My Review of NEW

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My Review of NEW

Postby jgkojak » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:13 am

First of all, my Macca credentials.

I am a lifelong Macca fan. When I was 8 years old and my dad was a member of the 8-track of the month club, I remember him getting At the Speed of Sound. I played that on our portable 8-track player all summer long. Shortly after I started buying singles ($1 each) with my allowance - With a Little Luck, I've Had Enough... then I discovered my dad's 62-66 and 67-70 8-tracks, and I figured out that this guy in Wings was also in the Beatles. I was hooked. I spent the next few years (12-17) collecting all the Macca I'd missed. I've bought every Macca record the day it came out since Pipes of Peace. And I have a 99% copleAt Macca collection digitally, and most of the boots as well. To put it another way - I know my McCartney.

NEW - Overall Impressions

It appears Electric Arguments woke something up in Paul, and he reconnected his experimental/avant garde side with his pop sensibility. Because this album is essentially working out what was started on Electric Arguments (or Revolver, actually) and taking things in a more structured direction. Very few songs on here would not find a home on EA (New the exception!) Almost every song features some background electronica, some studio noise at the beginning or end, and almost every song veers off in some unexpected direction: the choir in the middle of Nineteen Hundred Eighty Five, the slow breakdown in Back Seat of My Car are repeated here (the falsetto middle 8 of Alligator, the multiple breakdowns on Road). A lot of the album feels like listening to Picasso's Last Words updated with Pro-Tools and samplers. This is not a bad thing, and if it is to excess, I'll take this over the bland (Anyway from CACIBY) or dull (Magic from Driving Rain). This record is anything but bland or dull.

It is also interesting that Paul really appears to be exploring and re-assessing what came after the Beatles. There is only one song (the best on on the album), Queenie Eye, that sounds like it was plucked straight from a Beatle record (Magical Mystery Tour, but its really Paul's missing counterpoint to Hey Bulldog on Yellow Submarine). Everything else sounds like he's re-interpolating Wings. The opener, Save Us, could have been on Back To the Egg. The proto-punk half-committed rock that devolves when we figure out that what can "save us" is "sending your love". Its not a bad song, and I'll always take a Macca rocker. Truth is, its his best rocker since The World Tonight. Likewise, I Can Bet would slate right into London Town or even Pipes of Peace without much fuss, like a bastard child of Cafe on the Left Banke and Dress Me Up as a Robber. There's a great hook in there somewhere that, like its parents, gets lost. Then there's Looking At Her, which should follow She's My Baby on Speed of Sound (that's a compliment). Its the first Macca love song not about Linda that's rather touching, and is probably the second best song here and in a different universe (time travel is involved) would be a hit. On the downside, Hosanna tries too hard, and may have worked better as a straight acoustic demo without all the effects. Likewise, Everybody Out There is a song only a Macca fan could love - its the adopted son of Hope of Deliverance and Freedom, and sounds plucked straight from Off the Ground, though its not as good as the former and loads better than the latter. It harkens back so much to a Wings sound, you can almost imagine Denny shouting "Hey!" You'll note most Macca fans asked why this wasn't the single while most non-fans were cringing. To each his own.

There are three important, straight-forward songs on here. Early Days is the most honest I've ever heard Paul be in a song not about love, and his performance (bordering on Johnny Cash/American Recordings territory) is brilliant. Likewise, Scared, which sounds like a demo (that's a compliment here) and is the most honest love song Paul has written since early Wings. It feels as direct and meaningful as Dear Friend. Get Me Out of Here, which I guess is a bonus track, is the kind of White Album country/western pastiche that Paul had really stopped doing. Its great fun and that's mostly because we all know Paul tossed this one off in 10 minutes, and its so good.

The other layer of song on here are those Electric Arguments experiments, where its clear they started with a degree of studio improv, encouraged by the various producers. Alligator and Road feel like electronic refugees from Ram, Alligator a cousin of 3 Legs, Road a unique song with rules all its own, like Back Seat. The less successful songs of this genre are On My Way To Work, which tries too hard for a Penny Lane vibe but doesn't have the melody to pull it off, and Appreciate, which is a straight out refugee from Electric Arguments and while its interesting, doesn't belong here. (What does it say that my least favorite songs on MAF and here are Gratitude and Appreciate?)

That brings us to New, the title cut. New is the most a-typical song here. It belongs, but is not in any way a sampler for the record. Likewise, its faux-60s Beatle-sheen is not really what this record (or Paul) is about. That doesn't make it an unpleasant song or bad choice for a single. Again, part of the joy is knowing Paul cooked this up on the piano in a short afternoon and its so perfect.

So New is interesting in that it begs the question - what will Paul do next? If Paul were 40 years younger, I'd say this album is the gateway to an exciting new direction for him. Realistically, I believe its more Paul responding to a piece of a re-awakened muse, rediscovering improvisation and invention and how to incorporate it into his pop records - something he lost after McCartney II. And in a way, it feels like he's reminding us what he can do, checking this element of his style off the list, exploring what can be done in a modern studio with modern tools and producers, in a way taking a bow and saying "I'm bloody Paul McCartney, the guy who invented indie pop, that's who."

Song by song:
On a scale of 1 - 10:
MUSIC: How interesting/solid is the songwriting and music?
LYRICS: How great are the lyrics?
PRODUCTION: How appropriately is the song presented?
VOCALS: How strong and appropriate to the song are they?
MOJO: Overall, how enjoyable is the song? (Example, Smile Away would get lower ratings in the first three categories, but a solid 10)

Save Us: MU- 7/LY- 9/PR- 8/VO- 6/MO- 7/37
Alligator: MU- 6/LY- 8/PR- 8/VO- 8/MO- 7/37
On My Way To Work: MU- 6/LY-8/PR- 8/VO- 7/MO- 6/35
Queenie Eye: MU- 9/LY-10/PR- 10/VO- 9/MO- 9/47
Early Days: MU-9/LY-10/PR- 10/VO- 9/MO- 9/47
New: MU-8/LY-8/PR-9/VO-7/MO-8/40
Appreciate: MU-5/LY-7/PR-6/VO-7/MO-5/30
Everybody Out There: MU-9/LY-5/PR-9/VO-8/MO-7/38
Hosanna: MU-8/LY-6/VO-6/PR-7/MO-5/32
I Can Bet: MU-7/LY-5/VO-7/PR-8/MO-8/35
Looking At Her: MU-9/LY-9/VO-9/PR-9/MO-10/46
Road: MU-7/LY-7/VO-8/PR-9/MO-8/39
Turned Out: MU-8/LY-5/VO-9/PR-9/MO-8/39
Get Me Out of Here: MU-6/LY-8/VO-9/PR-9/MO-9/41
Scared: MU-9/LY-9/VO-9/PR-8/MO-9/44

Where do I rank this one?
Right now, I'm
1. Ram, 2. Band on the Run, 3. Venus and Mars, 4. Tug of War, 5. New, 6. Flowers in the Dirt...subject to change...

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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby mr h atom » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:52 am

dang, hoss :salute yerself

that was danged impressive... :-BD

between you and M...i'm beyond hyped...

if you two, both (imho) with sterling macca-reps, agree this is a flat-out winner...i'm 110% sold down the macca river !!

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tuesday is just few days off :ymparty:
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby oobujoobu1971 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:21 am

Beautiful review, thank you.

I've no idea whether I agree with you or not as i've deliberately avoided seeking out any of the songs in advance (apart from a couple of listens of "New" on Youtube on the day it appeared), as I'm determined to go at it fresh when the CD hits my doorstep on Monday.

On the basis that my least favourite song on MAF is also Gratitude (one of my least favourite songs on any Macca album in the last 25 years), then maybe there's a good chance I'll enjoy the album as much as you have.

One question, I notice Flaming Pie isn't in your list of top Macca albums, is it just outside that list or is it really way down the scale for you? I just ask because I would struggle to justify not having it in my top 3.
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby Mattal1958 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:42 am

"Venus and Mars" in a top six?

"Flaming Pie" NOT in the top six?

Wow. OK. Everyone's entitled. I guess that's what makes McCartney such a musical force. His musical range has grabbed people with all kinds of musical taste. And, taste is subjective.

I liked the review a lot, jgkojak, but, after reading that top six list, I bet the album is even better than the review. Much better.

Just to let you know, I'm 55, and have bought EVERY Paul release since 1971's "Another Day." One of my best friends is a big Beatles fan, and we've always had these "how great is Paul?" discussions. He's always looked at the glass half empty, and I've always looked at it half full.

But, I digress...just want to hear this album, already! The samples sound great...but, again, you can't always go by samples.

BTW...not knocking your choices, jg...curious what you like so much about VENUS AND MARS enough to rank it that high? Maybe I'm missing something. I DID love it when it first came out, but over time, listening to it, it just seems thin sounding and bland.
Last edited by Mattal1958 on Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby savillerowdie » Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:08 am

Very nice review. I've been enjoying what everyone else thinks of New. Nice work on scoring each song in such detail. I think my mileage may vary a bit. Scoring like that is too much work for lazy me and I am still familiarizing myself with the material. So in my two cents review I just give my general feel for each song.
My Macca creds - I fully discovered the Beatles when I was 10. While I do recall being aware of them earlier, the Beatles were mostly background noise until the Red & Blue came out. I really first took notice with those "Beatles Alpha Omega" TV commercials that spurred the Red & Blue albums.
The first two albums I ever owned (and still have) were Ram and White Album, which I got for my birthday in '73. Pretty good start. Was bummed out to be too young and miss the WOA tour, but made up for it by seeing Paul 8 times and counting in concert. Obviously, I've got everything he's ever put out, with Ram & BOTR on the top and PoP & Broad Street at the bottom.

I got my hands on a copy of the Deluxe version yesterday afternoon. Have given it about six run throughs so far. Loved it on first listen. Love it more after six.
It's probably too early to write a review and perhaps some don't care what I think, but when you find something great, the urge to tell others about it is hard to resist.
It's premature for me to ultimately rank this in the McCartney canon, but I fail to hear how this can't be on my Top 5 McCartney list. I don't see it ever topping Ram or Band On The Run, but after that, all bets are off. I think one out of Venus & Mars, Chaos, McCartney II or Memory Almost Full are going to have to move out of my Finest Five for this one. Are there any all-time McCartney classics here? Too early to say, time will tell. One thing is certain, this is outstanding from start to finish with almost no filler.
One thing I do not get is why is there Standard vs Deluxe when the bonus tracks on Deluxe are so damn good? They are both better than New and Save Us, in my humble opinion. Why not just make the Deluxe be the Standard and have that one version. There shouldn't be a $3 or more difference between the two. I know the reason why, $$! But give us a Deluxe with the other 6 tracks that were recorded as bonus material.
Even with the "unofficial" copy I got today, I will be stopping to pick up my official copy when it comes out in the stores on Tuesday. The copy I have sounds a bit compressed in parts, but that could be from the source I got. Nevertheless, even if the finished product sounds exactly the same, I am more than pleased with the end result.
This is quite simply one of the best things Paul has ever done. The fact that he's done it at 71 years of age (the vocals sound quite fine, by the way) makes it all the more remarkable.

Save Us - Better than the live version. Decent rocker, not among my favorites, but still pretty damn good, thankuverymuch.

Alligator - Love this tune. I can't really think of anything else to compare it to other to say I think it would fit well on Driving Rain. Having said that, it is light years better than anything on Driving Rain. It just has a bit of DR sonics, to my ear.

On My Way To Work - Awesome. A little reminiscent of Why So Blue. The guitar breaks soud like Japanese music to me, to which I say, domo arigato, Mr. Macca-to!

Queenie Eye - Great track that most have heard by now. Some have said that the breakdown in the middle kills it. I think it enhances the song. The middle part reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd.

Early Days - As others have noted, this is very in the vein of Johnny Cash's American Recordings, which are tremendous in their own right. If you've nver had the pleasure to hear them, do so. If Paul did an album like those I'd be more than pleased. This is such a nice acoustic ballad and the "old man" voice suits it perfectly. It is basically Paul's nostalgic youth memories and a message to the phony/lazy historians that, "hey, I was there, pal." And they can't take that from him if they tried.

New - Really didn't like this when it first came out and it is still easily the track I like least on the album, but in the context of the album, it is more palatable than it is as a single. If I were advising Paul, I would have made this a bonus track, replaced it with Turned Out and then make I Can Bet the first single.

Appreciate - I read comparisons to Prince on this one, which I can hear, but if I was to compare this to someone else it would be Beck. The back beat reminds me of Beck's Guero. Some have called it this albums 'Gratitude'. While I liked 'Gratitude', that comparison is an insult to 'Appreciate'.

Everybody Out There - Better than the live version. I can kind of understand the comparisons to something like "Looking for Changes", but this is much better and more general in its advocacy for doing something good, which makes the song more universal, in my opinion. Love the "Do some good before you say goodbye" sentiment. Also, I hope someone can decipher the morse code at the fade out.

Hosanna - The first one or two listens I could hear that this was a beautiful ballad, but I think it takes a few more listens, at least for me, for its full beauty to soak in. I like it more each time I hear it. This will make you want to "sing hosanna to the morning sun", my friends.

I Can Bet - Would\will be a great single. Very mid-70's Wings sounding. I hear he broke out the Ricky for one track. I can bet (get it) it was for this one. Awesome track. Great guitars and with the moog solo brings fond memories of Linda for me. Love the "Oh no" at the end of each chorus.

Looking At Her - Very pleasantly surprised after reading many less than glowing early reviews of this track. I love it. Parts of it remind of Rude Studio Demos. It's got a very nice groove.

Road - Would be right at home on Electric Arguments. A bit like Traveling Light, but more uptempo. Again, very pleasantly surprised based on several less than positive early reviews. Love it.

Turned Out - Guitar sounds like it was mixed from George Harrison's Dark Horse album sessions (So Sad or Maya Love). Actually, maybe even from Dream Away from Gone Troppo, but definitely Harrisonesque. Great tune. Personally, I would have swapped this out with 'New' and then called the album 'Turned Out', as in this has Turned Out to be one of the best albums Paul has ever put out.

Get Me Out Of Here - One of my absolute favorites on the album. Why is this bonus material, make it standard. Hard to put my finger on what this reminds me of, but I am thinking "Blackpool, 48, 23, 48...." I love the "I'm a celebrity" line for some reason.

Scared - Nice basic piano ballad. Don't think it quite lives up to what I expected based on early reviews, but I am sure it is a grower.
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby mhnso » Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:48 am

Don t have the time for a real rewiew just some impressions
Save me - great openerFast modern rock with some vintage harmonies.
Alligator - Great track with mellotron and lovely guitars. Also à fine melody that would have fit on Chaos. Interesting words were i take Alligator as a sexual methapore
On My way to work - Killer track with Killer lyrics. Another vintage Macca melody, handclaps and twin slide guitar repeating the chorus
Quennie eye- À tour de force straight from the Beatles bag of tricks But completely modern. Sort of masterpiece
Early days- Acousic remenicing of the early days. Instant classic and one of Paus best ever
New - we know this one
Appreciate- imagine Revolver in an hiphopsetting. Amazing music with à jawdropping slidesolo in the end
Hosannah - Mysterious, haunting and extremely beatiful psychedelic ballad. À grower
Everybody out there- get s mixedreaction. Me find it a great composition with more hooks in three minutes than most manage in à lifetime
I can bet - Stunning Wingsrocker with à moogsolo;great hooks and riffs and à middleeight to did for.
Lookin at her- Stunning melody,great fragile vocals, lots of electronica and some great moments
Road - An epic track straight out of Electric arguments
Turnés out- Catchy rocker with nice slidefills.not out of place For the travveling Willburys
Get me out of here- Acoustic roots sort of blues. Not à throwaway but à very funny song Where Macca screams I am à celebrity get me out of here
Scared- Brilliant melody and words to this classic Maccapiano ballad. À highlight on an album filled with

All in all this might be Pauls best ever any wayit is up there among the very best.
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby bravefan » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:01 am

Matta, I happen to think Venus and Mars is one of his better releases. I guess your shock surprises me. And I will be surprised if New is in my top 6. I hope it is but...
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby Mattal1958 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:02 am

really enjoyed your review, Savillerowdie. If the album is half as good as your descriptions and opinions, I'm going to love this thing.

Everyone seems to love VENUS & MARS. I'm not knocking anyone's opinion. I'm beginning to question mine!

Please, tell me what you folks like about it so much. I can tell you why I don't, but I'd like to hear the positives. Maybe I'll re-evaluate!
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby oobujoobu1971 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Venus & Mars

It would be a strong contender to make my top 6, potentially even scraping top 5 for me.

Of the remaining albums awaiting the remaster series treatment, this is the one I'm keenest for.
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Re: My Review of NEW

Postby savillerowdie » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:18 am

Regarding Venus & Mars, it has always been a favorite of mine. I still like the sound of it, although I thought the production/mixing of it was somewhat muddled, could've been crisper (like bring the guitars in Letting Go higher in the mix). Looking forward to the long awaited remaster, if ever I live that long. :-D
I think another big reason I like it so much is when it came out and my age at the time. I was 12, was about 2 years into Macca and the Beatles and this is the first album that I knew was coming out and was buzzed about waiting for its release. This was well before the Internet, of course, so you had to catch a radio show talking about it and I recall a call-in show that would sound like the Macca forum does on the web today. People excitedly calling in and asking "is Junior's Farm going to be on the album?", etc. The album reminds me of my youth and some good times and I like every song on it.
I just love everything about it, from the cover packaging to the music. It was Wings at their peak and I think really only suffers in some opinions because it had the misfortune of having to live up to the album that preceded it. In contrast, I was disappointed by Speed of Sound a year later, but that is an album that I have recently come to have higher regard for in my old age, though not a top fiver.
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