Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Flaming Pie Album Review

Release date: May 1997 

Artwork: I really like the cover to this album. The picture and effects are good, it is laid out well and has good use of natural colours. It captures Paul's personality well and it seems to make a statement on the maturity of the album. Subtle but strong and effective.

General Comments: This album just works and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that is not to say that is has not got some great individual tracks on it, it has. It just works as an album and has a good feel about it. Paul seems comfortable with himself and seems to be content to be himself. Like most Paul albums it has a couple of moments that let it down and I think the blues tracks are filler. However, this is top quality Macca and one of his best and most enjoyable. 

Track by Track:
1. The Song We Were Sining
A strong opening track that slowly builds acoustically. It seems to be semi-autobiographical and harks back to the 1960's. Certainly a song to smoke a pipe to and sip some wine. A great start and really defines the tone of the album. 8/10
2. The World Tonight
The second single on the album with a gritty guitar and a great hook. Some good lyrics and proof that Paul still had it in him to rock. I loved this track at the time and although it is not loved quite as much now, it is still a very good track and should be listened to loudly!  7.5/10
3. If You Wanna
I seem to remember that this was the most instant song on the album and really enjoying it although it never transcends any higher. Simply cruises along and has a great relaxed, sun drenched, driving mood. Like the double meaning of 'trip' in this one. Solid. 7/10
4. Somedays
A beautiful acoustic track with a longing emotional vocal that adds to its sadness and beauty. Everything about this track is lovely, except the 'scored the goal' line. I don't like Paul's football analogy's in his songs and he has done it 2-3 times. Just does not sound right for some reason. Otherwise fantastic. 8/10
5. Young Boy
The first single that simply bounces along with carefree joy. It just makes you feel good and happy. It is catchy and is one of those effortless Paul songs that seem to come so naturally. A high quality song that deserved to be a massive hit. 9/10
6. Calico Skies
Another acoustic song and it seems to have grown in meaning since Linda's death. It has loving lyrics and a beautiful melody. Also has a nice subtle anti-war message. Still played live quite often and deserves its wider audience. Again just beautiful. 8/10
7. Flaming Pie
A live favourite of Paul's. Fun and instant and still quite enjoyable but does not have that much staying power. 6.5/10
8. Heaven On A Sunday
This is one I really was not that keen on when first released, however it is really growing on me now. I find this track peaceful, restful and wishful. 7/10
9. Used To Be Bad
Also features Steve Miller. A overlong blues dirge that is the sort of thing that is great fun live in a small venue and would have been fun just as a b-side. The first real low point of this album. 4.5/10
10. Souvenir
Another excellent track which mixes a sparse arrangement with a increasingly prominent guitar. Paul's vocals really are on top form on this one. I love the ending to this track too. Although, it sounds nothing like it I always think this is a cousin to 'I'm Carrying' from 'London Town'. 7/10
11. Little Willow
Another beautiful moving track showing Paul's maturity in song writing. Very emotional and another acoustic classic. 8/10
12. Really Love You
The sister to 'Used to Be Bad' but this one features Ringo and I slightly prefer it as I think it has a bit more bite. Works well on the 'Twin Freaks' album. OK, but would have rather it left off the album. One out of the two of these bluesy numbers would have been OK but they just get skipped I am afraid. 5/10
13. Beautiful Night
A wonderful song of very high quality. Very much sounds like a Beatle track done in the 1990's. A real epic starting with just Paul and piano to orchestra to full work and rock out. Ringo adds to this track and there is not one part I do not like. Perfect, and again, should have been a huge hit. A classic that never was. 9.5/10
14. Great Day
So simple, so catchy, so uplifting, so good. 8.5/10

Overall score: 104/140
Overall score indexed: 74%
Advice: BUY NOW!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Before anyone says........

I know I have missed Choba B CCCP, but I will come back to it!

Off the Ground Album Review

Release date: February 1993 

Artwork: There is nothing much wrong with this cover. The feet of Paul, Linda and the band dangling is quite funny and it has a strong photograph to accompany.

General Comments: A mixed affair really, it has a handful of very very good tracks and then a handful of tracks that are amongst the dullest and most uninspiring of his career. Again some of the b-sides were very good and would have made it a much better album. It generally has a warmer production feeling about it compared to 'Flowers in the Dirt' although it is of nowhere near of the same quality. This album was again promoted with another tour - the 'New World Tour'.

Track by Track:
1. Off the Ground
Pretty and catchy enough really, but weak and lightweight. I do not really have much time for this track. 5/10
2. Looking for Changes
Another weak track. It is a rocker with a political message but should have been swapped with one of the better b-sides. Not a good opening couple of tracks really, the album has not got hold of the listener.  5/10
3. Hope of Deliverance
Finally the album starts...with a  great catchy single showing Paul at his melodic best. It is a high quality song that makes you think you have heard it already. I love the simple acoustic foundation of this track. This, in another time and another place, could have been a big hit. In fact, in Germany it was! 8/10
4. Mistress and Maid
A very solid track written with Costello. Reminds me very much of 'In Liverpool'. Good quality but I can't help thinking with a bit more effort it could have been even better. 7/10
5. I Owe It All to You
I really love this song, it is one of the best on the album. The verses are particularly strong. It has an uncomplicated sincerity about it with a understated but really good vocal. Certainly one to discover if you have not yet had the pleasure. 8/10
6. Biker Like An Icon
A much criticised track and I can see why, but having said that I do think that there is a basis of a good song and idea here, but it ultimately fails.  Just passable though. 5/10
7. Peace In The Neighbourhood
A lightweight and poor song with a wooden performance that has no feeling. Should have never even made a b-side. 3.5/10
8. Golden Earth Girl
A lovely song that is a sister to 'Warm and Beautiful'. This is a moving heartfelt piano based ballad and is one I enjoy very much. 7/10
9. The Lovers That Never Were
This is a top notch song written again with Elvis Costello. A nice little introduction and is strong throughout. One of their best co-writes and a very welcome addition to Paul's catalogue. Check it out and let it into your soul. 8/10
10. Get Out Of My Way
A track that all seem to have fun on! Paul does a modern take on rock'n roll. Good stuff but would still have preferred this to have been an extra track or b-side.  5.5/10
11. Windedark Open Sea
An interesting lovely little song that really does grow on you. Paul's vocals are quite heartfelt on this and although not a masterpiece it is a really good album track. 6/10
12. C'mon People / Cosmically Conscious
I cannot deny that I do not enjoy this track even though somehow I think Paul is trying too hard to write a classic. It is quite an epic and does remind you a little of that band from the 60's!  All and all this was a strong and good single which again should have been a decent size hit. Transcends into 'Cosmically Conscious' which was written in the 60's, it works well and is a nice surprising way to bring the album to a close. 7.5/10

Overall score: 73.5/120
Overall score indexed: 61%

Friday, 27 August 2010

Choba B CCCP Album Review

Release date: September 1991 (Worldwide) USSR only October 1988

Artwork: Designed to look like a Russian bootleg album and succeeds. Therefore, I like it - perfect for the job.

General Comments: An album I must admit that is the only Macca album (bar classical) that have never actually owned on an original format, although I had the tracks on originals as b-sides/extra tracks from Once Upon a Long Ago and My Brave Face releases and taped on cassette. However, thanks to Jolanda for providing with a full CD quality copy to allow me to complete my review and listen to it for the first time in good quality and right the way through in the correct order. It is only appropriate that I should have, in effect, a bootleg copy!

I have been playing it to refresh my memory and to get to know it better. Just like Run Devil Run these kind of albums are quite hard to review. It fun but not really my cup of tea and not a labour of love to review - so as with Run Devil Run I am sorry for the somewhat dull review. This is not as good as RDR and the production in some tracks has dated a little, but there are still some high octane tracks on here which are enjoyable to play every now and then although they lack the most of RDR.

Track by Track:
1. Kansas City
This was on Beatles for Sale and is a great song and Paul does another good job here to give a solid start to the album.  6/10
2. Twenty Flight Rock
The track that helped Paul get into the Beatles just had to be here. He must have put more life into it in 1956! 5/10
3. Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Like most of the album, a pretty solid version but nothing out of this world. Somehow this kind of music was very much 'be, there, then'. I was not there then. 5/10
4. I'm In Love Again
Boring. 4/10
5. Bring It On Home To Me
An excellent vocal on this one and a really good song. Better than John's version. 6/10
6. Lucille
This is a song that Paul likes and he sings it like he is 19 again. This recording is a little bland though. 5/10
7. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
I like this interpretation as Paul seems to add some of his own personality to it. 7/10
8. I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Some Day
Clearly an enjoyable recording, but I don't like the song or Paul's version. 4/10
9. That's All Right Mama
Paul really can do Elvis! A great version of a great song. Very enjoyable  7/10
10. Summertime
A poor choice as a cover version as I don't think it is suited to Paul. I don't really enjoy listening to it and the production sounds a little dated. 3/10
11. Ain't That A Shame
The best performance on the album and a real blast to listen to. This is the one track I would actively seek out to play. 7/10
12. Crackin'Up
One of those songs you forget that you actually know really well until you hear a version of it. A solid cover. 5/10
13. Just Because
Over long but OK. 4/10
14. Midnight Special
Paul clearly really likes this one but I much prefer the version he sometimes plays live. Great fun though. 5/10

Overall score: 73/140
Overall score indexed: 52%

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Flowers in the Dirt Album Review

Release Date: June 1989

Artwork: A strong album title and a decent album cover. No major complaints at all here.

General Comments: The longest gap of his career between albums saw the slow start of a critical rebirth and he got his best reviews since TOW. A little mention to a couple of classic Macca tracks released between Press to Play and Flowers in the Dirt, these are Once Upon a Long Ago and Back on My Feet, both of which were of very high quality and a good sign of what was to come. This album caused great excitement as it was to be followed by his first tour in 10 years and it was good enough to play many of the tracks live. There are some stellar Macca moments on this album, a couple of duds and of course some great b-sides that should have made the cut. Nothing changes in Maccaland then!

Track by Track (based on my LP vinyl version):

1. My Brave Face
What a song and what a return to the music scene. This is joyous, instant, has great lyrics, a great tune and is simple but complex. Elvis Costello has a very positive influence on this song. This could have been a Beatle single it is that good. Love the cover to this single - I bought the cassette single of this one! Has a great b-side by the way, 'Flying to My Home', check it. 10/10
2. Rough Ride
A bit of a come down after that start with one of the weak songs on the album.A sort of a blues jam. This should have been the b-side and 'Flying to My Home' replacing it. Has some cheesy production that was cheesy even then.  I get bored of this track very quickly. 4.5/10
3. You Want Her Too
The best duet Paul has done. Paul and Elvis work perfectly on this and they play their rolls to type. Good tune, funny and really well put together. Love the harmonies too. 8/10
4. Distractions
Just gorgeous. A clever ballad in the same class as 'Here, there and Everywhere' It is that good. Lovely. 9/10
5. We Got Married
Another high quality ballad. Some of the lyrics are a little weak and it edges on a power ballad at times but that is being very picky. Beautiful really. 7.5/10
6. Put it There
Three is a row, another almost perfect ballad. Mainly Paul on acoustic guitar. This song is so instant that you are singing along before it ends. A Macca classic. 8/10
7. Figure of Eight
This track I have never really fallen in love with like many have. It is an average rocker in my opinion, good fun but relatively bland. I know many will disagree. One day it will really click with me I am sure. It is growing on me but very very slowly.  6/10
8. This One
When this was released I was convinced that it would get to number 1. It is one of the most instant and catchy songs Paul has ever released. High quality is this one! 9/10
9. Don't Be Careless Love
Another Costello co-write. This is the most frustrating song on the album. It is such a great song, but I don't like the production at all. Has a gorgeous introduction but I hate the backing track. Still enjoyable though but the demo of this is just wonderful. 7/10
10. That Day is Done
This is another excellent song and another Costello co-write. It is different than the type of song Paul is used to doing and he sings with soul, passion and longing. This gets me quite emotional.  8/10
11. How Many People
A happy song with a reggae beat. Not one of my favs but OK.  5.5/10
12. Motor of Love
The production of this song has dated it and it is over long but is quite a good song really. 5.5/10

Overall score: 88/120
Overall score indexed: 73%

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Press to Play Album Review

Release Date: September 1986

Artwork: A lovely black and white shot of Paul taken with a very old fashioned camera I seem to recall. It's a cool cover and I suppose reminds me a little of Double Fantasy. Nice font type too. Overall the packaging and imagery and illustrations are very good. A thumb a loft for this one.

General Comments: This album does deserve to be revisited as it is nowhere near as bad as people seem to make out these days. In fact I really like this album. A couple of the b-sides yet again should have been on the LP album proper which would have made it better, particularly the great 'Tough on a Tightrope'. The production has dated on many tracks but this should not hide some of the real quality on here. Many of the tracks were co-writes with Eric Stewart of 10cc. Not a classic but a very solid middling Macca album, it probably the one album in his collection that I would love to see him record again and do a better job. The songs are good.

Track by Track (based on my LP vinyl version):

1. Stranglehold
This track has actually grown on me as the years have rolled by. Did not really like it back in '86. Now and despite the brass I think it is a really good rocker and a good start to the album. 6/10
2. Good Times Coming/Feel the Sun
A really good track which is quite mellow and melodic and gets you very quickly. Makes you feel positive. The Feel the Sun segment is a bit harder but good also. 6/10
3. Talk More Talk
One of my favourites at the time of release and slightly more interesting creative than much of the album. I like when there is something more going on in a track and I still enjoy this. Give it a chance you might like it too. 6/10
4. Footprints
Every now and then this briefly becomes one of my fav Macca songs and it deserves it too. It is a hauntingly beautiful acoustic driven ballad. Makes you think of Christmas, it could have been a big Christmas hit if it was a single and promoted correctly. A little cracker. 8/10
5. Only Love Remains
This a really well constructed and thoughtful ballad, with good vocal and good lyrics. It is actually a lot better, cleverer and more mature than some of his better loved ballads. Give this song another chance if you have not played it for years. 8/10
6. Press
Actually a very catchy pop single that should have really been a Top Ten hit as it had the credentials to be. A fun video on the tube train was a highlight at the time. It does sound dated in production terms but the song is actually half decent and to be honest I love it.  I have great memories of buying the 12" for this and then looking at the 10" each Saturday for weeks but the week I decided to buy it, it had gone! 7/10
7. Pretty Little Head
A slight move to the underground for Paul with a more experimental track, not groundbreaking by any means but still a brave move. The single version was better but it is an interesting if uncommercial track and it is very good too. Full marks for effort. 7/10
8. Move Over Busker
Another above average track and I would love it to be recorded again today as it is really very good. 6.5/10
9. Angry
Never liked this one and having Phill Collins on it (which I actually did not know for a few years) hardly helps! 4/10
10. However Absurd
This was the track that was heralded at the time to be the big Beatle quality track. It is not, but has some nice moments I suppose. 5/10

Overall score: 63.5/100
Overall score indexed: 63.5%

Give My Regards to Broad Street Album Review

Release Date: October 1984

Artwork: A soundtrack album for his movie project that did not really work. My dream job would have been a film poster designer, I love them. It was a great missed opportunity to have created something of a really high standard for this project. Sadly, everything was just average - like the movie. Although it does have some great performance sequences.

General Comments: Because of its nature this is a very hard to review, especially track by track. The re-recordings of some great Beatles, Wings and solo songs make them hard to critcise. I guess as they were in the album, those re-recorded versions has to be on the album though - I would imagine they helped sales too!. Overall it is a good but disjointed soundtrack with production that is very 1980's. This album probably gets played once every 8 years in my household! It does contains the wonderful 'No More Lonely Nights' which is worth the price alone. This album comes out higher than it should do really in the ratings. I wish I could introduce a handicap system to the scoring!  I am afraid my review is a little uninteresting, so apologies in advance.

Track by Track:

1. No More Lonely Nights (ballad)
A classic mid tempo ballad which has a fantastic sweet McCartney vocal, a wonderful structure and a fantastic guitar solo played by Dave Gilmour. It is catchy but classy. A mature high quality single and his last really big hit in the UK. 9/10
2. Good Day Sunshine
How can you score some of the Beatle tracks on this album poorly? Well, the versions are OK but unnecessary and lack a certain soul. Pointless.  6/10
3. Yesterday
Ditto. 6/10
4. Here, There and Everywhere
One of my favourite Beatle tracks, but see above above. 6/10
5. Wanderlust
I prefer the Tug of War version but this version is still great! 9/10
6. Ballroom Dancing
Not that different from TOW version. Still a good track. 6.5/10
7. Silly Love Songs
Not a patch on the original version. 5/10
8. Not Such a Bad Boy
Both this and No Values are pretty good tracks and certainly would have made Pipes of Peace a much better album. A decent rocker really. I put this and No Values in a similar box as Figure of Eight. 6.5/10
9. So Bad
Not that different from TOW version. A good track. 6.5/10
10. No Values
A solid rock track this one which is enjoyable and played with vigour. Simple but effective.  6.5/10
11. For No One
Again one of my absolute favourite Beatle songs but what is the point of this version? 6/10
12. Eleanor Rigby/Dream
See earlier comments, but the classical Eleanor's Dream at least adds some interest and variation on the original track and how elements of it can be developed into something else. 6/10
13. The Long and Winding Road
I do not like the saxophone in this but at least it has been made to be a little different than the original. However, the one track you thought he would want to do again, Paul decides to have an orchestral backing which is strange really considering. Still a lovely song but not a patch on the stunning Let it Be...naked version or even the Let it Be version. 5/10
14. No More Lonely Nights (playout version)
I guess in the context of the album this version works and that is what a soundtrack album is meant represent. It is quite a different take on the song and has a passing interest. 4/10.
15. Goodnight Princess
A 1940's pastiche. Nothing special. Goodnight indeed. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. 3.5/10.

Overall score: 92/150
Overall score indexed: 61%

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Pipes of Peace Album Review

Release Date: October 1983

Artwork: Very bland and uninspiring cover although nothing technically wrong with it. Much like much of the album really.  

General Comments: Hard to review as it was round about this time that I started to get into McCartney and very much remember the release of this album. Therefore, the memories cloud my judgement a little on its quality. However, there are some good tracks on here and many of the not so good one's still make me smile. Ringo and George Martin appear again as do the last of the tracks Denny Laine worked on in some form. The album is very much the leftovers from Tug of War and often the lack of quality shows. However, I still enjoy this album more than some I will probably score higher!

Track by Track:

1. Pipes of Peace
Paul's last UK number hit single. Does sound a little dated but has a lovely intro and beautiful harmonies towards the end. This was a perfect Christmas single and brings back happy family memories. I still think that The Beatles would have released this as single if they had stayed together. It has a certain quality about it that is underrated. But just because it is Paul solo it gets slated, I think that if 'Hello, Goodbye' was Paul solo it would have got slated but as it is The Beatles it does not. I like both by the way! 7.5/10
2. Say Say Say
This is by far and way the best of the three Jacko songs (not difficult) and is actually a very good funky song that is infectious and joyful. It is not deep or anything, just good fun pop music with a great groove. 7/10
3. The Other Me
Much ridiculed for its 'dustbin lid' lyric but that aside is not a bad track which could have been a very good one. Actually quite a personal lyric which is sung beautifully. 6/10
4. Keep Under Cover
This has a great intro and the rest although actually very good does not live up to that. However, one of the better quality tracks on this album. Wish the computer strings were not used though. 7/10
5. So Bad
A little like Girlfriend, I actually think this is a lovely song and enjoy it. Sweet melody and beautifully sung in Paul's high range - those were the days. 7/10
6. The Man
Another Jacko duet and although it has a couple of good things about it and is certainly listenable, it has many more that are not. Better than The Girl is Mine though! 5/10
7. Sweetest Little Show
This one has a 50's feel to it. OK I suppose but b-side material like much of the album. 4.5/10
8. Average Person
One of my favourites at the time, it simply bounces along with fun. Still makes me smile, not really that good a song but I always quite enjoy it for some reason. 5.5/10
9. Hey Hey
An instrumental with Stanley Clarke. Should have kept it for the theme tune to a quiz show. Not good. 3/10
10. Tug of Peace
Is this actually a song? Very dated and an insult to its almost namesake Tug of War. Bad idea, poor executed. I can hardly listen to this and I advise you not to too. I liken it to a Yoko scream! 1/10
11. Through our Love
This is actually a lovely ballad which has a really nice sentiment. Paul can write these kind of songs in his sleep, but it does not mean that they are not good. The chorus is beautiful. Would like to see this song re-recorded and arranged. 7/10

Overall score: 60.5/110
Overall score indexed: 55%
Advice: Thank God you can download individual tracks these days!