Showing posts with label I Don't Know. Show all posts
Showing posts with label I Don't Know. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review: Paul's "double A-side" rates a "C"


Back in 1965, while they were pioneering all sorts of other pop music conventions, the Beatles came up with the idea of a "double A-side" single.

"Day Tripper" and "We Can Work it Out," were released on the same 45 rpm vinyl disk with both tunes marked as the single's A-side. It was a signal to fans and radio that the band considered both tunes of equal merit. They refused to categorize either as the single's B-side, where, generally, lesser songs go to die.

The band also released "Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby" and, probably most famously, "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever," as double A-sides.

Neither tune on Paul McCartney's new double A-side single is as good as those Beatles songs. Also, his release is not a "double A-side." Not if, and until, it shows up on vinyl, anyway. Right now, the tunes can be streamed online or purchased - each song separately - via Amazon, iTunes and other retailers. This is not a two-for-one deal.

Calling this release (or, more accurately, these releases) a double A-side is mainly just a bit of hype and, perhaps, Paul letting us know he's proud of both tunes and wants to see them both succeed. Clearly, he'd love to have a song or two in the charts again - whatever charts are these days, when tunes needn't even be purchased to listen to.

In any event, the media attention Paul enjoyed by releasing the songs simultaneously after some social media teasing and, especially, following his recent appearance on James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke,"  the tunes are being heard by a lot of people. And that's great. It's just too bad the songs - or at least their lyrics - aren't better.

It's easy to criticize Paul for writing bad lyrics. He's written loads of them. It's his greatest downfall as a songwriter. He can come up with the most memorable, hummable tune in the world, put it to a wonderful, imaginative arrangement and then sabotage it with terrible words. And that's what he's done here.

"Come On To Me," which I view as the A-side despite what Paul says, is a jaunty rocker that starts with a crunchy guitar riff that's soon joined by pounding drums, organ, a fun rollicking piano part and, eventually, some harmonica, electric sitar and (what sounds to me like) synth brass. It's a great, instantly catchy tune. But the words! Oh man.

The tune's title, repeated again and again throughout, barely constitutes a double-entendre due to it's being so obvious and dumb. And the fact that its sung by a 76-year-old man just makes it creepy. It the tune had a video (apart from the lame "lyric video" available on YouTube), I imagine it featuring two pensioners putting the moves on one another in a bingo hall.

After the life he's led and the experiences he's had, surely Paul has something more interesting, and less predictable, to say. I want to like this tune, because it's great musically. But the lazy lyrics kill it for me.

Likewise, "I Don't Know" (what I call the B-side) features a nice, memorable melody. This one has a 1970s R&B feel with lovely piano and Paul's signature, melodic bass playing underneath. Many fans have remarked its similarity to John Lennon's "Now and Then," a officially unreleased tune that Paul, George and Ringo reportedly worked on but scrapped during their Beatles Anthology reunion sessions, and I hear that, too.

But, again, the words! And by this I mean the three in the title, which are repeated (it seems like) 5,000 times throughout the song. I'm sure someone out there will eventually provide a more accurate count - but it's a lot. The lyrics, what there are of them, seem to portray a crisis in confidence. It's hard to imagine Paul McCartney having any such thing and his vocal performance makes it even harder to believe. The song doesn't feel lived-in at all. Paul sounds as if he's singing newly penned words off a lyric sheet, not from the heart.

There's nothing new in Paul writing bad lyrics, but - as we all know - he can also write great ones.

His previous album, New, featured a number of from-the-heart songs, such as "On My Way to Work" and "Early Days." But it was also full of tunes with workaday, just-get-the-song-done lyrics. Most of Paul's songs, unfortunately, fall into this half-baked category. It's an old refrain, but if he would only take the time to work harder on his lyrics he'd continue to produce great music. When he doesn't, as is the case here, the results are both frustrating and disappointing.

Maybe Egypt Station, the upcoming LP that includes these two new tunes, will feature one or two more great McCartney songs. But these two certainly aren't among them.

Friday, June 22, 2018

See Paul McCartney on "Carpool Karaoke" in Liverpool - plus new album details

Paul McCartney is plugging his upcoming album with an appearance on James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" segment on CBS TV's "Late Late Show" last night, plus the release of two new tunes from the LP, Egypt Station, which will be out this fall.

You can view the "Carpool Karaoke" appearance, shot in Liverpool, below. In it, Paul gives Corden a tour of Liverpool sites, including Penny Lane and his childhood home at 20 Forthlin Road, which Paul said he hadn't been inside for 50 years.

Paul sings "When I'm Sixty-Four," sitting at a piano in the same living room where he rehearsed with the early Beatles and wrote songs with John Lennon.

The segment culminates with a surprise performance by Paul and his regular band at Liverpool's Philharmonic Pub, which includes one of his new tunes, "Come On to Me."


The day before the TV appearance, Paul released two new songs as a "double A-side single," which you can hear via the official YouTube videos below.



Finally, here is the news release detailing Egypt Station, which is scheduled for release worldwide on Sept. 7:

Paul McCartney invites you on a musical journey to Egypt Station, estimated time of arrival September 7, 2018 by way of Capitol Records.

Sharing a title with one of Paul’s own paintings, Egypt Station is the first full album of all-new McCartney music since 2013’s international chart-topping NEW. Preceded by two of its tracks just released as double A-sides--plaintive ballad  “I Don’t Know” and raucous stomper  “Come On To Me”—Egypt Station was recorded between Los Angeles, London and Sussex, and produced (with the exception of one track) by Greg Kurstin (Adele, Beck, Foo Fighters).

Of the forthcoming album’s enigmatic title, Paul says, “I liked the words ‘Egypt Station.’ It reminded me of the ‘album’ albums we used to make.., Egypt Station starts off at the station on the first song and then each song is like a different station. So it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from."

True to the inspiration behind its title, Egypt Station’s 14 songs combine to convey a unique travelogue vibe. Between the opening and closing instrumentals “Station I” and “Station II,” each song finds Paul capturing a place or moment before transporting the listener seamlessly to the next destination. Stops along the way include an acoustic meditation on present day contentedness (“Happy With You”), a timeless anthem that would fit on virtually any album of any McCartney era (“People Want Peace”), and an epic multi-movement closer clocking in at seven minutes with a song suite structure harkening back to the days of Paul’s previous combos (“Despite Repeated Warnings”). The result is a kaleidoscopic journey through myriad musical locales and eras, yet firmly rooted in the here and now--with Paul’s singular unmistakeable melodic sensibility serving as guide.

Confirmation of Egypt Station’s release puts an end to speculation about a new Paul McCartney album that began with the whiting out of his Instagram account as Paul turned up at various landmarks in Liverpool. The capper was a June 9 surprise gig at Liverpool’s tiny Philharmonic Pub, during which “Come On To Me” was debuted alongside a set of classics spanning Paul’s career. Further details to come…

The album will be available in a variety of formats, including: