Greetings, Glancers! At the time of writing, I am pumping out these Nightman Listens posts. I can’t say when I’ll get around to posting them – could be months or years from now (almost three years, present day Nightman), but I am writing a hell of a lot. Which means these reviews will probably feel very generic and samey. Oh well, there’s only so many things I can think of saying in the spur of the moment when I listen to these songs. Today it’s McCartney time again, and it looks like he was pumping out work too – this album coming a year after his last. Lets hope there’s some good stuff – I don’t think I’ve heard any of these before.
‘Too Many People‘ kicks us off. It’s an abrupt intro – a quick slice of guitar and a high pitch vocal before your traditional intro settles the nerves. Any experimentation doesn’t get in the way of the song being good. I don’t think he ‘sounds like McCartney’ here. No complaints, a solid song I can tap my foot too – a decent double melody in the chorus and the ‘that was your first mistake’ section. Good marching drums and a blistering solo or two betwixt the overlapping guitar parts.
‘3 Legs‘ is Paul aping ye olde Blues. His vocals are pretty close to mimicking the old masters and the lyrics and chorus offer some quirks to make it more enjoyable to me that your standard blues material which bands like The Stones were putting out. The final moments move into a dirty phat beat – nice.
‘Ram On‘ starts with a bit of piano, a bit of talking, then a bit of ukulele. It’s not as twee as most ukulele crap you hear these days, maybe because the vocals feel mournful? Is that Linda singing in the background? There’s joy in the chorus, there’s a freewheeling looseness, I love the extended ‘ahh’ vocals
‘Dear Boy‘ is an Angel episode, I think. I’m always a touch wary of these piano based songs now as they tend to go down the dreary route for me. This points down that road at first but veers off to the side just enough – like a dirt path within line of sight of the dreary route, increasingly shrouded by trees. Now I’m thinking about old BMX tracks I used to shoot along. It gets better as it goes on.
‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey‘ – is this an Only Fools And Horses thing? I don’t think it was around in 1970. A smooth verse, not quite melancholy, just smooth and relaxed. Great swelling of the backing instruments. Vocal ticks and banter. The middle part stretches out a little longer than I would have liked, but then it shifts presumably to the Admiral section with a new beat and tone. Paul’s doing funny voices again. I realize I’m bopping side to side as I type and listen. Then it speeds up again and a wry smile sparks up on my face. More changes in the final moments. It’s good.
‘Smile Away‘ opens with a slower count than I Saw Her Standing There. Does this feel a like Status Quo? I think it does. Talky vocals. Funny lyrics. The whole album so far brims with a sense of fun and humour, like Paul is 100% happy to be recording whatever the hell he wants. Sometimes that can be bad for the listener – this is a bit of nonsense – but it’s infectious and catchy. The whole band lets loose in the last minute or so.
‘Heart Of The Country‘ has that music hall, Arthur Askey feel to the vocals. Paul loves all that stuff, I…. don’t. More vocal tics. Still, it somehow isn’t annoying – again I think it’s that Paul is having such fun which translates to me as something I can’t dislike, even if I never choose to listen to it again.
‘Monkberry Moon Delight‘ opens with another stonking rhythm – piano, up down bass, jangling guitars, and shouting vocals. I like it. I’m not sure why he choose the vocal approach, but I like it. I can’t grasp any rage or such on the lyrics but to be honest I haven’t been paying attention. There’s Alice Cooper meets Hallowed Be Thy Name in the guitars. Could have had a minute cut out though.
‘Eat At Home‘ feels like a more traditional old school rock n roll number. And it’s still fun – a cool combo of riffs, Linda’s vocals heighten things again. None of these songs are amazing but they do have Paul’s trademark melodic sensibility, and they are stupidly fun which means most of the cracks or reasons for me to complain are smoothed over.
‘Long Haired Lady‘ is another song with an abrupt opener. It sounds like it’s about sex. Linda, lots of instrumentation. Lots of changes in tone, including your standard Paul sound. This probably has my favourite production of them all so far. It does feel a tad stretched at times – particularly towards the end with the repetitions of ‘love is long’ – or is it ‘love is love’? A good minute or so could have been chopped from this too.
‘Reprise‘ is more of Ram On.
‘The Back Seat Of My Car‘ opens in somber, night-drenched fashion. The verse takes it into major key territory which completely takes it away from what I was expecting. Of course it’s still nice, but I was hoping for something else. Like the other songs this one goes in a few different directions, with new instruments popping up to aid those transitions. I’m still surprised (not really the correct term… pleased maybe) that it sounds so fresh and modern. It doesn’t feel dated to me in any way – but of course I’m not someone who listens to the radio every day to hear what actually is modern. A mini epic, but doesn’t quite do it for me.
‘Another Day‘ is a sweet little song of simple observances. Pure love, and again the joy drips from every phrase. It’s very easy, laid-back happiness rather than the either abundant or forced sentiments found in The Beatles stuff. It feels simple musically, but there is quite a lot going on – not just the changes in time and tone, but little flickers and accentuation of a particular instrument.
‘Oh Woman, Oh Why‘ opens with a throbbing beat, then the guitar joins for a neat groove. Then the vocals and wtf. I mean, he’s a Beatle, he can do whatever the hell he wants. It’s a little Led Zep, a little Bon Scott. Again, it’s Paul what he wants and having fun with it. I probably would have taken a straighter vocal over this, but it’s not bad.
Well that may just be the best solo album yet. Some of the other albums have more highs, but this feels like the most consistent, certainly the most fun. All Things Must Pass was great, but that last bonus disc lost me, Plastic Ono was hit and miss. That being said, the best songs here are, in my current estimation at least, a notch under The Beatles best stuff. This is mostly low B grade material, but it’s almost all in that category while the other albums had a range from A-D. That means the bulk of the material will make my playlist, but whether they drop off or remain in my, sigh, STAYLIST is up for future debate.
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: 3 Legs. Ram On. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. Smile Away. Monkberry Moon Delight. Eat At Home. Long Haired Lady. Another Day.