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Friday, 7 September 2018

'He's such a dirty old man!' Let's board Egypt Station

Many an artist I grew up with are now facing their autumn years, (shit, I can feel their icy grasp myself, telling me that the end of the end is not too far away.) and could be forgiven for taking a back seat. but for Paul McCartney it seems that senior citizenship has not only brought a bus pass, a penchant for hanging around with James Cordon and hobnobbing with royalty but also a massive boost in the needs of Little Macca. The latter ain't gonna curl up in a pair of comfortable high waisted underpants, content with the memories of early days. Hell no, Little Macca wants to party! Little Macca wants some action! This yearning, heartfelt or otherwise, is displayed in the slightly troubling Come On To Me and the hilarious, Fuh You.

These two songs, along with the lovely ballad, I Don't Know, were the first things people heard from the now released Egypt Station album and they provoked more than a few slack jaws, dozens of guffaws and tight smirks aplenty. Here was Macca, a national treasure, arguably the biggest legacy artist in the world inviting you to come on to him so that he could fuh you. Though those two tracks in all fairness, if you can separate the comedy value from the aural, rather than oral experience then they hold up as throwaway tracks. Come On To Me, Macca explained was written based around the memories of his younger self and not through the eyes of a man in his late 70's - hell, no that would be creepy. Fuh You is actually For You but it sounds like Macca is singing I just wanna Fuck You - and he knows it sounds like that, intended it to sound like that, and it is pretty Fuh'ing funny.

Fuh me, if Egypt Station is not a pretty funky album - coming across as a hybrid of his Fireman stuff and inward gazing of Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. It's a far better album that his previous two long players and represents something of a classic entry into his incredible catalog.

The album kicks off with the sound of a train chugging and then we have some choir sounds which flow seamlessly into, I don't Know and the track works really well here, far better than it did as a single. 'I've got crows at my window, dogs at my door, I don't think I can take anymore,' wails a world weary voice and it really is quite beautiful. The piano medley is classic McCartney and it weaves around a lyric that is very much anti-McCartney in its depth of despair. 'It's alright, sleep tight. I will take the strain.'

The second track rocks out - Come Onto Me, - again this seems more at home here than it did as a single. The sounds not clean, the melody not too sweet and although it's pretty much a simple song it does have that edge, that raspy quality that reminds me somewhat of McCartney's Electric Argument album.

It occurs to me after a few spins of this album that Egypt Station is a real album, rather than a collection of songs. What I mean by that is where say Memory Almost Full and New were song collections, Egypt Station seems to have a unity that has been lacking from Macca's work since maybe Chaos and Creation and Electric Argument.

The third track is a lovely acoustic ballad, a  kind of modern day take on Every Night, in which Macca informs us that he no longer has to get stoned and can, no doubt safely enter Japan without worry of customs. It's a sweet melody, quite wonderful. 'I'm Happy with you,' Macca tells us and so far I'm happy with Egypt Station.

Next up is Who Cares, which is a standout rocker - it makes you want to punch the air. It's a fine track that would again fit into the Electric Argument era. 'Who cares what the idiots say. Who cares what the idiots do.'

Then we have the already infamous Fuh You -  I just find this song hilarious and it is a ear worm. Listen to it a few times and be careful because you'll end up singing it as you walk down the streets. It'll be awkward explaining to the girl on the Tesco checkout why you just uttered, 'I just wanna fuh you.'

Confident is next, apparently a ode to Macca's guitar but it's an interesting lyric that could contain a little Beatle bashing or then again it may not. There's some startling imagery - butterfly's wearing army boots chanting long lost anthems. This is another great track.

People want Peace comes next - the opening is excellent but it ends up sounding like that song Macca did for a video game a few years back. It's not bad but not nearly as strong as the songs that preceded it. It may grow on me though and I certainly don't hate it.

The piano led Hand in Hand comes next and this one features another strained Macca vocal - a song that could have fitted on Kisses on the Bottom. It's romantic, hopeful and whimsical as well as even more optimistic than With a Little Luck. There's a lovely tune here but the song is a bit sappy. Maybe in the context of the album it works but taken from the whole it would maybe seem far too trite.

Dominoes follows and this song is, I think a late period masterpiece - an absolutely stunning song that goes all over the place. 'And like the dominoes are falling.' This is the album's top tune in my opinion.

Then we're going up tempo for a true party number with the gormless Back in Brazil but this songs has such a good vibe that it'll have you foot tapping aplenty. Musically it's a very complex piece and the lyric tells a little story. It's  a very experimental track, part lounge lizard music and part party piece. Quite brilliant.

Do It Now is another wonderful track, that echoes McCartney's best balladry. There's also some great Wings style harmonies flowing through this heavenly track. I'm loving it.

Ceaser Rock comes next and it really does rock and for this bemoaning McCartney's voice this is the perfect antidote with that voice sounding better than it has for many a year. He gets that perfect raspy vocal quality that reminds me of Rinse the Raindrops from the much maligned Driving Rain. The guitar work on this one is especially good.

Despite Repeated Warnings follows - this is the much hyped anti-Trump song but it's far more Admiral Halsey than Big Boys Bickering. It's got several inventive tempo changes and some nice Macca 'Yeah, yeah' wails. 'Well he's got his own agenda.' And at one point it goes all Live and Let Die with a crazy reggae/rock vibe. 'He'll take us with him.'  It's a great song with Macca seeming to be shouting for an uprising. 'Yes we can do it, yeah we can do it now.'

Then we arrive at Station II and it's been a breathless journey - some more heavenly choir sounds takes up into the closing medley of  Hunt you Down/Naked/ C-link. We get a hard rock riff to kick off proceedings with Macca rocking like it's 1970 all over again. This middle section is catchy in which Macca claims to have been mistaken for his little brother and confessing that he's been naked for so long. A brilliant wandering guitar solo takes us into the final movement in the medley and it's like the McCartney album meets No More Lonely Nights. A truly inventive medley then to round off a better than expected album from Macca.

In summing up then I would say that Macca's got balls on this album - to my mind it's far stronger than the safey stuff served up on the previous two albums. It was ironic that McCartney's previous album, New served up nothing even remotely new but this album certainly does. It's an album that works as an album, a unified whole and will no doubt reveal more of itself over repeated listens. I'd give this one top marks...I like dirty old man Macca.

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