Memory Almost Full (including Folded Booklet)
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Memory Almost Full (Deluxe Version)
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Limited Edition Folded Booklet
"Many years from now" must have seemed like an understatement to 16-year-old Paul McCartney, wondering if he'd still be needed or fed at the age of 64. As it turned out, all doubt as to the latter had ceased by his 22nd birthday (though few could have predicted he'd end up washing down those meals with the liquid pride of Seattle). As to the former? Now that McCartney, as of the date of this album's release, has reached that mythic age, his greatest work is 40 years behind him, his solo peak over 30 years gone. Does the world need a new Paul McCartney album? The answer is yes, at least as much as it needs anything else that passes for music these days. With Memory Almost Full, Macca is back. No, it's not Ram or Band on the Run. It might not even be Flowers in the Dirt--in 1989, he had a full band, the support of Linda, and Elvis Costello as a collaborator. Here, he's on his own. Literally: on the majority of the tracks, everything but the strings is multi-instrumentalist Paul. But the surprise is that it's one of his freest, loosest affairs in years, sonically reminiscent of the Tug of War/Pipes of Peace era with nods to Abbey Road in the album-closing medley, McCartney's gravelly tones on "Gratitude," and 2007's version of "Her Majesty," the palate-cleansing "Nod Your Head." It's a surprise because of the album's inescapable sense of retrospection ("Ever Present Past," "Vintage Clothes," "That Was Me") and even a bit of weariness. The next-to-last song is "The End of the End," after all, in which McCartney tells us about what he'd like to happen "on the day that I die." (He wants "songs that were sung/to be hung out like blankets/that lovers have played on/and laid on while listening to songs that were sung," and will likely get his wish.) But it never gets overwhelming, for McCartney mostly resists his tendency to get plodding and maudlin. In fact, Memory Almost Full must be the most sanguine album made during the dissolution of a marriage since...well, ever. "What went out is coming back," he sings in "Vintage Clothes," and from the sound of things, that may not be just wishful thinking. What's past is prologue; if we're lucky, what to come may be McCartney's late renaissance. --Benjamin Lukoff
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The sound and production has long been a matter for discussion on this album, as it is deafeningly loud and needs to be turned down lower than most albums. I am someone who likes his music loud, but it is too much for me at times, and actually unnecessary.
1. Dance Tonight
2. My Ever Present Past
3. See Your Sunshine
4. Only Mama Knows
5. You Tell Me
6. Mr. Bellamy
8. Village Clothes
9. That Was Me
10. Feet In The Clouds
11. House Of Wax
12. The End Of The End
13. Nod Your Head
The lively mandolin riffs of the singalong "Dance Tonight" introduces the album in a positive, carefree manner and "My Ever Present Past", while speaking of his past, is a thoroughly enjoyable, punchy pop number, with some excellent guitar and a generally upbeat vibe. "See Your Sunshine" is a rhythmic, staccato number, which features an excellent, rumbling bass line from McCartney and a Wings-style melody. "Only Mama Knows" begins with some Beatles-like strings before launching into another very appealing, pop rock number. It is a great song, full of life, but it is blighted somewhat by a dense background production. It, unsurprisingly, sounds much better played live on "Good Evening New York City". "You Tell Me" is a typically plaintive McCartney bleak ballad, complete with that higher pitch of voice he uses for this type of song.
"Mr. Bellamy" is a quirky, frankly odd song that still has its interesting moments, but I can't really get into it. Maybe I should try harder. I never like giving up on a song. "Gratitude" has McCartney in full "Oh Darling" rasping vocal form. It also has some Beatles-style orchestration.
The album now heads into a five song "medley", beginning with the bassy, jumpy rhythms of "Vintage Clothes", with more Beatles noises in the backing. The more you listen to it, the better it becomes. "That Was Me" is very reminiscent of Elvis Costello's nineties/2000s work, both musically and lyrically. It also lays on lots of nostalgia. "Feet in The Clouds" is a wistful, acoustic and, once more, nostalgic look back to his growing years. "House Of Wax" is a mysterious, dense number that needs time to seep into your consciousness. It is a bit bombastic in its production but there is some excellent industrial guitar at the end. "The End Of The End" is very Beatles-esque song that has McCartney singing abut the day he dies. The albums ends, incongruously, with a short sharp slice of searing guitar and drum-powered chunky rock in "Nod Your Head".
I can't help but feel that however tender and sensitive parts of the second half of this album are, it is the first half that is the more instantly appealing. Maybe the "suite" in the album's second half just needs more attention. It is certainly inventive and adventurous. As I said about "Vintage Clothes", the more you listen to it, the better it sounds.
Anyway, as for reviewing this album, although I have been into Paul for 20 years now, I am still able to be objective and so here is my review of this, his most recent offering to date. I will just review the standard 13 tracks as not everyone is interested in spending the extra on the bonus CD/DVD.
1. Dance Tonight. This was released as a single and you can see the video for it (Starring Natalie Portman) on Youtube. Very interesting as Paul plays the mandolin for a different sound. It's a hoe-down, family time sort of feel. Great, simple song.
2. Ever Present Past. This is also a single, which has a video on Youtube. Paul has been doing a lot of reflecting and remensicing lately but this is one of the more upbeat tunes; easy to sing along to and to like. Again, simple but nice.
3. See Your Sunshine. This was written for Heather Mills and shows Paul's maturity at still including it and remembering the good times with her, as he released this album when they were still in the middle of their divorce. It's simple and I like it although it's one of the weaker tracks on the album.
4. Only Mama Knows. This was released as a single in America but not over here. It's the most commercial sounding track on the album and very catchy. I like it a lot; it's vibrant, rocky and cool.
5. You Tell Me. This is another remeniscing one, and for me it's another weaker track on the album. The vocals sound too "old man" and delicate for my liking; his voice sounds fragile. The lyrics are sweet and sentimental and make me think of Linda McCartney.
6. Mr Bellamy. Very funky piano intro riff, another interesting track, with lots of points of interest including some sort of horn playing just before the piano riff, and it's the 3rd most commercial sounding track on the album
7. Gratitude is another one which, although I don't think Paul has publically admitted it, I am sure is for Heather. The lyrics have some personal meaning for me and I like this track although it's about the 3rd weakest track on this album in terms of commercial value I would say. It's a favourite for me though, and I also heard hints of "60s Paul" with the slghtly more growly vocals in places.
8. Vintage Clothes is another upbeat, funky one which is probably the 2nd most commercial sounding track and would sound great on the radio. Simple and joyful.
9. That Was Me is another remeniscing one, very funky sounding indeed with a cool bassline and a positive feel to it. The idea stems from Paul saying he sometimes looks at all the stuff he's done and has a "Bloody hell, that was me!" moment. A brilliant track.
10. Feet In The Clouds finishes the medley of Vintage Clothes and That Was Me as all three tracks run smoothly into eachother. A good track which is easy to like although not very commercial sounding. One more for the Paul McCartney enthusiasts I think and one of the weaker tracks on the album for this reason.
11. House Of Wax is brilliant as it's not what you'd expect from Macca. I never stereotyped him but a lot of people have him down as some soppy balladeer. I think this track shows a fascinating side of him to people who had not already seen more than 1 dimension to him. It's dark and quite creepy; I can imagine it being played in some psychological thriller movie. Some haunting guitar riffs which literally made my hairs stand on end and gave me goosebumps. Beautiful.
12. The End OF The End is a semi morbid song which asks people to celebrate Paul's life rather than mourn his passing when the inevitable and unthinkable happens. Not very commercial, and hard for me to listen to for this reason but still a good song.
13. Nod Your Head was released as a single and there is a video on Youtube, well there are 2 different ones. Upbeat, wth more "60s Paul" screamy vocals which show he still has it going on. Simple and fun.
When I first heard of this C.D. I wondered if it was indicative that Mr. Mc.Cartney may be set to retire. Fortunately this is not the case.
I am just pleased to still be listening to his songs. Good price & delivery. As always I am pleased.