This album exceeds my wildest expectations. I'm giving it 5 stars not because it's on the level of The Beatles' masterpieces or McCartney's extraordinary albums like Ram and Band on the Run. But boy is it close. I don't like to judge older artists against their peak years of creativity and popular success, but even if I look at this in terms of the albums he's made since his creative resurgence in the late '90s, there's a good argument that this is the best of the lot, and probably even his best since 1982's Tug of War. Flaming Pie kicked off a latter day run of amazing albums in 1997, and only Kisses on the Bottom struck me as a bit of a letdown (even if it is a pleasant lark for the occasional listen). It's hard for me to pick a favorite from that run of albums, as all of them have such great highlights while working great as complete albums with their own identities. What's so striking after all this time is how much energy McCartney brings to his music after all this time. Energy and inspiration. And that's how I'd describe Egypt Station.
Paul McCartney operates on a different level than any other artist out there. His life and experiences are incomprehensible to us. He could just kick back and bask in the glow of his past achievements, yet he has such a love of music and performance that he remains driven not just to tour (and put on a great show) but to record new music. And this isn't filler. All future McCartney compilations need to make room for "Come on to Me."
Professional reviewers will no doubt discuss "Fuh You" and talk about how it takes "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" to a not-so-subtle extreme that may be ill-advised for a very family-friendly, generation-bridging artist. But you know what? The song rocks, and it has a fantastic melody. Bottom line: it works.
Professional reviewers will no doubt talk about the anti-Trump screed "Despite Repeated Warnings." McCartney gets more specifically political than we've seen in the past. He's been up front about his vegetarianism, the need for Love, his love of freedom in the face of terrorist threat. But this time he's laying it out there: We've got a very specific problem, and it's going to take some real effort to right the ship. It's a great song with clear, memorable imagery and a cool, disjointed feel.
Professional reviewers will no doubt compare the closing song "Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link" to other McCartney song suites and mash-ups. And this will come out favorably. Hardly a throwback to an old strategy, it's a continuation of something he started way back when, and it's still a great way to sum up what's come before and give closure to a wonderful musical journey.
It's a musical journey with a lot that could drag it down. Backwards guitars, exotic rhythms, references to McCartney's life, both past and present. There's a lot that could make this feel derivative or burdened by all that's come before. Yet the album has incredible forward momentum, and let's not forget, as songs like "Fuh You" remind us, McCartney can be a funny, silly guy. Genius and silliness can work very well in the right proportions.
Egypt Station is a concept album, and it's a set of completely individual songs. It's a portrait of an artist as an old man (albeit one with a libido and penchant for rocking out), and it could very well have been given the label of McCartney III (though I think that best fits with his Firemen album, Electric Arguments) or perhaps Ram II. I love the mix of slower songs, folky guitar strumming numbers, danceable rhythmic numbers, and absolute get-out-of-your-seat celebratory rock and roll. "Come on to Me" is the best, I think, but "Who Cares" "Back in Brazil," and "Caesar Rock" are outstanding, too. This is an album, though, where on any given day I might be more excited about any one of the songs, and I'm happy with whatever is playing at the moment because the successes of the individual songs work even more brilliantly when taken as a whole.
At this point, any new Paul McCartney could end up being his final statement. I hope very much that McCartney will continue to defy expectations and keep making great music for years to come. I'd love to write a review someday that says "Who knew when he was 76 that he was still in the middle of his prime?"
And I need to point this out: McCartney's voice sounds great. The music is tight, the production flawless, and at the center of it all is the voice we've known for all these years. Older, yes, but present, strong, inspired, and full of heart and soul.
- Release Date:
- Label: Capitol Records (US1A)
- Copyright: ℗ Capitol Records; 2018 MPL Communications Inc/Ltd, under exclusive license to UMG Recordings, Inc. © 2018 MPL Communications Inc/Ltd, under exclusive license to UMG Recordings, Inc.
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- Total Length: 57:18
- ASIN: B07DSCDBBB
- Customer Reviews: 1,366 customer ratings
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- #2758 in Rock (Albums)