makes anything on Flaming Pie look incredibly pale by comparison. Well, it is pale by comparison! That funny instrument we hear in the middle of this is called a duduk. I'm impressed! But McCartney didn't actually play it. ... I'm sure he could. He just didn't want to.

At the Mercy A

Gimme this wonderful atmosphere for all the tea in China! ...OK, I have no stock in China tea whatsoever, but gimme this atmosphere anyway! There's a gorgeous orchestral quality to it that gives this a beautiful dramatic quality to it. The melody surely isn't the most memorable, but it has more hooks than you'd expect from such a bitter sweet song. Nicely done!

Friends to Go A-

Here's a nice song, but it doesn't greatly impress me other than its already golden status as a Paul McCartney song that's on one of the best albums of his career. The melody is fitfully catchy, and it's full of plenty of that charm that inhabited those '70s albums that I'm forever addicted to. Really great instrumentation, though, as they gradually pack on the instrumentals as it moves along. It's easy to love this.

English Tea A

What a fruity song! ... OK, I'll fess up. I like fruity songs. It starts out with some violins piddling around, and then they get bouncy and Paul starts singing about Englishness. I'm English through my ancestry, so that might explain why I like foofy things. The melody is so delicious that I'll eat it up faster than a starved fat man would scarf down a rib stanwich. The instrumentation is lovely too... and, not to stomp on a sacred cow, but it's much more sophisticated and complex than even “Eleanor Rigby” could ever hope to be.

Too Much Rain A

At this point in the album, it's clearer than ever that Paul is on fire and he's never going to let go until his final breath (in the final track of the album)! Yet another melody that's utterly gorgeous and smart and simple song production. Another song that gives us a very dramatic atmosphere, and I'm absolutely caught in in more than ever. That part where he sings “You've got to learn to laugh” is really wonderful. Cool.

A Certain Softness A

Wow... here's yet another home run for McCartney. It's really a wonder what got him out of his funk to finally start writing incredible music again. Reports say it was the producer, but I'd imagine that something inside of him inspired it. There's nothing bombastic about this, either. It's almost a lounge-jazz song with McCartney delivering a simple and gorgeous melody. That bit when it turns into a chorus was really brilliant.

Riding to Vanity Fair A

Is it just me or did an awesome album just get awesomer? Don't listen to this song immediately just on the basis of this rating... don't expect to be immediately moved by it. But just listen to the atmosphere. Let yourself soak it up. It's gorgeous! Those dark strings are alluring and that light groove hypnotizes me. Those tiny hits from the xylophone was an especially good touch. How wonderful to hear such gorgeous, atmospheric songs from him. Also, the melody is catchy. A slight criticism I have of it is it seems at least 30 seconds too long.

Follow Me A

Oh man... I'm really waiting for any excuse to give a song here anything other than an A, but this music is really so consistent. Every time it sounds like he had even the remotest chance of sounding boring, he surprises me with a new melodic turn or brings in a string instrumental. And this song is charming as hell, and I love the melody. Oh, if only everyone knew how to write music like Paul McCartney.

Promise to You Girl A

Nope, this is clearly not an A-. In fact, I'd say this is almost an A+. It starts out like a ballad, but then he rocks out more than ever on this album. (Of course, he really doesn't rock out that much.) The more I think about it, the more I think this was an attempt to write a more complex version of “Lady Madonna” ... I hear that busy piano pattern in here. But Paul goes the extra mile and puts in some slower bits. This is a fun song!

This Never Happened Before A+

This is as good as “Let it Be.” I'm serious. ... Even if you don't agree with that assessment, at least he's not ripping off “Pachelbel's Cannon” again. This melody is something that you can immediately take to heart. The production standards are very high here with all sorts of smart moves. Beautifully mixed violins and piano.... and that orchestral “explosion” with the harps and strings were a very smart idea. ...What an utterly lovely creation.

Anyway A

Anyway, all good things have to come to an end, and this album was definitely a good thing. This song starts out as a piano ballad though it's not quite as catchy and mesmerizing as the previous song. Just as the whole experience starts to get somewhat boring, they bring in some new instrumentals and a drum beat. This is a fitting and sentimental conclusion.


Memory Almost Full (2007)

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Memory Almost Full

Dance Tonight 9.5/10

The first time I heard this, I was watching the music video directed by Michel Gondry, and I had tears in my eyes. I'm not too sure why that happened, but this is a remarkably joyous song. It's extremely simple and sweet... It consists of McCartney playing the mandolin and singing something that sounds so pleasant and somehow nostalgic. This is beautifully done. This is apparently the first time McCartney ever played a mandolin... It's kind of neat that old fart is still willing to try new things...

Ever Present Past 10/10

Yay! This is a great pop song that is right up there with the greatest Wings efforts. In fact, it's so reminiscent of Wings that there's a tad resemblance to "Daytime Nighttime Suffering" in here. No matter. Both are great pop songs, and this one's actually quite a bit more menacing. I love his textures here... He still *has it* as a bass player. The bass is absolutely best part of this song... it's so bouncy and varied. McCartney's hopelessly catchy melody is wonderful as always. I also like those instrumental embellishments through this. They produce excellent textures. This is just a great song.

See Your Sunshine 8.5/10

Yikes, I want to not like this song, because it starts out sounding so much like an ordinary '00s adult contemporary song. But seriously, if Justin Timberlake were ever to sing something this tasteful, he might actually be tolerable. Anyway, the song is much too good for that. This is more of a suite, and it has rather nice development. I especially enjoy the piano-led bit in the middle.

Only Mama Knows 9/10

I also like this song, and it represents one of the more creative songs of the album. It begins as a rather dreary violin-led ballad, and it turns into a more furious, hard-rock song. There's an interesting texture he introduces in the middle ... it's pretty interesting. Overall, I like the melody and it's catchy, but the hook's a tad more obvious than McCartney's usually good for. Well, never mind that. It's catchy and that's what matters.

You Tell Me 9/10

He's pandering to the times, but at least it's the shoegazers as opposed to Justin Timberlake! It's just the muffled synthesizer loop at the beginning that sounds so modern. The rest could have been a classic Wings song... It's a slower ballad, but it has a great melody. I also enjoy his sweet instrumental touches. There's the usual acoustic guitar, but there's some nicely done percussion sounds and some dreary background textures. My only criticism is this is perhaps too dreary. The melody is wonderful, though.

Mr. Bellamy 10/10

Now this song is something else. If you don't think this is some sort of masterpiece, then there's something terribly wrong with you! (Likewise, maybe there's something wrong with me for thinking this is such a freaking fabulous song!!) This is seemingly a cross between Brit-pop and whatever random ideas they were having at the time. Well, it's definitely a weird thing... It features a rather normal melody but instrumentation that's constantly varied and off kilter. Some modern classical music bits at the end were such a nice touch.

Gratitude 8.5/10

McCartney proves that he's still able to give these pseudo-soul vocal performances! This vocal performance is easily the main highlight to this one although the melody is also interesting, and there are a few very nice instrumentation touches (predominantly including nice violins). My only complaint is the song, overall, isn't that capturing. Oh well...

Vintage Clothes 9.5/10

This is one of the more interesting tracks... Surprisingly it's very Beatles-esque of the Abbey Road era. (It surprises me how often I don't fully realize that Paul McCartney is an ex-Bealte...) Anyway, the melody is nice and it flows nicely. The wild and almost daring development done in a limited, 2.5-minute span proves that McCartney still had quite a bit of creativity flowing in him, and he knew how to harness it into something solid and entertaining. I like this!

That Was Me 8.5/10

This is relatively more furious and it has pretty interesting arrangements. The melody is quite nice, but it's the vocal performance (that gets rather passionate by the end). This is probably one of the least memorable tracks of the album, but it's far from throwaway.

Feet in the Clouds 8.5/10

This is a lovely song. My biggest complaint is his constant repetition of "very very very very very." Although it does turn into an interesting choral bit in the end except he nearly ruins that idea by using vocal embellishments. C'mon everybody knows that Paul's vocals don't need studio trickery! I docked the song a notch for those two factors. Otherwise, the melody is interesting and memorable. The orchestration is particularly earthly and delicate here!

House of Wax 10/10

This song is something else, and I can't do anything but give this the highest points I possibly can. It's absolutely epic sounding and really nothing like McCartney's ever done before. It's such a HUGE song with some of the finest production on the album... This is not a pleasant song whatsoever. It's very gray and grand... like a big, ancient cathedral. The guitar solos are reminiscent of hair metal ballads, but that turned out to be somehow appropriate. Anyway, big kudos for this one.

The End of the End 9.5/10

This is one of the more memorable tunes from the album. It's a rather optimistic and pretty song, but it's disheartening to hear Paul sing about his death! This is utterly heartfelt and personal, and it's endearing for that reason.

Nod Your Head 9/10

Sort of reminiscent of "Helter Skelter" although not quite as vicious sounding. McCartney's still able to give those wild sounding vocal performances... It's pretty obvious he's in his 60s, but he's still has nice chops! The instrumentation is heavy with the dissonant sounds and chords, and it's pretty accessible. Yes, he usually has a knack for knowing how to make his music enjoyable to his audience...


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All reviews are written by Michael Lawrence.