Monday, February 27, 2006

Chaos & Creation At Abbey Road

Blind faith led me to what PBS boldly entitled Great Performances. Abbey Road's Studio #2 is where we find Paul McCartney leading us through a decidedly mixed bag of new and old tunes and at times, downright embarrassing moments. I'll start with the highs...
Surprisingly, the songs that came across the best are a batch of new songs from his latest album titled Chaos And Creation In The Backyard. All given a very straight forward approach, "Friends To Go", "How Kind Of You", "Jenny Wren", and "English Tea" are a lovely collection of songs that showcase Paul's nature melodic sense and at times some interesting introspective lyrics. Backyard is actually a very nice album. It's been compared to his first solo effort McCartney, but to me it has more the flavor of some of his simpler White Album tracks. I highly recommend it.
Other highlights include an acoustic rendition of a pre-Beatles penned song called "In Spite Of All The Danger". He tells a nice story about how he, John, and George(along with friends Duff and Colin) each donated a pound a piece to the cause and went down to a local recording studio to record it. Leaving with disc in hand, the idea was for them each to hold on to the 45 single briefly and then pass it on to the next band member after a weeks time. Paul explains how the three of them each did as was agreed and that Duff then held on to it for the next 23 years. Quite funny. He also does sweet acoustic versions of "Blackbird", "20 Flight Rock", and "One After 909". His voice has held up remarkably well but there are moments that it shows its wear and tear from the years(his new wife, Heather, has said in interviews that Paul & Linda smoked pot every day they were married and that she forced him give it up before they wed).

Now the low points...

Paul then proceeds to re-tell a bunch of tired old stories that even the least informed Beatles fan has heard a million times over without adding so much as a hint of additional insight to previous versions. Do we really need to hear the "Love Me Do" harmonica story or how he impressed John by remembering all the lyrics to "20 Flight Rock" upon their first meeting, again? Several times he makes bad jokes thinking he's being clever or holds for laughter/applause and it just doesn't come. And I wanna puke every time I see him give that wink of the eye while cocking his head and flashing that toothy grin that seems to say, "I WROTE this! Aren't I clever?". Uuuuggghh.
They should throw him back in a Japanese prison for his dreadful performances of "Heartbreak Hotel" and white-boy soul re-telling of "Lady Madonna". There are also half-baked renditions of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Blue Suede Shoes" that surely have their original composers rolling over in their graves. But worst of all is the amount of time he spends laying down individual tracks for an atrocious "Band On The Run" remake in which he accompanies himself on wine glasses and Mellotron! Yuck.
I take that back, the lowest points of the show are when he seemingly makes up two songs on the spot. One is a Las Vegas lounge singers ode to Abbey Road. The other is a heap of tripe that ends the show that I can't even begin to explain its meaning or purpose. As hard as it was to watch, it's was equally enjoyable to see a superstar of his magnitude fall flat on his face on national television....once again. He's got a history of making these hit and miss television specials designed to promote his latest release. I've got several of them on bootleg DVD's spanning the decades and each time he succeeds in making just as much great music as he does crappy stuff. Let's hear it for consistency!
The audience is filled with a highly unenthusiastic lot and a first row generously peppered with what appears to be middle aged record executives bobbing their chicken heads out of synch while simultaneously doing the "white man's overbite" along to some John Denver beat still stuck in their head from 1977.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

right on

8:25 PM  

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