Friday, 2 November 2018

Paul McCartney - Flowers In The Dirt (1989)


Released June 1989

Recorded in East Sussex, London and Los Angeles

Paul McCartney's stock had fallen a bit by 1989 and he needed to get back in the groove. He decided to team up with Elvis Costello to try and rekindle his enjoyment in the studio, writing and recording, again.


1. My Brave Face
2. Rough Face
3. You Want Her Too
4. Distractioons
5. We Got Married
6. Put It There
7. Figure Of Eight
8. This One
9. Don't Be Careless Love
10. That Day Is Done
11. How Many People
12. Motor Of Love

"My Brave Face" is a punchy, bassy catchy rocker, co-written with Costello, to start off with, while "Rough Ride" is an extremely convincing pice of white reggae in the Police style. It actually comes off really well, which attempts to play reggae don't often do. "You Want Her Too" is a duet with Elvis Costello that is muscular and vibrant, with both vocalists straining their throats somewhat. For some reason, it doesn't quite come off for me, as indeed the McCartney/Costello partnership didn't. I love both artists but I feel Costello was always too ascerbically cynical to gel well with the sincere McCartney. Apparently they didn't get on 100% successfully in the studio, either.

"Distractions" is far more of a McCartney song and is laid-back and lyrically tender, musically too. It is harmlessly fetching. Despite writing and recording a whole album's worth of songs with Costello, only four were used and typical McCartney material like this were used instead. Fair enough, much as I love Costello, this sort of thing is what I expect from Paul McCartney. "We Got Married" fits into the same category too. The good thing about this album is, that despite being recorded in the late eighties, it is quite a rocking album and not buried under waves of synthesisers. "Put It There" is wistfully folky and bucolic, but a bit blighted by a huge thumping drum sound.

"Figure Of Eight" is a catchy, Wings-like rocker with some attractive guitar parts near the end and a convincing vocal from McCartney. "This One" is another very recognisable McCartney moment. I guess there is nothing special about stuff like this, but there is a vague reassuring quality to it. Nice bass and solid, warm drum sounds on it.

"Don't Be Careless Love" is an inventive, quirkily appealing Costello co-write and there is another in the slightly grating and funereal "That Day Is Done". For me, though, it doesn't quite cut it. "How Many People" sees a return to some reggae, this time with a lighter, summery touch. It is a bubbly number. "Motor Of Love" is a slightly indulgent, Beach Boys laid-back, multi-textured number to end an album which had been given the old "return to form" cliché. Despite being an ok album, McCartney was now seen a very much as an anachronism. As we moved into the nineties, though, it was the "grand elder statesman" image he would be given, so things were on the up.


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