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Old Aug 21, 2005, 10:30 AM   #1
matt5
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Default Chaos and Creation review

I got this from a Mc Cartney forum. The author goes into quite a bit of detail so the review does sound legitimate to me.


Here are some of my thoughts after my complete first listen of the album...

1. Longtime Macca fans will be shocked the first time they pop the CD into their player - except for two, maybe three songs, it doesn't sound like anything Paul has done before. I'm convinced that this album definitely is a grower, but for now, and until I get my second listen, I have mixed feelings (mostly negative).

2. The Lyrics, I should say, are magnificent on most of the tracks. Paul did a great job this time around, especially after the Driving Rain letdown where he seemed not to care too much for them.

3. Macca has always been standout (one of the best, IMHO) at composing the melodies for his songs - this time around, these are not present, except for Jenny Wren. There's never that lovely or catchy melody (except, of course, A Fine Line sounds catchy to you, but that's about it). Of course, I'm saying this because we're accustomed to very lovable, easy to catch, pop melodies - and believe me when I tell you that A Fine Line and Follow Me are two of the standout tracks of the CD, when referring to these "hooks".

4. Song structure is not what you are used to hear - some songs, in my book, seem to be wandering too much. You hear the (almost always too long, at least for radio airplay) intro, the first verse... and it seems you're always expecting for the song to "break out" - in more than five tracks, that happened to me - the songs have no recognisable structure, making them hard to understand. It seems to me that Nigel Godrich would never agree to produce a "normal" song (verse 1, 2, bridge, chorus, etc...) and his reputation and professional ego would get in Macca's way, because there's not a single song where he took that road (except, of course, for Fine Line). I guess that's why it was chosen as the first single off the record, since it's as close to "radio" sound as you're going to get from this CD.

5. IMHO, the track order is not the right one. The album starts with an uptempo song (Fine Line), but there's not another one until you get to Track 11! (Promise To You Girl). Fine Line is not a classic, but you can make an argument for it being a good tune - so the CD sounds promising right after the opening track... but there's a stretch from Track 4 to Track 6 where you will find yourself completely confused (maybe even snoring) when you listen to it for the first time.

6. Some of the commentaries that I heard from fellow media members who also were present at the session, and I agree with them, is that you can hear little bits that sound familiar to you in almost every song - in past albums, you could tell that "this part sounds like the Beatles" sometimes, but this time around, you will say "this part sound like solo Paul"... some recognisable melodies for me were, "Little Willow", "Footprints", "Wanderlust". And, the Beatles influence is also too evident on some of the best tracks: "Jenny Wren" sounds like a refined and more catchy version of "Blackbird", "English Tea" is very close to a "For No One"-"She's Leaving Home" kind of sound. These two tracks could well be "Rutlish" versions of Beatle classics... they sound too much like the originals (for me, that's a good thing).

7. There's a bonus instrumental track on the CD - the worst one. They could have saved it, it's in my book, atrocious. They're three different songs embedded into one - the first one ends, then the second one immediatly starts (just like Heather, from Driving Rain, but that one was lovely). Only the second "movement" of the song could develop in a decent song in the future, but Paul, you should have kept this one in the vaults (rumor is, these were unfinished tracks from the "other" album Macca recording sessions with fellow band members).

8. It seems to me that Nigel (and Paul, of course) insisted too much on using "obscure" chords and discarding standard chord changes. Sometimes it will add to the song, sometimes it is detrimental. I say that simple is better - some of Paul's best songs come from really simple chord structures (mostly major, some minor chords). Only Fine Line, Follow Me, Jenny Wren fall into this category.

Instant classics (standout tunes from the album, and some of the best that Paul has written in the last 15 years): Jenny Wren, It's Never Happened Before, English Tea.
Very good: A Certain Softness, Anyway.
Good: Fine Line.
Regular (depending on your opinion, these, at most could be good songs, or at worst, horrible songs): At The Mercy, Friends To Go, Too Much Rain, Riding to Vanity Fair.
Bad: How Kind Of You (really, really bad - big letdown after nice opening track)

Here are some of the notes I wrote down as I was listening...

1. Fine Line: we all know it already. Good song, but that's it. Macca lovers will try to convince them that this is a great song, but almost any Flaming Pie track would completely blow it away. Best: the middle break with the guitar solo on it.

2. How Kind Of You: very long piano intro, and after first verse, you're expecting drums to kick in, but only a so-so bass line comes alive. Never materializes into anything - Nigel Godrich blew this one. Could have been much, much better if he let Paul get straight to the point. Worst track in the album and big letdown.

3. Jenny Wren: wow! cool song, Blackbirdesque rhythm but better melody. Lovely woodwind solo in the middle which then combines with Paul singing it an octave higher. Interesting chord change at the end of verses. Definitely, a classic.

4. At The Mercy: at this stage I just tried to focus on the music and didn't find anything great to write about the song. Slow tempo. Will skip it one year from now, I'm sure.

5. Friends To Go: see 4.

6: Too Much Rain: see 5. Come on Paul! We need something here... it's already track 6, and there's only one great song. I swear I could hear people snoring on the room.

7. English Tea: finally the album wakes up (a little too late, I think): another standout track, sounds like a mix between "For No One" and "She's Leaving Home". Good track, you will love it.

8. A Certain Softness: see 4.

9. Riding to Vanity Fair: too much "Riding to..." lately, Paul. see 4.

10. Follow Me: we all know it already. I had read that the album version was completely different from the Glastonbury one, but they're exactly the same song, except for one more "Follow Me..." line at the end of the song. Prior to my listen, I kept hoping that most of the tracks would be better than this one... my feeling now is that Follow Me is a better track than most of the album. Who could have thought....

11. Promise To You Girl: second uptempo song of the album... vocal arrangement sounds too much like Queen (good thing to me). Outstanding piano throughout the whole song.

12. It's Never Happened Before: EXCELLENT TRACK. My favorite... simple but fascinating lyrics, great melody, incredible instrumentation. Brought tears to my eyes.

13. Anyway: a little slow developing, has some sweet-sounding parts (I'm guessing maj7 chords), but then switches to a more obscure aound.

How would I sum up the album? very experimental, weird experience for a lifetime Macca fan. Closer to Driving Rain than to Flaming Pie.

So, long post, but there you go, that's my take on the album.

Cheers!
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Old Aug 21, 2005, 10:47 AM   #2
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Hmmm. 1/2 the songs rated as classics or very good, and the reviewer has mixed feelings, mostly negative??

I look forward to hearing the album!! At this point in his career, I prefer more slower, substantial songs from Macca, as opposed to pop/rockers. Great lyrics, to boot, according to the review.
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Old Aug 21, 2005, 06:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt5
10. Follow Me: Prior to my listen, I kept hoping that most of the tracks would be better than this one... my feeling now is that Follow Me is a better track than most of the album. Who could have thought....
Now I'm more curious than ever. I like to read "bad" reviews of albums before I buy them too... in that way I'm never expecting that much anyway...
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 04:13 AM   #4
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Experimental. Thatīs not really what I need from McCartney at 63 years.
Exactly what Iīve been afraid of. Heīs trying to be Radiohead.
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 04:31 AM   #5
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Well, it sounds like the writer was a little disappointed in the new sound. However, personally the review just made me more excited to hear the album! I really admire that Paul is trying to be more "experimental" and "different", instead of offering just the usual type of McCartney tunes. I don't think it's too late for him to be trying to expand his musical sound, and I'm definately looking forward to hearing the CD for myself.
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 04:44 AM   #6
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I agree, I am very excited to hear this cd. I have always had difficulty getting 'into' most of Paul's solo work, so 'something different' sounds promising ;)
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 05:20 AM   #7
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If this album is as good, for Paul's standards, as Choose Love is good for Ringo's standards, then we will have an excellent album!
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 10:13 AM   #8
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When I heard that first live version of "Follow Me," I just cringed. But I liked DRIVING RAIN a lot so I will wait to hear it myself.
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 10:22 AM   #9
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I think it's a good thing that Paul is still trying new things out. Not every Paul album is the same, no problem with that.
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 04:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loka
Experimental. Thatīs not really what I need from McCartney at 63 years.
Why? Is there some age when you're supposed to quit trying new things and looking in new directions? When is it? 30? 40? 50?

Actually, that's one of the things I've always admired about Paul is his endless curiousity and his enthusiasm for trying new things.

As far as the review...eh, who knows? I'll wait till I hear it for myself next month and then I'll see if I agree or not.
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Old Aug 22, 2005, 06:53 PM   #11
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Hmmmm... I'll wait and listen to the album myself. I'm excited to hear it, and I really think there was some positive things in the review that tell me it will be a good album. The thing that I am most skeptical about is Nigel, just because Paul is Paul, and I think he does just wonderfully when he takes care of the albums himself, or smploys the help of people like George Martin and Geoff Emerick. I know, I know... die hard Beatles fan to the end.
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Old Sep 08, 2005, 08:43 PM   #12
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Hello,,, I'm new on this forum. My name is Juan, and I'm from Argentina. I'm 27 and love Beatle music.

I've listened Chaos and creation in the back yard and I think is wonderful!!!

Much better than Driving Rain, but I'm not sure if it is better than Flaming Pie.
Time will tell.

The best songs are English Tea, Friends to go, This never happened to me.

All the best...
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Old Sep 09, 2005, 11:37 AM   #13
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Default A good and fair review of Chaos and Creation . . .

Check out a nice and fair review on Paul's newest album over at Left of Centrist .
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Old Sep 11, 2005, 12:22 AM   #14
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Here's a really great review, I don't know if it's been posted up on this site yet...

Paul McCartney, Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard

Paul McCartney has grown bitter - and it's done him a world of good, says Alexis Petridis

Friday September 9, 2005
The Guardian


For a moment, let us banish the nagging suspicion that the world may house people more deserving of our sympathy than a happily married knight of the realm, globally acknowledged as a peerless genius and with a rumoured personal fortune of Ģ762m, and spare a thought for Paul McCartney. Despite his reputation for irrepressible chirpiness - the man who, for a generation of 1980s Smash Hits readers, will always be Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft - it can't be easy being him at 63. Your best work was completed four decades ago. The hits have dried up (his last top 10 single was in 1987). Every new effort is greeted with little more than a yawn, a shrug and at least one twerpish critic bringing up the subject of The Frog Chorus: even a wildly successful world tour couldn't hoist 2001's Driving Rain higher than number 46.

Obviously the unimaginable wealth, rapturous reception at Glastonbury and Live8 and official title as the Most Successful Songwriter in the History of Popular Music must make life a smidge easier, but none of it answers the question: now what? Over the past 20 years, he has tried virtually everything, embarking on projects that presumably whiled away the time between world tours pleasantly enough, but that only the bona fide nutjobs would listen to twice: ambient techno, classical music, old rock'n'roll covers, fitful attempts to reignite the spark with new collaborators, even a compilation of his late wife Linda's musical efforts.

On first glance, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard looks like more dabbling. It teams McCartney up with Nigel Godrich, the modish producer of Radiohead, Beck and, perhaps less laudably, Band Aid 20's Do They Know It's Christmas? In interviews, McCartney has made the sessions sound hard work: "painful", "a plunge into the darkness" and "like being pulled through a hedge backwards". Godrich first dismissed McCartney's idea to make an Indian-themed album, then dismissed his backing band, then started dismissing his songs.

The largely one-man-band results resemble the more ramshackle albums from the first decade of McCartney's post-Beatles career: McCartney, Ram, 1980's McCartney II. But those albums were sunlit, quirky and marked by a daffy, occasionally grating sense of humour. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is muted and crepuscular. Godrich's measured, dry production means that even the love songs seem strangely downbeat: the chirpy Promise to You Girl sounds as out of place here as a burst of Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da at a funeral.

Some of the sessions' tension has seeped into the songs, with surprising results. At the Mercy sounds bewildered and despairing. Riding to Vanity Fair is notable not only for a glorious chorus that rises from the song's murky strings and minor chords in a way that is so inimitably, ridiculously McCartney-esque, you can virtually feel your thumbs involuntarily twitching aloft, but also because it offers a previously unheard noise: Paul McCartney sounding bitter. It's an emotion he has previously avoided, presumably because he spent his golden years collaborating with a songwriter who could do vicious, sneering, bug-eyed bitterness better than anyone. Even when Lennon turned his sights on him - on How Do You Sleep?, an early draft of which tactfully labelled McCartney a "cunt" - he never responded in kind, preferring the bemused, disappointed shrug of Dear Friend and Let Me Roll It. But someone has clearly riled him in a way that Lennon could not. Peppered with withering "apparently"s and "I wouldn't dare to presume"s, Riding to Vanity Fare takes McCartney, emotionally at least, into new territory. It's all rather bracing.

Not all the album's pleasures are so unexpected. It does a brisk and highly enjoyable trade in Beatles references. English Tea offers a string arrangement that is one part Eleanor Rigby to two parts Martha My Dear and a witty lyrical nod to the author's saccharine public image ("very twee," he notes, "very me"). Friends to Go has a distinct Two of Us swing. A charming bit of Latin-inflected fluff called A Certain Softness recalls Step Inside Love, the charming bit of Latin-inflected fluff he wrote for Cilla Black in the mid-1960s. The delightful Jenny Wren could no more obviously signpost its links to The White Album's Blackbird if it were called Listen to This, It Sounds a Bit Like Blackbird off The White Album.

For all the nods to the past, not a note of Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard comes close to Beatle standards: it's an intriguing diversion rather than a major addition to the canon. What it has is a sense of purpose, lovely tunes in abundance, and charm. It mints an unassuming and idiosyncratic style with which McCartney could see out his career. At last, it seems he's found an answer to the previously imponderable question: now what?
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Old Sep 11, 2005, 12:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Sweet_Dream
Over the past 20 years, he has tried virtually everything, embarking on projects that presumably whiled away the time between world tours pleasantly enough, but that only the bona fide nutjobs would listen to twice: ambient techno, classical music, old rock'n'roll covers, fitful attempts to reignite the spark with new collaborators, even a compilation of his late wife Linda's musical efforts.
These critics really have no idea. It must be so easy doing what they do. They have no inkling about how hard it is to create art so they stick to what they do best. Making smart ass comments and writing a bunch of drivel.
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Last edited by matt5 : Sep 11, 2005 at 01:35 AM.
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Old Sep 11, 2005, 01:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Sweet_Dream
Over the past 20 years, he has tried virtually everything, embarking on projects that presumably whiled away the time between world tours pleasantly enough, but that only the bona fide nutjobs would listen to twice
I actually like listening to Flaming Pie and Run Devil Run so I guess this makes me a bona fide nutjob?
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