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gille liath (US of K)

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Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now
Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now
by Paul McCartney
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars coming down fast, I'm miles above you, 22 July 2014
This is about Paul, from the Paul camp, but not *by* him - let's be clear about that. It's funny actually, when it claims to be based on 'hundreds of hours of interviews', the things Barry Miles didn't think to ask him about - eg his ideas on the Let It Be sessions seem to be based solely on having watched the film. Nor is it anti-John. It's anti-Yoko, perhaps, but I think no less of it for that. It would be wrong to blame her for the breakup; the responsibility was really John's, as he eventually acknowledged, and it was he that drew her (albeit without any evident reluctance on her part) into the band's space. Still, it was his band to mess up if he wanted, not hers. The role she played was obtuse, vain and insensitive at best. The idea that Lennon hired the unscrupulous and divisive Allen Klein just because he had promised her a New York exhibition - which the Beatles ended up paying for - is enough to make you fume.

However, mentions of her are few. This isn't a book of gossip; it's largely about the music, and as such makes a horses-mouth companion to Revolution In The Head (a book Miles quotes with approval). Only at the end does the book, like the group, get tangled up with Klein And All That. What comes through is that McCartney's chief fault was to remain committed to the Beatles when the others no longer were. Yet still, after all these years, he doesn't appear to recognise that he wanted two incompatible things: to remain in a group of democratic equals, and to do things his own way. By insisting too much on the latter, he was effectively making the same choice as the others - to be master of his own ship - and unwittingly helping to break the group up.

It doesn't delve all that deeply. The man himself refers to the 'idiot McCartney myth', and it has to be said that it's partly his own fault for hanging on to his larky Beatle persona, and often obscuring the meaning of his songs (especially compared to Lennon's neon-lit shopfront). As he says, when on dangerous ground 'a veiling takes place' so that the subject is not too obvious. One shock is the description of Helter Skelter, the group's heaviest song and precursor of grunge, as being about 'the demise, the fall of the Roman Empire'. That carries the startling implication that 'you' in the song might be John, or all the Beatles. Actually it makes good sense: do they want to be in the band or not? But, there and elsewhere, Miles doesn't follow up the hint.

Does it claim more for McCartney than is his due? No-one can say for sure, because no-one else knows just how much of each Lennon-McCartney song was contributed by him. You do wonder at times. In one case, where he works on John's idea, it's 'but the difficult thing is to make more of it'; but then where John works on his idea it's 'but it was all basically there'. On the other hand he gives John credit on a lot of songs where you might not have expected it, eg for contributions to Birthday, Here, There & Everywhere and Drive My Car.

But you know what, I don't really care if he does overstate his case slightly in places. Basically the point of this book is that, as McCartney says, 'it really did pan out about equal'. If Paul feels that fact has been insufficiently recognised over the years, certainly by the muso world, he has a point.

It's true there's too much about Swinging London, man, probably because the author was part of the scene (he confusingly refers to himself in the third person as 'Miles'). It's also true that it's sometimes a bit cavalier over the details; Paul surely can't think that Revolution 1 was 'the hottest recording we ever made'? Someone must be getting confused with the Single version. And it's a shame that there's virtually no coverage of McCartney's post-Beatles work, other than his experiments in other mediums (painting, classical etc). The book ends movingly with his eulogy for Linda, who had then died recently.

Nothing will convince me, though, that 'the movement you need is on your shoulder' is a great line...

Hymns for the Angels - A Service of Best-loved Traditional Catholic Hymns, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
Hymns for the Angels - A Service of Best-loved Traditional Catholic Hymns, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars captive no more, 19 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The naivety of this is quite touching. It's like a radio broadcast of a small church service, as if someone simply turned up with a microphone: the singing and playing are very much what you'd expect in an average parish church, complete with uncertainty over the Latin pieces. Recording quality is also pretty average, with a ssurpluss of ssibilantss; Songs of Praise it ain't. The really unfortunate thing though is that the celebrant - unable, like ministers of all kinds, to resist a captive audience - indulges in a little prefatory waffle before each hymn, and these have been included as part of each track (so you can't even skip them). Some background info in the booklet might have been nice, but not as part of the audio.

It's frustrating because the only other release I can find with these old Catholic hymns, Faith of Our Fathers, is mostly classical soloists - not the thing at all. It must be worth somebody's while, with all the hymn CDs there are out there, to get together a more professional (or at least more practiced) choir and make a better-quality recording of these beautiful songs. Somebody?

Choba B CCCP
Choba B CCCP
Offered by \/\/ WORLD WIDE MEDIA MARKET /\/\
Price: £28.74

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars he's crackin' up, 13 July 2014
This review is from: Choba B CCCP (Audio CD)
Gorbachev said that the Beatles made an important contribution to ending the Cold War. It may have been just random inappropriateness in the first place, but Back In The USSR was a signal that we know the Russians are people too. Having made the connection, McCartney has been at some pains to keep it up over the years; this album is one product of it. Was it also a chance for him to revisit old favourites without the pressure of a big Western release?

It's okay, but it raises a shocking question: is rock'n'roll boring? If the Beatles hadn't come along to relieve its three-chord monotony, maybe it would have died off by the mid-60s as industry folk expected (mind you, monotony hasn't stood in the way of modern Dance music). The one thing it had going for it was its youthful newness; here, 30 years later, it is stale. It must be difficult to play with Paul McCartney and be more than a stage puppet but whatever the reason - diffidence, middle age, rushed production, or just because it was the 80s - this version of Kansas City doesn't compare with the Beatles'. That's Alright Mama doesn't compare with Elvis' epoch-making record, and although McCartney is the only singer ever to take on Little Richard's material with any success Lucille doesn't do it either. Summertime I have always hated, whoever sings it (and most people do). The best numbers are those which are a little mellower anyway, like Ain't That A Shame and Midnight Special.

If you heard these as a band playing down the pub you'd enjoy it, but it isn't a great album by any stretch.

Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce Extra Hot ( 320g x 6 x 1 )
Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce Extra Hot ( 320g x 6 x 1 )
Offered by Cooking Marvellous
Price: £19.99

2.0 out of 5 stars reggae reggae rubbish, 5 July 2014
Look past the Reggae Reggae hype, what you have here is a sauce whose first three ingredients are water, onion and vinegar, with chillis only 6%. It really doesn't have any flavour, only heat - and not too much even of that (it's 'extra hot' only by the standards of a Findus crispy housewife).

I guess people don't actually taste it - they only taste the publicity.

Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars it's good!, 2 July 2014
This review is from: Ram (Audio CD)
When the journos said it was inconsequential, they obviously weren't listening properly...surprise surprise. There's some uncertainty of direction, maybe, but actually there's plenty of consequence: songs with real emotional depth about the end of the Beatles and about finding the love of your life, mirroring Lennon's at the same time - only it isn't all laid out with sloganising remedial-class obviousness, and it's a lot more musical. You have to listen, you have to think - eg 'Paul Ramon' was his early stage name; Ram On is a sort of Hey Jude to himself, 'give your heart to somebody, soon, right away'.

Back Seat, despite its apparent teen subject (and slightly overblown production), is in its own way a shift of perspective as significant as Lennon's "GOD". It doesn't cajole, like other people's songs on the same theme; it doesn't need to, because suddenly McCartney is not on the make. The Girl is no longer just an object, 'her' or 'you'; it's *we*, 'we believe that we can't be wrong'. Lennon and the critics who saw this line as part of the Beatles' war of words were, in my opinion, reading too much into it - or too little - and failing to listen to the song as a whole. It's clearly a celebration, not an accusation. Musically it resembles the end of Abbey Road, and feels similarly far-reaching: the nation's heartthrob has grown up although (the opposite of Lennon) he's trying not to sound like it. Whether 'make it to Mexico City' is a euphemism, I couldn't say...

Lennon may have had a slight dose of the crazies about that one, but that's not to say there aren't lines elsewhere with him and the others in mind. McCartney has admitted to a couple in the opening number, but surely there are others - 'sharing party lines', ouch Yoko! I feel certain that Three Legs is about the group, although the message is heavily coded (which, from him, is suspicious in itself) - only the sad 'when I thought you was my friend' comes through clearly. It was of course Lennon who had first made the partnership a subject for his songs, and it's funny - considering that he professed to think this album bland - that he was so stung by McCartney's slights real and imagined, reacting with the genuinely vitriolic How Do You Sleep.

Despite the critical panning, the album's music must have made an impression too. Among other things, here you find the germs (that is probably the right word) of Glam Rock, and Back Seat has the kind of soaring guitar climax that would become Brian May's trademark. But McCartney doesn't allow himself to be pinned down; every song here has its own individual sound whether it's ukulele and electric piano (Ram On), fuzzy rock (Smile Away), acoustic blues (Three Legs), Beach Boys polyphony (Dear Boy), reverb rock'n'roll (Eat At Home) or a big orchestral production (Back Seat). I doubt if anybody else has ever produced such a range of different vocal timbres on one album, including the cod 'radio' voices of Uncle Albert - if he got royalties for that much-copied idea he'd be even richer than he already is. Despite this wardrobe of styles it all fits together coherently as an album, unlike Revolver say (however Revolver is still better, because the individual numbers are so good).

It would seem that Ram's relative failure decided McCartney in favour of more obvious, crowd-pleasing material. Wings had their moments, but they were a compromise between McCartney's pop / avant garde instincts and the stadium rock fashionable at the time. A few years later, the 'Rockestra' and lyric references to Jimmy Page suggest that he hankered to be in Led Zeppelin. He might have loved that as a performer, but as a songwriter the style didn't suit him and he got caught between two stools. So this is the hinge on which his career turns; the last chance to hear him still at the height of his powers, still with all the inventive confidence of a Beatle. By the time we get to the single Another Day, here as a bonus track, it already feels like fully fledged 'Paul McCartney'.

John wanted to be revered, Paul wanted to fill stadiums. Each achieved what he wanted but it's a shame that, in the process, the one had to bury his fun side and the other make himself look - superficially - superficial. Maybe one day they'll both be seen clearly and whole.

So, hands up southern softies: who knows what a butter pie is?

Danny - The Champion Of The World [DVD] [2005]
Danny - The Champion Of The World [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Irons
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £23.16

3.0 out of 5 stars they're never as good as the book, and this isn't either, 28 Jun. 2014
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Jeremy Irons as a Working-Class Hero? The very words are ludicrous, and the choice of him for the lead here is madness (even if he did make it himself); the effete creepiness he brings willy-nilly to every role, slight but inescapable, taints the whole thing. His son Samuel as Danny, though wisely not asked to do too much, is frankly a bit gormless - I don't think he's been heard from again, and perhaps it's no surprise.

Apart from the casting, this is okay but it needed more pizazz - the touch of someone like Danny Boyle as director, or the glow with which Spielberg suffused War Horse. Though a real-world story, the book is full of the magic aura of childhood and the bond between father and son; this is a typical solid but low-key British TV movie, and completely fails to capture that energy. The characterisation of pheasant shooting as an occupation of 'rich idiots' desperate to kill something, and pheasants as hapless half-tame shotgun fodder, is spot-on - I live nextdoor to a 'shoot' and I know - but what's so much better about poaching them?

One serious technical fault is that the dialogue is very, very quiet; if you try to watch this with kids who may, perhaps, not sit in impeccable silence, you will not be able to hear what is being said - unless you want to be deafened by the shooting scenes. I had to laugh when the subtitles said '[Whispers...]'. Inaudible drama was not invented, it seems, with Jamaica Inn.

If you haven't already, get the book - preferably the original edition with Jill Bennett's illustrations (quick, before it is made illegal to buy books illustrated by anyone other than Quentin Blake).

Price: £7.23

3.0 out of 5 stars not their best, 24 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Bookends (Audio CD)
You can analyse an album's tracks individually, I guess, or you can try to experience it as a whole - as, with people like Simon & Garfunkel, was surely intended. But either way, this isn't as good as Bridge Over Troubled Water (it's more on a level with Sound of Silence). What you have here is one outstanding song - America - some other good ones, a couple that are not so good, and a bit of wittering from New York pensioners (they sound slightly demented, actually, though I don't suppose that was the intention).

I don't really get the supposed concept of the first half; I think maybe Paul Simon just happened to have a song mentioning childhood, and another about old age, and put them at either end of a side - everybody was doing it. As a whole it simply doesn't match the vibe of the later album, which is an adventure in recording and one of the true greats.

Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Price: £5.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars rock by committee, 23 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
Nobody can deny their influence; echoes of this music can be heard in everyone from Zeppelin and the Stones to Van Morrison and Dexy's Midnight Runners. So why are The Band nowhere near as well known as any of those? Maybe it's because when you take the ego and posing out of rock, you risk taking the inspiration out too. If the Revolution ever comes, this is how rock will be afterwards: generic, faceless, devoid of any element of exploration, idealism or threat; the music of men who are skilled craftsmen, but not artists.

It's ironic that the booklet claims they were the first to produce music for listening rather than dancing (a nonsense anyway), because actually this is a definite step away from meaning and towards 'feel'. The vocals are low in the mix, and I'd defy even ardent Band fans to tell me what half these numbers are about - you get the impression that it just doesn't matter. Some are 'history book' songs, such as are the stock in trade of Iron Maiden, which is usually a dead giveaway that a songwriter has nothing personal to say; it even turns out that hippie anthem The Weight is actually about resentment at having to do a friend a favour. As the late Rik Mayall said, Woo-oodstock!

What The Band invented was not rock per se but AOR: pleasant, undemanding background music, whether for dancing or otherwise, produced by and for contented middle-aged folk. This album is very listenable, enjoyable enough, but it certainly doesn't set the pulse racing.

Pet Sounds
Pet Sounds
Price: £3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars beach boys feed goats, 20 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Pet Sounds (Audio CD)
Purely as sound, this lives up to its reputation as one of pop/rock's most notable works. The problem with it is, there's a lack of energy and a complete absence of edge. Pet Sounds feels like an essentially passive, inert record; so much so that co-opted single Sloop John B, a pretty staid track by most standards (I remember our parish priest singing it 30 years ago at an old folks' tea party), stands out as a much needed lively-up.

The lyrics strike the same tone: there's nothing that might have given Elvis or Lyndon B Johnson any concern about what the kids were listening to. Though it would be a bit shallow to dismiss songs like Wouldn't It Be Nice as pre-sexual-revolution irrelevancies - surely people can still relate to young lovers wanting to be together 'in a world where we belong' - the fact remains that they fix the group in a childlike milieu where there is no power and no responsibility, reacting rather than causing reaction. By Rubber Soul, the Beatles already had their eyes on changing the world; Brian Wilson looked at it and threw up his hands saying 'I'm not made for these times'. I'm not sure what times he thought he was made for.

So yes, this album influenced Sergeant Pepper, but the very fact that nobody can mention it without telling you that suggests it struggles to stand on its own merits. Actually the Beatles had started exploring classical influences anyway - this just gave them an added push - but, because they treated their songs as band performances first and foremost, they were able to incorporate those influences without losing the vitality of rock'n'roll. Pet Sounds, on the other hand, eventually becomes a drag.

Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour
Price: £9.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars odds and ends, 17 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Magical Mystery Tour (Audio CD)
The actual MMT tracks (the first six) see the Beatles at their lowest ebb creatively, spaced out and knackered after Sergeant Pepper, and inclined to let any old thing pass - especially Harrison, hacked off with the group and at being under contract to Northern Songs. His Blue Jay Way is a poor effort, a boring song about being bored (when he used to complain about not getting enough songs onto the albums, he maybe forgot that some of those which did get on were less than magical). Most of the others are also below par; I Am The Walrus is a classic, I guess, but not a favourite of mine. The larky 'performance' (ie mime) in the film belies the fact that nobody else - except perhaps Nirvana - has been anything like this caustic about their own audience.

Of the other tracks, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields belong to the Sgt Pepper sessions; the others are okay post-Pepper singles, pleasant enough but not their best work. Not until the following year would they get off the acid and begin to raise their standards again - though tensions would rise along with them.

As a whole, it can't be compared to the classic Beatles albums because it simply isn't an album; it's an EP, mediocre by their standards, with some other oddments stuck on. Personally I think the film is, if anything, probably better than the music and more influential than people realise - eg I'm pretty sure the young Pythons watched it with interest.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2014 8:43 PM BST

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