Category Archives: Album Reviews

The 10 best Paul McCartney albums you may have never heard: #6—Venus and Mars

When I was thinking about ranking the 10 best McCartney solo albums, Venus and Mars didn’t initially cross my mind. I immediately connected it to “Listen to What the Man Said,” one of those McCartney songs that felt engineered to become a radio single, but not terribly authentic.

But with the upcoming re-release of this album (in addition to a remastered Wings at the Speed of Sound), I took another look and found that, other than that one song, it’s one of the best in the catalog, a strong followup to Wings’ mega-hit Band on the Run, and a nice precursor to McCartney’s first world tour since the Beatles’ early days.
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Another Edition of “New” Is On The Way

Very exciting, and I’m so glad to get even more New! Check out my related post on why New is one of the top 10 McCartney solo albums you may have never heard, and another on the Japanese television broadcast of the Out There tour from November 2014. Enjoy the new New!

Beatles Blog

Paul McCartney has confirmed that his 2013 album New will be reissued (again) on CD and DVD.

This time around it’ll be as a special three disc collector’s set on October 28, exactly 12 months on from its original release date.

This ‘new’ edition of New will be a 2CD+DVD set. It comes in hardback book packaging. The first CD repeats the deluxe edition of 2013 with 14 tracks plus the ‘hidden’ track “Scared”.

The second audio disc will contain “Struggle” – previously a Japanese-only bonus track – plus two brand new previously unreleased tracks from the album sessions: “Hell To Pay” and “Demons Dance”. Four live tracks from McCartney’s Tokyo Dome gig in 2013 complete this CD.

The final disc is a DVD that is effectively an expanded version of the video disc that came as part of the 2014 Japan Tour Edition of New (although it doesn’t include everything…

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Son of a…Beatle: All Talented in their own Right

Dhani Harrison’s recent performance of “Let it Down” for George Harrison Week on Conan has been unanimously praised as a touching tribute. It has also spawned the usual comparisons to George, along with a few suggestions that he tour exclusively with his father’s material.

From one perspective, it makes lots of sense; after all, Dhani looks and sounds eerily like George at times, and who else could better carry on his legacy, especially since George himself never did much touring?

But while the comparison must be extremely flattering, it may also be a heavy burden on Dhani and the four other Beatle sons—Julian Lennon, Sean Ono Lennon, James McCartney, and Zak Starkey—who are musicians trying to make their way in the world with their own bands and in their unique musical styles. How difficult it must be to always be compared to your legendary father, no matter what sort of music you play, and for your talents to be constantly scrutinized and questioned because of your musical connections. Not to mention consistent calls to either play with the two living Beatles or form a second-generation Beatles supergroup (both ideas have been squashed by anyone who has been asked).

Though they never forget their fathers’ legacies, all five of these men have had (and continue to have) strokes of musical brilliance. Take a look at each of the Beatle sons’ recent musical output:

Dhani Harrison

Dhani has always been a champion of George’s music, collaborating with his father and assisting in the production of George’s final album, Brainwashed, released posthumously in 2002. He was also instrumental in creating The Beatles: Rock Band. But he’s a talented musician in his own right; his band, thenewno2, has released three albums, including the recent soundtrack for the film Beautiful Creatures. He’s also a member of the band Fistful of Mercy, a collaboration with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur.

James McCartney

Paul’s youngest child and only son began his musical career backing his father on Flaming Pie and Driving Rain. But he didn’t emerge as a solo artist until 2010 with his EP of original compositions, Available Light. A second EP, Close at Hand, was released in 2011, and Me, his first full-length album, premiered in 2013. Me was supported by a 47-date tour. Though shy and a little awkward in the public eye, James is a powerful songwriter and vocalist.

Julian Lennon

As the first Beatle son to branch out on his own, Julian has had a long, yet inconsistent, career. His 1984 debut album Valotte was an immediate hit, winning him a Grammy and producing two top-ten singles. But Julian’s musical career became inconsistent, with his second album garnering negative reviews. In the following decades, Julian played intermittently in charity concerts and occasionally recorded music, but focused on other interests such as charity work, photography, and cooking. He ventured back on the music scene with 2011’s Everything Changes, his first album since 1998.

Sean Ono Lennon

Born in 1977, Sean didn’t begin his musical career until well after his father’s murder, but spent much of his childhood collaborating with Yoko on a variety of projects. His first solo album, Into the Sun, dropped in 1998. A tour and other musical collaborations followed, but Sean stayed largely out of the limelight until his next solo album, Friendly Fire, in 2006. In 2008 he founded the band The Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger, or “The GOAST,” with his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl (cue the Beatle comparisons!). Their most recent album, 2014’s Midnight Sun, has been critically acclaimed as “a near perfect album” and can be heard in its entirety here.

Sean has most recently been in the news for his ridiculously entertaining description of “the most wild, epic, and insane concert of all time,” which involves the Beatles as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a sacrifice of Justin Bieber. Don’t miss this:

Zak Starkey

Despite his father’s discouragement, Zak ended up following in Ringo’s footsteps as a drummer. Though he was a founding member of the band Johnny Marr and the Healers, his career largely consists of drumming for established bands, most notably The Who—fitting since Keith Moon gave him his first drum kit. Zak has also drummed for Oasis and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and is consistently hailed as one of the best in the business.

So there you have it: the five Beatle-son musicians. No matter how fantastic it might be to see the them covering their fathers’  beloved Beatle songs, each one deserves consideration as an individual, and each one holds his own.

The 10 best Paul McCartney albums you may have never heard: #5—Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

“There is a fine line between chaos and creation if you don’t say which one it is you’re gonna do…” 

The album's cover photo, taken by Paul's brother Mike McCartney
The album’s cover photo, taken by Paul’s brother Mike McCartney

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, released in September 2005, has a bit of both—but creation wins out, making it one of my 10 favorite Paul McCartney solo albums.

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50 years later, A Hard Day’s Night is still brilliant

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A Hard Day’s Night promo poster, FilmForum, NYC

For a second-generation fan, one of the best things about all the 50th-anniversary-of-the-Beatles celebrations is the ability to (sort of) experience some of the original events that made the early ’60s one of the most exciting periods in modern music. Seeing the beautifully remastered A Hard Day’s Night in the theatre was one of those experiences.
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