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MEMORY ALMOST FULL

Paul listened to the held back recordings he made with producer David Kahne back from 2003-2004, Paul decided what he liked, what to change and what to add. In addition he had some written new songs to work on..

So from January thru February 2007 he worked again with Kahne and finished up with what would be his next studio album, released in June of this year.

His last classical work, ECCE COR Meum, had eight performances in four countries in 2007.

In 2007 he helped out another of his legends, Fats Domino, on a tribute album called, GOIN HOME. Fats New Orleans home and his life (as so many experienced) were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005. Paul lent his vocals on the track, “I Want To Walk You Home.”

On June 4th, 2007 the new album appeared. The album was the first release on Starbucks’ Hear Music label. MEMORY ALMOST FULL reached the Top 5 in both the UK and US, as well as Denmark, Sweden Greece, and Norway.

The Grammy-nominated album sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been certified gold by the RIAA for shipments of over 500,000 copies just in the United States.

The album was released in three versions: a single disc, a 2-CD set, and a CD/DVD deluxe edition, the latter of which was released on November 6th, 2007.

The cover is a stark photo of a chair (Paul is shown in various poses on the chair on the inner booklet).

Some people mentioned that the album’s title, Memory Almost Full, is an anagram of “for my soulmate LLM” (the initials of Linda Louise McCartney).

When asked if this was intentional, McCartney replied; “Some things are best left a mystery”.

“I must say, someone told me [there is an anagram], and I think it’s a complete mystery, because it’s so complete. There does appear to be an anagram in the title. And it’s a mystery. It was not intentional.”

The album’s title was actually inspired by a message that came up on his mobile phone. He thought the phrase summed up modern life.
It was also McCartney’s first album to be available as a digital download.

Promotion for the album came in several forms, such as a worldwide listening party at over 10,000 Starbucks stores on the day of the album’s US release, with an approximation of 6 million people hearing the album.
It was ranked at number 90 on the top-100 of the Billboard Year-end chart, and number 177 on the UK year-end chart.

The album won awards for the Best PR Campaign award at the Music Week Awards ceremony, and the Online/Digital Campaign award by New Media Age.

The Album

“Dance Tonight” The song was released as a download single in the United Kingdom on 18 June 2007, McCartney’s 65th birthday.

On 1 July, the song peaked at number 26 in the UK charts. The song was also nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

In the United States, it was released as the second single from the album. The song also debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 69. It marked McCartney’s final appearance in the Hot 100 until 2015.

The left-handed mandolin used for the song, shown delivered to him by mail in the music video, was purchased by McCartney from a guitar shop he frequents in London.

Whenever he would play the mandolin, his three-year-old daughter Beatrice would be moved to dance, after which McCartney states that the song “wrote itself”.
It was the last song recorded for the album, and was included on the album at the last minute.

The song is also included in an iPod + iTunes advertisement featuring a black and white McCartney walking down a colorful, animated street while performing the song.
“That kick drum sound you hear at the beginning and throughout the track is actually Paul stomping on a piece of wood with his foot,” David Kahne recalls.

“I found the great thing about it was that I didn’t know how to play it, because it’s tuned like a violin so I had no idea what the chords were. This was good because it took me back to when I was a teenager being presented with an instrument you didn’t know how to play.

So I had to figure it out for myself. I found one chord, then another one, then a real strange chord, very simple shape, but an odd chord, I still don’t know what it is but it sounded great. This was over Christmas 2006.

With this little instrument at home over the holiday I started doing this little thing, stomping in the kitchen, just enjoying myself, trying to find chords, and then I start singing ‘Everybody gonna dance tonight’ got that little thing going, and every time my little girl would come running in and start dancing, so I fell in love with this song and with the mandolin and the whole hoe-down aspect and eventually it kind of wrote itself.

I liked it so much I thought I’ve got to record this so I ran in quickly and did it and stuck it on the album. It seemed like a good atmospheric opening.

A couple of weeks ago we made the video, which was great fun. It’s directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) and stars Natalie Portman and Mackenzie Crook. We had a good time doing it.”

  • A nice, simple little toe-tapper that starts out slow and does build up steam as it chugs along. Interesting way to start an album, with a song that was inspired by dancing children (Paul has done this before, hasn’t he?). A great song to pick up the cat or small dog and give them a spin around the room. Nothing much here, song wise, but you are sure humming it the minute it finishes. He is in fine voice on this track, and also on the entire album, as about half or more was recorded up to four years earlier. Kahne and he have a good understanding what to put in or leave out of a Paul song. Rating – 8

“Ever Present Past” Sometimes I just sit down and try to write a pop song. I’ve done it throughout my life and it’s an interesting thing to do, to try to make something catchy. It was released as the first single in the United States.

Nice bit of power pop, with Paul playing all of it again, and it chugs along like a cozy drive on a mountain road. Nice hook, into the title, and the childhood references made me realize that on this album Paul was beginning to write about things other than what he was seeing then. Looking back, looking ahead, summing up emotions from real or “made up” characters. With this album and CHAOS AND CREATION we get more of this from Paul, especially looking back with fondness of his youth, his Beatles legacy, and his feelings about simple things, such as sights, sounds and smells…. A great music video is made, that shows multiple Paul’s dancing with multiple girls in odd connecting rooms. He certainly was still trying hard in a good way to be contemporary, even at 65. Rating – 8

“See Your Sunshine” “That is pretty much an out-and-out love song for Heather. The album was done before, during and after our separation. I didn’t go back and take out any songs to do with her. I don’t want to deny those times. When you’re going through a separation it’s always tempting to put all that behind you, but I don’t think that’s right.

I’d already recorded most of the song, and when the time came to put the bass on it I played a fairly straightforward track. Then I was messing around, because I thought it was done, so just for my own pleasure I started goofing around, playing way too much, and afterwards I joked, saying, ‘Whoa – that was way over the top!’ David Kahne said, ‘No, that’s great – do another take like that. I think that’s exactly what the song needs.’

That was dangerous, because I pulled out every trick in the book and just had fun playing. But when I listened back it all seemed to make sense. I was going where I wouldn’t normally go, throwing in notes that I didn’t think were needed, but somehow it fitted. I think I only did two takes.”

  • Nice mid tempo number, with all of the music handled by Paul, with a sweet Motown feel middle eight, and great soulful lead and sweet backing vocals. A wonderful mix made this one a deep cut gem. Rating – 8.5

“Only Mama Knows” “This really is like a short story. I’ve done that in the past, not always writing from a personal perspective. It’s good, because you use your imagination more, and that’s something I enjoy. I wrote about Eleanor Rigby, but I don’t know a woman who picks up rice in a church, and nor do I know anyone stranded in the transit lounge of an airport, as in Only Mama Knows.

It’s interesting because it takes you out of yourself. You can become an alter ego. It doesn’t have to be Paul McCartney singing it – it can be this other guy singing. It’s good to do; it lets you have another vocal approach, another emotional approach.”

-McCartney uses his band to flush out this exciting rocker that starts and ends like a classic ELO number. His vocal is mixed a bit too deep in the song for me, but he really lets loose throughout. Rusty’s searing lead guitar lights the road the band takes. Rating – 8.5

“You Tell Me” “I started off just remembering summers: ‘Were we really there?’ ‘Was it real?’ Sometimes, for a lot of people, memories – particularly childhood memories – seem so golden and you think, ‘Did it really not rain all summer or am I just imagining the sunny bits?’ And then the phrase ‘You tell me’ began to be the theme of the song.

I wrote it out in Long Island, during one of those summers. I was looking at a red cardinal – and for someone English that is kind of magical, seeing a bright red bird coming out of a tree – so he appeared in the lyric. A lot of what’s in the lyric was there as I was writing. It became a tribute to golden summers.”

David Khane: “‘You Tell Me’ is maybe the saddest song he’s ever written. McCartney’s vocal was recorded in a single pass, joined by beautiful vocals from the band members. The backward/forward organ, used to create a mood, is followed by a quiet count-in from McCartney. “I was really happy he let me include the count-in. It’s iconic.”

  • Paul and the band take a big step back on this slow gentle reflective track. Paul takes this vocal in an upper register, a sign of his future voice. The backing vocals are short but sweet and touching. A song that does leave you happy or sad, depending on what you came into it with. Rating – 7.5

“Mr. Bellamy” “Who is Mr Bellamy? I don’t know – I just make them up. I like giving characters names and trying to make them fit.’ Sometimes I don’t actually know where I’m going, so then I look at just what that verse is, and in this case I got a picture of a guy sitting on top of a skyscraper and all the people in the street – the rescue team, the psychiatrist, the man with the megaphone shouting: ‘Don’t jump’ and the people shouting: ‘Jump’.

So I fished around for a name and came up with Bellamy, which sounded like someone who might want to jump. And I just followed the story through. The end is like a pull back with a camera – there he is, little Bellamy sitting on the ledge, enjoying it up in the clouds. And that’s how we recorded it, as a sort of film.”

A wonderful song, with a Sgt. Pepper feeling to the sounds, lots of twists and turns vocally, and really made me think of vintage Paul. I could go for this every time. This sounds so good under the headphones, with great lyrics and a surprising coda tacked onto the end. I just love the ride the song takes me on, then realize that it’s a crowd talking down a suicide jumper. “Come down, come down, come down to me…..” I love it. Rating – 8.5

“Gratitude” “I’ve always had a couple of voices. Originally you’re just a kid at home, like everyone else, and then you start to dream of being a singer. My heroes then were rock ’n’ rollers, so my ballad voice was based on Elvis and the scream voice was me trying to be Little Richard. So on this track I was just thinking of how much there is to be grateful for in life, and I wanted to put that into song and use the gritty voice to do it with.”

Paul plays all in another soulful ballad. After a few listens you realize how good this man is, on one you hear that bass, the next, the great vocals, the next the great playing and amazing middle eight. It leaves me breathless. Rating – 9

“Vintage Clothes” “For me this is about my clothes from the Sixties and the fact that what’s out comes back – fashion going round in circles. I meet quite a few young guys in bands and a question they always ask is, ‘Did you keep the clothes?’ As a matter of fact I did. That to me is where the song is coming from. The message is: vintage clothes are great but don’t live in the past.

It’s the opening of a medley. The next four songs are designed to run together, with this as the opener.”

  • Oh my goodness, what a song. Paul and the band take this retro sounding song about retro fashion and start the medley merry go round with a knockout. Rating – 9

“That Was Me” “People often say they can remember more from their childhood than they can from a month ago. I think that is a fact of life – I don’t know why. So all I had to do for this song was to think back. And immediately I go back to Liverpool, where there was a little place we could escape, beautiful little woods where, come springtime, there would be these carpets of bluebells. It was a magical place. There’s something about me at the bus stop that’s a big part of my memories – going to school, coming home from school, going to the pictures, going to your friend’s house. So all of these things got in there.

‘The cellar’ is the Cavern, ‘Royal Iris’ is a ferry boat they had – they’d call them riverboat shuffles, and some of our earliest gigs were on them. So these are just exciting memories of mine, and I connected them.”

  • I am going crazy, on this look back to early Beatle days. Paul speak sings with a backbeat that can’t stop the feet from pounding. And then he takes it up a notch on the second half of the song with his best screaming Little Richard vocal. Amazing performance from start to finish. Rating – 9.5

“Feet In The Clouds” “Because of the retrospective mood of this medley, it then goes back to school and teachers. I had a real motley bunch of teachers at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys. Some of them were complete maniacs.

Whereas I wrote about golden summers in You Tell Me, school was very dark and gloomy. The building itself wasn’t the lightest of places – it was built in 1825. This seemed to affect the attitude of the teachers. They were a dark bunch of people. So the song is like a therapy session for me.”

  • He slows things down to a sweet shuffle on this look back and forward at the same time…. His use of the word VERY six times in a row is a bit odd, but I guess he found it very very very very very very hard…. A bit of auto-tune made my ears perk up, as he doesn’t seem to over do it. It ends in a rollicking finish into…..
    Rating – 8.5

“House Of Wax” “There’s something about chords in a song that can take you to a place. In this song they are not complex but there’s something in the tonality of them that takes you to what the vocal becomes. And I like the lyrics: ‘Lightning hits the house of wax, poets spill out on the streets, to set alight the incomplete remainders of the future.’ It’s quite surreal. I enjoyed singing them because of those chords and the mixture of the melody and the lyrics.”

David Khane: “The guitar solo was a big deal for me. Those sections were blank; we didn’t know what we were going to put there. I heard ‘Taxman’ on the radio, for which he’d done the solo, and I thought how great it would be if he would just rip in those big breaks. So I asked, ‘Instead of making a more complex part, can you just play guitar solos?’ He said, ‘Okay,’ sat in the control room with his Casino plugged into the Vox and just whipped it up, and literally, a half-hour later, they were done. I’ve never heard him play guitar like that. He just pushes the notes sharp perfectly at the right time.”

  • Dark and dangerous road taken by Paul. Not a sound we hear very often by him, and it is a nice change. His lead vocals are heavy echo laden, but the performance by the band is magnificent. It is bombastic at points and the short electric guitar by Paul on the break is outstanding as is Rusty’s on the playout. Paul is singing about “wild demented horses” here. We’ve taken quite a journey since “Dance Tonight.” Rating – 9

“The End Of The End” I’d read something somebody had written about dying and I thought, ‘That’s brave.’ It seemed courageous to deal with the subject rather than just shy away from it. So I fancied looking at it as a subject myself. I like the Irish approach of a wake, where it’s celebratory. I remember once an Irish woman wished me well by saying, ‘I wish you a good death’, and I said, ‘Say what?’ I thought about it later and actually it’s a great thing to wish someone. I thought, ‘Well, what would I like?’ Jokes, a wake, music, rather than everyone sitting around looking glum, saying, ‘He was a great guy’ – though they can do a bit of that, too.

So that led into the verse, ‘On the day that I die I’d like jokes to be told and stories of old to be rolled out like carpets.’ I have played it to my family and they find it very moving because, you know, it’s Dad. It’s a strange combination, because you’re talking about a serious subject. But I’m dealing with it lightly.”

The song also features a double quartet of strings.

Okay, a song that is so sad and sweet I can’t help but cry my eyes out. For one day myself, and all that I love, and if I am around when Paul is taken, this song says it all. Rating – 9

“Nod Your Head” “Well, that End Of The End brought the party down, didn’t it? It was going to be the last track on the album, but we thought we couldn’t leave everyone going, ‘Oh God, I’m not going to listen to that again.’

So we had a little stompy rocker called Nod Your Head and we thought we’d let them off the hook.

I think it’s good to talk about difficult subjects and then to get off it and just rock out. So that was the feel of making the album. Get some personal thoughts out (Gratitude, The End Of The End), talk about my childhood, talk about love, about beautiful memories. Try and get everything said, but with a feeling of optimism and enthusiasm. I thought if I could accomplish it all then that would be a good thing to do.”

Paul is right, I needed a few minutes to gather myself after the end, and his solo insanity here is needed. Kind of a rocking throwaway, but interesting as he does a little ass kicking on the way out the door. The “worst” song on the album, rating wise, but for the listener a cold towel of reality to wipe the sweat and tears off with. Rating- 7
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14 plus years after it’s release I am a bit surprised how much I love this album, and how good it is in the context of his entire output.
The album grades out score wise at 8.46/10 which now places it fourth on my ratings list. A great album that seemed to come out of nowhere and has refused to go away.

Next, songs that were bonus non-album tracks and others from this period and into the year 2008.

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