Paul McCartney's "New" is a return to legendary form
Paul McCartney is a rock/pop/music legend. Period.
He was a Beatle and has created some of the best music of the past 50 years. However, in recent decades, his music, I would argue, has been kind of lackluster.
Instead of trying too hard to access or ignore his past, this time McCartney and his four producers (one of whom is the son of his Beatles-era and Tug of War producer George Martin) get it right. The songs nod to his Beatles-era output, but they don't try to reproduce it. Rather, he draws on his own past and mixes it with plenty of current sounds. Even better, he shies away from the overproduction that has been known to mar some of his solo records.
It's like he's being influenced by himself, as a younger artist would be. Here's the difference, though. He's not a younger artist. He's 71 years old (can you believe it!) and he was a Beatle. He is Paul McCartney: ace songwriter, fabulous bassist and multi-instrumentalist and melody master.
And can also totally rock out. The opening track, "Save Us" hits you with a blast of guitar and a vaguely Franz Ferdinand-esque sound. "Everybody Out There" and "Appreciate" do plenty of rocking, too, with the latter featuring some of that slide that showed up when McCartney created "Cut Me Some Slack" with Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana. "New," the single that's been out for a while is a perfect slice of Beatlesque pop that my daughter remembers from its inclusion in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2." She delighted in singing along with "wooo-oooh-ooh-oooh" of the chorus.
"On My Way to Work" is an odd combination of sadness infused with a hint of humor. "Road" is what I would best describe as a hybrid ballad -- parts of it remind me a bit of late 70s/early 80s Peter Gabriel, which is different, but very awesome territory, for Paul. The ebb and flow of this one is magnificent.
And then there's "Early Days." McCartney sings The Beatles' early history in this song, which features a much more ragged McCartney voice than you usually hear. He's allowing something less than perfect spill from his mouth and that, along with the lyrics, make this song quite beautiful -- it improves with every listen. In it, he addresses all those people who say they know The Beatles' history. He's not angry, but just matter-of-fact as he sings, "I don't see how they can remember/when they weren't where it was at," and a few lines later, he reminds, "I lived through those early days."
Only he and three other men really ever knew what those days were like and now only he and Ringo Starr remain. The ghosts of John Lennon and George Harrison fairly haunt this song, and that adds to the beauty, too.
In short, if you're a Paul McCartney or Beatles fan, you will adore this album. Adore it. Trust me on this. (The first album I ever bought for myself was a British import copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles looked at me from wall posters throughout my teen years in the 1980s -- yes the 80s, not the 60s -- and Paul was always my boy.) Trust me. You will love. I can't stop listening. And neither will you.
This is The Beatles back in those "Early Days" of the song. Listen and be transported to another time and place. Wonderful stuff.
Although Band on the Run is often considered the best of Paul's post-Beatles output, this 1976 live double album is a fabulous snapshot of his career, which had been reborn with Wings. Beatles songs are also part of this set. This also features what many fans feel is the best version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" from his first solo album, called McCartney.
This sometimes seems like the forgotten McCartney album to me. While it includes "Ebony & Ivory" (the first single I ever bought, but not a song that really wears well now), its standouts are the title track, Ballroom Dancing, the unbelievably amazing and underrated "Wanderlust" and his song addressing John Lennon's death, "Here Today."
"Wanderlust" from the Tug of War album. See if you think it's as amazing as I do. This version is from the film "Give My Regards to Broad Street," which is a terrible movie, but I love it, anyway. :) Recognize the drummer?
The single my daughter can't stop singing along with.
Another McCartney classic. Here it is, in all its glory, from the Wings Over America era.