Thursday, September 07, 2006

Paul McCartney: Mayor McCheese

Last night a friend and I went to see Tributosaurus recreate the Paul McCartney/Wings experience, with an impressive 24 members on stage. That’s right, just Macca solo and Wings, no Beatles. This was mostly for my friend's benefit, since he likes solo McCartney, but I do love Tributosaurus, no matter who they appear as. Heck, they were even good as the Doors. Besides, it’s good to be reminded every few years why and how much I dislike Paul McCartney’s solo work. It lends perspective.

Anyway, some observations:

1) Paul McCartney didn’t let the ‘70s down, the ‘70s let Paul McCartney down. From the production techniques to the synthesizers to the sentiments, the '70s were an unfortunate time to be a filthy rich superstar, since every indulgence has only been exacerbated over time. It didn't help that McCartney was neither cynical nor ironic, not that either is a necessity for good music, but definitely because a bit of either would have helped his shmaltzty post-Beatles work withstand the test of time rather than sound dated on arrival. Which leads us to:

2)With the exception of his self-titled/self-played first solo album, featuring the stirring "Maybe I'm Amazed" as well as such curiosities as "Junk" (both performed last night, both sung by Steve from Frisbie), Paul McCartney’s solo career is largely a big, embarrassing, completely irrelevant wash.* He produced so much crap. When one of your commercial/creative/conceptual apexes is “Silly Love Songs,” you’re in trouble.

3) McCartney’s songs are so boring that both their frequent brevity and ADD arrangements indicate he may have been just as bored with them. Why couldn’t “Band on the Run” have been three goood songs instead of one OK song? One exception: the manic, melodramatic “Live and Let Die,” like an awesome over-the-top cartoon theme. Still campy, though.

4) The (ironic) highlight for me was a version of “Ebony and Ivory,” proof of McCartney’s conspicuous fallibility. God, that song sucks, and he has many, many more just as bad where it came from. "Let Me Roll It." "Wonderful Christmastime." "Say, Say, Say" and "The Girl is Mine" (both with ex-friend and former owner of the Beatles catalog Michael Jackson). "Freedom." God, the guy is such a cheese monger. In an ideal world someone would just tell him "no" once and a while. Hey, maybe that's what Elvis Costello did in the late '80s, when Macca suddenly got good again. Or at least a lot better.

No question, though: the guy remains one of my favorite bassists of all time.

* Some exceptions include "Another Day," "Too Many People" and “Let ‘Em In,” played last night, too. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.


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