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Paul McCartney: Memory Almost Full

By Rajarshi Sanyal | October 30, 2007

Split Magazine: Paul McCartneyAnother album. Another addition to a long list of multi-platinum/gold/diamond… bleh! To hell with the catchy introductions. Who cares! Right now I’m too excited about the music to indulge in such idiosyncrasies.

Paul McCartney’s new album ‘Memory Almost Full’ is out and this man just can’t seem to stop! Amongst today’s mess of “modern” and “different” and “original” music, it’s good to have a man who has helped define rock ‘n’ roll and pop-rock in the late ’60s keeping the good old flame alive. Although it is true that he just cannot live up to the music he wrote then, a lot of fine work has been put forth from this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

While his last album, ‘Chaos and Creation in the Backyard’, has a certain subtlety to it, ‘Memory Almost Full’ shows a characteristic flamboyancy that McCartney flaunt(ed) during his early days. And considering the fact that he can be called the godfather of the pop-rock era, it is not at all surprising that even a very basic track like “Dance Tonight”, which may seem unimpressive in the beginning, will have you grooving by the time it ends. There is this certain panache in his songs that you just have to love. No second thoughts to it.

The first half of the album grovels around for a foothold and displays that aforementioned carefree self-indulgence, which has resulted in a somewhat superficial group of songs, albeit groovy. He’s certainly written far superior songs than “Dance Tonight”, “Ever-Present Past” and “Gratitude” in a similar vein. An exception would be “Only Mama Knows”, which I instantly fell in love with. It’s good to see someone like Sir Paul let his “hair down” and he can definitely give our “modern” artists a run for their money in terms of energy. Another lovely song is “Mr. Bellamy” which has a very experimental (try avant-garde) pop feel to it. “You Tell Me” and “That Was Me” are strongly reminiscent of his songs from the Beatles-era. “See Your Sunshine” is more of a modern pop song and right inside the superficial grasp of the first half of the CD.

The second half sees McCartney in a more contemplative mood from “Vintage Clothes” onwards. But it’s not the kind of overtly sensitive music that you’d expect from a man who’s been there, done that, generated a big enough bank balance for generations (even with a few gambling addicts!) and is a Guinness World Record holder for the most number of records sold. You can’t ask for more from life. It’s more of a merry acceptance of the inevitable end. At the age of 64, only someone like McCartney can sum up his life in an interesting yet meaningful way such as “Feet in the Clouds” and “That Was Me”. “House of Wax” with its eerie intro melody has a strong, captivating power. The slow momentum built by the intro is the calm which is followed by a storm of screeching guitar solos as chorus after chorus explodes beating you mercilessly till you’re breathless and it finally recedes in the end as you sit back, look around and check for the… err… destruction(?). This is one song that has been in loop for hours in my player and I just can’t seem to get enough of it.

In “The End of the End”, you can’t help but notice the beauty in acceptance that McCartney brings forth with words like “At the end of the end, it’s the start of a journey to a much better place / And this wasn’t bad, so a much better place would have to be special / No need to be sad”. One can’t escape the underlying sadness in those words, which is somewhat unlikely for someone like Sir Paul who has always been brimming with an unconquerable optimism evident from the time the Beatles split. But no man can win against time. He signs off with a plea that he be remembered with “stories of old”. Well, Sir James Paul McCartney, you certainly will be.

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