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2008

In 2008, STANDING STONE had three performances, in two countries. ECCE COR MEUM, it had twenty one performances in three countries.

Paul and his band attended and performed a five song set at the Brit Awards 2008, on February 20th. He received the “Outstanding Contributor To Music” award.

On June 1st, at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, Paul headlined The Liverpool Sound. It was a show to celebrate the city’s year as European Capital of Culture. Brilliantly supported by The Kaiser Chiefs and The Zutons, the ex-Beatle – who last played in Liverpool exactly five years ago – gave a magical show with a blockbuster 27 song set of hits from his Fab Four, Wings and solo career that had the sold-out stadium on its feet for a full two hours.

With touching tributes to George Harrison – on ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Something’ – and Linda, mingled with raucous renditions of ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Live and Let Die’ the audience knew they were witnessing McCartney at the very top of his game.

Special guest Dave Grohl – of the Foo Fighters – joined on drums and vocals to take the show into rock ‘n roll overdrive which, after an encore that memorably featured ‘A Day in the Life’ and Lennon’s anthemic ‘Give Peace a Chance’, sadly but spectacularly ended with an amazing firework display.

On June 14th, He performed at Independence Square, Kiev in the Ukraine. Over 350,000 concert goers braved adverse weather conditions as Paul McCartney played the biggest concert in the Ukraine’s history. Throughout the day the heavy rain and thunder put a question mark over weather the show would even be able to take place but as soon as Paul McCartney took to the stage at 9:30pm, greeting the crowd in Ukrainian, the skies cleared.

He kicked off the two and a half hour concert with ‘Drive My Car’ and then performed a show the likes of which Kiev had never seen.
The concert took place in Kiev’s historic Independence Square.

The crowds filled all the roads surrounding the square and the concert was shown all around the city on screens that were specially put up for this event.

The concert was also beamed live to six major cities (Harkiv, Dniepropetrovsk, Sevastopol, Lviv, Donetsk and Odessa) across the Ukraine where over 195,000 people came out to watch the show. The show was also broadcast live on Ukraine TV.

It’s estimated that the total amount of people that watched the Independence Concert in the Ukraine was more than 10 million.
Paul and his band played 33 songs. The audience spanned generations and sang along with every word, the massive crowd made an overwhelming sound when they joined in with Paul on ‘Hey Jude’ and the elaborate stage featured some of the biggest screens ever used for an outdoor show as well as lasers and fireworks.

After the audience had thought the show was over, Paul returned to the stage waving a Ukrainian flag before ending the night with an emotional performance of ‘Yesterday’ and rocked up ‘Sgt. Peppers’.

Throughout the day Paul spent time meeting locals and fans that had waited over 40 years for their hero to come to this part of the world. He was given a special performance by a choir of children that perform Beatles songs and presented with a traditional Ukrainian stringed instrument, the kobza, by the Ukrainian Beatles fanclub.

On June 19th he recorded “I’m In Love Again” for Klaus Voormans A SIDEMAN’S JOURNEY album.

He boarded a plane on July 18th, and headed to New York City, where with the help of local police escort he made it just in time (15 minutes from airport to the show) to Shea Stadium, where he hoped close out the last concert event to be held at the soon to be demolished baseball stadium, Billy Joel’s “Last Play at Shea.”

Just before 11:20pm Paul jumped on stage, surprising not only Billy Joel but also the sold out audience as he launched straight into I Saw Her Standing There. “It’s so cool to be here on the last night”, Paul told the 55,000 strong audience. “I came here a long time ago. We had a blast that night and were having another one tonight.” Paul then closed the night with his seminal anthem Let It Be, with Billy Joel on backing vocals.

On July 20th, the band traveled to Canada, and played a 38 song set at Quebec’s 400th anniversary show at Plains of Abraham.

And finally on September 25th, the band traveled to Ganey Yehoshua Park, Tel Aviv, Israel for the 33 song set at the Friendship First Concert.

Paul McCartney has nearly visited Israel on two previous occasions. The first was with The Beatles at the height of Beatlemania in the mid 60’s, however at the time because Israel was short of foreign currency the promoter was unable to raise sufficient funds.

After applying to a government committee for help the promoters appeal was declined as it was thought The Beatles might corrupt their youth. Some even believed that artistically The Beatles were not of a high enough standard!

The second miss was with Wings in the late 70s, when the shows were cancelled after problems with the venue.

Israels ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, apologized to The Beatles during a trip to Liverpool for the misunderstanding. In a letter he wrote: There is no doubt that it was a great missed opportunity to prevent people like you, who shaped the minds of the generation, to come to Israel and perform.

2008 gave Paul a chance to visit parts of the world he hadn’t had a chance to.

The DVD of ECCE COR NEUM was released on February 18th.

Linda McCartney’s photographs went on display at the James Hyman Gallery from April 24th to July 19th.
Paul received an honorary music degree by Yale University on May 26th.

Another graduation was attended at LIPA on July 25th.

The biggest news of 2008 was on early in the year, on February 18th. The announcement of the divorce from Heather Mills McCartney.

The case was heard in court 34 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

At the start of the proceedings Mills asked for £125 million, but McCartney offered £15.8 million. Before the court case, Mills had employed the accountancy firm Lee and Allen to examine McCartney’s publishing company, business assets, and properties, claiming that she had a tape recording of McCartney admitting his true worth, but the presiding judge, Mr Justice Bennett, based his decision on a forensic valuation of McCartney’s finances completed by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

The hearing took six days, finishing on 18 February 2008, with the judgment being made public on 17 March that year.

Mills was eventually awarded a lump sum of £16.5m, together with assets of £7.8m, which included the properties she owned at the time. The total was £24.3 million plus payments of £35,000 per annum, for a nanny and school costs for their daughter.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Bennett stated: ‘The husband’s evidence was, in my judgment, balanced. He expressed himself moderately though at times with justifiable irritation, if not anger. He was consistent, accurate and honest. But I regret to have to say I cannot say the same about the wife’s evidence. Having watched and listened to her give evidence, having studied the documents, and having given in her favor every allowance for the enormous strain she must have been under (and in conducting her own case) I am driven to the conclusion that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid. Overall, she was a less than impressive witness.‘

Regarding her career, the judge said: ‘I find that, far from the husband dictating to and restricting the wife’s career and charitable activities, he did the exact opposite. He encouraged it and lent his support, name and reputation to her business and charitable activities. The facts as I find them do not in any way support her claim.‘

In anger at the judgment, Mills poured a jug of water on the head of Fiona Shackleton, McCartney’s solicitor, in the courtroom.

The divorce was granted on 12 May, and the preliminary divorce decree was finalized six weeks later.

In August, the first public photos of Paul and Nancy Shevell appeared. The couple gave their first public show of affection in an impromptu photo call outside Sir Paul’s London home in St John’s Wood.

McCartney, 65, and millionaire New York socialite Miss Shevell, 47, had been seeing each other with increasingly regularity since November 2007, but have always tried to play down their relationship.

On November 24th, the third album release of The Fireman, ELECTRIC ARGUMENTS appeared. Paul wrote all of the songs and played all of the instruments, with production by Youth. A much different affair this time, as the songs now featured vocals. A review of all three releases will follow that of his general releases. Singles were pulled from it and it received very good reviews at the time…

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The Rest of 2007

The other songs that Paul recorded in the time frame while making MEMORY ALMOST FULL.

(The first three recordings we discussed in a previous post- 2006. But now rated here!)

“The Very Thought Of You” (w/Tony Bennett). From DUETS: AN AMERICAN CLASSIC Lush, Gentle and tender ballad, led by Bennett, whose voice has only seemed to get better. Maybe this session and the previous Noel Coward inspired the future KISSES ON THE BOTTOM album. The two trade voices and harmonize on the phrase “my love.”, and Paul holds his own, but songs like this were made for Tony. Rating – 8

“Heal The Pain” (w/George Michael) A song that George did on his own (and wrote) but it truly comes to life with this re-make with Paul. The two harmonize brilliantly and each take alternating leads on this wonderful pairing. Outstanding track that should have been a major hit. Rating – 9

“I Want To Walk With You” (w/Allen Toussaint) For Fats Domino, and Paul does his best New Orleans Fats voice. Allen is on piano and his production gives the exact copy of the original hit. Nice, but nothing new is added. Rating – 7

“222” Opens with some nifty piano and Paul scats in a upper register, slowing for a breather then he picks up the drumming on the second verse and it slows with horns. 222”, released as a bonus track of the special edition version of “Memory Almost Full“. The song was written for his youngest child, his daughter Beatrice, when she was aged 2.

A promotional video was directed by Marco Sandeman. The song also appeared on the soundtrack of “Comes A Bright Day“, a film directed by Simon Aboud, the second husband of Mary McCartney, Paul McCartney’s oldest daughter. Paul plays all except for clarinet. A very jazzy piece for the little lady. Rating – 7.25

“I Want To Come Home” Written for the Robert De Niro film, “Everybody’s Fine.” A nice little piano and strings ballad that Paul plays all on for another film that failed to live up to the hopes of producers. Rating – 7.5

“I Want To Love You” A throwback 80’s sounding piano love ballad by Paul. A bit of an odd lyric about learning from “your school….” Nice, but we’ve heard this before. Rating – 6.75

“Why So Blue?” Acoustic ballad in the style of “Vanilla Sky” with lush orchestration. The tempo shift and overall piano playing gives it a CHAOS AND CREATION feel. Interesting sound and very nice lyrics.

‘Weary carriage horses stand in single file
Someone at a crowded bus stop
Wears a friendly smile
Touching nerves that
No one’s heard from in a while
Papers from the same old file

Why so sad
My fine young friend?’

A bonus track on the deluxe CD release. Rating – 7.75

“Nod Your Head” (Sly & Robbie Instrumental Mix) From the maxi CD of the single. Interesting, but only for completists like myself.
Rating – 6.5

“Nod Your Head” (Sly David short Mix) Sly David talks over the original track and gives it a reggae spin… See previous review
Rating -6.5

“Walk With You” (w/Ringo Starr) From Ringo’s Y NOT album. Paul plays bass and lends outstanding backing vocals. A very touching song from these two soulmates. Rating – 8

“In Private” Another from the deluxe CD version of the album. Paul plays all on this mid tempo instrumental that has a nice little uptempo ending. Not bad….
Rating – 7.5

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After MEMORY was released Paul and his band performed a 20 song set at the Electric Ballroom on June 7th, 2007.

The next night the band performed 4 songs on Later…with Jools Holland.

On June 13th they performed in NYC at the Highline Ballroom.

On June 27th, They performed live at Amoeba Records in L.A.

Some screamed adulations. Others danced with religious fervor. Hundreds waved peace signs in the air with eternal devotion. Many wept at the sight of him. Outside the unfortunate were forced to stand and peer through windows just to get a glimpse of a living icon. Sir Paul McCartney was singing “Drive My Car”…inside a record store. Amoeba Music Hollywood was chosen as McCartney’s next stop on a promotional “mini tour” for his new album “Memory Almost Full.”

Only an hour after the official announcement on Monday the tried and true McCartney fans began to line up outside the store with lawn chairs and McCartney memorabilia in hand. By Wednesday night a lucky seven hundred fans, some coming all the way from Japan, were let into the show. Beatlemania descended upon Amoeba for the biggest show in the store’s history.

Fans camped out on the street for days for this once in a lifetime chance to get up close and personal with one of the most famous, beloved, and enduring musical icons of the last fifty years. Celebrities like Woody Harrelson and Alanis Morrisette could be found in the crowd but none could compare to the arrival of Ringo Starr.

Although only coming to lend support to a friend the former Beatle drummer was practically mobbed as he stood in the crowd to watch the show.

On July 5th they performed a 25 song set at the iTunes Festival in London.

They also did a 23 song set at The Olympia, in Paris on October 22nd.

Back in London on the 25th they did Electric Proms, a 24 song set at The Roundhouse.

The Electric Proms was a new festival organized and hosted by the British Broadcasting Company. In only the second year they managed to present Paul McCartney for this full length show. The artists who participate for the Electric Proms are encouraged to do something different and out of the ordinary. McCartney, like other artists, played some of the songs accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra along with his back up band.

Other 2007 events was Paul attending the 1st anniversary of The Beatles LOVE show in Las Vegas on June 26th.

On July 27th he again attended LIPA’s graduation ceremony.

On August 23rd, the DVD box set “The McCartney Years” was released. Spanning four decades THE McCARTNEY YEARS is a three volume DVD collection, featuring some of the world s best-loved music that has become the soundtrack to all our lives.

VOLUME ONE and VOLUME TWO contain the definitive collection of McCartney music videos. Starting in the 1970s with Paul McCartney’s first solo single Maybe I’m Amazed, the DVD includes the Wings promo video for Band On The Run as well as hits from the 1980s such as Say Say Say, and the 1990s with Biker Like An Icon. It finishes with 2005 s Fine Line.

The films can be viewed either in chronological order or as play-lists that have been personally arranged by Paul featuring his exclusive voiceover commentaries. VOLUME THREE includes live performances taken from three classic McCartney live shows; ROCKSHOW filmed on Wings 1976 World Tour, new edits of Paul s seminal UNPLUGGED in 1991 and Paul s now legendary headlining performance at 2004 s GLASTONBURY Festival.

THE McCARTNEY YEARS is also packed with bonusfeatures and extra never before seen footage and performances, including Let It Be from LIVE AID, archive interviews with Melvyn Bragg and Michael Parkinson, alternative versions of music videos and the full-length 2005 documentary Creating Chaos at Abbey Road.

My sister was so kind to send it to me, but for some reason it stopped being able to play a few years after that. I read that this was a common problem.

In early December he headed into his Hog Hill studio and started work on the next The Fireman album, ELECTRIC ARGUMENTS.

Whew…. A busy year for Paul and he headed into an eventful 2008 by performing “Dane Tonight” with Kylie Minogue on New Years Eve on Jools Annual Hootenanny.

Next…. 2008. Arguments abound.

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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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2006

2006 was a year of change for Paul.

He celebrated LIPA’s 10th anniversary on January 30th.

His 2005 US tour won a Total Production International award on February 5th for best set design (Roy Bennett).

On March 3rd he and Heather spoke out publicly against baby seal killing. They, dressed in orange thermal jumpsuits, traveled in helicopters with a dozen journalists, and members of the Humane Society of the United States and the British-based Respect for Animals.

Paul recorded (as executive producer) his fourth classical album (WORKING CLASSICAL, A LEAF and LIVERPOOL ORATORIO) from March13-17, 2006. ECCE COR MEUM, (“Behold My Heart”) is an oratorio in four movements, scored for choir and orchestra.

The album’s origin lay in a commission from Magdalen College, Oxford: Paul was asked to compose a piece for the opening of a new concert hall at the college.

Following Linda’s death in 1998, however, the performance was delayed, eventually premiering in 2001, with a studio recording taking place in 2006.

Each of its four movements begins with unaccompanied voices, and the text combines both English and to a lesser degree, Latin.

“Something I found out later, being a complete innocent in the field, was that most people find a text and set it to music, which it would have been very convenient to know that, but I didn’t. So I started writing the music and then putting my own text to it, which is probably completely the wrong way around to do it. It didn’t matter. I suppose, you know, in that respect, it meant that it was a bit less conventional.”

The album was released on September 25th.

It would also win the best album award on May 2nd, 2007 at the Classical Brit Awards.

The DVD would be released on February 4th, 2008.

On April 11th, Capitol and Apple records announced the release of the remastered American releases of BEATLES VI, HELP, RUBBER SOUL AND THE EARLY BEATLES. These were the final albums issued in the U.S. whose track listing was different than British releases. For some reason, REVOLVER wasn’t included.

On May 18th, he announced his separation from wife Heather. The couple announced the split yesterday after less than four years of marriage in a statement that blamed their inability to conduct a “normal” relationship on the “constant intrusion into our private lives”.

But their parting shot at the media only triggered a new round of speculation about how much of Sir Paul’s estimated £800m fortune Ms Mills McCartney could claim as the mother of their two-year-old daughter, Beatrice Milly.

Paul took to his website to dismiss suggestions that his second wife had married him for money: “There is not an ounce of truth in this. She is a very generous person who spends most of her time trying to help others in greater need than herself. I’m very sad to see that some insensitive people would choose a moment like this to spread these vicious rumors.”

Hmmmm…. If only this had been true.

On June 16th and 17th he, Ringo, Olivia Harrison and Yoko attended The Beatles LOVE preview shows.

Preview performances ran from June 2 to June 29. During these shows, changes were made nightly based on audience reaction, cutting or adding sections to add polish.

The 30th of June saw the show open. In attendance at the gala opening on June 30 were McCartney, Starr, Ono, Cynthia Lennon, Julian Lennon, Olivia and Dhani Harrison, and George Martin.

It was the biggest reunion of the Beatles’ ‘family’ since the band’s breakup.
At the end of the show, McCartney, Starr, Olivia, Ono and Martin went on stage. McCartney requested the crowd, “Just one special round of applause, for John and George!”

The album of the show (mixed the last two years by George and Giles Martin) was released on November 20th of 2006.

The DVD of highlights from the 2005 US tour was released on November 13th as “The Space Within US.” The feature-length concert film delivers live performances of more than two dozen Beatles, Wings and McCartney solo songs spanning four decades. It includes footage from Pauls personal wake-up call to the astronauts aboard the international space station, as well as 35 minutes of exclusive bonus material and includes new interviews with McCartney and his band, the pre-concert film, soundcheck songs.

In 2006 Paul appears on Tony Bennett’s DUETS album, performing “The Very Thought Of You.”

He performed on George Benson and Al Jarreau’s GIVIN’ IT UP album, singing with them on “Bring It On Home To Me.” Abe Laboriel Sr. was the bass player on this track, among the players.

Finally Paul and George Michael teamed up on his TWENTY FIVE album on the amazing Michael written track, “Heal The Pain.”

2006 ended with Paul in another transitional period. So, he dusted off the eight songs he had done with David Kahne early in 2004 as 2007 arrived……. Next.

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After Chaos (2005)

After the new album was released to very high praise from the fans and the critics, Paul immediately began his US tour, which was again sponsored by Lexus.

I again got into my car, with my sister, Mary Pontek, back at my side. This time we saw the first show of the new tour, in Miami American Airlines Arena on September 16th.

Two promotional records were released in conjunction with Lexus to promote the artist, tour, record and car brand, MOTOR OF LOVE and NEVER STOP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE.

We stayed downtown for the night and enjoyed authentic Cuban food pre-show. The show was very good as usual, with a pre-show film of his this time. He and his band came out as the film froze on a photo of his legendary bass guitar…

By this time I realized and told my sister that Paul would probably re-tell many of the same stories I had heard before songs, and if he did something he liked or was funny, he would include it on the rest of the tour. Paul was still Paul, but his set list and overall show was feeling a bit familiar to me at this point.

There was a moment where he summoned the piano from below the stage, which was cool. The it would slowly drop out of view when he went back to electric or his hofner bass. The second show, in Tampa, by accident he fell into the huge hole as the piano was dropping down and amazingly and luckily he was not hurt at all. His head came popping up to the delight of the shocked crowd. He chose not to repeat this feat on any shows, other than telling the story at each….

Again, the show was increasingly Beatles heavy, with a few Wings and fewer solo, and only one or two deep cuts.

The tour lasted 37 shows and ended on November 29th in Los Angeles and even ventured into Toronto, Canada for one show. He promoted the new album and tour on Lexus commercials, which used the first single “Fine Line” as the theme of their ads.

He did numerous radio, print and TV appearances to promote the album.

Paul also did his 5th Adopt-a-Minefield Gala charity performance for wife Heather. It consisted of a 12 song soundcheck for the lucky few, followed by a 12 song show for attendees.

Paul also attended the graduation ceremony of the L.I.P.A (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) in July of 2005. Tim Wheeler from Ash, Bee Gee Robin Gibb and lyricist Guy Chambers had honorary degrees conferred on them.

He also released “Jenny Wren”and “This Never Happened Before” as singles, and “Really Love You” and “Rinse The Raindrops” from TWIN FREAKS as well.

None made major impact on the Billboard charts, and the CHAOS releases featured non-album songs.

NON-ALBUM SONGS RELEASED

Comfort Of Love (“Fine Line” CD single) A ticking clock leads into this piano driven song that grows more lush and intense as it builds. Very much in the sound of CHAOS. A nice little tune, but best kept off the album. Rating – 7

Growing Up, Falling Down (“Fine Line” 7” Single)

“Growing Up, Falling Down” was one of the two tracks on “Chaos And Creation In The Backyard” which featured player Pedro Eustache (the other one was “Jenny Wren“). Pedro Eustache played Dijeridu and Duduk on this track.

He commented, “What can I say, it was a once-on-a-lifetime experience… absolutely amazing. What struck me the most was Sir Paul’s genuine, down-to-earth humility, his serious, no-nonsense work ethics, as well as the depth of his musical sensibility.”

A wonderful surprise of a non-album song…. Interesting and odd, and would have been a fine addition to the album. The idea of making mistakes as one “grows up” is dealt with beautifully, in love and maybe in his musical relationships. Wonderful production and arrangement throughout and Eustache’s Dudak gives it a middle eastern feel. Rating- 8.25

“Summer of ’59” (“Jenny Wren” 7” single) An acoustic bopper featuring sweet multitrack vocals and a 50’s style which describes Paul’s impression of that period in his life. Rating – 7.75

“This Loving Game” (“Jenny Wren” Maxi-CD Single) A piano ballad, with an interesting soulful vocal by Paul. Nice chord change in the middle eight, that leads into a rocking it up the rest of the way. Another very nice track left off the album, and a welcome addition to the collection. Rating – 8

“I Want You To Fly” (“Jenny Wren” CD single) Paul uses the electric piano to begin this ballad. It slowly builds up steam. A song of encouragement and support which features a more “breathy” lead vocal and in his upper register. It ends with an odd bit of phrasing….. “Rising and falling like snow in the night….”
Rating – 7.5

“She is So Beautiful” (Japanese album bonus track) A more traditional stripped down piano/acoustic guitar ballad (for Heather?) that Paul is the master of. A tender instrumental break back into the melody ends it leaving you with a smile. Rating – 7.5

Paul appeared on guitars on the Stevie Wonder track “A Time To Love,” from the 2005 album of the same name.

On October 3rd, the book “High In The Clouds” was released. High in the Clouds is a children’s adventure novel written by musician/songwriter Paul McCartney and Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Geoff Dunbar, and published by Faber and Faber.

As writer/producer and animator/director, McCartney and Dunbar had collaborated on the 1984 animated film Rupert and the Frog Song, and High In The Clouds was scripted and sketched for several years by the two of them as another film to be released in 2022. It was announced in 2013, seven or eight songs were written for it in 2015, production by Gaumont was announced in 2017 and it will be shown on Netflix on release. Whew………….

Next up…2006.

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CHAOS AND CREATION (IN THE BACKYARD) (2005)

NOTE: I think we are going to continue with album reviews this way, first, with a statement by Paul about the individual songs. Then I follow with my quick analysis and rating. We will do this through 2021’s IIIMAGINED (unless we have new material!).

The use of Nigel Godrich as producer on this album was a great move. In addition to being a fine musician on his own, and a fantastic younger producer, Nigel also had the nerve to tell Paul to record the album basically on his own (which has always forced Paul to creative highs) but he had the stones to tell Paul on a few occasion that the songs were not up to his standard, or to make Paul tweak the tempo or verse. In other words, he took charge of the studio, which could be quite daunting when producing one of the four men who changed the face of music.

CHAOS AND CREATION was a very successful album with the fans and with the critics. It garnished three grammy nominations, and Paul went out of his way to promote it, knowing it was a major step up from 2001’s DRIVING RAIN.

The cover, taken by younger brother Michael of the young teen Paul in his backyard at his Liverpool home, is an amazing shot in relation to his future. I took a photoshop editing class in 2001 and used the same photo as the cover of an “imaginary” album by Paul, so I was floored to see this four years later (see photo below).

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The Album

“Fine Line” “It was just the opening line, ‘There’s a fine line between recklessness and courage.’  I just kind of followed on from that idea that you’ve got to choose which of the two you’re going to do, you know, be reckless or courageous so that was lyrically based on that. 

I brought it into the studio in Los Angeles and I was working it out and on that little bit there’s a little riff that goes around the Fine line bit and when I was playing that I made a mistake and I went to a wrong bass note and Nigel goes, ‘That’s great.  That’s it.’  I went, ‘Actually it’s a wrong note.’  He said, ‘No, no, check it out.  Listen to it.’  ‘Ooh, I see what you mean.’  It just didn’t go where you expected it.”

-I love the jazzy chords and feel. The production and playing is perfect on this song. Paul’s voice is still at the top of its game. Sweet, short middle eight and play out made this his best opening track since “Too Many People.” Rating – 9

“How Kind Of You” “It’s something I’ve done for a long time but recently I’ve started to notice more perhaps, like how some people talk, what phrases they use and I’ve got a couple of sort of older posh English friends who instead of saying, ‘That’s very nice of you,’ or ‘Thanks a lot,’ where I come from –  they might say, ‘How kind of you,’ and, you know, so I just started with that phrase and this whole idea.”

-The drone note adds much needed tension to this slow building piano ballad. On this track and basically the entire album, Paul really wrote wonderful lyrics that only enhanced each track. His drumming on this track and the album, while technically sparse, always seems to find that sweet spot, listening wise. It is a song and again, an album where the songs were very healing emotionally.
Rating – 8

“Jenny Wren” “With Jenny Wren it’s one of those things: I love to play acoustic guitar.  I want to go and play  my guitar in the great outdoors’ so I went into a spot in one of the canyons there, lovely nature spot, getting away from all the traffic and everything, and just found a little spot and just sat down and started playing. I just had a lot of fun, wrote the basis of it there outdoors in the canyon, lovely day, went back home that night to where we were staying and sat around while dinner was getting made and just sat around with the girls and sang it and made it up.”

-Paul is a very underrated acoustic guitarist and on this grown up sister to “Blackbird” he again makes the guitar the lead singer, using the same finger picking style he learned from Donovan in Bangor, India in 1968. Another tender track that cradles you emotionally. Rating – 8.5

“At The Mercy” “At the Mercy was one that I wrote on a day off in LA. So this one was just made up like on the Sunday when I  was having the weekend off. We’d worked all week. So on the Sunday I just sort of thought ‘Oh I’d like to take this in tomorrow’ and have a new completely new thing that he hadn’t heard that I hadn’t heard. Just very, very fresh. I took it in to Nigel next day and  said ‘What do you think of this?’ And he said ‘Oh great, great.’ It became his favorite, you know.

So we just worked on it and that was it. It was basically that it was finding a couple of chords that were kind of dark enough to get this sort of message that life can throw you curve balls and what do we do about it?”

-Have I found my favorite track on the album? Maybe my favorite McCartney track ever….. It once again hit the heart of what was pulling at my heart at the time. Another piano ballad that is perfect in feel and tone…. ‘Sometimes I rather run and hide than face the fear inside.’ It breaks out in glorious explosion of musical color at just the right time to lead us safely. Rating – 9.5

“Friends To Go” “The funny thing about it was I felt as if I was almost George Harrison during the writing of that song,” said McCartney. “I just got this feeling, this is George. So it was like I was writing – I was like George – writing one of his songs. So I just wrote it, it just wrote itself very easily ’cause it wasn’t even me writing it.“

-The funny thing for me was I heard George the first time I heard it, long before I heard Paul confirm it. I even imagined one of George’s slide solos and fills dotting it, completing it. Another slow builder that leaves me satisfied. Rating – 9

“English Tea” “Again it was this fascination with sort of how people speak, how some English people speak. So I just started playing with that idea, of English tea. And then as I say there’s one  particular older English person I’m thinking of who instead of saying ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ might say ‘Would you care for a cup of tea?’ It’s just the way they say it, and I love that. ‘Would you care?’ and in this case ‘Would you care to sit with me, for a cup of English tea?’ And so I really went to town on that whole fruity way of talking, that whole fruity language that I like. It’s I think it’s very endearing, very English, and I even managed to work in the word ‘peradventure’ which I was very proud of.”

-A song that John used to call Paul’s granny music. When he played it in concert that fall, I swear half the audience went to take care of business. Initially I didn’t like it, but his very English “Penny Lane” vocals and production do make this a sweet addition to the whole package, especially now that Paul can no longer sing like this. Rating – 8

“Too Much Rain” “The actual inspiration for Too Much Rain is Charlie Chaplin’s song, “Smile.” It’s a great song and the idea of Smile (sings) Smile even though your heart is breaking Smile when your heart is breaking do do. That’s a nick, a direct pinch from that so it’s ‘Laugh when your eyes are burning  Smile when you’re doing this and Sigh when  you’re that’.. So it was really that it was hints for feeling horrible, you know when you’re really down this song could get you up.”

-It was nice for Paul to admit using Chaplin’s masterpiece as the linchpin of this this lovely song of hope and optimism. Like “Mamunia,” The rain isn’t bad, if you embrace the feeling you get from the freedom of feeling it run down your back. Here, the analogy of too much rain, is that it will end at some point….. Rating – 9

“A Certain Softness” “A Certain Softness is just a straightforward love song, to me. I like things like Brazilian music, I like that sort of rhythmic, Latin kind of thing. I think it’s sexy, very romantic, and I was actually on a holiday, where I do a lot of writing because it’s where I’ve got a lot of time. Here’s me, I go on holiday to work! I don’t think of it as work, it’s more, I just enjoy just sitting around.”

-A lovely latin love song, with the finest middle eight hook on the album, that makes me so happy, it almost always brings me to tears.

‘If I could even find the words to tell her I wouldn’t want to anyway ‘Cos that would only break the spell And you know very well I couldn’t betray her.” Brilliant…. Rating – 9.5

“Riding To Vanity Fair” “Vanity Fair, I originally had as quite an up tempo sort of thing. It was all kind of staccato and very fast and, came in one evening where things had all kind of laid back a bit more.’  I sort of swamped it right out, just took it right down which changed the mood completely but this was particularly the one that Nigel didn’t like.…’ It was all these little short phrases so he encouraged me to try and go somewhere else so I ended up with keeping the first line which was what he liked so it was, ‘I bit my tongue.  I never talked too much….’ And got those run much more smooth. Kept the kind of meaning about you’re approaching someone for friendship and they just kind of don’t want to know. 

They’re just kind of rejecting you and it’s not about any particular person, it’s about anybody who’s like that which I think we all meet in life, you know, you’re in a great mood with somebody and, ‘Well, I bit my tongue.  I didn’t talk too much,’ and it’s one of those songs where you get your own back on those people by writing a song about them and whoever it applies to, people who are just generally a bit sort of you know a bit yuck.” We liked the track.  It was nice and dark and quite moody.  Nigel had messed around with some sort of echoey things, got kind of quite spooky but yeah, we re-worked it here, right here in the studio and kept working at it till we liked all the words and all the tune and finally I said, ‘O.K. we like this one now,’ and it made its way back onto the album so it was worth all that work.”

-Great lyrics and clarity in the message of the song. It was so refreshing to see Paul so focused on every track of this album. I got the feeling on initial listens that this was about his Beatles days, and John Lennon, even if Paul says it’s about nobody in particular. Rating – 8

“Follow Me” “Follow Me was one of those songs that kind of almost wrote itself.  You know, sometimes you’re feeling great about your life, not always but you’ve been lucky.  So I was sort of messing around in that region and thinking of the same sort of thing, you know. 

What is it?  It’s just somebody very important in your life or is it spirits of goodness or whatever it is, something kind of great so it was just like, (sings) ‘You lift up  my spirits, you shine on my song, whenever I’m empty, you make me feel whole, I can rely on you to guide me through any  situation, hold up the sign that reads, Follow Me.’ 

-Initially, one of my favorite songs on the album. Now, it’s middle of the pack. The only song (the first recorded) Paul recorded with his band.
Coincidence? The most flushed out song, sonically, and still a song that tears me up a bit, and always made me think of all of the dogs and cats I’ve had. Rating – 8

“Promise To You Girl” “It started as a piano thing.  You know, I just wanted to …  It’s a little two part piano thing.  The right hand is doing the melody a bit and then the bass has got a definite part instead of just vamping away so it was just like a little mathematical problem trying to work out how I could do this and I just started singing it. I could hear the Motown guys, the Funk Brothers putting a backing track to that. 

Then I had this other little bit that is on the front of it, (sings) ‘Looking through the backyard of my life, Time to sweep the fallen leaves away, Gave my promise to you girl.’  And that ends it as well.  It’s really two little songs put together and then when we came to do it in the studio it was multi-layered because it was just me so I think I started off with the piano and then put a bass on it, put a bit of drums on it and then Nigel started encouraging me to play some guitar licks and things so that was quite complicated, all a lot of little bits, but I think it sounds like a band in the end, you know.”

-Along with “A Fine Line,” the two album uptempo tracks, with moments of early Wings on the vocals and synth use. Rating – 8

“This Never Happened Before”
“Never Happened Before is a straight love song and, you know, I’m a lover not a fighter as they say.  I love that, I love to do that so this one was really exactly that.  The chords, it’s always a big help if you get a nice little chord sequence and the opening chords to the verse of that go a nice place so they settle you down with your melody and you feel like you’re going somewhere, so that was what was happening and wrote it and recorded it, one of the very first things we did with Nigel at Rak, that was one of the things to see if we could sort of get it on and I thought, ‘This is good.  We’re going to go somewhere with this’. 

-Gentle, floating down a river love song. It must be nice to find a love and feel this way. I’m not sure if this is for the new wife, because he certainly felt this way about Linda. Great doubled tracked vocals and lush production doesn’t swallow it up. It is the kind of piano ballad that Paul writes better than anyone, but doesn’t sound like the cookie cutter ones we have discussed in albums past. Rating – 8.5

“Anyway” “I don’t know, but I was getting this feeling as if it was the deep south of America, like Charlestown, Savannah, something about the chords, I think.  There was just something reminding me, almost sort of Randy Newman kind of thing, I thought I was doing.  As always it turns out nothing like him but at the time I think I’m doing this thing, so that was going on.” 

-Another beautiful love song, lush and gentle that comforts and saddens if you don’t have this in your life. A wonderful pace pickup during the instrumental break into the final verse. Wonderful way to end the album, or does it….? Rating – 9

“I’ve Only Got Two Hands” (Hidden Track) We’d done a lot of the album.  We were almost finished and we just thought, you know, ‘How about opening the album with just something for nothing, not like a song?  Let’s just open it with like a little jam thing, a noise, just something to get your attention, then we’ll go into the first song,’ so we said, ‘O.K. great,’ and I always like that where you sort of throw away the rule book and you go, ‘O.K. let’s just do something completely different’.  It’s not a song, it’s not a thing, you just go and play a bit and Nigel said, ‘Why don’t you just have a couple of ideas, songs, and we’ll make them.  They don’t need to be long.  We’ll just see which one works,’ so he said, ‘Just  go and do two things.  While you’re doing one, do two,’ so I thought, ‘O.K. I’ll do three just to show him,’ so I came out here. 

The piano was set up here and just sort of started doing the first little vibe, second little vibe and I said, ‘O.K. I’ve got a couple of ideas here,’ so he said, ‘That’ll do,’ so we recorded the piano bit first’.  Just really nothing, just in your face, sticking your tongue out and, we were joking.  It was like as if the grown-ups had gone away, you know, they’d left us the studios, so ‘O.K. come on, then,’ and I just got on the drum kit, just thrashed that out and we recorded in the space of like about ten minutes, well, maybe an hour, but we just did all three of them and in the end instead of choosing one of them for the beginning we stuck three of them all together and put them at the end.”

-The other side of Macca that we love, the let’s smoke a bit and turn on the tapes and see what happens. Must be nice to be this talented. It came at the time when a few artists were still leaving hidden tracks at the end of albums… but this was the end of that time…. A much better idea to have it at the end rather than the opener…
Rating – 7.5 (we won’t count this toward the whole album rating as this is a bonus for us….)

Overall the album grades out as a 8.615/10, making it THE THIRD HIGHEST graded album yet. It has stood the test of time, and it may be his most healing of albums if this is what is needed for me. I love it.

Next, the other 14 songs Paul put out in this time period that weren’t official album tracks and up to the end of 2005. Quite a year for Sir Paul, right?

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Approaching CHAOS (2005)

A one off recording session in January led to a return to the Super Bowl on February 6th in Jacksonville’s ALLTEL Stadium. Paul and his band were invited and accepted the honor of performing at the Patriots vs Eagles halftime show.

They rocked their way through an explosive four-song set, performing the classics Drive My Car, Get Back, Live And Let Die and Hey Jude.

Watched by a record 144.4 million viewers in the US, the Super Bowl is the nation’s highest-rated TV program annually and the most-watched single-day sporting event. Paul’s performance was broadcast in more than 200 countries worldwide.

On March 10th in Helsinki, Finland, Standing Stone was performed again.

In April Paul had his 6th and FINAL recording sessions for the upcoming album.

On April 18th, Paul announced his new fall US tour. My sister, Mary, and I, we circled the opening night of September 16th in Miami, my second time seeing his tour opening show….

On April 21st Paul performed solo at the “Stars In The Sky” benefit for the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps.
He played “Lady Madonna” on piano, and “Yesterday” on acoustic.

He appeared again at the 5th annual Adopt-A-Minefield Gala on May 28th, performing “All You Need Is Love” and “Let It Be.”

On June 14th the DVD, “Paul McCartney In Red Square” was released. This features footage from two of the most eagerly anticipated live shows of all time.

Despite being banned from the Soviet Union in the 1960s, The Beatles’ albums gave hope to many who could only access their music through the black market and these shows in Moscow’s Red Square in 2003 and St. Petersburg’s Palace Square in 2004 were a celebration not only of Paul’s music but also a general sense of freedom.

Featuring classic tracks and clips of interviews in which Paul talks about his and the Soviet Union’s past relationship and the ultimate celebration that took place in Moscow’s Red Square.

Also on June 14th, Paul released TWIN FREAKS, the remix album he did with DJ Freelance Hellraiser. We will review this with other The Fireman “assorted albums” after we have reviewed Paul’s regular, live and classical releases. So, sometime in 2022…. Hint… I love it.

On July 2nd Paul and the band performed at Live 8 in Hyde Park, London. Live 8 was a string of benefit concerts that took place on 2 July 2005, in the G8 states and in South Africa.

Run in support of the aims of the UK’s Make Poverty History campaign and the Global Call for Action Against Poverty, ten simultaneous concerts were held on 2 July and one on 6 July.
On 7 July, the G8 leaders pledged to double 2004 levels of aid to poor nations from US$25 billion to US$50 billion by the year 2010. Half of the money was to go to Africa.

More than 1,000 musicians performed at the concerts, which were broadcast on 182 television networks and 2,000 radio networks.

By July 28th, Paul had settled on a name for the new album, CHAOS AND CREATION IN THE BACKYARD. This is probably based on the photo taken by brother Mike. It shows (peeking through the back door window) a young teen Paul playing acoustic guitar in his own backyard.

He went into Abbey Road studios with a small audience on July 28th and filmed a one hour special called “Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road.” This would be shown as a television special after the upcoming album release later that fall.

Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road was a live concert given by Paul McCartney at Abbey Road Studios, specifically Studio 2, where many of The Beatles’ recordings were made.

Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road was meant as a promotion for McCartney’s album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. As the audience was of close friends and selected fans, the concert was intimate in nature and was littered with monologues and song fragments. It was shown on BBC Two in the United Kingdom on 17 December 2005, and on PBS in the United States on 27 February 2006.

McCartney plays left-handed and right-handed guitars, drums, harmonium, double bass, Mellotron, and even wine glasses in a reworking of Wings song “Band on the Run“.

He also reworks the Beatles’ track “Lady Madonna“, which he calls “Old Lady in New Clothes“, with a much slower tempo and swing melody line.
The bass McCartney uses on his performance of “Heartbreak Hotel” once belonged to Bill Black, Elvis Presley’s bass player who died in 1965.

With Nigel Godrich, producer of his latest album, offering assistance, McCartney runs casually and charmingly through a set list that includes four songs from the new CD, several reworked old favorites, and some surprises – both very old and impressively new. “Friends to Go,” “How Kind of You,” “English Tea” and “Jenny Wren” are the selections from “Backyard.” In his introduction to “Jenny Wren,” McCartney makes a musical connection to “Blackbird,” then plays it – along with the pre-Ringo Starr Beatles composition “In Spite of All the Danger,” and versions of two rethought Beatles classics.

On September 12th….just four days before the tour started I excitedly bout the new album, and the cd single of the first single….

Next….. CHAOS AND CREATION IN THE BACKYARD.

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2004

Born on October 28th, 2003 Beatrice McCartney….. Any doubts that this child was NOT the product of Paul and Heather need look at the young lady, now approaching 18 years old.

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Beginning in 2004, Giles Martin and his father, George began remixing Beatles material for the Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas Mirage Casino stage show, LOVE, which would also be released in album form.

This process would take place over the next two years, under the direct supervision of Paul, Ringo, Yoko Lennon and Olivia Harrison.

Work also started in 2004 on the remix album, TWIN FREAKS. Paul and co-producer, DJ Freelance Hellraiser. In the summer of 2004, he toured Europe with Paul, opening each show with a 25-minute set of remixed McCartney songs. This led to the idea of creating a full album of re-mixes.

At the end of February, Paul reunited with producer David Kahne and recorded seven songs for what was going to be Paul’s next album.

In April, Paul has a change of direction, meeting up with producer Nigel Godrich.

Godrich was best known for his work with the English rock band Radiohead and is sometimes referred to as the “sixth member” of the band.

He is also a member of Atoms for Peace and Ultraísta.

Godrich has also worked with acts such as Travis, Beck, Ride, Ultrasound, Jason Falkner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Pavement, Here we go magic, Brazzaville, Air, Natalie Imbruglia, The Divine Comedy, The Sundays, U2, Metric, and R.E.M.

They recorded one track together with playing all the instruments, and with Paul really enjoying the experience on this “test track” he decided to proceed further working with Godrich.

Paul and his band recorded the next track that would be part of the next album, when Godrich suggested he should not use his band and instead, record all future tracks by himself, ala McCartney I and II.

Paul agreed and explained to his understanding band mates and the recording got seriously underway by the two with Paul’s newest batch of material.

After Paul met with Capitol records chairman on May 28th and played him tapes of both sessions, they mutually agreed to shelve the Kahne recordings and proceed forward with recordings with Godrich.

They would have five such session that would continue into November of 2004.

In 2004 the American fans were treated to a Beatles surprise with the remixing of the first four U.S. Beatles releases in a box set. These U.S. versions were different than the official British releases (less tracks, different titles and covers to make more money) and must have brought back old listening memories to the grown up baby boomers.

On May 24th thru June 26th Paul and the band toured 12 European countries, playing 15 shows.

Besides his love of performance, this may have been another way as well for Paul to reward his band and staff with income they would now not be getting on the work in progress next album.

He also worked with Brian Wilson in 2004 on Brian’s, GETTIN’ IN OVER MY HEAD album. He played and sing on the track, the appropriate “A Friend Like You.”

On September 20th he released a new single called “Tropic Island Hum,” which was the title song of the animated video it was featured in.

On September 27th of 2004, he released “The Music And Animation Collection” DVD. The collection of three beautifully animated short films introduced a new character to rank alongside Rupert and the Frog Chorus, namely Wirral the Squirrel. Paul introduces the short films, all directed by Geoff Dunbar, and the final short, Tuesday, features a closing monologue by Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman.

An annual, non-profit charity concert organized by Neil Young, the Bridge School Benefit Concert has seen performances from the likes of Thom Yorke, Bruce Springsteen, Fleet Foxes and R.E.M.

On 23rd October 2004, Paul joined a stellar line-up of acts to perform a solo set and also collaborate with the fellow artists on the bill, including Tony Bennett.

Next…. 2005, and amid all the CHAOS comes the CREATION of a masterpiece.

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2003

2003 was here and Paul as always went back to writing new songs.

I guess this is a silly line, as he really never, except at a few certain periods in his life, never stopped writing songs or thinking of his next project since The Beatles had formed.

Long time fan Wendy Whitworth got the ultimate birthday present at her party on February 22nd when her husband hired Macca himself to play at the bash – for a fee of $1 million.

TV executive Wendy was stunned and left in tears of joy at her 50th birthday party – as she and 150 guests were given a private 90-minute rock show by Macca and his band at a party in San Diego, California.

Mr. Whitworth offered Paul McCartney $1 million dollars to play a personal show for his wife. Macca agreed – but then he instantly gave away the massive fee to charity.

Paul played the birthday concert – one of the smallest gigs of his life – only on condition that he could donate the $1 million fee to Adopt A Minefield, the anti-landmines charity backed by him and his wife Heather.

Wendy, the executive producer of CNN’s “The Larry King Show,” had no idea of the surprise in store when she joined family and friends including Larry King and NBC Today show host Katie Couric.

The party began at 7.00 pm; two hours later an announcement that “now we’re going to play a bit of rock and roll for Wendy” – and to her shock Macca and his band took to the stage.

Paul, for whom the show was also a warm-up gig for his upcoming concert tour of Europe that starts next month, then led his band through a 19-song set.

Paul further surprised Wendy when he called her up onto the stage, presented her with his gift of 50 roses, and then had her dance at his side as he led his band through the Beatles rock song “Birthday.”
Paul said: “Normally I don’t do this sort of gig, but I was chuffed (delighted) to do it because it was a win-win show. Ralph gets to be the great husband for organizing the surprise, his wife gets a rocking party, I get to rehearse the band for the tour and, most important, Adopt-A-Minefield gets $1 million. It was a very human evening and we all had a fabulous time”.

The next leg of touring began as The Back In The World Tour, which consisted of 33 shows in 13 countries. It ran from March 25th (Paris, France) until June 1st (Liverpool, England).

They had another surprise show on May 30th at The Cavern, in Liverpool.

Paul McCartney held his end of world tour party at the Cavern Club. For the people who came to the door of the Cavern Club that night, the poster on the door told them it was a private retirement party.

Little did they realize that Paul McCartney was downstairs.
The following day Paul performed to an audience of 30,000 on an outside stage at King’s Dock.

In 2003, Paul helprd out his lead guitarist, Rusty on his solo album, UNDRESSING UNDERWATER on the track “Hurt Myself.”

He also offered his song “Calico Skies” for the charity album, HOPE (War Child), Hope is a 2003 compilation album released by the War Child charity in conjunction with Daily Mirror to aid the victims of the Iraq war. It featured contributions from Travis, New Order, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and George Michael.

He performed again at Heather’s 3rd annual Adopt-A-Minefield Gala on September 23rd, performing 10 songs.

The album CONCERT FOR GEORGE was released on November 17th.

He also had his 1980 song “Temporary Secretary” remixed to help promote the album, A SECRET HISTORY. McCartney authorized remix master and deejay Matt Edwards, better known by his monikers Rekid or, in this case, Radio Slave, to create an extended dance mix of “Temporary Secretary” for release as a promotional-only 12-inch single in December 2003.

The one-sided single sports the classic black Parlophone label and is the only release of Radio Slave’s nearly seven and a half minute mix of the song. Only 500 copies of the disc were made and all of them were numbered and distributed mainly to key radio stations in Europe.

On October 22nd and 23rd Paul reunited with Dave Stewart to re-record the song “Whole Life” again. Stewart, from The Eurythmics, recorded “Whole Life” for Nelson Mandela’s AIDS awareness campaign (they had previously recorded this song in 1995).

The backing of the track was done by Paul’s live band.

Rusty Anderson remembers:
“Well that was interesting because it was all of sudden last minute where Paul went into the studio and, “Oh yeah Dave Stewart’s coming by and we’ve got this song that I want to finish up”.

I wasn’t sure if, I thought well Dave Stewart plays guitar you know maybe I won’t even be part of this so I don’t know what he’s really talking about. So, but then we all got together and we all sort of did it live so it was cool. Dave Stewart played acoustic and Paul and I played electric and Brian played bass and Abe played drums. It was really fun actually. It was kind of cool meeting Dave Stewart who I never met before. Just getting in there and really quickly getting the song together. Then we all got around the mike, I guess the four of us, Paul, Abe, Brian and I did all the background vocals and then pretty quickly it was mixed that night.”

LET IT BE NAKED and BACK IN THE WORLD were also released on CD in 2003.

2004 began and surprise… Heather is pregnant and much more….

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AFTER THE RAIN…

I found this period in my relationship with Paul and for himself as an entertainer were at a cross in the road.
While I found DRIVING RAIN pleasant to listen to, it became for me an album I could put on, and play in the background and do other things and maybe hum away at a few or the melodies or sing a few of the phrases.

I didn’t dislike it, but it failed to move me to play it.

The cross in the road was massive fame and massive success vs the new road. That road was critical success and self fulfillment. Paul, though he never lost sight of the other road, chose the new road. He would (most recently) enjoy the occasional foray into the other (Two #1 albums in 2020 and 2021) but it was in a new market, where sales of 10,000-20,000 copies of a physical release could reach the top of the chart. This is a long way from The Beatles (the ‘White Album” which sold 24 million copies).

I think when Paul passes his music will experience a massive increase in popularity spike, like many have before him.

So, as a fan, I chose to accept any and all releases and tours and could only hope they would continue. At around this time Billy Joel announced he would no longer create and release new music. While the thought of this for Paul (who has admitted he would like to be wheeled out on stage in his 80’s (we are keeping an eye out on this one)) was scary, I felt he still had more music inside him….

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While reviews were generally positive for DRIVING RAIN, sales were way down for Paul. This was the first album which went in that direction for Paul. After this, each release would get for the most part “fantastic” reviews but the sales would be much less.

Two reasons for this…. Paul was now in his 50’s and music had moved in a new direction with young hip-hop and pop stars now dominating the charts.

Secondly, with the growth of the internet and result of sites such as Napster and all that followed in file sharing, artists were no longer selling their music in record stores throughout the nation.

This would lead to the ending of so many iconic “record stores” and end of vinyl (until it made it’s incredible comeback in the last half decade).
From the mid 2000’s the artist now made most or all of their money in touring, merchandising and reissuing back catalog in limited edition/deluxe/box/special edition etc releases.

All of the singles released from DRIVING RAIN would fail to chart in any decent fashion, and Paul soon began to accept these realities. He would continue to record at his own whim, release albums at his own pace, with singles pulled from them without the anticipation of Beatles/Wings/Early solo sales.

Reviews and attention to his legacy seems to move to the forefront. Touring regularly and re-embracing his Beatles past even further became the new normal and continue to this day.
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Songs recorded in the 2001-2002 time frame not on the DRIVING RAIN album.

“Good Rockin’ Tonight (home recording)” Paul on acoustic guitar backed by Linda. I may have put this track in the wrong year, as it may date from much earlier. Still, he could knock these early classics out in his sleep. Mono recording, so very informal, but it must stay in my collection. Rating – 7

“India”. The unreleased song appears in the “Secret Website” show that was accessible through the “Back to the US” DVD. Nice little jam, probably played during pre-show soundchecks. Wouldn’t have minded if this was on the album, flushed out just a bit more.
Rating – 8

“Vanilla Sky” We can add this to the list of McCartney songs destined for motion pictures that appeared to be a blockbuster, that weren’t. Especially when he records the title track. This was written for the Tom Cruise thriller that was made when Tom was seemingly at the top of his game. Nominated for an Oscar for top song, but didn’t win. The movie was not the next “Mission Impossible” but this sweet acoustic ballad was not the reason. The double track vocals make this breezy one that deserved a bit more attention. Paul did break it out on the second leg of the 2002 tours and the BACK IN THE WORLD CD. Rating – 8.5

“Mary’s Song” – Played live instrumental which he jokes to the crowd about his fingers never leaving his wrist and only using two fingers on the fretboard. Was this the track that Kanye West used as the basis for “All Day?” This is followed by a jazzy New York City song that is also played before a crowd that occasionally bursts into laughter. I’m not sure where I stole these from, but I’m not getting rid of them. Rating – 7.5

“Yvonne” A demo of the song Paul wrote with Eric Stewart back in the 1986 PRESS TO PLAY era, and served as guide when Paul didn’t record it, and gave it to Eric to use on a later 10cc album. Eric then changed the beat, words and ruined the song. This is the definitive version of a song he should not have given away. I’m not sure why I have all theses odd songs in my I tunes under Driving Rain extras? Rating – 8.5

“Maybe Baby” The title track to the British comedy. They played it over the ending credits. True to the Buddy Holly original, only rocked up and given the full Jeff Lynne production.
Outstanding full sound, and could easily have fit on The Russian Album or RUN DEVIL RUN. A classic ass-shaking version of the song. Rating – 8.5

“Waiting For The Train To Get In” A soundcheck that was only done once and I somehow have this one. Paul appears to be making up the words, but maybe could have had something more with it, with the soundcheck as a starting point. Rating – 6.5

“Voice”. A little dance track that Paul does, but sadly, we have to hear Heather commenting on the purpose of the track. I think this may have to do with children who have lost limbs to landmines left after periods of civil war. Or to just the handicapped in general. Sounds good, but it is only if you are in the mood for electronic dance music of the period. Rating – 7.5 (Paul) and 5 (with Heather).

“A Love For You” A song Paul has worked on many times, over a period of many years, beginning with the the Ram sessions. This song was also intended for every version of the unreleased COLD CUTS projects. This is one that Paul couldn’t get out of his head to end up somewhere, but not on a proper release. This is the final version which he re-mixed and maybe re-recorded parts for the 2003 motion picture “The In-Laws” starring Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas. He also had a versions of “Live And Let Die” and “I’m Carrying” in the movie. Again, the movie was not the huge hit he or the studio thought it would be….. sigh…. I always liked this song but have heard at least three different mixes of it. This is probably the best, sonically. Rating – 8

“From A Love To A Friend (alternative mixes)” The first is a remix which comes in at 3:49, as the album version is 3:44. I feel the same way about this version, as it is one of the stronger songs on DRVING RAIN, bot musically and lyrically. Rating – 8

The longer 5:28 remix, is mixed mostly with Paul in the background vocally, and the lushness and sounds brought to the forefront. Probably form a cd single which included all three versions. This is my favorite, but probably not the most album friendly.
Rating- 8.5

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As 2003 got here stories began to circulate in the press (as he and Heather were constantly hounded) of major ups and downs in their relationship. He announced to give up smoking pot for Heather (was he no longer “Mother Nature’s Son lying in his field of grass?), stories of loud fights and engagement rigs heaved into the ocean. Stories of how the children (especially Stella) did not care at all for the new “Lady” McCartney, and I wondered how this would effect him creatively. Stories of Heather’s semi-sordid past relationships…..

Next, 2003 and onward….