EDITORIAL: For his 69th birthday, I think Paul McCartney should call it a career. His first solo LP was dynamite, “Band on the Run” is a classic and “Venus and Mars” bursts with creativity. Everything else: eh….and this from someone who thought the Beatles were the be-all and end-all for much of my childhood.
What else? “You say it’s your birthday”!
No one has ever assembled a greater collection of popular music than the Beatles did with “Revolver”/”Rubber Soul”/”Help” (The British releases, not the Capitol Records hatchet jobs). To me, those represent a triple record, the greatest pop music album ever made.
But let’s face it: Without George Martin, things just weren’t the same. Martin truly was the 5th Beatle. You can hear the talented producer all over those middle-period records, adding every instrument imaginable, playing some of them himself, giving the whole a certain thread that ran through it all. Listen to the version of “Eleanor Rigby” without the vocals. All strings. George Martin.
The later stuff has its majestic moments. But “Sgt. Pepper’s…” brought them to a peak they never could top.Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor
Although there are a lot of different styles and sounds on the few records that followed, there’s little real variety. It’s the same with Paulie’s solo stuff (the three previously mentioned LPs excepted).
Both Lennon & Harrison — and even Ringo, to a degree — did fine. But following his own muse was a bit of a blind alley for Macca. And he, after all, is the person most responsible for the Beatles’ breakup — not Yoko, as some would have you believe.
The proof? The film “Let It Be,” which was meant to chronicle the making of an album and turned into the anatomy of a divorce, as McCartney somehow managed to piss off even the peaceful krishna, Harrison.
I’m more critical of myself than I am anyone else. And while I did a lot of cool things years ago, I hope that my work is still relevant and interesting. I feel no one is above criticism, however, not when they enter the performing arts, even if they’re a Beatle.
I give the guy all due props. “For No One” might be my favorite song, if it wasn’t for “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Will.”
“Michelle” is a masterpiece. “Things We Said Today,” “What You’re Doing,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “Hey Jude,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “Oh Darling,” and on and on.
But go back over the last 10-20 or more years. Find enough material to make ONE outstanding album from all that drek. I’ll spot you “Figure of Eight.” Make it 10 songs, if you want. Can’t do it. Play his last album backwards and it still sucks.
Sure, I’ll cut him slack, especially after 9/11. Remember that mega-concert at Madison Square Garden, with the Who, Elton John and company? That was originally booked as a Macca tour date. He was in NYC when the towers fell. So he gets all honor and respect for converting the show on the fly into the spectacle it became. I can still see the cops and firefighters down front, crying, the little kids with police & fire hats on, during “Let It Be.” The new stuff he played that night was awful — and on top of that, he played “Freedom” TWICE.
Still, it was a grand gesture (though cynics would argue that it was the smart play).
Some guys walk away early, leaving a gorgeous memory of when they still had it (Rocky Marciano, Sandy Koufax). Then you get the Willie Mayses, the Muhammed Alis, who hang around way too long. Want the best example of all? Four words: Chairman of the Board.
At the same time, there are those who can maintain a level of excellence throughout — Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt. The past decade, Steve Earle has done what might be the best work of his career.
All’s I’m saying is: God bless ‘im. Really. But if there were no Beatles, based solely on his post-Fab output, Paulie’s contract would’ve been up after the third record.
Then again, he did utter one of my favorite all-time movie lines:
“If you’ve lost him, I’ll cripple ya!”
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