Memory Almost Full
disposable pop icons, the anticipation and trepidation of
a new Paul McCartney album might not make sense to a lot
of Fanboy Planet readers. Then again, you at least know
what it's like to follow a beloved comic book character
or wrestler, and wonder if this time the story is going
to be worth your devotion.
So it goes
with McCartney. Obviously, if you're a Beatles fan, he has
to hold your interest. For me, though, it started with 1982's
Tug of War, a record (!) I bought and listened to
a few times and didn't regret. Then my father died the following
Spring, and suddenly some of the songs on that album held
new meaning for me, played over and over as I tried to get
through the tragedy. When I got into my car after my dad's
funeral, the song on the radio was Paul McCartney and Wings'
"Live and Let Die." No frog chorus here; it just cemented
my being a life-long McCartney fan.
his catalog made it hit and miss. Every now and then you'd
find a gem, but every Tug of War seemed to have two
Pipes of Peace. Give My Regards To Broad Street
was pretty good, but it was also pretty much a "Best of"
album - largely better than the actual "Best of" album that
he put out later.
bought them all, listening once and putting them away, wishing
for something to hold my attention and be as consistently
listenable as I knew Paul could be. Then came Memory
The album has
received media focus because it came from Starbucks' new
label. What may be harder to believe for some, though, is
that it's also his best album in twenty-five years. And
believe me, I've got a lot to compare it to.
the first track, I had new hope. "Dance Tonight" has a simple
rhythm, really a stomp, countered by a playful mandolin
line. In some ways, it sounds like something the Traveling
Wilburys would have done, but then McCartney throws in one
of his unique glissandos. He keeps the lightness of the
music going in "Ever Present Past," though the lyrics grow
a little darker.
It never falters.
I was sure that somewhere around the bend I'd get a song
like "Temporary Secretary" that would have me cringing.
The highlight comes with "Only Mama Knows," one of those
story songs that Paul did so well with the Beatles, but
this time as if he'd written it with Wings. With John Lennon,
Paul wrote melancholy tales; here, he's become a little
angry and definitely confrontational.
The album calls
to mind a lot of his career. A phrase here could have come
right from his early days in Liverpool, before turning into
a lick that Denny Lane could have done. Even as he plays
with a variety of genres, you can also hear the background
vocals in the style of his late wife Linda - that trademark
"loo loo loo loo."
Yet the album
isn't looking back to the far past. There might be a paean
to his daughter in "See Your Sunshine," at least in some
lines, and the hard-rocking "Nod Your Head" could be an
angry screed to his ex-wife Heather Mills. But mostly this
is an artist at 64 telling us that not only is he still
here, he's still vital.
I got the message
loud and clear, Paul. Thanks for finally sending it.
"Memory Almost Full" at Amazon.com