paul getting some love and appreciation

Discussions of various topics about Paul not covered in the forums below.

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paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby chris » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:57 pm

Paul McCartney: Busting a few myths

Paul McCartney isn’t one to undermine his fans’ expectations. With tickets as pricey as $250 plus service fees for his concerts July 31 and Aug. 1 at Wrigley Field, he is certain to deliver plenty of vintage Beatles and Wings-era hits.

McCartney in stadium-pleasing mode remains formidable, a brilliant musician with an excellent band anchored by drummer Abe Laboriel. But he’s also a rare ‘60s icon: one who still is making vital albums.

One of the frustrating aspects of the modern, over-priced stadium show is that it often precludes risk-taking by veteran performers. In many cases, there’s a good reason for that: Their recent material is drab if not embarrassing. McCartney’s a different story, however. Those who wrote him off in the ‘80s and ‘90s need to take another look. Those who loved the bold experimentation of his Beatles work have some catching up to do.

With McCartney set to hit town for his first shows here since 2005, it’s time to bust some long-standing myths about him and examine the relatively underappreciated corners of his music, including some of the stuff he won’t play at Wrigley.

Myth No. 1: John was the edgy one

John Lennon was the edgy rocker, McCartney the lightweight balladeer. That’s bunk.

Sure, Lennon battered down the doors of perception in Beatles songs such as “Strawberry Fields,” “I Am the Walrus” and “Rain,” and confronted reality with jarring directness in solo tracks such as “Cold Turkey,” “Mother” and “God.” But he also wrote some gloriously sentimental tunes about how “love is all you need,” and later, once he left the Beatles, allowed himself to get positively mushy about his newfound domesticity.

McCartney was more likely to dispense group hugs – rare was the ‘60s rocker who empathized with the older generation in songs such as “She’s Leaving Home.” His very English tributes to dancehall music (“When I’m 64”) or his sheepdog (“Martha My Dear”) are about as un-rock ‘n’ roll as you can get. But McCartney balanced these moments with more than his share of experimentation, daring and, yes, Lennon-like intensity.

"Helter Skelter,” in many ways a forerunner of heavy metal, was McCartney unhinged – the throat-shredding vocal, the distortion-saturated attack, the clenched-teeth tension in the studio relieved only by drummer Ringo Starr blurting “I got blisters on me fingers!” as the song crashes to a close.

McCartney helped invent progressive rock, too, by conceptualizing and then stitching together (along with producer George Martin) the song fragments that make up Side 2 of the 1969 masterpiece “Abbey Road.”

The gonzo guitar solo in George Harrison’s “Taxman”? McCartney.

That ferocious soul shouter on “I’m Down” – the screams, the demented laugh, the increasingly hysterical outro? McCartney again, giving Little Richard and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins their due.

But above all, McCartney was a studio-as-instrument chemist of the first order. It was McCartney who gave Lennon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” its mind-blowing atmosphere by creating and altering sound-effect tape loops at his home. He was the Beatle paying closest attention to the experimental fringe of classical and electronic music at the time, lapping up Stockhausen and Cage alongside the Shirelles and Motown as influences. One of the finest examples of McCartney’s ability to bend space, time and minds, the 14-minute collage "Carnival of Light," remains locked in the Beatles vaults.

After the Beatles broke up, the amiable gentleman of pastoral leisure could still get downright weird amid bouts of schmaltz and indifference; his solo work shows far greater range than Lennon’s, from the whimsical yet dazzling inscrutability of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” to his ahead-of-their-time electronic albums as the Fireman with the producer Youth.

Myth No. 2: Paul's just the bass player

Sure, and Mozart was just a hack piano player from Salzburg. The bass may be an unsung instrument, but it’s the bedrock of rock ‘n’ roll and soul. What’s more, McCartney reinvented its role in the Beatles, not just laying down a foundation for the song but often playing a strong counterpoint to the lead vocal. One of the reasons the Beatles’ songs sound so rich is the depth of composition, the melodic and harmonic layers – and McCartney’s ability to straddle rhythm and melody on bass was critical.

His flair was already apparent on the band’s earliest hits; on “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1964), the bass is on equal footing with the guitars, and it’s like a song in itself on “Michelle” (1965). By the time of “Paperback Writer” (1966), McCartney is the lead instrumentalist, ushering in each verse like Britain’s answer to Motown’s James Jamerson. He’s nearly in subterranean funk territory with the deep tones of “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” (1967) and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (1968), and stomps likeGodzilla through “Rain” (1966) and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” (1968).

His knack for adapting his approach to whatever the song and the times demanded was key to the Beatles’ wide-ranging catalog, and it’s evident in his post-Beatles recordings as well. Denigrate “Silly Love Songs” (1976) all you want, but that bass line will pull you on the dancefloor everytime. He’s a soul-man extraordinaire on the slow-burn “Let Me Roll It” (1973) and a machine-gunning rocker on “Soily” (1976). He navigates “Lonely Road” (2001) with a thrilling authority; listen closely and you can hear his amplifier buzzing.

Myth No. 3: His music’s gone downhill ever since Wings broke up

After some strong albums with his band Wings in the ‘70s, McCartney put things on cruise control during much of the ‘80s and ‘90s. In that sense, his career followed the arch of many ‘60s greats whose music nose-dived, never to regain its potency. But McCartney rediscovered his mojo in recent years, joining a handful of artists – Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul Simon and Neil Young come immediately to mind – whose late-career work blows past nostalgia.

On “Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard” (2005), McCartney revisited the one-man-band approach he took on his 1970 solo debut and its 1980 follow-up, “McCartney II,” and trumped them both. It’s an album of small, intimate chamber-pop songs, with McCartney playing everything from drums to a flugelhorn. McCartney probably hasn’t heard the word “no” much the last few decades, but in this case producer Nigel Godrich deserves credit for not letting the bassist slide. Cool details abound: piano and strings melting into a dream-like bridge on "Fine Line"; the way two recurring notes on a toy glockenspiel become a beacon on "Riding to Vanity Fair"; the acoustic reverie “Jenny Wren,” with its wordless vocal and mournful duduk melody.

“Memory Almost Full” (2007) is even better, an unusually personal album by McCartney standards. He touches on mortality and his recent divorce without melodrama, and "Nod Your Head" and "Only Mama Knows" rock as hard as anything he’s done. In "The End of the End," he imagines his own wake, and manages to pull it off with grace, humility and humor.

His third Fireman collaboration with Youth, “Electric Arguments” (2008), is the best of all, an accomplished combination of melody and experimental mirth.

It’s the first Fireman album with vocals, and McCartney role-plays to the hilt: a mischievous elf, a growling blues patriarch, even a hint of Bono-esque bombast. "Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight" blows open the album like the son of “Helter Skelter,” and ends with McCartney barking like a dog. No, this is not your cuddly ‘60s icon coasting gracefully on his past accomplishments.

greg@gregkot.com
Copyright © 2011, Chicago Tribune
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby mr h atom » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:52 pm

chris...you're my hero

thanks for posting that

whoever that guy is (brother-in-law, maybe ?) he's mighty intuitive !

other than the fact that he released some mighty fine, non-slacking works during the '80's ( t.o.w., p.t.p. & f.i.t.d.), and my inability to see E.A. as being superior to my beloved, i could not agree more with these thoughts
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby mhnso » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:50 am

Yeah -this pretty much nails why I feel Pauls solo/wings carreer is one of the most interestin musical journeys of all. Also a neglected one when it comes to critics and status. This will change and all the stuff he has made will be there for geneations to come
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby L Dozier » Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:01 pm

chris wrote:Myth No. 2: Paul's just the bass player



Good grief, when was the last time anyone ever accused Paul of being "just the bass player"? 1963? I've never heard of such a "myth."
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby mr h atom » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:25 pm

with all due respect, LD : while the phrasing might be a bit of a shorthand, the idea by that thought, as i understood it, was clearly and most likely the one that has always lurking about: paul was/is nothing w/o john and or the others lads there to back him up

one would be missing a mighty big forest not to feel the near everpresent animosity about his supposed pomposity, arrogance and lack of abilities...when the truth, for those who can handle it, has, imho, always been far different.

even around here, on a site dedicated as much to him and his solo work as that of his time with the beatles, his multi-talented abilities are as often dismissed and mocked...this by 'fans'

i daresay, as an individual who peruses many musicians, writers and other types of creative sites, his is one of the few, both here and on the official site, where the man himself is almost as often mocked as praised

half the time, one can't even talk about how much one likes a song or an album w/o being barraged by 'fans' who will effortlessly and endlessly let you know how wrong you are and how bad he is

i think the point was well made...but, that is just my humble opinion...
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby L Dozier » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:38 pm

Fair enough. It still sounds pretty silly to me, though.
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby AFINELINE1957 » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:38 pm

Great read Chris; really enjoyed your post! I do have to mention Flowers in the Dirt, which I personnaly feel was his best 80s effort! Some great tracks that got well covered on the 90 tour!
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby chris » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:45 am

chicago tribune review august 1. 2011
Concert review: Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field
Paul McCartney could not just let it be Sunday in the first of two concerts at Wrigley Field. He played for nearly three hours and broke into a James Brown-worthy sweat, wringing new rivers of passion from songs he’s played hundreds of times.

The takeaway moment for this concertgoer was “Maybe I’m Amazed,” with McCartney at the grand piano, bringing the song to a simmer and then taking it higher and harder, with some improbable falsetto notes. The beat at times suggested the sunniness of reggae, with rhythm guitar chopping against the melody, before a flourish of drums and McCartney's fevered vocal nearly tore the song loose from its foundation.

John Lennon It was indicative of the sure, confident rapport McCartney has developed with his touring band over the last decade, and the quintet ranged across five decades of songs like a really good bar band on a hot July night. There weren’t many gimmicks, and when there were McCartney made fun of them. A Guns N' Roses concert broke out in the middle of “Live and Let Die” with pyro and fireworks, prompting the bassist to crack jokes at the excess while waving away smoke like an annoyed landlord putting out a grease fire in an apartment.

It was a steamy night, but McCartney didn’t take any breaks, his bandmates pushing him hard. Drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. was, as usual, the key. In 2002 at the United Center he was jacking up the tempos and McCartney put on one of his best shows in recent memory. In 2005 at the same venue, things had settled into an easy cruise. But on Sunday, Laboriel was again making his larger-than-life presence felt, his giddy-up fills putting an atomic bounce in “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Day Tripper” and “Helter Skelter.”

McCartney switched among his trademark violin-shaped Hofner bass, acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, ukulele and piano. His band mutated around him into whatever shape the song needed: a ska beat in “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” a triple-guitar British Invasion attack in “All My Loving,” a soul slow-burn in “Let Me Roll It.” The vocal interplay of Laboriel, keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickens, and guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray closely approximated the intricate Beatles counterpoint harmonies in songs such as “Paperback Writer,” “I Will” and “Hello, Goodbye.”

McCartney leaned heavily on decades-old classics, both from his most famous band (you know who) and the runner-up, Wings, whose 1973 album, “Band on the Run,” was showcased. Even "Mrs. Vandebilt" was rolled out, its pogo-inducing beat ratcheted up into a twice-as-fast coda.

The bassist played only a smattering of more recent material, bypassing some of his strongest work in decades perhaps because it wasn’t widely played on commercial radio. But what he did single out – particularly the anthemic “Sing the Changes” from his Fireman side project with the producer Youth and the buoyant mandolin-driven “Dance Tonight” – went over well enough to suggest he should include more from such recent albums as “Memory Almost Full” and “Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard.”

McCartney didn’t just settle for easy nostalgia, though. He could’ve played audience sing-alongs such as “Hey Jude” all night. But instead the moments of a totally engaged rocker in top form kept piling up: a Jimi Hendrix tribute on “Foxy Lady,” including a string-bending McCartney guitar solo; a scrappy and raucous “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which evoked the Beatles’ earliest garage-band days; and a thundering triptych of songs from “Abbey Road” to close things down, with three guitarists, including McCartney, swapping solos after Laboriel’s Ringo-esque drum fill.

In what has become a standard piece of his concerts in recent years, McCartney also paid tribute to his late Beatles bandmates John Lennon (in “Here Today”) and George Harrison (performing Harrison’s “Something” on ukulele). McCartney reminded himself as much as his audience to say “something nice” to those you love while they’re still around to appreciate it. There’s a second part to that advice, though. To receive the compliment, it needs to be earned. On Sunday, McCartney played like he wasn’t taking anything, including his place in rock history, for granted.

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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby chris » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:50 am

chicago sun times review aug 1, 2011

Paul McCartney lives it up with a little friendly help at Wrigley Field

By THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Critic/tconner@suntimes.com July 31, 2011 11:32PM

PAUL MCCARTNEY

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

◆ 8 tonight

◆ Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison

◆ $29.50-$250

◆ (800) THE-CUBS; tickets.com

Paul McCartney began his concert Sunday night at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, his first of two at the ballpark this week, with the jaunty Beatles song “Hello, Goodbye.” This is just the latest of Sir Paul’s long and winding tours — the Up and Coming Tour blended right into this current On the Run Tour — and there seems to be no sign that the man would ever dream of actually saying goodbye.

The concert, which includes more than 30 songs and lasts more than 21/2 hours, features most of the Beatles, Wings and solo chestnuts you can think of — except “When I’m 64,” of course, which is now moot. McCartney, 69, clearly is still needed, fed and far from that song’s cozy retirement of knitting and gardening.

In fact, in the August edition of Britain’s Mojo magazine, the former Beatle relays an anecdote about a former manager who had the gall to suggest that McCartney, then 50, consider putting his feet up. “If I’m really enjoying this, why retire?” says Macca. “So I decided against it, and got rid of him. I wonder what he thinks today. Perhaps that he was right, but hopefully not.”

The manager was wrong, of course. It’s good to have McCartney still out there bashing through shows with this much unbridled spirit. Sunday’s concert was, like many McCartney shows, mostly refreshing, even if you’ve seen this same shtick from him numerous times. God knows he doesn’t need to be, but he’s still touring because he obviously is still enjoying it — and his joy, however scripted it may be, is infectious.

Sunday night found McCartney — in his first Chicago show since 2005 — quite chatty and loose, telling stories about Jimi Hendrix and Russian politicians and reacting to a lot of signs held up by adoring fans (including one seeking a job: “I’m a Priest! I’d Love to Do Your Wedding!”).

“Is that you screaming?” he asked, looming over either side of the stage on two video screens with remarkable resolution. “It’s like the first time we came here. You couldn’t hear anything for all the screaming.” So, of course, more screaming. “I always say that, ‘cause I really love to hear it.”

Backed by four strong players, including powerful and personable drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., McCartney added extra muscle to several songs, especially “Jet,” the bluesy lurch of “Let Me Roll It” (concluding in a wild, tortured solo by Mac himself), the great “Sing the Changes” and the full-bore blast of “Back in the U.S.S.R.” (yet another institution he’s outlived).

McCartney is so engaged in his music, no wonder he loves it so. Especially at the piano, he seems utterly in the moment, conscious of the words during even a trifle like “Let ’Em In” and selling the song’s subtle humor with careful timing.

As infectious as his joy may be, though, it’s also pretty exhausting. In that same Mojo interview, McCartney said something else: “People say to me, ‘You work so hard.’ We don’t work hard, we play music — we don’t work music. It sounds simplistic but it’s really true. It’s not like going into an office.”

On that point, I might quibble. Because as great as McCartney is and as worthy as his catalog remains — his whole catalog, even the often unjustly bypassed recent solo albums — a marathon McCartney concert occasionally does feel like a bit of work. The to-do list is very long. It’s quickly apparent, as it was Sunday, that we’re not going home until we’ve ticked off every Beatles and Wings highlight, and until we’ve blasted the inevitable pyro for “Live and Let Die” and nah-nah’d our way through the entirety of “Hey Jude.” Tributes to each of his late mates are also mandatory (Sunday it was “Here Today” for John Lennon, “Something” on ukulele for George Harrison), as are several unexpected cuts (he’s doing “The Night Before” for the first time). At nearly three hours a night, you do feel the need to punch a clock when filing out.

But McCartney’s a pretty good boss — a chef, really, preparing a long, stuffing menu every night, and most of his songs are treats. Even if we’re left a little woozy after gorging on the entire dessert case.

SET LIST

“Hello Goodbye”
“Junior’s Farm”
“All My Loving”
“Jet”
“Drive My Car”
“Sing the Changes”
“The Night Before”
“Let Me Roll It”
“Paperback Writer”
“Long and Winding Road”
“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five”
“Let ’Em In”
“Maybe I’m Amazed”
“I’ve Just Seen a Face”
“I Will”
“Blackbird”
“Here Today”
“Dance Tonight”
“Mrs. Vandebilt”
“Eleanor Rigby”
“Something”
“Band on the Run”
“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
“I’ve Got a Feeling”
“A Day in the Life” / “Give Peace A Chance”
“Let It Be”
“Live and Let Die”
“Hey Jude”
ENCORE
“Lady Madonna”
“Day Tripper”
“Get Back”
“Yesterday”
“Helter Skelter”
“Golden Slumbers”/”Carry That Weight”/”The End”
I want to tell her that I love her a lot, but I got to get a belly full of wine.
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Re: paul getting some love and appreciation

Postby chris » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:21 am

let me tell you something honest. i can go on and on about how great his voice is...but the truth is after years of touring it is just a wee bit worse for wear. after watching his recent concert dvd the space within us, i thought...his voice can't hit the notes. good thing he has such an amazing band to help him perform these songs, both instrumentally and vocally, he does get by with a little help. so natrurally, i was a little concerned that his voice would be even less effective this time around. my concerns were completely unwarrented.

his voice was not top notch for a 69 year old. it was just plain old top notch. he sounded as good here as he did in the back to the us tour, which i never...ever..expected. the croud soaked up every song, story (and he was most talkative this evening). the sound system was as pristine as any i'd heard before. the band, as usual, rocked hard. and they continue to evolve as well. subtle changes in solos and even tempos suggest the band really doesn't play a song in consecutive tours the same way. i like that. rock and roll is a living, breathing entity. it should come with surprises. and in this case it did.

he flubbed a lyric or two. which for me is always welcome as it means you are truly watching a live event. no canned vocals. juniors farm was amazing. let em in was completely unexpected. the night before sounded as if he smuggled in 1965 vocals. i will was a beaut. i may not get that one out of my head for a while. the only hiccup (if i had to name one) was the transition from a day in the life (are you kidding me?) to give peace a chance. and there were extended jams on more than a few songs. this is what a live rock show is all about.

and he spoke. a lot. again, another staple of live music storytelling. much of this i heard before. but that didn't seem to slow my enthusiasm. he spoke of jimi hendrix playing sgt pepper two days after it was released. he spoke of jimi "bending" his guitar out of tune, then putting a hand on his brow to block out the lights to look at the audience and ask, is eric out there? he spoke of finnaly meeting the russians (who, as it turns out, were just like us, he said) pres putin told him the first record he bought was love me do. another russian dignitary said he learned english to beatles records. he spoke of him and george learning classical guitar, and thru flubbing it, he came up with blackbird.

listen. i've seen hundreds of concerts in my time. many of them great. and i've seen paul more times than i can remember. he looks great. he sounded great. his band does whatever they have to do to make sure the song gets provided with whatever it needs that night. and i saw this show with my whole family. this is a family show, kids. and at nearly 3 hours, it will give us something to talk about for years to come.

if you get a chance to see a living legend, please do so. the set may be one we have seen multiple times before. but there is something just a wee bit unique about each and every one of them. because, after all, it is rock and roll.
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