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5.0 out of 5 stars Something New from Paul McCartney, 14 Oct 2013
This review is from: New (Audio CD)
It's been a while since Paul McCartney released an album of new material - Memory Almost Full came out in 2007 and The Fireman's Electric Arguments in 2008. New has been well worth the wait though, as not only is it full of classic McCartney tunes, it also, like most of his output over the last decade or so, shows a willingness both lyrically and sonically to be experimental at times.

The album sees Paul working with four producers, Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns, Paul Epworth and Giles Martin, McCartney's original idea was to trial all four of them and use the one he enjoyed working with most to produce the album. Instead he ended up recording with all four - Martin producing seven tracks, Epworth and Johns three each and Ronson two.

McCartney's touring band of Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray, Abe Laboriel Jr and Paul "Wix" Wickens feature on seven of the album's songs, although this isn't strictly speaking a band album - something McCartney hasn't done since 1993's Off The Ground.

A brief song by song breakdown of the album -

"Save Us" - Produced by Paul Epworth this gets the album off to a cracking start. With Queen-like harmonies it's an upbeat rocker that could easily become a live favourite. Although it sounds like a band performance, actually it only features McCartney and Epworth - McCartney on guitar, bass and vocals with Epworth on drums.

"Alligator" - Produced by Mark Ronson, this features all of McCartney's band and has a strong vocal from Paul. Very Wings-like.

"On My Way To Work" - Produced by Giles Martin, this is another band song. One of several songs that casts an eye back to McCartney's life back in Liverpool as a young man. The notion of McCartney riding buses and clocking into work is somewhat incongruous, but it's a decent track enhanced by the bands performance.

"Queenie Eye" - Produced by Paul Epworth. The tempo rises again with this infectious sing-along track. Another song that would work very well in the live environment, it's a great toe-tapper.

"Early Days" - Produced by Ethan Johns. This is a song that harks back to his Beatles past, with lyrics such as "dressed in black from head to toe, two guitars across our backs". The sparse acoustic opening and McCartney's cracking vocals are quite affecting - one of the less cluttered productions on the album, it sounds as if it could have come from the Flaming Pie album.

"New" - Produced by Mark Ronson. The first song to surface from the album, back in August, it's a catchy slice of upbeat pop that could easily fit into most McCartney albums from the last six decades.

"Appreciate" - Produced by Giles Martin. Coming directly after the uplifting "New" this moody song is a change of pace - featuring distorted McCartney vocals, driving percussion from Abe and some nice guitar work from Brian and Rusty.

"Everybody Out There" - Produced by Giles Martin. Abe, Brian and Rusty are all featured on this one, along with unidentified members of Paul's family - simply referred to as the "McCartney Family Chorus". McCartney has admitted that the call and response part of the song was designed for audience interaction. So while the song feels a little contrived, it's another bouncy piece of feel-good pop that's difficult not to like.

"Hosanna" - Produced by Ethan Johns. An acoustic ballad, which is nice enough but it doesn't really go anywhere. One of the lesser tracks on the album.

"I Can Bet" - Produced by Giles Martin. Things pick up again with this sprightly track, featuring Rusty and Wix. Not the best song on the album, but it's a very entertaining three and a half minutes.

"Looking At Her" - Produced by Giles Martin. A slower song, with distorted vocals from Paul. It really gets into gear when the instrumental break kicks in. A bit of a slow-burner, but this song is definitely a grower.

"Road" - Produced by Paul Epworth. One of the songs that took a few plays to click, but it's a good, low-key, track.

"Turned Out" - Produced by Ethan Johns. A nice up-tempo rocker, this should prove to be a popular song in his live set.

"Get Me Out Of Here" - Produced by Giles Martin. Another track with distorted vocals, and here we also see McCartney doing his best bluesman impression. A pity it was relegated to being a bonus track on the Deluxe Edition, as it could have swapped with On My Way To Work on the Standard Edition.

"Scared" - Produced by Giles Martin. A hidden track, appearing 20 seconds after Get Me Out Of Here has finished. It's a solo McCartney performance that sees him playing piano, Bill Black's bass and vibraphone. A tender ballad that sounds heartfelt, it means that the album ends on a somewhat sombre note, although the song is still positive in its outlook.

With the bonus tracks, New clocks in at around the 52 minute mark. Losing both Hosanna and On My Way To Work would have tightened things up, as more isn't necessarily more - but New is a very strong collection of songs that can comfortably sit alongside the very best of his solo material.
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Showing 41-46 of 46 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Nov 2013 10:11:15 GMT
There's loads of blogs and forums on the internet like Guitars 101, so they're a good place to start - or simply Google the name of the bootleg you're looking for and see what results you get.

The closure of download places like MegaUpload has affected things a little, but a lot of boots tend to get re-upped, so if there's a dead link somewhere, there should be a live one somewhere else.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Nov 2013 10:21:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Nov 2013 10:30:08 GMT
Rock Man says:
D.K.S. - enjoying the chat here even if we can't agree on "The Pound is Stinking"(!) (the only dud track on TOW mind you) and "Press To Play". We have however found common ground on "Red Rose Speedway (Remix)" which for me confirmed the he was back to his best. Maybe its not as highly rated because Macca was still doing the Beatle thing of putting out separate singles and my "Remix" includes the singles Hi Hi Hi, C-Moon and Live & Let Die which were all released around that time and My Love was NO1 in the USA for about 6 to 9 weeks I recall. When added to the tracks you mention it is nearly BOTR's equal. BOTR (USA version) did include the singles BOTR, Jet & Helen Wheels (perfect after "No Words") so I think it's a fairer comparison?

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Nov 2013 11:41:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Nov 2013 14:29:36 GMT
Oh yes, if you add Hi Hi Hi, C-Moon and Live and Let Die to RRS then you do have an album that wouldn't look out of place next to BOTR.

Whilst I patiently wait for RRS to turn up as part of the back-catalogue reissue series, I have to make do with the 1993 remaster - it does add C-Moon, Hi Hi Hi, The Mess and I Lie Around - so that's a pretty good package.

For me, from 1970 - 1973 McCartney was on a bit of a roll - McCartney, Ram, Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run. Wild Life was a bit of a misstep, which seemed to have come about as he read that someone else had recorded an album in a couple of days and he decided it would be a good idea to do it himself. Alas with indifferent results.

Then there's a bit of a lull for a few years - Venus and Mars, WATSOS don't really do much for me - until things pick up with London Town and Back To The Egg.

McCartney II was probably the last time that he put out an album that whilst commercial in places (Coming Up/Waterfalls) still had a number of tracks that were, at best, half finished. At this point he was pretty much pleasing himself and not concentrating on being ultra commercial.

From Tug of War onwards the gaps between each album increases, and they are much more polished. This wasn't always for the best though as some of the quirky, do-anything approach of the 70's was lost.

In the last decade he seems to have recovered a bit of this spirit, it's hard to imagine something like say, Mr Bellamy, appearing on any of the albums from Tug of War to Off The Ground.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Nov 2013 09:05:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Nov 2013 09:09:14 GMT
Rock Man says:
Yeah "Queenie Eye" And "Mr Bellamy" are the sort of superb quirky songs that bring back memories of "Picasso, Magnito,Albert and Let Em In" from the 70's. After WATSOS I thought he had a average dozen years (TOW excepted). Never liked "Back Too The Egg" much though Rockestra is brill. Then (I say it Again) doing the Beatles stuff on "Broad Street" in 1987 led to the superb "Flowers In The Dirt" in 1989 and from Flowers through to New you have a quater of a century of top albums with only the average Driving Rain (3 star) not being a 4 to 5 star effort (ignoring the covers & choral albums) So D.K.S. it seems we mainly agree on the 60's, Early 70's and from 1989 to date but not from 75 to 87? The live album's TTLF, PIL, BITW and GENYC were all superb with loads of Beatle tunes included and I remain convinced along with working on the Beatles Anthology this was the reason for his finding the "Magic Songs" again!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Nov 2013 12:55:41 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Nov 2013 12:59:13 GMT
Yes, we'll have to agree to disagree on his mid 70's to mid 80's output. There's a lot I enjoy from 78 - 86.

I'd agree that the Beatles Anthology had an influence on his recent albums, it's something he spoke about at the time of Flaming Pie - how he tried to replicate the feel of the Beatles sessions.

The break-up of his second marriage also seems to have informed the writing on Chaos. It's hard to imagine him writing a song like Riding To Vanity Fare when he was married to Linda.

There seems to have been more honesty and introspection in his work since 1997. Back in the 70's and 80's he would often be criticised for writing "silly love songs" which of course he responded to, but he has certainly widened his types of lyrics since the late 90's.

All the live albums are great, although since there are so many good quality bootlegs out there I don't listen to the official ones that often. It would be nice if he would go down the Bob Dylan route and release some of his best gigs- the Glasgow gig from the final Wings tour would be a good place to start.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2013 14:53:09 GMT
AC says:
Absolutely, Ciaran. Yes I agree he always puts some excellent songs on every album. I'm not sure he can always tell which is which, though, as most artists can't. On top of that, everyone has an individual reaction, which changes according to one's mood. That's the nature of pop music anyway.
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Mr. D. K. Smith

Location: South Wales, UK

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