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A. Sweeney "I don't care what you call me" (Brighton, East Sussex)
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We Need Medicine (Amazon Exclusive Signed Version)
We Need Medicine (Amazon Exclusive Signed Version)
Price: 9.44

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take the medicine!, 19 Nov 2013
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After a five year hiatus, The Fratellis are back and sounding as irresistible as ever. For those of us who kept up to date with Jon's solo album and the Codeine Velvet Club album (both of which are excellent), it almost feels as if they haven't been away, but it's certainly good to have the original band back together and their third album is a continuation of their upbeat, feel-good, high-energy indie rock, which still contains more hooks than you can shake the proverbial stick at. The opening track, "Halloween Blues" gets the album off to a decent start, but it is when the immensely catchy second track, "This Old Ghost Town" kicks in does "We Need Medicine" really start to show its brilliance. "She's Not Gone But She's Leaving" has a fantastic minor key groove and is one of those instantly likeable compositions that you're singing along to before the end of the song on the first listen. "Jeannie Nitro" is another one of my favourites from the album, as is the title track which, despite the simplicity of the melody and chord sequence, is just an absolute joy to listen to.

"We Need Medicine" doesn't re-invent the band and certainly doesn't feature any massive change in direction or sound, but neither is it tired nor clichéd. It's certainly not a more "mature sound" either. Simply put, it is another album's worth of well-written, uncomplicated, highly enjoyable songs which makes it a third successive terrific Fratellis album... and releasing three very good albums in a row, including a world-beating début, is an achievement not to be downplayed or sneezed at. It almost goes without saying that this isn't a better album than "Costello Music", but that was an album that captured something special at that time and nothing they release is probably ever going to recapture that, but there are a few truly excellent songs on "We Need Medicine" which could have slotted comfortably onto their first album and, thankfully, the rest of the album isn't half bad either. All-in-all there's plenty here to make this a more than worthy purchase and to remind the world that the Fratellis are a lot more than just a couple of great singles from a few years ago, they're actually a rather great band, period.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2013 4:56 PM GMT


Wise Up Ghost
Wise Up Ghost
Price: 17.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary Costello, 18 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Wise Up Ghost (Audio CD)
I'm an enthusiastic admirer of Elvis Costello's work. So much so, that I went to six of his "Spectacular Spinning Songbook" shows this year and have all of his albums, even the more obscure stuff, so I was looking forward to this collaboration with The Roots immensely, especially given some of the extremely positive reviews. However, after owning this album for a while and giving it many, many plays, I have to conclude that it's not quite as brilliant as some critics have painted it and that it's simply a very good piece of work, rather than one of his very best. Of course, it's a highly listenable affair, with crisp beats, funky bass-lines, brass punctuation and impassioned performances from all involved. Costello himself is almost rapping his biting lyrics and The Roots' input and arrangements certainly give this project a different feel to anything he has ever released before, so it's most definitely interesting and for Costello, a man of many musical guises, to come up with something so different at this stage in his career is no small achievement. In addition, one of the small pleasures listening to this album for someone familiar with his back catalogue is to name the original songs where many of the lyrics have been lifted from and adapted.

There are a few choice cuts from "Wise Up Ghost". "Refuse To Be Saved" (featuring lyrics from "Invasion Hit Parade" from "Mighty Like A Rose") is an immense, high-energy track which ends with a maelstrom of orchestral instruments augmenting the sparse beats and brass riffs, "Tripwire", a lovely near re-working of "Satellite" (from "Spike"), is a rare delicate and tender moment in an otherwise upbeat bunch of compositions and "Viceroy's Row" has a near-hypnotic hook and features one of the more prominent melodies on the album as well as a beautiful disjointed piano on the penultimate verse. The title track, which samples "Can You Be True?" from the underrated "North" to great effect is also one of the very best things on offer here and my last pick of the album is "If I Could Believe", a beautiful hymn-like composition featuring a fragile, but passionate, Elvis vocal, which is perhaps the only track on here that sounds like a conventional Costello cut, so much so that it almost feels like it's a little out of place on this album.

I can't quite explain why "Wise Up Ghost" doesn't appeal to me as much as it possibly should. It's a pleasurable record to listen to, I enjoy the creativity of the rhythms and arrangements and I certainly appreciate the fact that Elvis has done something this different, but it doesn't really connect with me on an emotional level, the way his music normally does. There is a general lack of melody on "Wise Up Ghost" too and, as Costello is generally a master of a beguiling, intricate melody, the whole album feels slightly one-dimensional without many memorable melody lines in attendance here. Also, although there aren't many direct lifts from Elvis' formidable catalogue of songs, using lyrics that he has penned previously and adapting them takes away a little bit of originality and, if anything, makes me want to hear the originals rather than getting fully into these new tracks. By the standards of the majority of today's music, this is a really good album. By the high standards that Elvis himself has set over the years, it doesn't quite hit the mark... but, either way, it's an interesting, enjoyable album which is well worth investigating and may introduce Elvis to an entirely new market, which can't be a bad thing.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2013 6:26 PM GMT


The Last Ship [Amazon Exclusive Super Deluxe Edition]
The Last Ship [Amazon Exclusive Super Deluxe Edition]
Price: 14.93

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Show some respect!, 18 Nov 2013
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Anyone who approaches this album wanting something similar to The Police or Sting at his most mainstream should probably stop looking at this item now and go and replay their favourite albums instead. However, if you are open minded for something different from Sting (and let's face it, the last few albums have all been "something different" and I would forgive anyone for losing patience with Mr. Sumner) and have a liking for either folk or theatrical music, then you may find much to please you here. "The Last Ship", for me, is the best piece of work that Sting has released for a couple of decades. It is very much a concept album, based on the Tyneside shipbuilding industry and the characters who populated it. Musically, it's generally quite a gentle album, but exceedingly rich with melody, interesting arrangements and instrumentation. Lyrically, it's outstanding; each track is musical storytelling at its finest and it's intelligent enough to give the listener food for thought yet accessible enough to recognise and empathise with the songs that tug at the emotional heartstrings for differing reasons.

Nearly everything on "The Last Ship" is superb and there are only one or two tracks which took me a few listens to be convinced of their charm. Nearly everything else was almost instantly likeable and my love for these eclectic collection of songs grew each time I listened to the album. There are many songs here that I would count amongst my personal favourites. "Practical Arrangement", for example, is probably the best song that Sting has written for many years. The powerfully emotive title track is superb (as well as the reprise), "August Winds" has a beautiful subtlety and "Ballad Of The Great Eastern" is folk storytelling par excellence. "I Love Her But She Loves Someone Else" is absolutely gorgeous and Sting is in particularly fine voice on this track, but it has to be said that he gives an absolutely excellent performance on each very different track. The special guests (Jimmy Nail, Brian Johnson, Jo Lawry and Becky Unthank) also work very well indeed on their respective songs and give the album the characteristic of having a rather versatile supporting cast of players.

I admit that this isn't going to be for everybody and it's the kind of work that polarises the listener - it's probably going to be either a love or hate reaction when you hear it. For me, it's a very genuine love for this heartfelt tribute to Sting's native North-East of England. I bought the deluxe version of the album which, for a little extra money, gets you an additional CD with eight more tracks, some of them different versions of songs from the album featuring other artists, some of them completely new songs; all of them are excellent (well, "Jock The Singing Welder" perhaps isn't quite as good as the others, maybe the only "ouch" moment on both discs) and are well worth the higher price you pay for the second disc. All-in-all, this is one of the most remarkable albums I have heard all year and I admire Sting greatly for having the courage to write and release something as different and unconventional as this; even if this isn't quite to your taste, it is difficult to ignore the creativity and artistry behind this project. It could have easily backfired and given his critics further ammunition, but I'm of the opinion that this is actually one of the best things he has ever put his name to and is certainly my favourite Sting album since the underrated "Mercury Falling" from way back in 1996.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2014 9:25 PM GMT


Don't Wait Down
Don't Wait Down
Price: 10.12

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scintillating debut album!, 14 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Don't Wait Down (Audio CD)
This time, a month ago, I hadn't heard of The Graveltones. I was, however, lucky enough to grab myself a ticket for Suede's low-key show at The Garage in Islington in the middle of October 2013 and found myself really enjoying the powerful two-piece support act, who seemed to be a mixture of the heavier side of The White Stripes, Band Of Skulls and early Kings Of Leon. I think you can guess where I'm going with this - yes, it was The Graveltones impressing with a really outstanding, urgent set, leaving the main act with something really quite difficult to follow. Of course, after seeing them, buying the album was a no-brainer and I haven't been at all disappointed by their début, "Don't Wait Down". This thrilling piece of work is a complete assault on the senses, a formidable, riff-heavy monster of an album and the two London-based Aussies, Jimmy O (vocals, guitars) and Mikey Sorbello (drums) have managed to transfer their blistering live form from the stage into the studio quite convincingly.

They're not one trick ponies, though. Although the Led Zep-style riffs are present and correct on "Forget About The Trouble" and "Dying On Your Feet", they show more mainstream indie-rock sensibilities on "Money" and a more sultry, restrained, smouldering blues on "Crime To Be Talkin'" (featuring Lauren Tate on vocals). "I Am A Liar" is perhaps the most different piece on "Don't Wait Down", featuring a bar-piano and mournful, weary vocals describing the pain of being dumped. It all works very well and adds to the texture of the album, so you never get overwhelmed with song-after-song of similar sounding tracks. There are a couple more highlights - "Catch Me On The Fly" is an infectious piece of blues rock and the album closer, "Six Billion" arguably saves the best until last with a sprawling, dramatic piece of theatre where the guitar solos explode from the speakers so hard, they almost punch you in the gut.

This album really ought to lose points for a lack of real originality, but it's actually such a good album and the influences worn so blatantly on their sleeves that it really doesn't matter. For a début album, this is really quite exceptional and I'd be extremely surprised if, given a little more exposure, The Graveltones weren't playing in much larger venues in the next couple of years. They have certainly gained many plaudits over the last year and gathered plenty of new fans at each show (if their Facebook page is anything to go by), so the future looks bright for the hirsute duo - but this fresh, new album is here right now, so do yourself a massive favour, grab a copy and hear one of the very best débuts of the year.


On Air - Live At The BBC Vol 2
On Air - Live At The BBC Vol 2
Price: 10.00

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent addition to any Beatles collection, 13 Nov 2013
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I have to admit, it's not easy for me to listen to this album and equate what I'm hearing with the massively enthusiastic reviews for these two discs. It's difficult to treat this album as any more than it is - a collection of archive live performances The Beatles made for the BBC in the early sixties, some of which isn't of the best sound quality. I'm not stating for a minute that it isn't enjoyable or of great interest to a fan of The Beatles (any serious fan will want to own it), but for anyone who has owned Volume One for the past couple of decades, this album simply adds another volume of curios, asides and performances of songs we have all (mostly) heard before. There are the old rock 'n' roll classics The Beatles hammered out in Hamburg as live versions of singles and album tracks from their first few years of recorded output (1962 to 1965), plus a few "profile" interviews tagged onto the end. These are all good to have, it's a really lovely, quality package (featuring an interview with Paul McCartney from July 2013 in the beautifully detailed booklet) and made me smile many times throughout listening to it, but I can't see myself getting this album out to play very often now I have it... probably about the same frequency that I have Volume One, maybe once every three or four years.

I'm not criticising any aspect of this collection, far from it, it does exactly what it says on the tin, however there really is a lack of a "wow" factor on Volume Two. There was huge excitement listening to and watching the Anthology project and there were certain tracks on Volume One that really got the hairs on the back of the neck tingling. Unfortunately, there just isn't that kind of material on this album - they're not exactly scraping the bottom of the barrel, either, but I have to say that there is very little here that has increased my love or appreciation of The Beatles (if, indeed, that is possible). Simply put, it's just a very pleasant, decent listen that is more interesting for the interviews and hearing the four of them chat than listening to the music itself, as nice as it all is. Apart from one or two tracks outstanding, it seems like this is probably going to be the last "original" material that we will hear from the Fab Four, so that, in itself, makes it something to treasure, but for the songs, live performances and sound quality, I have to, objectively, say that it isn't exactly the toppermost of the poppermost. Wouldn't it have been great to have been there, eagerly listening to this emanating from the wireless at that point in time, though...?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2013 8:25 PM GMT


That's What Happens
That's What Happens
Price: 6.50

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable, tasteful album, 9 Nov 2013
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This review is from: That's What Happens (Audio CD)
Anybody who approaches this album with any kind of negative prejudices should probably go and browse elsewhere, because, let's face it; you're not going to enjoy it at all. However, if you are a fan of Chas & Dave, know the entire range of their material, their influences and their long, varied career (or, at least, quite like them are open minded enough to give this a go), then you are almost guaranteed to really enjoy this album. I hold my hands up; I've never been anything but neutral about the "rockney" duo. I invested in a best of earlier this year as I was going to a Chas & Dave gig with a friend and found that I really quite liked a lot of it, although I admit that plenty of the enjoyment was down to nostalgia as, when I was kid in the early eighties, they seemed to be everywhere for a while. When I heard that there was a new Joe Henry-produced album coming out with some well-respected special guests, I was intrigued and knew it was either going to be very good or dreadful... thankfully it's the former, rather than the latter.

This album is an attempt to re-introduce Charles & David (perhaps they should have called themselves that!) to the world as the serious and very capable musicians they have always been. It's still a fun endeavour and there are plenty of songs to sing along and tap your feet to, but the overall tempo is somewhat slower than the piano hammerers they're best known for and there's a nice mix of rock, blues, skiffle, boogie-woogie and much of the music that has influenced the duo over the years. There are a few standards here such as "San Francisco Bay Blues", "Midnight Special" and "Glory Of Love" which are respectfully and joyously tackled by the band. Everything on this album is at least listenable, but most of it is really very good indeed.

I have a handful of favourites on "That's What Happens". The powerful "Two Worlds Collide" is a really fantastic song and has a full, meaty sound featuring saxophones and violin which, apart from the poignant re-working of "Ain't No Pleasing You", is probably my pick of the album. "Rocking Gloworm", an excellent piece of instrumental boogie-woogie (it's almost a rag) is also one of my favourites. I can't honestly state that this is the most brilliant, outstanding piece of work I've heard this year, but it's certainly one of the most relaxed and uncomplicated albums, which means that it is very easy to just lose yourself in and simply enjoy. It's just a lovely, unpretentious, charming listen which has just the right mix of fun, serious musicianship and character to stay on the right side of tastefulness and could easily win them many new admirers and persuade others to realise that there is much more to Chas & Dave than their stereotypical "knees up" image from a few decades ago. Let's hope so.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2014 4:48 PM GMT


Fanfare
Fanfare
Price: 8.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best album you will hear all year..., 9 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Fanfare (Audio CD)
From the very first minute of the title track, "Fanfare", you can tell that this is going to be a very special album indeed, as it introduces the album with an instrumental mixture reminiscent of Pink Floyd and The Eagles before exploding into a beautiful near-classical grandiose rock, resplendent with thundering, echo-laden toms and rich strings which are more Electric Light Orchestra than Crosby, Stills and Nash. It's majestic, astonishing, wonderful stuff. One thing is for sure, this second album is a different proposition than Wilson's excellent Laurel Canyon-influenced debut, "Gentle Spirit" (although the same influences are still very much present and correct) and whether you are open to a departure from that style or not will go a long way towards determining whether you will like this album or not.

I'm going to lay my cards on the table right away. I think this is a dazzling album and one of the very best albums I have heard all year. It is one of those records that demands your attention; you simply have to stop doing anything else and listen to it. One of those very special albums that very much deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the rock classics which have become household names. I'm not convinced that this will happen, as the general public's taste in music seems to be very different to mine these days, but the musicianship and creative vision on "Fanfare" is incredible, head and shoulders above some rather ordinary records by well-known names that most people seem to gush about. Had this album been released in the 1970s, exactly as it is, it would have been heralded as an important piece of work, I'm sure, but here we are in 2013 and, sadly, this beauty will only be heard by a relatively small amount of people worldwide.

There are so many excellent tracks on "Fanfare" that it is difficult to choose highlights or, indeed, favourites. It is probably best listening to it as a whole, rather than sampling individual tracks, that way you can appreciate the rich range of textures on offer here. I mentioned the magnificent title track, but virtually everything on offer here is terrific and is evidently influenced by the very best music of the seventies. "Future Vision", for example, is a superb Lennonesque ballad which almost purposely samples the different aspects of the former Beatle's solo career, including a gorgeously dirty guitar solo. The epic "Moses Pain" reminds me of Elton John's brilliant "Levon" to start with, but then expands into a tumbling country track which features not one, but two, sublime piano solos. The guitar work in "Dear Friend" is a revelation, the lyrics in the David Crosby and Graham Nash-backed piece of acoustic perfection "Cecil Taylor" dreamy and other-worldly, the mesmerising "Illumination" slowly unfolds into a stunning piece of psychedelic rock and "Lovestrong", part Elton John, part Pink Floyd, is simply magnificent. Even the sole cover, "Fazon", fits in perfectly with the rest of the album and has a scintillating saxophone solo. I could go on, but I won't. Each song has something noteworthy about it and this is a brief review, not an essay!

I cannot recommend this album highly enough. Jonathan Wilson is an exceptional talent (songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer) and this is perhaps one of the most beautifully sounding albums I've ever heard. Quite honestly, I can't say that I've heard anything better than this all year, so it is, without doubt, a very strong contender for my choice of album of the year and a firm addition to the (as yet unwritten) list of my very favourite albums of all time. Absolutely outstanding.


Where I Come From
Where I Come From
Price: 14.46

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful collection from an Irish legend, 9 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Where I Come From (Audio CD)
The word "legend" is often overused, however, in the case of Christy Moore, I would consider it to be completely justified as he truly is one of the giants of Irish folk music. He has written and interpreted songs which tell beautifully descriptive stories, battle against prejudice and injustices, speak of drinking, romancing, dancing, being caught in the working class trap and many other subjects, usually with a dash of likeable humour. It also documents life in Ireland over the past century, the highs, lows, the deadly serious and the trivial, all with Christy's very individual take on it.

Although this huge three-disc collection is labelled as a retrospective, there are two new tracks and the other forty-three tracks have all been re-recorded by Christy and long-time collaborator Declan Sinnott (amongst others), so this isn't your usual greatest hits package and will be of great interest to admirers of Moore's music. Indeed, there are some tracks that have been omitted that you will be surprised by, if you are a fan of Christy's, but there is a certain near-live (a couple of tracks are actually live) character to this massive collection, so listening to this album, from start to finish, is like sitting through one of Christy's wonderful live shows (something I did last month), albeit without his enjoyable ad-libs.

As this is such as massive collection, I simply cannot begin to talk about the merits of individual songs, otherwise I would be typing and enthusing all day - it's pretty much all fantastic stuff. One thing I will say to surmise the content of this album is that if I could put my finger on one defining characteristic of Christy's music, it would be his honesty. Whether singing about politics or matters of the heart, there is a fierce humanity in his lyrics and all of these songs chosen for this collection have been written by Moore himself (although some have been co-written, such as "North and South of the Border", with Bono and The Edge), so you get a wonderfully rich and broad taste of the man's work and words. This makes "Where I Come From" a rather good starting point for anybody curious soul wanting to find out what Christy's music is all about, however, this is far from a definitive compilation of his songs, so it leaves the listener with plenty of brilliant songs yet to discover.


B-SIDES & RARITIES (2CD DIGIPACK)
B-SIDES & RARITIES (2CD DIGIPACK)
Offered by AlbertBilla
Price: 19.95

64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buyer beware - unofficial product, 1 Nov 2013
I can't comment on the quality of the music, because I'm not going to buy this album. Why? Because it's an "unofficial" product and Muse don't see a penny of it. An enterprising person has put together B-sides and rarities and packaged them well, advertising that it's a "limited edition European digipack". If this was an official product, it would probably sell like hot cakes amongst Muse fans - I would certainly buy a copy - but it's not.

For all I know, they may be really good quality tracks, but there is absolutely no way I would put money in the pocket of people making, what is essentially, a fake product that steals from the band. It's an ethical thing. If this doesn't bother you and you want what's on this CD, then it's up to you, but - personally - I'd say avoid this like the plague.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2013 1:47 PM GMT


New
New
Price: 13.45

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A richly creative, inventive album that stands proudly amongst his best work, 19 Oct 2013
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This review is from: New (Audio CD)
As a lifelong Beatles and McCartney fan, each new release by Paul is met with a mixture of excitement and slight nervousness as to just how good it is going to be. Over the decades, Paul's albums have been of varying quality, but even the efforts which didn't meet with critical acclaim ("Wild Life", "Press To Play", "Driving Rain") aren't without at least a handful of tracks which make the purchase more than worthwhile. His very best albums (and they're the majority) are packed full of excellent songs with maybe one or two lesser songs, as if to prove that he's human like the rest of us. The great news about "New" is that, for me, it falls into the latter category of Paul's excellent albums with only a track or two that doesn't quite cut the mustard... and even that is down to personal taste.

As I believe in delayed gratification, I had completely avoided all of the online previews of the tracks from "New", with the exception of the title track which had been played on the radio and had also gone almost instantly viral within the Beatles community upon release. "New" (the song) had really whetted my appetite for the new album, as it is a classic McCartney composition, one of those rare, beautiful beasts that could have easily have been a Beatles track. However, I have to admit that, when I first heard the album from start to finish, I really didn't care for it at all. I was bitterly disappointed, really disliked the pop production and the only track that really had something going for it other than the title track was "Appreciate", one of the more left-field efforts on the album. "Queenie Eye" was undeniably catchy but, on first impressions, there was something just a little too obvious about it. I was unimpressed and didn't get the instant rush I'd enjoyed from many of his releases in the last twenty years. Then, on the third listen, I started to really enjoy it and every subsequent play revealed something new and wonderful.

Now, on my umpteenth listening session, every song on this album genuinely has something good to offer, much of it is truly great and, in my opinion, it's his most creatively rich release since 2005's "Chaos and Creation In The Backyard" which, I feel, is his modern day masterpiece. "New" really isn't that far behind, though. It also has the commercial sensibilities of 2007's "Memory Almost Full" and manages to combine the best of both albums whilst also giving nod or two to musical phases from all through Paul's career. The fact that McCartney has worked with four different producers on this album I believe has helped raise the quality of "New" above his last couple of albums full of original material ("Electric Arguments" and the aforementioned "Memory Almost Full"), both very good releases, but Epworth, Johns, Martin and Ronson have obviously given their individual tracks a lot more attention than a single producer would have and, as such, the fresh ideas and musical detail of each track means that "New" rewards the repeat listener with something pleasing each time and gives a lovely eclectic feel to the whole project.

If you'll indulge me, I'm going to give the album a track-by-track review, something I wouldn't normally do for a new release, but this isn't just another run-of-the-mill release, it's something new by Paul McCartney, you know, the guy who used to be a Beatle and is arguably the greatest living composer of our time.

"Save Us" - Co-written with and produced by Paul Epworth, this is a cracking opener and a fantastic mature, powerful pop song. The harmonies on the chorus are gorgeous, especially when the song title is sung with that gorgeous minor-chord transition. I wasn't overly fond of the production of the track, but it has certainly grown on me. (9/10)

"Alligator" - Produced by Mark Ronson and performed by McCartney's band, this is an absolutely superb song, musically, and reminds me heavily of mid-70s Wings, but the lyrics are a bit hard to swallow at times. Nonsense, vague lyrics aren't anything new for Macca; some work, others don't. I think he just about gets away with it here, but it's a closely-run thing. The creativity of the instrumentation and arrangement, as well as the contrast between the tense verse and the sweet release of the strummed acoustic guitar in the chorus make this a very enjoyable listen. I really love the electric guitar work on this one, too. (9/10)

"On My Way To Work" - This is the first Giles Martin produced song on the album and it's one that, initially, I found to be quite ordinary. However, I like it immensely and love the way the sound becomes fuller as the track develops, with some tasteful strings embellishing the later verses and concluding with a rather grand finish. I particularly like the detail in the lyrics, the dreamily philosophical nature of the song and the gently optimistic "How could I have so many dreams and one of them not come true?". (9/10)

"Queenie Eye" - Apart from the title track, this is probably the most infuriatingly catchy song on the album. As soon as I heard it, I saw what Paul was trying to do with this and, believe me, I resisted. However, it's very difficult to resist against something that is absolutely irresistible. It's simply a fantastic, bouncy, melodic song which has a very "in your face" feel, using a children's game as a loose metaphor for the tribulations of a relationship. The finished product is even more impressive when you discover that Paul plays everything on the track, apart from drumming duties which are undertaken by producer and co-writer Epworth. (9/10)

"Early Days" - This beautiful song, impeccably produced by Ethan Johns (one of my favourite contemporary producers) is one of the most "stripped down" on the album, with Paul's voice wonderfully unaltered, giving the song a feeling of honesty and intimacy. Paul has written about his earlier life before with a little bit more of a swagger ("That Was Me"), but this paints a picture of both his relationship with his friends (you assume it's John, but assumptions are never wise). Paul's personality shines through as well, turning "pain to laughter" and his love of music. There's even a bit of a ticking off to those who theorise about his life, telling them that they simply weren't there. Even the slightly frail high note at the end adds to the sheer beauty of the track. I'd love to hear a whole album with Paul and Ethan. (9/10)

"New" - This is Paul at his melodic, commercial best; an absolute gem of a song, almost perfect in every way. The lyrics, melody and performance are all simply stunning and it's marvellous that he's written a love song about the excitement of a new romance which doesn't stray into over-sentimentality. I also take my hat off to Mark Ronson, not one of my favourite producers by a long way, but he's captured something very special here. Of course, I'd have loved to have heard what someone like Nigel Godrich could have done with it, but I'll certainly take this, one of the best things Paul has done, ever. (10/10)

"Appreciate" - This was one of the few tracks I loved from the very first time I heard it. Produced by Paul and Giles, it has a sublime, chilled out vibe during the major-to-minor chord motif verse and an explosive "chorus", as well as a superb guitar solo by Rusty Anderson closing the song. It feels like pure McCartney, but also has as contemporary a feel as anything released this year. Is he really 71 years old? (9/10)

"Everybody Out There" - Also produced by Paul and Giles, this, to me, is the first slightly disappointing, average song on "New". The lyrics are a little one-dimensional and, sadly, a little poor. However, it's a very catchy song and there are several crafty little hooks in it to make it rather enjoyable and certainly not something you'd skip when it came on. All-in-all, a good song, but if a little more thought had been given to the words, it could have been brilliant. (7.5/10)

"Hosanna" - When I first heard this Ethan Johns (and McCartney)-produced track, I quite honestly thought it was a little dull and unremarkable. However, repeated listens gave me a greater appreciation for this little jewel of a song. It reminds me heavily of the work Neil Diamond accomplished with Rick Rubin, simple songs of love, simply presented. There are some nice backward sounds at the end of the track too, which naturally give it a bit of a Beatle flavour. (8/10)

"I Can Bet" - This fantastic, cheeky little rocker is reminiscent of Paul's work on "Flaming Pie" and, so far, never fails to put a smile on my face when I hear it. It has a great sound, thanks to Giles and Paul's production; I especially like the electric piano on the verses and the acoustic guitar-driven chorus, together with a lovely bit of Hammond organ on the bridge. Simply put, I love it. (9/10)

"Looking At Her" - Produced by Giles Martin, this one is perhaps my least favourite song on the album, one of Paul's "isn't my other half beautiful" type songs. You know, there's a reason that everybody looks at your wives, Paul, and that's because they're married to you. I enjoy the raucous little instrumental break after he sings, "I'm losing my mind", but that's about it, I'm afraid. This is the dud on the album, for me. (6/10)

"Road" - This one is a real grower. A moody, sizzling track written by McCartney and Epworth which requires a few plays for the dark lyrics and subtle melodies to sink in. It's actually rather brilliant, even if it isn't something you'd generally expect from Paul. (8/10)

"Turned Out" - The last of the Ethan Johns-produced songs. It's enjoyable enough, has a nice slide guitar on it and an inventive arrangement, but there isn't anything particularly special about the song itself. A decent, but unremarkable up-tempo number. (7/10)

"Get Me Out Of Here" (bonus track) - This Giles Martin-produced number is a pleasing little bit of skiffle to end the ordinary version of the album. Apart from the "Oh Boy" calls which steer a little too close to the Buddy Holly song for comfort, it's really quite charming. I could help but smile when Paul, with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, proclaims, "I'm a celebrity! Someone get me out of here!". Very nice, indeed. (7/10)

"Scared" (hidden track) - The hidden track is a strong contender for the title of best song on this album. With little more than Paul's vocals and piano, this heartbreakingly vulnerable composition brings to mind Elton John at his very best, back in the early seventies. It finishes the album impressively, leaving a slight trace of salt-water in your eyes and a lump in the throat the size of a golf ball. It's doesn't exactly have the sheer magnificence of "Maybe I'm Amazed", but it is of the same quality. It's a remarkable piece and means that "New" both starts and finishes brilliantly, with only one or two minor hiccups on the way. (10/10)

So, that's what I think. Just one man's opinion. I find it remarkable that I'm writing this after being severely nonplussed and disappointed about it when I first listened to it, but "New" is genuinely one of the best albums that Paul McCartney has ever put his name to. I sincerely believe that it can be spoken about in the same terms as his greatest work, like "Ram", "Band On The Run", "Tug Of War", "Flowers In The Dirt", "Flaming Pie" and "Chaos and Creation" (as well as my own personal favourites that haven't met with perhaps such universal acclaim). All of these very different albums have one common theme - a dazzling, rich creativity and a willingness to experiment and push the boundaries. That Paul McCartney still has the hunger inside him to not rest on his laurels and release something that would have been a lot less laborious is incredible. That Paul McCartney can return with an album so (almost wholly) brilliant when his advancing years have been a little too apparent during his live performances, it's nothing short of amazing. However, people, this is no mere mortal... this is Paul McCartney, the only living legend who has sold millions of records, had dozens of number one songs and albums, who has played on the biggest stages there are... the only living legend who could possibly be described as underrated, but - my word - he really is.
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