Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full (2007)

After The Beatles broke up 60's musical god Paul McCartney formed the sometimes dreadful Wings with his late wife Linda who instantly and consistently proved to the world that she should have stuck to photographing musicians instead of performing with them. Then, after Wings ended, McCartney embarked on a very uneven solo career. Highly respectable albums such as Tug Of War were frequently followed by head scratching mediocrity such as Pipes Of Peace and Press To Play. The excellent Flowers In The Dirt was followed by the far less enjoyable Off The Ground.

Fortunately, over the last decade McCartney has regained much of the muse he lost after the split with his famous Liverpool band mates but, while he remains very prolific, he still has never come close to writing songs as great as "Yesterday," "Here, There, and Everywhere," "Eleanor Rigby," "Penny Lane," and many more. He can still write good songs but the memorable melodies and hummable hooks that got etched in your brain forever are missing from his recent work. Those very accessible tunes had a lot to do with what made The Beatles so special. You couldn't get their songs out of your head no matter how hard you tried.

For the most part Memory Almost Full, like its immediate predecessor Chaos and Creation In The Backyard, lacks the instantly addictive songs we've grown to love. These songs only stay with you while you're listening to them. When you turn your CD player off they are erased from your mind.

The album opener, "Dance Tonight," is the only exception to the above statement. It's catchy, rudimentary, mandolin riff will very much make you want to "dance tonight," but as cool as the song sounds, it's the type of simple knock off that McCartney can accidentally write in the shower.

The rest of the CD is far more serious. McCartney's songs are more reflective than they've been in many years and that is a very good thing. The best example is "The End Of The End" in which he again addresses aging, forty years after "When I'm Sixty-four." He sings:

"At the end of the end it's the start of a journey
To a much better place and this wasn't bad
So a much better place would have to be special
No need to be sad

On the day that I die I'd like jokes to be told
And stories of old to be rolled out like carpets
That children have played on and laid on while listening to stories of old."

McCartney may be singing about getting old but the writing on this disc is thematically fresh and bold and that makes up for all those missing melodies and easily recognizable tunes. The cute Beatle has become a rocker with a singer-songwriter's heart. His old songwriting partner would be proud.

2 comments:

  1. Good review, Charlie, I thought Paul did a pretty nice job with this record overall as well.

    -Pico

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  2. In yesterday's Washington Post, Steve Knopper included the following in his review of the new Nick Lowe CD, At My Age:

    If Paul McCartney had written "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" when he really was 64, rather than 24, it might have sounded something like Nick Lowe's "The Club."

    I definitely want to check in with both these guys and hear their latest work.

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