K: Dad, does Paul McCartney have a lot of music from after he left The Beatles?
H: Well, yeah. He was only in The Beatles a short time compared to his solo career. Why?
K: I’m not going to know any of those songs when he plays them.
H. That’s okay. Hardly anyone does. We’re not here to hear those.
That was a conversation with my youngest daughter as we were headed to Chicago’s United Center. It was July 2014 and we were seeing Paul McCartney, in concert, on his “Out There” tour. It was less than a year after his album “New” was released. The record received extremely positive reviews. Rolling Stone had it in its top five albums of 2013. Yet, on that summer night in Chicago, Paul McCartney played just two songs from the album. In a thirty song set, twenty of the songs were from The Beatles.
It can’t be easy being Paul McCartney, the solo artist. The comparison of that work to his songs from The Beatles gives him something that’s close to impossible to live up to. And yet he keeps trying. Between his work with Wings and his solo career, McCartney has released twenty-two albums. Most of them have been pretty good to excellent, but after you listen to them for a while, they seem to head back to the shelf where they’re forgotten for years. Yeah, you might pull out “Band on the Run” or the original “McCartney” every so often, but it’s rare. Certainly, it’s not nearly as often as listening to “Sgt. Pepper’s”, “Abbey Road”, “Rubber Soul” or whatever is your favorite Beatles disc.
And yet, Paul McCartney keeps plugging away. Every few years he puts out a new record. This is one of those years. McCartney had no plans to do it this year, but 2020 had challenges for everyone, including Sir Paul. There was no way he could tour. He was living under quarantine conditions. Why not find something to do to keep you from being bored? For Paul McCartney, that means making music.
But what about hooking up with other musicians and finding a studio/producer? No problem for Paul McCartney. Just make an album where you sing all the parts, play all the instruments and do the production yourself. He’s done it before, why not do it again? So fifty years after the release of “McCartney” comes “McCartney lll”.
Most of the reviews for the album have been good to excellent. Lots of four out of five stars or B ratings. I’m apparently a bit tougher. I’d give it a C. It’s an easy listen, but nothing really stands out. I don’t find any of the eleven songs to be memorable. I couldn’t figure out which one or two of them I’d want to hear at a McCartney concert.
The music itself is fine. McCartney once again shows that he can handle whatever instrument you put in front of him. We expected nothing else. The vocals are solid, too. His voice holds up well, especially for someone of his age. Yeah, he goes into a falsetto to get to those higher-range parts, but that’s also expected. Also, if you listen to the songs on YouTube, you’ll find some interesting videos to go along with a few of the tunes. It’ll add to your entertainment, but for me, it just wasn’t enough.
I understand that McCartney doesn’t need to do this anymore. He can rest on his laurels of the songs he’s done in his more than sixty-year career, and no one would blame him. But, I know that he doesn’t want to do that. He wants to remain current and hip. He wants us to think of him as if he’s one of the new generation of music stars. I don’t think that works. I think of him differently.
Paul McCartney is the most famous musician from the classic rock era that is still alive. Only Bob Dylan is close. A few of his contemporaries that are in the same decade of life, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Dylan himself, put out memorable albums this year. Sir Paul dropped one that won’t be remembered as soon as New Year’s Day 2021.
The album photo is a shot of a dice landing on the number three. It signifies that this is the third album with the McCartney title. Well Paul, it was a good try, but no dice…no dice, Sir.
Related Post: McCartney 2014
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