CHAOS AND CREATION IN THE BACKYARD - PAUL MCCARTNEY
TRACK LISTING: Fine Line, How Kind of You, Jenny Wren, At the Mercy, Friends To Go, English Tea, Too Much Rain, A Certain Softness, Riding To Vanity Fair, Follow Me, Promise To You Girl, This Never Happened Before, Anyway
BONUS TRACK: I've Only Got Two Hands (hidden track)
IMPRESSIONS: That old duffer Macca was not really on my radar when this album came out. While working at the Hellmouth we "overhead played" McCartney's previous releases typified by that horrendous 9/11 "Freedom" song and the word I used to describe his output then was "insipid". That's why "BACKYARD" is such a gobsmack because it's incredibly listenable from start to finish and the only embarrassing moment in it occurs when he rips off "People Get Ready" for the first verse of "Anyway". Or should I call that "homage"? Somehow it doesn't feel like we're meant to recognize the Curtis Mayfield song but instead it seems more like an "unconscious plagiarism" instance a la George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" or the Rolling Stones' "Has Anybody Seen My Baby". Other than that, "BACKYARD" is Macca's strongest album in years . . . probably decades. A great deal of credit for this goes to producer Nigel Godrich who was used to producing Radiohead and Beck and really had no fawning reverence for the ex-Beatle. This was apparently just what McCartney was looking for when he asked Godrich to produce (at the suggestion of the eminent Sir George Martin, no less). Apparently, Godrich was fairly blunt and wouldn't allow McCartney to skate by with sub-par material. In Macca's own words, Godrich "...refused to allow me to sing songs that he didn't like, which was very cheeky of him". McCartney was reportedly taken aback at first but then upon listening to the results knew he'd made the right choice in producer. This album has the paradoxical quality of sounding very fresh and energized while at the same time sounding very Beatlesque to me; however its done in such a way not to sound like a pastiche but instead as emerging from McCartney's natural creative bent. He wasn't copying anybody when he was with the Beatles and Godrich has somehow allowed McCartney to tap that same wellspring. But all the credit cannot go strictly to the production end because McCartney provides the tunes which would sound good even stripped down and acoustic. Godrich has managed to kick McCartney up his geriatric bum and enabled the old rocker to sound like the old fab lad whose creativity knew no bounds. Just when I had counted him out, too!
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Fine Line, How Kind of You, Jenny Wren, At the Mercy, Friends To Go, English Tea, Too Much Rain, Riding To Vanity Fair, Follow Me, This Never Happened Before, I've Only Got Two Hands
FACT SHEET: CHAOS AND CREATION IN THE BACKYARD is Paul McCartney's 13th solo album. Paul McCartney plays a great many of the instruments himself. The album was nominated for three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year. "Friends To Go" is inspired by and dedicated to George Harrison. The cover photograph of a young Paul McCartney playing guitar in his family's back garden in Liverpool was taken by his brother Mike McCartney(aka Mike McGear) and was originally titled "Paul Under Washing" before being retitled "Our Kid Through Mum's Net Curtains".