Another Russian-pressed gem unearthed by Diverse, the ramshackle sleeve at least matches the quality of the music it contains. Predominately recorded in McCartney's remote Scottish retreat following his marriage to Linda , "McCartney" arguably sounds like the man having a whole "White Album" to himself, with rampant experimentation balancing the obvious pain and delight of a working alone. Whilst it's easy to envisage a great deal of the hit-and-miss nature of "McCartney" being pruned from a band product, it's also reassuring that the quiet beauty of the two versions of "Junk", or even the early ambient adventures of "Glasses" havent been lost to the world in the process. For every rambling pseudo-jam session ("Kreen-Akrore" - how exactly does that translate into Russian?) there's a shiny pop gem waiting to be uncovered (how about "Every Night", covered years later by Phoebe Snow, or the peerless "Maybe I'm Amazed", the most unfairly neglected of his big ballads). If you haven't yet shelled out on the "Wingspan" compilation, consider this instead, as an unsweetened representation of what Macca was, dare I type it, is, capable of, rather than what the EMI marketing machine would have you believe.
PAUL McCARTNEY Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (EMI)
As with the Stones latest, critics have been tumbling over themselves to award Paul McCartney with best album since his last best album (which was what, exactly? Flowers In The Dirt?) gongs for Chaos And Creation In The Backyard. Which it may well be, but assessed on its own terms that doesnt really amount to a whole hill of beans. Perhaps theres a general acknowledgement that the involvement of 1998s producer du jour, Nigel Godrich (Air, Beck, Pavement, Radiohead, R.E.M., Travis), has made it sound tolerably streamlined and modern for one of his one-man-band outings.
There are three good things about Chaos And Creation In The Backyard. The first is the cover photo, Our Kid Through Mums Net Curtains, taken by brother Mike in 1962. The vinyl versions packaging is also notably lavish, with a gatefold sleeve and a series of 12-inch square prints of Brian Clarkes sketches of McCartneys hands Second is single Jenny Wren, a lovely approximation of the age-old Blackbird, all lilting acoustic melancholia. Finally, the drifting Riding To Vanity Fair addresses a cotton-wool coated verbal gumming to an unnamed party: its hardly Steel And Glass but it certainly stands out here. Tempting as it might be to speculate about its targets identity internet interpretations suggest John Lennon it leaves no clues.
Otherwise, though, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard is the expected third-rate romantic mush set to hokey thumbs-aloft would-be ingratiating matey pop music. Promise To You Girl briefly offers up some tantalising Because-style harmonies before shattering the illusion with some mawkish domestically contented boogie of the kind you can practically hear Jools Holland scratching desperately to join in with at the post-pub end of BBC2s Friday night schedule. At The Mercy (of, variously, a busy road and a busy day) closes with the lazy admission I can think of nothing more to say still, thanks for showing up, at least and English Tea is a palm court trifle speckled with croquet, fairy cakes and English gardens and the vivid self-assessment Very twee.
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard is almost certainly the best Paul McCartney album since his last best album. Dont take that as a recommendation.