Monday, 5 November 2018
Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full (2007)
Released June 2007
Recorded in Los Angeles, Sussex and London
Recorded when he was 64, the age he sang about so many years earlier, Paul McCartney alludes to his age on both the title of this album and its cover and in some of the lyrics. Taking that into account, one may expect the album to be reflective and quiet. Actually it is quite refreshingly upbeat.
The sound and production has long been a matter for discussion on this album, as it is deafeningly loud and needs to be turned down lower than most albums. I am someone who likes his music loud, but it is too much for me at times, and actually unnecessary.
The lively mandolin riffs of the singalong "Dance Tonight" introduces the album in a positive, carefree manner and "My Ever Present Past", while speaking of his past, is a thoroughly enjoyable, punchy pop number, with some excellent guitar and a generally upbeat vibe. "See Your Sunshine" is a rhythmic, staccato number, which features an excellent, rumbling bass line from McCartney and a Wings-style melody. "Only Mama Knows" begins with some Beatles-like strings before launching into another very appealing, pop rock number. It is a great song, full of life, but it is blighted somewhat by a dense background production. It, unsurprisingly, sounds much better played live on "Good Evening New York City". "You Tell Me" is a typically plaintive McCartney bleak ballad, complete with that higher pitch of voice he uses for this type of song.
"Mr. Bellamy" is a quirky, frankly odd song that still has its interesting moments, but I can't really get into it. Maybe I should try harder. I never like giving up on a song. "Gratitude" has McCartney in full "Oh Darling" rasping vocal form. It also has some Beatles-style orchestration.
The album now heads into a five song "medley", beginning with the bassy, jumpy rhythms of "Vintage Clothes", with more Beatles noises in the backing. The more you listen to it, the better it becomes. "That Was Me" is very reminiscent of Elvis Costello's nineties/2000s work, both musically and lyrically. It also lays on lots of nostalgia. "Feet in The Clouds" is a wistful, acoustic and, once more, nostalgic look back to his growing years. "House Of Wax" is a mysterious, dense number that needs time to seep into your consciousness. It is a bit bombastic in its production but there is some excellent industrial guitar at the end. "The End Of The End" is very Beatles-esque song that has McCartney singing abut the day he dies. The albums ends, incongruously, with a short sharp slice of searing guitar and drum-powered chunky rock in "Nod Your Head".
I can't help but feel that however tender and sensitive parts of the second half of this album are, it is the first half that is the more instantly appealing. Maybe the "suite" in the album's second half just needs more attention. It is certainly inventive and adventurous. As I said about "Vintage Clothes", the more you listen to it, the better it sounds.
- November 05, 2018