Monday, 13 September 2010

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard Album Review

Release date: September 2005

Artwork: The simple use of an old b/w photo of Paul in the backyard taken by his brother works perfectly. We look back on Paul and Paul looks forward at us. No need for anything else. A brilliant cover.

General Comments: There seemed to be a feeling that this was going to be a good album as soon as Nigel Godrich was announced as a producer. Would it live up to the expectation? Too right it would! This is a truly wonderful album and an album in every sense of the word, most of the songs work well together and the production is warm, real, live and classy.

The songwriting is good and the playing excellent. This really is a Paul album to sit back, relax and listen to all the way through. It is Paul at his mature best. Some albums have great tracks but this has a great overall feel and togetherness that help it achieve greatness. The b-sides and associated tracks related to this album are stunning too, particularly 'I Want You to Fly', 'This Loving Game', 'She is so Beautiful' and 'Comfort of Love'. If a couple of those tracks replaced a couple of the weaker tracks on this album then I would probably have died in the knowledge that Paul has produced the final complete masterpiece that I always knew he could.

Track by Track:
1. Fine Line
A strong opening track and single that simply bounces along with joy. When I first heard this I played it about 30 times in a row as I found all the little different sections fascinating. I particularly like the outro. Strangely though it does seem a little out of place on this album as it does not quite fit with its overall feeling. Very good live. 7.5/10
2. How Kind of You
Quite a nice track with some really nice sounds. It also has a nice sentiment. In fact 'nice' is the right word. Nothing more nothing less. Fits very well as part of the album. 6.5/10
3. Jenny Wren
The Blackbird comparisons were justified as this is a very high quality song too. It has a gorgeous melody and a lovely vocal. It is beautiful and sooooooooo relaxing. 8/10
4. At the Mercy
This song is simply wonderful. It is personal and full of melancholy, you become engrossed in the song and in Paul's world. It has a great little burst of energy in the middle and this is the first track that really shows what a great producer can get out of Paul.  9/10
5. Friends to Go
Would not have been out of place on 'London Town'.  You can tell why Paul said this reminded him of George H's songs. I had been waiting for songs like this from Paul. Good lyrics, not over long in length, not trying to be over clever and the acoustic guitar being prominent. A nice folky feel. 7.5/10
6. English Tea
My mum likes this one. 5/10
7. Too Much Rain
This song is so uplifting. It is one of the best on the album. Again everything is right, a subtle piano, understated acoustic guitar and a gentle build up in instrumental back up and support and atmosphere. Perfectly constructed and not just a little gem but a big gleaming one that really does make you happy when you're sad. 10/10
8. A Certain Softness
This is so laid back and sets a very chilled mood for the listener. Has a sort of Spanish feel about it. I was not so keen on this one for the first few listens but I have finally come to really enjoy it. 6.5/10
9. Riding to Vanity Fair
The mood and tension that is created on this track again shows the role of a good producer. It really comes across as dark, bitter, regretful, hopeful, confident and of someone coming to terms with a relationship. Finally they have seen through someone and know what really counts. It is a sad song that is complete in its lyric and music. Excellent. 9/10
10. Follow Me
A nice little acoustic number which has many of Paul's trademarks. I like it as it is simple and quite uplifting. A good middle eight and for some reason some of the phrasing reminds me of Paul's work in The Beatles. 7/10
11. Promise to You Girl
A change of pace with a fantastic song. A wonderful introduction and then followed by harmonies straight from a Wings album before turning into a chugging piano rocker of very high quality. I can't tell you how much this songs just grows and grows on me. It is wonderful and I would love to hear it played live in between 1985 and Listen to What the Man Said. Great guitar solo and great everything. It sounds like the great lost Wings track. The end is as good as the start. Wow! 10/10
12. This Never Happened Before
The best out and out piano ballad Paul has written for years. Simple lyrics that actually do not end up sounding twee. Beautiful, I almost want to get married right now just to play this track. 8/10
13. Anyway/I've Only Got Two Hands
Another wonderful track of such quality you wonder is there is anything left in the tank. Again this is a mainly piano driven song which just puts a big arm around you and makes you feel warm and content. Then it moves into the hidden track that would have been great on 'McCartney' - the last 2 minutes of Paul's experimenting has enough quality melodies and sounds that would make most songwriters die happy!  9/10

Overall score: 103/130
Overall score indexed: 79%


  1. A few weeks ago I pulled out "Chaos" for the first time in about a year, and concluded once again that it is an uninvolving bland-out. Of all Paul's albums, this is the one with which my
    opinion is most at odds with the general consensus. I guess I'll never understand why it
    is considered a great album.

  2. Just goes to show how Paul and other artists can't ever please everyone.

  3. I love Chaos, but I really like English Tea, what's with all the English Tea hate? :D

    I agree with all the rest though, maybe Friends to Go a little higher, but good as always Plastic Soul Man, keep up the good work!

  4. I don't hate English Tea as these kind of Paul songs goes it is one of the better one's, just think the album does not needed it really. It did not need Paul's token twee song and it is a shame that Nigel did not say 'No' on this one, this album is classier than that. However, it does not ruin it...but oh how I wish it was not there.

  5. English Tea would have been a great b-side or even a hidden track. But, sticking the track in between songs like Friends To Go and Too Much Rain makes it look like a lousy filler.

    Great review! One of Paul's best albums.

  6. 'English Tea' is Macca taking the piss out of the perceived image of himself, hence the line 'very twee, very me'. Can't help but think you've misunderstood it slightly if you think he's put it out as a 'token twee track'. What's often forgotten about Paul is his off-beat sense of humour. I also think its placing on the album is a perfect bit of sequencing - the two tracks that sandwich it are my probably my favourites on the album, but there would be too heavy a vibe if they came one after another.

    That said, I agree with most of the other comments you've made. I tend to think tracks 12 and 13 are a little too similar in tone to be placed next to each other, but otherwise it's Paul's perfect album as far as I'm concerned.

    Love the site, btw!

  7. Thanks Mr Anonymous! I respect your view on ET although don't really agree but see where your coming from. Thanks for the comments.

  8. This is how I like my McCartney, on his own playing everything. The real McCartney II (we have waited for?) I have anyway. It's great. The songs are high quality and his piano and guitar playing are better than ever.