Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Musical "MAC ATTACK"...
Yep, Macca's new album has hit the streets...

...and I just got my copy, pre-ordered over Ebay. Not the edition Starbuck's is selling at its coffee shops, either; this one's the deluxe edition which features three bonus songs, plus Paul McCartney talking about the songs that ended up on his newest album, the title of which is "Memory Almost Full"...
Paul McCartney's plush new album proves he's still rockin'. And not in a chair, either.
Actually, for a 65-year-old guy, Paul McCartney is sounding pretty doggone good. His voice is getting a bit delicate and wobbly when he hits the high notes, but, hey, that's the effect 'age' has on most vocalists. He's still musically resourceful, although this is his second album in a row to rely on an 'outside' producer. Those in the know say that Paul is trying to "customize" his sound for the young adults of today, who've grown up on synthesized electronica. So what he appears to be doing here, is fitting in his "old school" style of composition with "new school" record production techniques. Is Paul selling out here? I don't know. Although the production sounds a bit strange to me, his songs and artistry (barely) win the battle. My only real problem with the album is the production. Everything has a sort of "ghostly dark edge" to it; the drums clang away, his voice has a more "flat" presence, and any semblance of "depth" is muted; no natural acoustics on this new album at all. Nothing echoes; so in a way, the album represents a warped, muted view of reality. My verdict? I think it's a fine album, although I do have my reservations about it.
So far, the critics are saying that Paul has thrown in lyrical comments on the various things that have happened in his life, and yes, I can see where that applies. Song topics include reflections on his younger days, allusions to both Linda and Heather (his gold-digging second wife), and even reflections on his own mortality, as he nears the end of that long and winding road. But, the first song on the album is the last one he recorded for it; a song that his little daughter liked so much, that he put it on the album for her, and it's a lyrically simple piece about coming on over to his place to dance. And, as is par for the course with McCartney, on this album, he rocks; he sings soft ballads, he's constructed full-blown emotional pieces, and he's filled them all with quite cryptic lyrics. So, the songs have their charm, even if the production tends to subdue the music on the album. It is possible that younger people will see absolutely nothing wrong with the production on this album. If you compare the sound of his 1995 "Flaming Pie" with the newest album, you'll see what I mean about differences in production. "Flaming Pie" sounds so much more alive. By the way, "Flaming Pie" is so good, it's almost scary.
I've listened to Macca's newest album three times now. ("Macca" is fanspeak for McCartney.) At first, the production of the album really, really alienated me. It features the same clanging, morose production that could be found on his previous two albums, "Driving Rain" and "Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard". I personally think Paul should have had longtime producer George Martin (who produced The Beatles) produce this newest effort. Martin also produced McCartney's 1982 album, "Tug of War", and it had a clear, crisp, deep sound, not the shallow-sort of audio deluge that can be heard on "Memory Almost Full". George Martin always knew how to get the best out of Paul McCartney. The production on "Memory Almost Full" makes the instruments as well as the singer, sound almost artificial. But, enough of the old Paul gets through, and after repeated listenings, the album does grow on me. This is probably as good as the "'07" version of Paul McCartney can sound. One reason he left Capitol Records and signed up with the Starbucks' Coffee label was because he wanted to reach a younger, more current market. That's okay, but hey, Paul, don't forget us longtime fans either, without whom you'd be a one-hit wonder performing your hit song 40 years later on Public TV fundraising programs.
One final observation...Paul's album, "Driving Rain", came out in 2001. Then, in 2005, "Chaos and Creation" came out. A four-year gap there. Well, 2007 ain't quite half-over yet, and, blam, another album! And it only took a year and a half! Paul's always been prolific, but this time around, he sure sped up production on the ol' musical assembly line. Okay, well, why did Paul come out with a new album so (relatively) soon? Well, let's see...maybe a balloon payment's due on his mansion...maybe the evil "Taxman" (whom George Harrison wrote about) has upped his percentage intake of McCartney's earnings (England has a horrific tax on people in show biz), and of course, Macca has a "brewing" situation with the most difficult woman in the universe, Heather...so in a way, it is only fitting that he's recording on the Starbucks' COFFEE label...
Whatever the motivation, it's nice to hear some new McCartney music. Next up on the horizon? Remember when the Beatles got together in the mid-'9os, and put their voices and instruments on old John Lennon tapes? Well, there's one more old John Lennon tape which, rumor has it, McCartney, Harrison and Starr worked on, but it was never finished, and reportedly Macca plans on finishing it soon. A new Beatles record in 2007? Gosh, one can hope...


Blogger Phil said...

Last week I spent a small fortune downloading all of Paul's newly remastered solo work from iTunes, the very day it was made available. I don't know why... I had most of it already in CD form. But the remastering has made much of it sound new and fresh. I'm rediscovering albums that I have overlooked through the years, like London Town and Red Rose Speedway. One thing I'm sure of, I will never tire of his music.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Now, I'm not advocating music piracy or anything, but it'd be awesome if somehow this album sort of - well - could hit my mailbox and i could jam out to it. Like from Santa Claus or something.

P.S. ~ I have an awesome beatles cover CD (made by Phil, actually) that I'd be willing to trade.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Idaho Escapee said...

Hey, Phil, I kinda think "Red Rose Speedway" is so-so, but I've long thot "London Town" is just a really great record. It has a mood, a 'feel' to it.

Sam, I don't know how to send music over the 'net. And, I also have that Beatles Cover Cd that Phil made. Phil's the real music pirate!

3:27 AM  

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