Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

Dave Grohl is God

I love this MAN..and I’m not ashamed to say it.

Dave dedicated his award to Kurt Cobain and gave a shout to the Pixies! A living LEGEND!


Abbey Road

As the last recordings The Beatles made and as the last album they recorded together there is an understandable emotional reaction among hardcore Beatles fans. Well, to simply be overwhelmed by ‘Abbey Road’ and to be unable to view it at all objectively. The snatches of songs on side two are occasionally very enticing, the two George songs on side one are the finest things on side one, true classics. ‘Abbey Road’ gives off a deceptive unity which was of course the entire point. .

I know how everyone hated the fact that The Beatles had to break up, but in all honestly that was probably the best thing they could have done. Had they gone on together through the ’70s, there’s no freaking way they would have continued to write music at the same level. No way. They quit while they were ahead,and now everybody regards them as immortal gods, which they were! But really, The Beatles, as a collective unit, had basically quit after Sgt. Pepper. They weren’t functioning as a band anymore. Lennon and McCartney were constantly at each other’s throats. Harrison and Starr quit the group for brief periods of time. An album they were working on had fallen apart (Get Back, to be released later as Let it Be). Things were not happy in Beatles-land. So, the break-up had to happen if they were going to write music anymore. And, as I’ve said before, the best thing to come out of The Beatles breaking up was ex-Beatle solo albums!

As the legend goes, The Beatles knew they were going to call it quits, and they wanted to exit the stage with a massive bang. They worked extra-hard to come up with an album that they wanted people to remember them by! Well, The Beatles were working damn hard as it was, and all I can say is their efforts paid off. Abbey Road is every bit as good (if not better) than anything they released. A lot of people dub it to be their favorite, and it’s easy to see why.

Now, let’s talk about these fabulous songs! The first one is the iconic, Lennon anthem “Come Together.” When I first started listening to this album, I thought it was a little too heavy-hitting for my tastes, but that’s sort of the point of it. It’s one of the most menacing things these guys have ever done, and of course the melody is brilliant. We all know it by heart, don’t we? Everybody’s already made up their minds about it, and it’s usually positive. The second song is “Something,” indeed. It had very tough competition, but “Something” manages to gain distinction as my favorite song of Abbey Road. It’s also Frank Sinatra’s favorite Beatles’ song, and George Harrison wrote that one, of course. It’s a complete pleasure to see that guy finally come out and shine just as brightly as his colleagues. He not only does that once, but twice with the equally gorgeous “Here Comes the Sun.” What attracts me to those two songs in particular is the intense spirituality that he expresses. Harrison would continue doing that profoundly in his solo career, but he hardly ever topped these two efforts.

‘I Want You’ shares some of the darkness in tone that surrounded ‘The White Album’. ‘I Want You’ is rambling compositionally, yet together as a performance. John is on excellent form here and this near eight minute song is unlike anything else The Beatles ever did, it demonstrates potential blues/progressive directions that The Beatles could have taken on in their never to be the future. As for the suite of songs taking up all of side two, we have one lovely McCartney number in particular, ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ which has been split up into two parts to aid the suite concept. This suite also contains the utterly gorgeous harmonies of ‘Sun King’ and the rocking coda of ‘The End’. ‘Mean Mr Mustard’, ‘Polythene Pam’ and the heart-breaking ‘Golden Slumbers’ come across as snippets of larger songs and create a yearning within you that they actually were larger and longer songs. Frequently gorgeous is this second half of ‘Abbey Road’ but you have to ask yourself how it really connects to the first half, if at all. McCartney reputedly wanted the entire album done in the style of ‘the suite’ but was voted down. Considering ‘Abbey Road’ as a whole piece is therefore quite difficult for me because of this. Well, Side one is a collection of unrelated songs and side two is a mood piece with brilliant and touching melodies along the way. This lack of cohesion mean I’ve marked down ‘Abbey Road’ just a notch, yet it remains an excellent album and a good closing chapter in the career of The Beatles.


Magical Mystery Tour

Of course ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is brilliant but I’m getting ahead of myself. I always get the feeling even just listening to the first six songs here that ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ was very much a Paul idea and that John thought it a monumentally silly project. When the TV movie was premiered Boxing day 1967, the world at large mostly sided with John, critics eager to get their teeth into The Beatles following four years of unparalleled success for the group. Brian Epstein had departed, but that has little to do with the actual record. The actual ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ record was a six song, double 7″ single. An EP, if you will. Capitol records had the idea of adding five Sgt Pepper era single tracks to the six ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ songs, and voila another Beatles album is born to sell to the eager masses. The opening title song is a poor mans ‘Sgt Pepper’ but it’s still pretty good, all told. ‘The Fool On The Hill’ is an interesting little song with some lovely Flute passages. It’s nicely mellow and Paul writes some more than intriguing lyrics here. ‘Flying’ is a semi-instrumental and very psychedelic, also very b-side material. If this had been planned as an album, it’s highly unlikely something as unsubstantial as this would have been considered for inclusion. George writes ‘Blue Jay Way’ and it’s a semi-wonder and the best song on the album so far, to my mind. Very stoned sounding, very psychedelic, very all over the place but enjoyably so! The ‘please don’t be long’ vocal parts are just a joy that send smiles all through me.

It was John Lennon who provided this album’s grandest masterpieces, of course. I only need to name three songs, and you’ll know what I mean. ‘I Am the Walrus’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘All You Need is Love.’ They are all so great they make me wet my pants! Well, not literally, but it feels like I should be. ‘I Am the Walrus’ has those famously nonsense lyrics and quite possibly the strangest instrumentation in any Beatles song. Lennon was very fond of using tape effects in his songs, and he really went to town there. He thinks of all sorts of weird things to put in that song, and amazingly none of this weirdness detracted from that utterly catchy melody and its driving flow. I listened to that song about a billion times, and I still don’t believe it. ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is unforgettable hippie classic. The instrumentation isn’t quite as amazing as ‘I Am the Walrus,’ but it’s still unpredictable and seems fresh no matter how much you hear it. And, man! The melody! OH THE MELODY! ‘All You Need is Love’ is probably the grandest love anthem ever written. It’s melodically simple, but it’s still catchy and memorable! I love that it starts with that stodgy British horn theme and ends into a sort of anarchic love fest… That aspect, especially, delights me every time I hear it. What a fantastic song! It’s the sort of thing that I could go off on a fan rant forever, but I don’t because I’m restraining myself.

I can’t forget about Paul’s ‘Penny Lane,’ which is worthy of its reputation of one of the greatest (if not *the* greatest) Brit-pop songs ever recorded. This melody, above all other Paul melodies, is one of his best. That’s really saying something. The instrumentation isn’t nearly as experimental as John’s contributions, but these are still wonderful and contribute to that nostalgic feeling that he was going for. ‘Baby You’re a Rich Man’ is probably the album’s lost gem, so to speak. It gets a bit lost in the shuffle. It has a melody to die for and certain creative touches with the instrumentation. Need I say more?

I did few research on ‘All You Need is Love’ – The song was broadcast to 600 million worldwide as part of a BBC TV special at that time. Each country had something like a five minute segment to fill to represent the nature and character of their particular country. Everybody was listening as the most famous band in the world blow a small camp-fire sing-a-long into the most wonderful sounding song, practically ever. It isn’t quite as good as all that underneath, but yeah, nice stuff and great sentiments, of course


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

This is another one of those perfect albums that I couldn’t find a flaw with even if I tried. To state the obvious, this is the most famous rock album of all time. And along with that fame, there has been a serious backlash. I’ve read the reviews from these critics, but most of them sound like they’re trying to gain admittance into some sort of underground society of sneering hipsters. Either that, or they have mistakenly picked up a copy of the 1978 Bee Gees soundtrack album. … Don’t believe anything these critics write, for they know not what they type! Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a complete triumph. It was the biggest thing to hit the music scene back in 1967, and it’s still going strong all these years later. It might not be the greatest album ever made (though it’s certainly close no matter how you measure it), but this is going to be remembered forever.

The two ‘Sgt Pepper’ songs that ‘bookend’ this record are actually two of the least interesting things here. Almost a Cavern style throwback as if to remind you who exactly you are listening to. As if you even needed reminding. ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ is both a damn fine song and possibly Ringo’s finest ever Beatles vocal. ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ is mischievous but does contain a couple of good musical moments along the way. It’s by no means my favorite Beatles song, it seems a little repetitive to me, but so it goes. The guitar riff that opens ‘Getting Better’ sets the tone for a straightforward pop/rock song, McCartney most noticeable with the extremely melodic bass line that pushes the song forwards and the hand claps are mere attention to detail. Nothing is missed out then for what is essentially just a simple song. ‘Fixing A Hole’ benefits again from McCartney’s melodic bass, and the harmonies? These harmonies! Perfectly and subtly placed harmonies but always in exactly the right places. ‘She’s Leaving Home’ is beautiful, ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite’ has a great Lennon vocal and ‘A Day In The Life’ among many other things boasts a great Lennon vocal. Yeah, it sounds like the end of the world with the noise and the strings and everything else. The kitchen sink, the leak in the pipe that leads under the floorboards and the old woman who lives in the flat below that has 43 cats…. Good stuff though and a more than impressive production. ‘Lovely Rita’ I’ve saved til last of course because for some reason its my most wanted of the whole bunch. McCartney’s vocal apes Lennon, the bass rises and falls, the lyrics are a storytelling humorous delight and then these wonderful harmonies come in.

The album’s final song is “A Day in the Life.” , my second favorite Beatles’ song ever. That’s a particularly amazing composition just in the way it’s structured. Really, that’s two songs in one… John has the main bit, and Paul comes in the middle with a new melody of his own. Of course, those weird orchestral crescendos come up to separate these sections! It’s probably the first time many people heard something like that before, and it’s not too much of a stretch to guess that it provided inspiration to plenty of the progressive rock bands who were just starting out!

It makes me grin excitedly and so does ‘Sgt Peppers’ as a whole.


Rubber Soul

A significant step up in class, “Rubber Soul” was easily The Beatles most mature and complete album statement to date. This is largely due to the fact that this was their first album that was thought of as being its own self-contained world rather than being merely a collection of various unrelated songs. Experimenting to a then unprecedented degree and occasionally using uncommon instruments (such as the exotic sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”), the influence of Bob Dylan has also helped The Beatles dig deeper lyrically than the innocent “boy likes girl” concerns that had characterized many of their previous songs.

As usual, almost everything they try works, because they were simply peerless songwriters and singers who had energy and charisma to match. The rocking “Drive My Car” starts things out with enough sexual innuendos to satisfy Aerosmith (along with its memorably cheesy “beep beep beep beep yeahs”), but overall Rubber Soul shows a mellower, more reflective side to The Beatles. McCartney’s excellent “You Won’t See Me” is a prime example of the band’s chemistry that includes delicious “la la la” harmonies, a facet of the band’s arsenal that’s reprised for Lennon’s lonely but lovely “Nowhere Man.” “Think For Yourself” is merely a solid Harrison song, but it was the Byrd’s “If I Needed Someone” (a giant leap up in class) that announced his emergence as a songwriter of major potential. Elsewhere, “The Word” is repetitive but effective, “What Goes On” an obligatory Ringo (country) song that’s catchy enough for a filler track, and “I’m Looking Through You” delivers confessional lyrics along with some stinging guitar from Harrison.

George also props up “Run For Your Life,” another primitive rocker that harks back to their earlier days, while “Wait” is quite singable if often overlooked. Best of all was McCartney’s lovely “Michelle” (an instant standard) and Lennon’s contemplative “In My Life,” while “Girl” also presented mournful acoustic folk of the highest possible standard. Even taking into account the few lesser tracks, it’s not an understatement to suggest that with this thoughtfully planned artistic statement (along with Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited released the same year) rock n’ roll as a genre grew by leaps and bounds, and it greatly influenced artists such as The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, who desperately sought to keep pace. Wilson’s own resultant masterpiece, Pet Sounds, would catch the eye of Paul McCartney and inspire Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.


Help!

Another Beatles album and another masterpiece. This probably isn’t as much of a stylistic jump forward as Beatles For Sale or Rubber Soul will be. However, Help! manages to strengthen their artistic integrity. There’s not only more of Lennon’s Dylan-posturing, but just a little bit more innovation. As if you’d expect anything less from them!

John dominates this record again with the contribution of three A+ scoring songs, but Paul stays strong in the running with two A+ scoring songs of his own! George contributes two ditties, but again his songwriting still seems to be in the formative stages (although he is still a lot better than most songwriters from the era). John’s Help! starts things off in a remarkably energetic way. It’s a fast-paced rocker with some excellent chord progressions and two melody-lines going at once. And, as expected, the thing is catchy as hell. The Beatles were feeling very overextended at this point of their careers, and you can guess that he wrote this to vent some of that frustration. As a result of that, I have thought about it to vent my frustrations from time to time!

‘You Got to Hide Your Love Away’ is one Lennon’s Dylan-inspired acoustic folk numbers, and it has a melody that’s immediately lovable. Lack of creative melodies is a common criticism I have of folk music in general, but John knew exactly how to fix that! ‘Ticket to Ride’ has been so well incorporated in our culture that we probably don’t realize how unusual it was for the time. Those loud, thundering drums and that droning guitar tone has been compared to heavy metal, and that comparison isn’t unjustified. (Of course, it’s not heavy metal… but it begins to approach that style!)

Paul wrote ‘Yesterday’, of course, and it’s one of the first rock songs to incorporate a string quartet. (Though the string quartet idea was George Martin’s.) Classical music snobs like to point out that such an arrangement wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if it was introduced in the classical realm, and they’re absolutely right! However, the idea was certainly bracing, and it points its way toward progressive rock. Furthermore, it works perfectly with Paul’s sweet, folksy melody. Paul’s other A+ contribution was ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face,’ which is certainly an unusual take on folk-rock. The acoustic guitar is strummed like mad, and Paul’s melody is sweet and breezy!

The second half of the albums kicks off with the Ringo sung country number ‘Act Naturally’ which seems so out-of-place, it becomes comical yet ‘It’s Only Love’ has some haunting guitar sounds and a beautiful John vocal. ‘You Like Me Too Much’ re-introduces Piano into a Beatles album and works as a very nice unassuming enjoyable track. ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ is a wonderfully great Simon And Garfunkel rip-off… I get the history confused sometimes. If it actually invented Simon And Garfunkel ( it does sound a hell of a lot like them ) then hats off to those Beatles lads! If not, hats off to them anyway, it’s a super fun song. We get ‘Yesterday’ today and then to round everything off we get something a little older, a little goodbye as such because ‘Dizzie Miss Lizzie’ is one of those Rock N Roll John vocal scorchers. Excellent.


A Hard Day’s Night

Another album and yet another turning point for the band. This is their first album with all original material, and it proved to be their strongest album yet! Paul McCartney might have dominated the songwriting in the earlier albums, but John Lennon ended up writing most of the material for this album. (As always, the two shared credits!)

The Beatles used Rickenbacker guitars in the film and for the recording sessions. Roger McGuinn took notice and went out and purchased a shiny new Rickenbacker guitar. So you could in fact claim this ‘Hard Days Night’ record was the most influential record of all-time. You could, but you’d be insane to do so. Then again some people like to credit The Beatles for everything. I think Roger McGuinn and The Byrds most likely, it can be safely said, took the sound of The Rickenbacker somewhere else altogether but sure, the chiming tones of this guitar is noticeable all over the album, not least through the opening classic title song. I actually believe the film was far more influential than the record, by the way. The Beatles had such a strong image, were so successful, that it made other groups start to wonder about their own image and dress-wear.

Paul delivers two of the the early Beatles’ signature tunes. They’re “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “And I Love Her,” of course! “And I Love Her” turns out to be one of The Beatles best love ballads ever with a melody so sweet that it couldn’t possibly be topped. The instrumentation is relatively simple… With strummed and scaling acoustic guitars, and Ringo’s simple bongos. It might have been one of their more commercial songs, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a flash of brilliance. As you know already, “Can’t Buy Me Love” is one the album’s more upbeat rockers that will surely get you to the dance floor for sure. It’s so difficult reviewing these Beatles albums, because I’m perfectly aware that everybody knows these songs by heart… and especially that song. (And that’s not because Patrick Dempsey once starred in an ’80s movie with that title!) George comes up with a wonderful guitar solo in the middle, which is nearly as joyous as the melody itself.

A pretty consistent album this, though some of the songs are just good rather than great. ‘I’m Happy Just To Dance With You’ falls into that category. Enjoyable, but no all time world beating masterpiece. George comes off a bit like a dork! But that’s OK, because I like dorks. And the melody is catchy, anyway. “You Can’t Do That” is a wholly more excellent composition with an interesting song structure. I love that ending! It basically consists of that three-note guitar loop that seems to wear-out. It’s simple, it’s succinct and it interests me. Much more interesting than a fade-out that the majority of pop stars would’ve done. My only complaint about that song is George’s electric guitar solo in the middle, which has an unfortunate clashing effect.

I dwell on each of these songs only to find out I don’t have anything remotely original to say about them. But they are enjoyable for me to review! So there you go. I enjoyed writing this review more than you did reading it!