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This review is from: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (Audio CD)
Paul McCartney is the most successful songwriter in history, with more number one songs and albums (including the Beatles, obviously) than anyone else.* There's a very good reason for this -- he writes great music and melodies.
Unlike some, I have enjoyed almost everything McCartney has had to offer. They've ranged from not-too-good ("Wild Life," "Wings at the Speed of Sound") to good ("Off the Ground," "McCartney," "Back to the Egg") to great ("Tug of War," "Flowers in the Dirt," "Driving Rain") to classic ("Band on the Run," "Ram," "Flaming Pie"). This album ranks among the latter.
It's hard to say just how great this album is, but as I listened, I realized I was listening to an outstanding piece of art. It's a non-Wings, pure McCartney Beatles album, plain and simple. Many songs here could be on the "White Album" and "Abbey Road" -- most notably "English Tea" (sure, it's drivel, but sweet fluff that only McCartney can pen effortlessly), "Jenny Wren," (yeah, yeah, "Blackbird," blah blah) "Promise to You Girl," and "This Never Happened Before" (an excellent track reminiscent of "You Never Give Me Your Money" without copying it). Sure, "Friends to Go" sounds like a George Harrison song, much the way "Riding to Jaipur," off 2001's "Driving Rain," did. (Perhaps he's chanelling George). But the standout track on this unequivocal masterpiece is "Riding to Vanity Fair;" its slow, methodic melody, complimented by a plaintive toy glockenspiel, is a trance-inducing pleasure.
A great asset of this album is that its 13 tunes clock in at just over 40 minutes, which is rare in this day (with the "hidden" track(s) it's still only about 46 minutes). THANK YOU!!! Albums have gotten way too long these days. And the songs are an average 3 minutes apiece -- another nice touch, since songs have also gotten too bloated lately (most of the Beatles' songs were between 2 1/2 and 3 minutes long).
The only complaints I have is that the opening of "Anyway" sounds like either "People Get Ready" or the opening of "Under the Bridge," depending on how you hear it. McCartney usually never sounds like anybody but himself or Beatles. But the song transforms and redeems itself, becoming one of the most heart-wrenching and moving songs on the album.
Some people ask why an artist McCartney's age would even bother; others say that artists his age, such as the Rolling Stones, should just retire. That's like telling a painter at age 65 that he or she is no longer allowed to paint! McCartney made it clear in a recent interview that he enjoys recording -- it's his hobby. He doesn't need the money, but he pours his heart into it, which should let you know that it's authentic.
We should be incredibly thankful that in these troubled times this wonderful, beautiful man has blessed us with brand new, soul-soothing music to make us smile as he always has. Pray he will continue to do so.
Thank you, Sir Paul McCartney.
*Guinness Book of World Records, Billboard