...a bit of lonely yearning would have made the material a little more challenging and...
Chris Jones 2002-11-20
Firstly - it is hard, of course, to approach any new product from the estimable Macca without making reference to his new main squeeze (one track is called "Heather" for goodness sake, and she gets a name check in the sleeve notes) and herein lies the problem. An awful lot of this, Sir P's 28th album or so, is devoted to the transition between old and new loves, and when folk fret about the proper amount of time spent since Linda's demise and his renewed passion, it may have more to do with how it actually affects his output rather than whether it offends our sense of propriety. Nobody would deny the great man a little company, but there's nothing fires a great songwriter more than a touch of misery. The fact is that he sounds so, well, jolly contented, and perhaps a bit of lonely yearning would have made the material a little more challenging and rewarding. Let's face it, we haven't really had the chance to listen to a lonely Paul McCartney since about 1965.
Considered by afficianados as the third part of a trilogy to mark the end of his life with the world's most famous vegetarian, this album is, by no means, pointless, overly sentimental or even dated. By using a bunch of fresh young American musicians and allowing some of the material to stretch out into more experimental jamming territory ("Spinning On An Axis" and the 10 minute plus "Rinse The Raindrops"), Mr Thumbs-Aloft has injected a raw urgency into his sound which really does hark back to Band On The Run days. However, in attempting to keep his sound as contemporary as possible he also falls into the strange trap of often sounding rather similar to the legions of those heavily influenced by him. Whisper it, but parts of this album sound like Crowded House.
No one can deny the true worth of a man who, even when rich as Croesus and in no need of validation, still feels the need to create and comment on the world around him (the album finishes with "Freedom", his response to September 11th). Yet, McCartney's cardinal fault was always a tendency to slip into cosiness and songs such as "Magic" and "I Do" serve as little more than snapshots into his own happy little world, rather than resonate with the universality of his greatest moments - though let's hope he doesn't stop trying.