Album review by Eric Sandberg — McCartney 3
People who have known me for long time know that I can be somewhat jaded and sarcastic at times. I've done my best to rein this in over the past few years [I think it's called growing up]. One subject that has often been a target of my jade tipped spear is what I call the Paul McCartney "Bubble of Adulation."
This bubble is, of course, made up of his most rabid fans and God bless 'em, they're entitled. But the bubble is also carefully cultivated by McCartney's own press machine, with it's syrupy praise of 'ol Macca's every bowel movement. Take these excerpts from liner notes to the single of 1989's "Put It There."
It was the Parisians who started it — back in October of '89.
At first you thought "What the hell are THEY doing" as down in the floor of the Palais Omnisports, Berey, the girls were grabbing partners and bopping to "Put It There."
This was a new one on a bunch of us.
Up until Paris, The European fans had kind of swayed their heads
and tapped their feet a bit.
But not danced.
So they're thinking, these French, you're thinking,
they're thinking it's a disco song. But it ain't, is it?
Maybe it is: they thought so in Madrid and Milan and Rome.
They danced to it there, too...
...Anyway, I've seen the song bopped to now. I've seen it choke Paul on stage as he remembers his dear old dad. I've seen grown men in
Chicago clasp their young sons to them to them as Paul sings it, rocking them tenderly. It's a dance song.
It's a love song. For young boppers. For fathers.
And for sons. And It'll get you. In the end.
Glomp! Don't get me wrong, "Put It There" is a nice little ditty, but when he played it at the Sports arena in Los Angeles, I was escorting my young son to the bathroom.
The promotion barrage that accompanied the release of Paul's last studio album Egypt Station conjured the idea that Paul could pop up anywhere at any time, like The Virgin Mary in a corn field. From playing his crummy new songs in front of a group of unsuspecting pensioners lunching in a Liverpool pub, to riding up and down the elevator at 30 Rock with Jimmy Fallon, capturing ten floors of dropped jaws and shrieks every time the doors slid open, Paul was just like us — you might even run into him browsing for boxer shorts at Target.
Egypt Station was bad. You know it and I know it. We tried to like it. We tried to believe Paul had succeeded in being modern and cool. We even sucked it up and gave it one more listen in anticipation of McCartney 3, but we couldn't make it all the way through it again, could we?
And now, after a particularly shitty year comes to a close, we find out that the amazing Paul has been busy during his "rockdown." While I was playing Klondike on my phone and re-bagging my Hellboy comics, Paul wrote, played, recorded and produced an entire new album of songs, all by his lonesome. What's even more astounding is that he did it all left-handed.
So the Macca media sycophancy machine has revved up once more, this time flooding social media with interviews, appearances, videos and people tweeting their excitement and praise. I will now add my voice. I've listened to McCartney 3 half a dozen times so far and I appreciate it more with each listen.
It is the work of a master craftsman who, through the relative adversity of forced isolation has managed to reestablish a narrow thread of communication with his muse to create music worthy of his reputation.
McCartney 3 opens with a pounding five minute instrumental workout "Long Tailed Winter Bird" which could have gone on for another five minutes as far as I'm concerned. The first single "Find My Way" chugs along nicely with McCartney double tracking his fine wine low and falsetto voices to great effect.
The acoustic reflection of "Pretty Boys" and the piano driven advice column "Woman and Wives" leads us to a new addition to Paul's oeuvre of character songs, the rocking "Lavatory Lil." The album's centerpiece is the nearly 8 1/2 minute "Deep Deep Feeling" which has a way of percolating while also being laconic in that Bryan Ferry sort of way.
Side Two opens with "Slidin'' a balls out rocker in the tradition of Wings, while the acoustic "The Kiss of Venus" would have fit nicely on the White Album. "Seize The Day" is a full-on production of piano and overdubbed guitars that sounds [dare I say it] suspiciously like Revolver era Beatles.
The grooving "Deep Down" is maybe the one throw away track on the album. Not bad considering that McCartney 2 was almost all throwaway songs. Oddly, "Deep Down" sounds like almost every song on the last three Waterboys albums.
The final track "Winter Bird/When Winter Comes" begins with the acoustic riff from the opening instrumental and is one of the finest ballads Paul has ever conjured. Fittingly, it would sound right at home on the first McCartney album.
It becomes clear after a few listens that sides one and two mirror each other stylistically, working forward and then backward, like a musical version of Tenet. I haven't enjoyed a Paul McCartney album this much since Driving Rain, which I believe to contain, until now, his last great spark of unforced creativity.
My good friend Manny once told me "You should stop ragging on Paul McCartney and just enjoy him, because he's gonna be gone one day." Manny is right. I no longer have a problem with Paul McCartney's adulation bubble, I've let it go. I'll be spending a lot of time with McCartney 3 as well as Macca's back catalog during the upcoming holiday break.
I draw the line at collecting all the different colored covers, though.
Paul McCartney — McCartney 3
1. Long Tailed Winter Bird
2. Find My Way
3. Pretty Boys
4. Women And Wives
5. Lavatory Lil
6. Deep Deep Feeling
2. The Kiss of Venus
3. Seize The Day
4. Deep Down
5. Winter Bird/When Winter Comes
By Eric Sandberg
2020 has sucked jingle balls. We've had covid Easter, covid Mother's & Father's Days, covid graduations, covid Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, christenings and confirmations. Most people by now have had their covid birthday. We just staggered through covid Thanksgiving and now we are closing out this annus horibilus with covid Christmas [and Hanukkah, not to mention kovid Kwanza).
Henning Ohlenbusch "Coming Home Alone On Christmas Eve"
Sublime Massachusetts based indie singer/songwriter Henning Ohlenbusch's bittersweet letter to a loved one who couldn't be there. Warning: A banjo is involved.
Phoebe Bridgers "If We Make It Through December"
Bridgers cannily utilizes this Merle Haggard classic to acknowledge what so many folks are going through this year. Subtle but powerful. The EP includes a lovely version of "Silent Night" purposely marred by audio of a newscaster reading the news of the day. Not quite as subtle here.
Liv Greene feat. Jobi Riccio "I Guess There's Always Next Year"
The immensely talented Liv Greene wrote this song from the point of view of someone who thought this would be her year but, sadly, has thrown in the towel. Achingly beautiful and available to purchase on Bandcamp. Well, what are you waiting for?
Kimberley Rew & Lee Cave-Berry "All I Want Is You For Christmas"
It's not all doom and gloom on the 2020 Christmas song front. Kimberley Rew [Katrina & The Waves/The Soft Boys] and his lady wife, bassist Lee Cave-Berry, have been cooped up together in Cambridge for the better part of the year. They have each other this Christmas and this wonderful, cheerful and catchy slice of rock and roll captures their undaunted spirits nicely. The video features drawings by Rew.
Available on CD & download on the Big Stir Singles compilation
or as part of a digital EP
Todd Rundgren "Flappie"
Leave it to our weird Uncle Todd to resurrect a forty-two year old Dutch Christmas novelty song written by a comedian named Youp van 't Hek. Christmas is here and a young boy can't find his pet rabbit Flappie. Never fear, Flappie does turn up...at dinner time.
Daveed Diggs "Puppy For Hanukkah"
Alas, my search for 2020 Hanukkah songs yielded just one result. It speaks for itself, really.
Eric Sandberg: My true opinion on everything is that it's splunge.