Sunday, 12 September 2010

Driving Rain Album Review

Release date: November 2001

Artwork: Taken no doubt due to the camera phone craze that was starting around about that time - although the camera's were not of great quality yet. This cover is oft criticised but to be honest I don't mind it and have always loved photos in black and white. However, that does not mean it is great. The booklet contained lots of similar shots and the 'idea' works better in the inside packaging.

General Comments: Paul's first release of all original material since Linda's death and since he fell in lust again. It produced one of Paul's most underrated albums. Paul is shown coming out of the comfort zone and experimenting again as well as rocking harder than since Back to the Egg (another one of Paul's big underrated albums). It is a shame that Paul felt the urge to tag 'Freedom' onto the end and I also think that it is 2 or 3 tracks too long. Otherwise this is a cracking album that should have more credit.

In the UK it was the start of a slow change of opinion that Paul could still produce relevant music - not that is has gone far enough yet though. This album coupled with a successful tour, and then Glastonbury, Chaos and Electric Arguments really did Paul a lot of good in his general standing. Therefore, I see this as quite an important album in his career. Sales and chart position were dire as was the promotion/support by EMI.

Track by Track:
1. Lonely Road
Wow! that deep bass that starts this song and the album seems to announce that 'I'm back, I'm Paul and I really CAN play the bass'. There is something about this song that I never tire of and in fact it grows in quality in each listen.  The swampy, grungy, bluesy but somehow upbeat atmosphere created is great, the lyrics are really good and the vocals sound like they mean it. This is a driving song of high quality. A great opener and I can't find fault about anything on it.  9/10
2. From a Lover to a Friend
Perhaps not the best of choices commercially as a single but this song is excellent. Why Paul is considered lightweight when he writes like this I'll never know. This is honest, emotional and from the heart. You can tell the passion and sincerity in Paul's voice. The 'la la la's' work for me they show the inner turmoil perfectly. If John had produced this it would have been considered a classic. As far as I am concerned this is as good as anything on Plastic Ono Band / Imagine album's. Part of this song is actually reminiscent of 'How' or at least the lyrics are. However, that should not take anything away from the quality of this track. 8.5/10
3. She's Giving Up Talking
This brings to a close three fantastic opening tracks to this album and all very different in style but still working perfectly together. Interesting production, effects, vocal style and subject matter on this one. This was my favourite on first listen to this album and is still one of the tracks I put on a compilation CD if I am trying to prove Paul's solo work is just as interesting and creative as his 1960's work. 7/10
4. Driving Rain
This is a typical example of when Paul needs a really good and strong producer who just says 'there is a good song somewhere there Paul,  the lyrics are dreadful and the song needs some work, go away and come back'. If this was done there would have been a really good song at the end of it. Instead the whole album is built round it and promoted in its name. However, I really like the ending of this track. 5/10
5. I Do
A really pretty enjoyable ballad. Again it has reflective sad but upbeat lyrics - Paul manages to do this quite often somehow. Another very good heartfelt song of love, life and loss. 7/10
6. Tiny Bubble
Not so good this one. Sounds to me like an left over from 'Pipes of Peace'. Still quite listenable though, but one that should not have made the cut. A solid b-side though. 5/10
7. Magic
Clearly this is an ode to Linda and their meeting. Not quite as magic as it could have been and I would have loved to have seen this song had more work on it and maybe stripped down a little bit. It meanders a little too much without going anywhere. Interesting ending though, in fact many songs of this album have nice little intro's and outro's. Still a not a bad track. 6/10
8. Your Way
This is a nice almost country style acoustic love song that would have fitted on Paul's early solo albums.  Enjoyable and again heartfelt. This overall seems to be quite a personal album. 6/10
9. Spinning on an Axis
Maximum points for effort in trying something different here but it is not that good really. I think Paul is trying to be too modern. Has some good moments, but way over long, does not go anywhere and already sounds dated. 5/10
10. About You
One of the best rockers of Paul's career. This should be played live it is that good. The band sound great and Paul sings great too. Another track to play to the disbelievers! 8/10
11. Heather
I think it would not be far wrong to say that this is the best instrumental (OK - I know there are a couple of lines towards the end) of Paul's career. It is so uplifting, the melody beautiful and the changes of pace inspiring. It is a joy. Sadly the subject matter means that Paul will never play this live or do anything with it again. Please get to know this track. I think it is pure simplicity and a sign of genius. 8/10
12. Back in the Sunshine Again
A half decent track but with knowing there are still another 4 tracks to go you are beginning to need a little break from the album which is why I think the album could do with a little edit. Another very good vocal. Actually this could be really interesting done in a soul jazz arrangement by another artist.  6/10
13. Your Loving Flame
A classic McCartney style piano based ballad and a good quality one too. It does not 100% fit with the style of the album, but still pleased of its inclusion. 7/10
14. Riding to Jaipur
Yet another different and interesting sound and style for the album. Indian themed and mantra like. GH would have been proud and a little jealous.  7/10
15. Rinse the Raindrops
Well, if there was any doubt that Paul could not still rock then this 10 minutes of sheer gritty, dirty, heavy music needs to be exhibit number one. The vocal, music and various different passages of this track are both intense and great. Should have been the last track on the album and was until the events of 9/11 and the addition of a bonus track.  8/10
16. Freedom
I suppose this quickly knocked off song is harmless enough. However, I wish it had just been played at that concert and remembered as part of that day and the people it meant something too. Paul is not great at protest songs and sadly this song has been misread with the use of the word 'fight' I bet Paul wrote this in about 10 minutes though which I guess shows that he is very talented but should really on occasion work that little harder. 3.5/10

Overall score: 112/160
Overall score indexed: 70%


  1. "She's Giving Up Talking" is still one of the tracks I put on a compilation CD

    So it needs to go on your favourite 50

  2. Nope, not good enough for that. Just an interesting different good track.