My Record Collection 148

Paul McCartney 1990 onwards.   Paul then went on the first of many huge world tours since Wings, featuring a mix of solo, Wings and Beatles songs.  He now had a tight backing band and decided to record his next album with the band in very few takes ‘live in the studio’ – just as The Beatles had done on their first few albums.  The songs were rehearsed and then into the studio and recorded, several as a single take. The resulting album Off The Ground (1993) has a rawer, more natural and cohesive sound.    But I think the songs themselves are just a bit weak really, or maybe the whole set is just a tad boring being the same band all the way through.  Saying that ‘Hope Of Deliverance’ and ‘Mistress and Maid’ are not too bad.  Much better was Paul’s 1997 offering Flaming Pie.  A much more considered album; Paul now taking a few years between releases meant the songs were much better too.  My favourites off this very good album are ‘The Song We Were Singing’, ‘Young Boy’, ‘Calico Skies’ and ‘Beautiful Night’ – but it could have been several others.  Paul now seems far more relaxed and not chasing hits anymore.  In fact, he was releasing other stuff too; some experimental stuff under the Fireman pseudonym, and some classical stuff (with the help of a few others), the only one I have is 1999’s Working Classical – which is mostly shortish pieces, many of them arrangements of well-known McCartney songs.   Not really mon tasse du the, but pleasant enough; I still found myself humming along to a couple of songs Paul had recorded and now arranged as instrumentals.  In 1999 Paul released his second covers album; again, a group of friends and quick takes of old Fifties numbers and three self-penned songs.  The title Run Devil Run was from a sign in a Southern drugstore advertising some medication – but works well with these songs.   Quite a good album really; it sounds as if Paul is really having a great time.  I like the new song ‘Run Devil Run’ which sounds like something the Beatles might have knocked up in rehearsals.    I also like ‘Movie Magg’ and ‘Cocotte’.  A nice album but hardly essential.  Which cannot be said for Driving Rain (2001), Which Is Paul Back on (almost) his best form again.  And yet it sold poorly and is still one of his poorest albums in terms of sales.  Recorded quickly it feels as if some of the songs needed a bit more work, and some are really quite rocky and one struggles to find the melodies for which Paul was renowned.  Saying that it is still a strong album – best are ‘From A Lover To A Friend’, ‘Riding Into Jaipur’ and ‘Rinse The Raindrops’ (a long track but quite experimental).  Paul seemed to be endlessly touring in this new century and I saw him twice – he still found time to write and record new stuff however, in 2005 he released Chaos and Creation in The Backyard’    A quite different album than Driving Rain – much gentler and more lyrical – almost like something he might have presented 40 years earlier for the Beatles to have considered recording.  Most of the instruments are Paul with very little full band arrangements, which has allowed his voice to dominate the songs; no bad thing at all.  So, an excellent album, if somewhat older in style – I like the single ‘Jenny Wren’ and ‘Fine Line’, but, if anything, there are too many songs at 13 to really appreciate them (mind you the early Beatles albums had 14 songs) some are just too long really – a fault of technology as CDs could now be 70 or more minutes long.  I also like ‘Riding To Vanity Fair’ and ‘A Certain Softness’.  Next came a slight departure Memory Almost Full (2007) – what a great title.  Paul released this on Starbucks and it was sold mainly in their stores.  It actually sold pretty well and is quite a good album.  Similar in style to Chaos and a bit whimsical at times, as Paul looks back on a full life.  Best songs are ‘Mr. Bellamy’, ‘Vintage Clothes’ and ‘The End of the End’.  5 years later (and the time seemed to be slipping between releases) was a covers album of soft late-night Jazz numbers.  Kisses On The Bottom, was  Paul’s third covers album and probably the best.  His voice really suits the laid-back jazzy arrangements and is a delight to listen to, though nothing really stands out as brilliant.  In 2013 (0nly a year later) Paul released NEW, another attempt to be relevant I suspect.  I wasn’t that fond of it at first, but it has begun to grow on me.  4 new producers were involved and a couple of the tracks improvised in the studio.  Basically, McCartney cannot produce rubbish, but his past standards, even solo, are so high that it must get harder with each new record to keep excelling.  Not a bd record, but still nothing really jumps out at me and makes me go Wow.  Best are ‘On My Way To Work’, ‘Looking At Her’ and the hidden track –   Much better in my humble opinion was Egypt Station (2018); the whole album just seems to flow.   Mr. McCartney seems to be improving with age; maybe he isn’t so desperately trying to be relevant and popular, and simply enjoying making good music.  One or two tracks are a bit experimental and one or two a tad sentimental (as always) but overall an excellent listen.  Best are ‘People Want Peace’. ‘Hand In Hand’ and ‘Fuh You’.  Then, to everyone’s surprise, during lcokdown itself Paul has pulled another amazing bunny from his hat with McCartney 3.  Self-written, sung and played and produced, it is simply brilliant – up there with the best he has ever achieved.  Every song seems relevant and works as part of the whole.  A very rhythmic record really but the playing is great, as is the voice and production.  An immaculate conception – best tracks being – ‘Pretty Boys’, ‘Deep Deep feeling’ and ‘When Winter Comes’. 

And so far that is it, though we know barring some unforeseen disaster there will surely be more.