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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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1989's "Flowers In The Dirt" was seen as a hard act to follow, given the widespread critical acclaim and the "return to form" label that accompanied it. Critically, "Off The Ground", recorded with Paul's then current touring band (with the exception of drummer Chris Whitten, who was offered a job touring with Dire Straits and was replaced by Blair Cunningham), didn't quite match up to its predecessor. However, it was the first McCartney studio album I bought on the day of release and I happen to think it's much better than it was originally received back in 1993. In fact, I think it's almost entirely excellent and one of Paul's most underrated pieces of work. I loved it at the age of eighteen and now, twenty years later, at thirty-eight, I still love it just as much.

My first encounter with the "Off The Ground" material was hearing "Hope Of Deliverance" on the radio on a cold winter morning in 1992, as I got myself ready for college. The first time I heard it, I wasn't overly sure whether I liked it or not. It sounded a bit almost religious and "happy-clappy" to my seventeen year old ears. I reserved judgement. However, the second time I heard it, it stayed in my head for a ridiculously long time and I was singing the hook for days afterwards. Fast forward a few months and I was in HMV in Birmingham when the in-store DJ announced he had a sneak preview of the Paul McCartney album which was being released the next week. He then proceeded to play the breezy "Peace In The Neighbourhood", which had a great, wandering bass-line, a lovely message and lots of gorgeous jazzy chords which completely blew me away. I was almost salivating when on Monday 2nd February, 1993, I went into HMV in Coventry, bought myself a copy and rushed home to play it. I wasn't disappointed.

Anyway, back to the present day (although remembering these moments in my life make me wish that buying albums still filled me with such youthful excitement and anticipation, but you don't seem to get the same rush when you order them online and they fall through your letterbox). The opening track, "Off The Ground", when you listen to it now, immediately dates the album. The McCartney & Mendelsohn production is a little soft, but it doesn't destroy the beauty of this song about finding new love, although the soaring melody of the chorus does go a long way to distracting you from the easy rhymes of the lyrics. "Looking For Changes" is a harder-edged track, an angry piece about the mistreatment of animals, and manages to get the message across well without being too preachy, whilst managing to being a good rocker at the same time. "Mistress and Maid", the first McCartney/MacManus (Elvis Costello) collaboration of the album is superb. The Costello influence is strong, both in structure and vocabulary, and this lyrically bleak but musically dreamy waltz-time story sees a weary wife, taken for granted, find the strength to break free from a dying marriage.

One of the greatest strengths of McCartney's songwriting is when he finds great meaning in sometimes the most simplistic things. "I Owe It All To You" is one of those moments he gets it spot on. In the verses he describes some of the most profound sights (Egyptian temples, eternal gardens, glass cathedrals, golden canyons) and then breaks into the beauteous chorus which states, "Oh, I owe it all to you/you make me happy". As far as lyrics go, the line about the "distant islands listening to the sea bird's song of joy" isn't too shabby either. The lyrically-painful "Biker Like An Icon" is one of my least favourite tracks on the album, although I have to admit that it has grown on my over the years (I enjoy the music, certainly) and the phrase "Biker Like An Icon" has a rather delicious taste to it. If Paul wrote an entire song around that one great random collection of words, I wouldn't be surprised. "Golden Earth Girl" is a truly captivating song, with piano chords slightly reminiscent of "Maybe I'm Amazed" introducing the piece and a delicate, delightful orchestration, with clarinets and flutes painting the musical picture Paul describes.

Probably my very favourite track on the album is the second (and last) McCartney/MacManus composition, "The Lovers That Never Were". A dark, magnificent and immensely beautiful paean to unrequited love, the tension and frustration seeps out of every line, the music builds up to a crescendo and, frankly, it gets me so emotionally involved, I feel almost exhausted and spent after listening to it. "Get Out Of My Way", however, brings you straight back down to earth, as it is nothing much more than a straightforward (but rather enjoyable) rocker which, if not for the brass joyfully punctuating the track and a decent bit of guitar, would perhaps be forgettable. It's perfectly fine, but it's the kind of song that McCartney could probably write in his sleep... and he's done that at least a couple of times. "Winedark Open Sea" is a gorgeous track which, musically, tries to take the listener to the very sea being described in the song, but makes the minor mistake of overstaying its welcome. The climax of the album, "C'mon People" was a blatant attempt to write a "big" song, in the same vein as "Hey Jude" and, you know what, he almost pulls it off. Lyrically, it attempts to motivate and pull people together, but the message itself is little vague and, as such, is slightly weakened. It's still a terrific song, though, and it builds up impressively to a dizzying cacophony of sound, just falling a whisker short of true greatness... but he wasn't far away from the mark. A snippet of "Cosmically Conscious" ends the album on a silly (but fun) note and one of Paul's most inspired albums comes to a close.

"Off The Ground" has now been in my life for twenty years and I am certain that it has been listened to in each and every one of those years. If people wish to dismiss it as one of Paul's lesser works, then that is their prerogative, but I believe that this is one of the most creatively rich collections of songs he has put his name to and, had it followed "Press To Play" in 1989 instead of "Flowers In The Dirt", it would be much more widely loved amongst fans and critics. I certainly count it amongst my favourite McCartney solo work and believe that future reappraisal of it, possibly when it is remastered, will bring a more balanced and appreciative reaction. However, as this is Paul McCartney we're talking about, who very seldom seems to get a fair hearing from much of the press, I won't hold my breath.
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on 12 November 2013
This album suffers compared to 'Flowers' in the same way 'Pipes of Peace' suffers in comparison to 'Tug of War'. Similar production, similar band but somehow the songs don't hit the mark enough to justify a 4 let alone 5 star rating:
Off The Ground There have been worse openers but this is pretty mediocre if we're honest 6/10
Looking For Changes Tiresome song,somewhat saved by a semi-interesting lyric 5/10
Hope of Deliverance Decent pop number and an obvious single, though not exactly top drawer 8/10
Mistress And Maid about the best song here,moving lyric and an interesting melody 9/10
Biker Like An Icon Contender for Paul's worst song ever. Abysmal lyric 1/10
I Owe It All To You Likeable if predictable 7/10
Peace in The Neighbourhood Nice song,nice feel 7.5/10
Golden Earth Girl Good ballad,almost a classic 8.5/10
The Lovers That Never Were The Costello factor once again as on Mistress adds bite to the lyric. Good song 7.5/10
Get Out Of My Way Good rocker, carrying some punch unlike say Angry (1986) or Glad To See You Here (1979).7/10
Wine Dark Open Sea Best song here...marvellous 9/10
Come On People George Martin said 'super song Paul' about this.No, I am afraid, it is pretty dull to be frank 5/10
Cosmically Conscious Too short but I like the melody 7/10

So 3 stars overall, perhaps 3.5 but seeing as half stars are'nt allowed I will round this one down to three. Which contrary to what you may think on Amazon doesn't mean a complete disaster! Some gems here as on all McCartney releases.
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on 7 November 2008
This album has been massively overlooked and underrated by both Paul fans and by critics. It sounds fairly typical overall of it's time but also timeless as it still sounds great when I listen to it now. I shall now give a little commentary on each track from my point of view.

Off The Ground with its cheesy but tongue in cheek music video was well known around the time of its release as a single. It's catchy and fun and easy to like and to sing along to. Its opening especially reminds me of looking at an open road as I start my car and begin to drive.

Looking For Changes is about animal testing and vivisection, asking how we would like it if the tables were turned and these thoughts were still thought quite outlandish at the time, and I also find it sad we have not moved on enough from these barbaric practises. It's catchy and witty with things to make you think.

Hope Of Deliverance is also quite a cheesy video and as for the song it is catchy and was another single around the time of the album's release. It's acoustic, slightly folky and organic as the video tries to stipulate, and it's a nice sentiment.

Mistress And Maid was written with Elvis Costello, who was similar to John Lennon in terms of possessing humour, ascerbic wit, sarcasm and also a heart; this is about how some poor, downtrodden, ill treated housewife feels and it's a brilliant piece of songwriting and musicianship.

I Owe It All To You carries sweet, heartfelt sentiments, although the lyrics are a little outlandish.

Biker Like An Icon, another single, despite being a very cheesy method of rhyming, is also very spot on in terms of the sentiment and story it depicts and I think there is a kind of genius in the title's conception. Very catchy.

Peace In The Neighbourhood is quite American-ish in its sentiments which again, are well intended; about people trying to get on with one another instead of being out for themselves.

Golden Earth Girl is a dreamy, easy listening, mellowed out track which makes me think of summertime and just relaxing in a meadow.

Lovers That Never Were is my favourite track on the album; verging on power ballad territory, it was written in collaboration with Elvis Costello and is full of angst, emotion and genuinely so, in its conception and delivery. It also has some personal meaning so it's even more powerful.

Get Out Of My Way is another great track; funky guitars, the most rocky sounding song on the album and a favourite of mine. I also like the way it appears to end and then starts again for a reprise of a few seconds of instrumentals.

Winedark Open Sea is also a highlight of this album, and it's more a gentle song, emotional and moving and again, ends and then reprises (listen out for the spoken words near the end).

C'Mon People is a big voice number and it's a sort of stirring people into action, into being better people. A nice track and a nice way to end, although....

A hidden track exists beyond this if you allow the CD to continue playing a bit longer, "Cosmically Conscious", although this is the weakest track/piece on the album anyway.

Overall, one of Paul's best albums and a must for any McCartney fan.
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on 29 November 2002
Riding on the back of a massively successful world tour and just before going off on another one, this feels like an album that was churned off too quickly.
This was the first album from which McCartney didn't have a single hit, and you can see why. The potential singles, like "Looking for Changes" aren't quite up to it, for all their hard hitting lyrics.
But it isn't all disastrous. "Golden Earth Girl" is an exquisite song, with lovely instrumentation from Carl Davis, and "I Owe It All To You" and "Peace in the Neighbourhood" would stand up well on any McCartney album.
The closer, "C'mon People" produced by George Martin hints at the appropriate epicness but doesn't quite achieve it.
If you are a fan, there will be enough to please you, but tracks like "Biker Like an Icon" just make you cringe. Definitely one of his lesser albums.
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on 1 July 2001
This album is, in my opinion, one of Paul McCartney's finest and perfectly showcases his incredible songwriting ability. "Looking for changes" is a hard hitting song dealing with animal experimentation and there are other songs dealing with social issues. The album has its lighter moments too and there are some beautiful romantic songs on it. My favourite songs are "Hope of Deliverance" (uplifting and optimistic), "I owe it all to you", "Golden Earth Girl", "The lovers that never were" and "Winedark open sea" (four sweet, sincere love songs written in McCartney's inimitable way). There is something for everyone here and anyone who enjoys melodic pop songs with meaningful lyrics will enjoy this album.
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on 14 April 2015
I bought this as I already owned all the McCartney albums from Flaming Pie through to New and had missed Off The Ground when it was released. When I first listened to it I didn't think it was anything like as strong as his more recent albums from Chaos and Creation onwards, including Electric Arguments. I went back to Off the Ground some weeks after buying it and found I was wrong and that it is at least as strong as his more recent output. I don't think there is a weak track on the album. It's an album that really grows on you. It's now one of my favourite McCartney albums. How this album got bad reviews when it was released I cannot imagine. It's great. Nice one Paul. Please keep on making great music.
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on 2 June 2007
This is a really unique album which shows some of Mackas feelings towards contriversial subjects like animal testing, 'Lookin For Changes' is a nice rocking tune putting forward that he feels animals should not be tested and portraying the people who do as senseless, i don't believe in animal testing either so it really appealed to me but regardless ita rocking tune! 'Peace in the Neighbourhood' is a really calm and soft meningfull tune. 'Hope of Deliverance' a nice swinging tune. 'Off the Ground' catchy rocking song.

All in all, a good buy for your money, it is well worth it, wouldn't be the same if you didn't add it to your McCartney collection!
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on 11 September 2013
Paul was recording a lot in the late '80s and early '90s, with live and cover and symphonic albums, but I still have a soft spot for his three big studio albums of the time. This is the last of them and probably the weakest, but only because 'Flowers In the Dirt' especially was so strong. My favourite's the showstopping 'C'Mon People', a very Beatles piano-then-everything number with a very strong tune and an actual near-Beatles song to fade out. He moves on from 'My Brave Face's' lyrics with some heartfelt place-exchanging gender politics in the lyrics with the standout 'Mistress and Maid', another collaboration with Elvis Costello.

Lead single 'Hope of Deliverance' is bright and cheery with a lot of 'whoops' on it, while 'Looking for Changes' is an angry rocker about animal rights. While the issue isn't mine, it's refreshing to have him suddenly tear off some lyrics that really mean something to him - I'm not sure they do on 'Biker Like An Icon', which is a catchy rocker where the words sound like they're just chosen for a pleasing rhyme. Other rockers include 'Get Out of My Way', which has a great barrelling swagger, and 'Off the Ground', which is OK. So while it's not as interesting or lyrically powerful an album as its predecessor, it does have more songs with a rocking sound! 'Golden Earth Girl' and especially 'Winedark Open Sea' with its big soulful vocals are strong ballads as well, though I could do without 'Peace in the Neighbourhood'. And I nearly forgot the other song co-written with Costello: 'The Lovers That Never Were' is a big, tearing song of loss that's almost threatening. Not a giant of an album, then, but a good one.
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on 4 March 2004
My opinion of this album has changed a fair bit over the years and, though it is far from his best, there are some things to recommend it (At least musically).

The title track, Hope of Deliverance, I Owe It All To You, Golden Earth Girl, The Lovers That Never Were, Winedark Open Sea, C'Mon People do make up for the slightly ludicrous lyrics on Biker Like An Icon or the preachy Looking For Changes.

I used to think it was terrible and, though it is still not the place to start if you have a passing interest in McCartney's work and want to know more, it still has its moments.
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on 5 December 2013
not as bad as it was reviewed at the time of release with a few quite good songs..but "Biker like an icon"...please!
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