“Memory Almost Full” – a long sneak preview review.

We have already read many supposed track listings.  We have read many opinions on the rumored tracks of the new McCartney album.  We have already compared it to previous works.  We have seen snippets of video clips, and posted album tracks.  Well it looks like the first reviews of the complete album are slipping out there as people get promo copies of the album in advance listening sessions.  We are not privy to those advance listening sessions personally, but we can only one day hope. 

We have found an interesting track by track review of the album that goes quite in-depth on McCartney’s new opus Memory Almost Full.  I will warn you in advance, it is a long review so give yourself some time.  Also, if you don’t want to know about the details of the album then, do not read much too further in this post.  It does reveal a lot about the album. I know that some of you want to be surprised.  Whatever your opinion of the album is, it looks like Paul has given us all a stunner of an album.

Sean Murdoch over at the Steve Hoffman boards has posted a novel of a review on the new McCartney album.

Let us know what you think in the comments, we are anxious, as always, to hear your thoughts.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Memory Almost Full — by Paul McCartney

In 1997, Bob Dylan shocked fans and onlookers with his “comeback” album Time Out Of Mind. Produced — heavily, some would say — by Daniel Lanois, Dylan delivered an album dripping with “importance,” and he was showered with praise and awards. The opinion quickly formed that, given a strong collaborator and some serious hand-holding, Dylan could still produce an album almost as strong as the classics of his youth. Four years later, defying this notion, Dylan ditched his “strong collaborator” and self-produced a dizzingly brilliant album that WAS as good as the classics of his youth: Love & Theft. Fans and ciritcs were stunned at the vibrancy and playfulness of the music and the intricacy of the lyrics; even those impressed by Time Out Of Mind didn’t think Dylan was capapble of such magic so late in his career.

Put simply, Memory Almost Full is Paul McCartney’s Love & Theft. Paul has been quietly rebuilding his solo career for over a decade now, rededicating himself to making strong albums with Flaming Pie (1998) and, slightly less successfully, with Driving Rain (2001). His last album, 2005’s Chaos & Creation In The Backyard, was an artistic triumph, and much of the credit was given to his “strong collaborator” Nigel Godrich. Articles and interviews detailed how Godrich strong-armed Paul in the studio, rejected songs he saw as unworthy, and fired his band of yes-men in favor of an all-Macca tour-de-force. The result was well worth it: a disarming collection of mature Beatlesque pop, with strong lyrics, heartfelt singing, and near-flawless performances and production.


Like many admirers of Chaos & Creation, I sang the praises of Nigel Godrich, and no doubt the praise was well-deserved. I wanted Nigel to produce every album Paul made for the rest of his career. I wanted Nigel to produce a complete re-recording of the Press To Play album. I wanted Nigel to be the Rick Rubin to Paul’s Johnny Cash. Still, I have to admit, as much as I still love Chaos, there was always something missing, and a slight whiff of grim determination hung over it in its relentless Fab-centric approach. Some said it didn’t “rock” enough, but I think what it lacked was a certain mischievousness, an energy that doesn’t necessarily translate into “rocking” but rather into the joy of performing — in other words, there wasn’t enough “chaos” to go with the “creation.” I was happy with this trade-off, however, because frankly, I thought this was some of the best work of Paul’s career, and I was willing to forsake his trademark loopiness to get more of the same.

Fortunately for all of us, Paul McCartney is a chameleon — and perhaps a bit sensitive to the idea that he needs a stern taskmaster. Like Dylan in 2001, Paul has turned the tables on us and produced an album bursting with creativity and bravado, and he’s done it on his own terms. As improbable as it sounds, Memory Almost Full is a career highlight, and a fascinating companion piece to Chaos & Creation. Where the earlier album consciously evoked the Rubber Soul-, Revolver– and White Album-era McCartney, Memory Almost Full is like the greatest album Wings never made. For those who found Chaos too slow or dreary, Memory Almost Full delivers energy in spades — he literally hasn’t sounded this ballsy in 30 years. For those who love Chaos, Memory Almost Full retains the crisp production, disciplined songcraft, and sincere delivery, and adds playfulness, experimentation and just enough ROCK to make you a believer all over again.

It all starts with Dance Tonight, a simple mandolin-and-drums ditty. The strummed mandolin immediately reminds me of George Harrison and his ukelele, and that alone makes me smile. It’s a harmless singalong, very much in the vein of “Great Day” from Flaming Pie, only better. It’s a short and relatively insubstantial song — which makes it an odd choice for the first UK single — but it’s charming fun, and it immediately dispels any expectation that this will be Paul’s self-pitying “divorce” album. I think this would be a better album closer, but more on that later.

Memory Almost Full really begins with the second song, and the U.S. radio single, Ever Present Past. A pure pop confection with a slight dance beat, it features a crunchy rhythm guitar with stacatto guitar stabs bouncing back and forth between the speakers. A nice retro blast of Moog pops up here and there, with plenty of little touches — most of which Nigel Godrich probably would have rejected. The lyrics not only serve their purpose, but unlike previous dance-pop songs like “Press,” they have some weight to them, or at least the appearance of weight:

I’ve got too much on my mind
I think of everything to be discovered
I hope there’s something to find
Searching for the time that has gone so fast
The time that I thought would last
My ever-present past

The song ends with a nice, rough little guitar chord, and the next song opens with a vocal chorus so sweet you’ll get cavities just listening to it. See Your Sunshine is another pop gem, and after so many love songs, Paul manages to find a fresh angle:

Look what You’ve done to me baby
You’re making me feel so fine
Step out in front of me baby
They want you in the front of the line
The wanna see your sunshine

Paul sings with real conviction here, and the backing vocals throughout are sublime. There’s a bit of (I think) glockenspiel in with the usual keyboards, and there’s a bass flourish at the end that reminded me of the end of “And Your Bird Can Sing.” Not a “heavy” or portentious song, just perfect craft.

Track four begins with some slightly foreboding-sounding strings, and you prepare yourself for perhaps the first big ballad of the album. After about 40 seconds, though, an electric guitar rips into the proceedings, and Paul unleashes one of the best rockers of his career, Only Mama Knows. Far more reminiscent of Wings than the Beatles, this song features not only relentless playing (courtesy of his touring band, in one of the six tracks they played on), but also lyrics fascinating and obscure enough for the most jaded Beatleologist. Most McCartney fans will know that Paul has referred to Linda as “Mama” several times in song, so when he sings:

Only Mama knows
Why she laid me down
In this godforsaken town
She was running too
What she was running from
I always wondered
I never knew
Only Mama knows

An armchair psychologist might suggest that this earthly life itself is the “godforsaken town,” and Paul is feeling lost without Linda. The middle-eight gives further evidence of restlessness and Paul’s struggle to endure:

I’m passing through
I’m on my way
On the road, no ETA
I’m passing through
No fixed abode
And that is why….
I need to try
To hold on
I’ve got to hold on
I’ve got to hold on

Of course, maybe it’s just a fantastic, balls-out rocker that should be enjoyed and not thought about. But this is the first of several tracks that invite similar speculation. Either way, it’s a revelation at this stage of Paul’s solo career, and it ends darkly with more strings, “Glass Onion” style.

The next song is the ballad I had been expecting, You Tell Me. Many will pounce on this as the “anti-Heather” song, but the presence of his band on the track suggest that it could date from 2003. Were the seeds of discontent sown that early in the marriage? I don’t know, but this is a “dark” love song that looks biting on paper, but sounds more regretful when heard:

Were we there?
Was it real?
Is it truly how I feel?
Maybe
You tell me

The instrumentation is simple, with acoustic guitar, muted drums, and some very Wings-like backing vocals. Was Denny Lane knocked over the head, thrown into a van, brought to The Mill, and forced to sing on this song? We’ll never know, but the backing vocals act as a wistful chorus of sadness. Whoever plays the electric guitar solo nails it, with minimal notes but genuine emotion.

This brings us to the mid-point of the album, and arguably the highlight. Mr. Bellamy is everything that Chaos & Creation wasn’t — goofy, ridiculous, impossibly absurd — but it succeeds gloriously. It could have been everything that makes you cringe about Paul McCartney, it could have been “Magneto and the Morse Moose de Soleil Like an Icon” … but it’s NOT. It’s a wholly unexpected song that follows no previously-known Beatles or McCartney template; when I first heard it all the way through, I was so taken aback I actually started giggling out loud. Beginning with some slightly mournful horns and cellos, a deliciously bouncy piano loop pops in, and Paul begins a song that can only be about his cat stuck in a tree — from the perspective of the cat:

I’m not coming down
No matter what you do
I like it up here without you

Mr. Bellamy’s owner chimes in, in a deep, sing-song voice that one might use when talking to your pet:

All right, Mr. Bellamy
We’ll have you down soon

and then later, in the same voice, when (presumably) the firemen have arrived with the ladder:

Steady, lads
easy does it
Ooooh, don’t frighten him!
Here we go…

Is Mr. Bellamy feeling the stress of Paul’s recent domestic woes? He seems to like the peace and quiet of the tree, and in the middle-eight he muses:

In the delusionary state
No wonder he’s been feeling strange of late

Is “Mr. Bellamy” really this deep? Could Paul have possibly put this much thought into a song about a cat up a tree? I don’t know, but this is a heavenly piece of songwriting genius, perfectly performed and produced. When he sings, “Don’t frighten him!” there’s a guitar line under it that somehow makes the worry in the lyric real. After the final refusal of “I’m not coming down/ No matter what you do/ I like it up here without you” there’s a piano-and-horn coda with Paul singing longingly, “Come down, come down to me.” Brilliant all around.

The next song, and the final track before the much-ballyhooed medley, is a bit of a comedown, but almost anything would be a comedown after “Mr. Bellamy.” Gratitude is a gospel-rocker in the “Call Me Back Again” vein, although it lacks the vibrancy of that song. It’s been called a “show-stopper” by the early reviews, but I think it has merit, particularly when you listen to the lyrics, which seem to be aimed specifically at Linda:

I’m so grateful for everything
You’ve ever given me
How can I explain
What it means to be loved by you?
I wanna show my gratitude…

The song seems to refer to how much he’s missed her, and how he would rather suffer the loss than move on:

I should stop loving you
Think what you’ve put me through
But I don’t want to lock my heart away
I will look forward to days when I’ll be loving you
Until then I’m gonna wish, and hope, and PRAAAAAY!!!!

The last two lines in particular seem nakedly emotional; Paul seems to be waiting for the day that he and Linda will be reunited in the next life. After he sings this verse (the middle eight), the simple piano arrangement is augmented by a burst of horns, turning the song into a celebration. He oversings it a bit, maybe, and he doesn’t have the gospel pipes he used to, but it’s still very moving.

The next song is Vintage Clothes, and it ushers in the album-ending “medley.” I wish he hadn’t assembled this as a medley, and if he had to, I wish he hadn’t called it a medley, because it will only demand comparison to side 2 of Abbey Road, which would be unfair to ANY collection of songs. That said, it’s more than the equal of the Red Rose Speedway medley, and what it lacks in symphonic sweep, it makes up for in emotional depth. “Vintage Clothes” is a pounding piano rocker, celebrating middle age while tweaking it gently:

Don’t live in the past
Don’t hold onto something that’s changing fast
What we are is what we are
And what we wear … is vintage clothes

Some vintage mellotron is sampled for ironic (comic?) effect, and Paul minds the young-uns:

A little worn, a little torn
Check the rack —
What went out is coming back!

It’s funny and charming, and more importantly, not too long, and it segues into That Was Me. A happy-go-lucky rockabilly chugger, similar to “Summer of ’59” but with more cheek and energy, he revels in his past for once instead of defending it:

That was me, at the scout camp
In the school play,
Spade and bucket by the sea
That was me

He reminisces about his childhood, proudly and wistfully, and later alludes to the whirlwind of Beatlemania. After all his interviews, you’d expect him to sing “That was me/ with the tape loops/ the avant garde one/ that was me” — but he doesn’t:

That was me, at the party
Sweating cobwebs in the cellar
On TV — that was me!

It’s great to hear him so loose and happy, and he sings the hell out of it at the end. This segues into the slower, poppier Feet In The Clouds. It’s a great mid-tempo tune, instantly catchy, and Paul continues on his nostalgic path:

The teachers said I had my head in the clouds
They directed, I suspected, disconnected
Had it my way
On the street I had my feet on the ground
Stood corrected, well protected, resurrected
Had it my way

The chorus is typical McCartney ear candy, although it gets more complex at the end:

I’ve got my feet in the clouds
Got my head on the ground
I know that I’m not a square
As long as they’re not around
But I find it very, very, very, very, very, very hard

The chorus is repeated again at the end, and the last line is sung several times through a vocoder, with Paul scat-singing over it and strings in the background. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it works! These three songs really sound the most like a “medley,” as things take an unexpectedly sinister turn with the next song, House Of Wax. Another surprising Wings throwback, this is like a great lost “arena rock ballad” from the Wings Over America tour. Like “Soily,” it has some dark and mysterious sounding lyrics:

Lightning hits the house of wax
Poets spill out on the street
To set alight the incomplete
Remainders of the future
Hidden in the yard

Now if you’re like me, you’re saying, “What the hell does THAT mean?” I don’t know, and maybe Paul doesn’t either, but this is a mood piece, and anyway, he assures us that:

Hidden in the yard
Underneath the wall
Buried deep below a thousand layers
Lay the answer to it all

The rest is more of the same, and it’s pure Wings silliness, a la “Beware My Love,” and you could dismiss it … except the singing is great … and the guitars are great … and it’s just fun to listen to. As good as it is on the CD, this will KILL live.

Of course, after such a “big” song, Paul knows to go “small” for the finale, and he does so to devastating effect. The End Of The End has all the hallmarks of a typical McCartney album-ender — the stately piano, the swelling strings, the uplifting message — but he raises his game to a level he’s never even reached for before, and that’s saying something for a guy who wrote “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be.” Some have already commented on the lyrics, saying that Paul seems morbid or even prematurely concerned with his own mortality. I don’t think Paul is preparing to shuffle off this mortal coil just yet, but I think it’s inevitable that he’d think of such things after losing as many loved ones as he has:

At the end of the end
It’s the start of a journey
To a much better place
And this wasn’t bad
So a much better place
Would have to be special
No need to be sad

Nicely put, you think, very “take a sad song and make it better” — but Paul hits you right between the eyes with the verse:

On the day that I die I’d like jokes to be told
And stories of old to be rolled out like carpets
That children have played on
And laid on while listening to stories of old

It’s a sweet and touching song and, thankfully, he doesn’t let it get maudlin — he even whistles in the middle of it. He wrote his most famous album-ending lyrics almost 40 years ago — “And in the end/ The love you take/ Is equal to the love/ You make” — but he’s lived a lifetime since then, and he really fleshes out that sentiment in this song. Your heart will skip a beat the first time you hear it.

Unfortunately, this sublime moment is followed by the only real misstep on the entire album, a noisy bit of nothing called Nod Your Head. If it were a hidden track with 10 minutes of silence between it and the end of the album, I could live with it. On the copy of the album I’ve heard, it follows almost immediately after “The End Of The End” and really jerks you right out of the mood he created so carefully. It’s not an album-killer, but putting this pointless chunk of nonsense at the end of this wonderful album was a bad move. As I mentioned earlier, if he had to put a brief “Her Majesty”-like capper after the “big statement” final song, he should have put “Dance Tonight” there — it’s a fun, celebratory, light-hearted ditty that incidentally matches the mood he hopes for in the big statement song. When I buy the final album and make a CDR to incorporate the bonus tracks, that’s the first — and only — thing I will change about the album.

So where, ultimately, will Memory Almost Full fall in the McCartney pantheon? This question was raised in the weeks following the release of Chaos & Creation, when many people immediately placed it in their personal “Top Five” — or even “Top Three.” Wiser (or perhaps more skittish) voices recommended waiting a year or two before making such rash judgements. That was a year-and-a-half ago, and Chaos has aged well, but Memory Almost Full will force a re-evaluation, for it is bursting with a side (or three) of Paul that we thought had retired permanently. Where Chaos & Creation was mature and stately, Memory Almost Full is bold and brash. The tear in Paul’s eye has been replaced by a twinkle. I don’t know how others will receive Memory Almost Full — opinions on ALL of his albums vary wildly — but my biggest problem will be: What do I bump out of my Top Five to make room for it?

Source: Steve Hoffman

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23 Responses

  1. People who like McCartney solo albums – what /else/ do they like? I’d like to know what the apologists for his relentless, disposable whimsy get their kicks from when they’re not salivating over another instalment of Sgt Pepper’s New Clothes.

    I’ve heard this album and it’s irredeemable rubbish: finding anything good about it is a real struggle. I really wouldn’t want anyone else to hear me listening to it, but since I probably never will again, that’s not such a risk.

    So it begins: “Everybody’s going to Dance Around tonight” – diddly dee. And it’s downhill from there: little to excite or interest, not musically, lyrically or sonicly. Compared with the sort of well-crafted, thoughtful albums that other veterans turn out – from old wave (Dylan, Neil Young) to new (Teenage Fanclub, Nick Cave, Super Furry Animals) – McCartney yet again demonstrates how lost he continues to be since The Beatles split up.

    Oh, and McCartney’s best medley since Abbey Road is on Side 2 of Back To The Egg: Winter Rose, Love Awake, etc are engaging, poetic, touching, in a way that nothing here is.

  2. What a superb review, Steve! I had the luck to hear the album many times already, and I can fully agree on this review. I love

    Maybe his previous album “Chaos” was in my top 5, but it is now replaced by this new Memory Almost Full. It is an absolutely fantastic album. First impression was maybe a bit confusing and strange, as Paul’s albums often have on me, but after listening a couple of times, it grows into you. This album is (much) better than Chaos, more optimistic, more witty but also very rocking.

    I simply LOVE Mister Bellamy (such a surprising master piece) and House of Wax. You Tell Me is beautiful. Dance Tonight is simple, but nice, perhaps indeed it should have been the last song, Steve, but I don’t mind Nod Your Head to be at the end either, because I keep pleying this album over and over again… 😉 End of the End indeed takes your breath away when you start listening to the text, which as a foreigner I usually don’t do very well at the first hearing. It is a beautiful song!

    My only point of disappointment is that there isn’t more of this. Less than 45 minutes, it is like an old Beatles or Wings album, but that probably makes the album as a whole even stronger.

    M.A.F. refers to the several other McCartney and Beatles albums, but I realized that only after listening a couple of times. It is so versatile, that you HAVE to hear it more often before giving an opinion. To Jerry I can only say: don’t judge this too quickly.

    My goodness, Paul is an absolute genius (as if we did not know this before)! Sir Paul, PLEASE keep making more albums like this!!! Please don’t let it be the End Of The End…

  3. Not much to add except that Jerry Bakewell really needs to check his ears. I don not thins this album is better then Chaos, but Chaos is one of my favourites by anyone. Memory Almost Full is however also a revelation. Hopefull, free, introspective, adult, happy and much more. The album grows on you with every listen. There’s a lot in it. In the lyrics and in the music. Also, the songwriting is almost as consistent as it wason Chaos. The only ones I am not too fond of are Nod your head and gratitude. But indeed, the album is short. We would all have wanted more of this enthoustiastic and powerfull Macca. He leaves us wanting for more and that’s way it should be.

  4. To Jerry Bakewell: I wrote the review that we’re discussing here, and I can assure you that I’m not an apologist. I could easily write an epic essay about all the BAD stuff Paul has done, and do it with equal glee and relish, but this is not the time, because Memory Almost Full is indeed a McCartney classic. You asked what else the “apologists” might be listening to in between Macca albums; I can’t speak for all of them, but I listen to a LOT of stuff that isn’t Beatle-related, from Dylan to Elvis Costello to Van Morrison to Neil Young to REM to Dinosaur Jr to Nirvana to Liz Phair to Modest Mouse to Lily Allen. But none of that “proves” anything — Memory Almost Full is what it is, and most Paul McCartney fans will be quite happy with it. IMO.

  5. Some things sound shit on first listen, but end up much-loved classics. MAF ain’t even all that: just watch it vanish and be forgot. Deservedly.

  6. Now Grinderman’s the sort of challenging record PM ought to be making – if only he had any balls.

  7. Why should he? Grinderman is very much Nick Cave. Different guy, different record.

  8. I’ve listened to the record as well. For the first 5 times, I sided with Jerry Bakewell.
    Then I listened more and it grew on me. There ARE some great moments here. The End of the End, Vintage Clothes, Only Mama Knows.
    However, I know that Paul is now into the rough, no frills records that Lennon actually produced. For Paul, I wish he’d indulge in production more ala Flaming Pie, though not with the Jeff Lynne canned sounds. There are some vocals on MAF that sound almost like guide vocals and there are spots where Paul whistles through a solo section instead of playing an actual solo. Also, though I love Les Paul’s, Paul’s always sounds a bit out of tune to me, especially on the low notes. I’d rather that his current band handled the lead guitar and drums.
    To me, I’d like the album to have the SOUND of Band on the Run. The MAF songs have DEFINITE possibilities and I side with the reviewer in that it’s nice to hear Paul rocking again (THANK GOD!) but I’m not (just as on Driving Rain) digging Kahne’s production. I can see Capt. Kirk listening to this as a missed opportunity and screaming to the sky KAAAAHHHNNNNNEEE!!! Having said all this, I do like it better than Driving Rain, I just want Paul to take more time. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but just a few more takes might’ve helped…

  9. Jerry Bakewell – how the hell can you slam this record while championing *Back to the fucking Egg*?

  10. Mr. Bakewell: You, sir, are a clown, I love Dylan, but his latest album is a joke compared to Memory Almost Full. You don’t want to listen, fine. We’ll just let the hundreds of professional critics who agree this album is a classic give their opinions. As for your comparison to new artists, a hundfred years from now people will still be listening to MAF while no one will remember Super Furry Animals.

  11. A superb review, Sean. Like most diehard, tooth and nail McCartney fans I’ve got used to making the best of the scraps of The Real Thing that McCartney scatters around his solo albums. This is the first in a very, very long time that had me jumping round the room. Choas and Creation was an album that made me shrug. This one made me sit up and take notice, and then start smiling, and smiling and smiling.

    Mr Bakewell is funny he’s so silly. A Mr Kipling tart in post form. As Eric says, he’s a clown, but that’s OK too.

    Macca’s surprised us all again.

    Thanks again for a magnificent review, Sean. I read it on Friday before I’d heard the album and was more than intrigued. Then I heard the album, and you were spot on in every respect. Even down to reordering the tip and tail tracks. Why don’t people suggest these things to him?

    That’s a minor quibble though in a classic Macca album. I never thought I’d hear another one as quarter as good as this, let alone one containing songs that could happily oust songs on a Beatles album too. It really is that good. (Perhaps that’s why it’s not an overlong album. A lot of self editing might have been going on here.)

    Bananaman.

  12. McCartney’s own press release about making the album:

    Memory Almost Full out Monday June 4th 2007
    By Paul McCartney

    I actually started this album, Memory Almost Full, before my last album Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (released September 2005). The first recording session was back in the autumn of 2003 at Abbey Road with my touring band and producer David Kahne. I was right in the middle of it when I began talking with Nigel Godrich about a brand new project (which became Chaos And Creation In The Backyard).

    When I was just finishing up everything concerned with Chaos and had just got the Grammy nominations (2006) I realised I had this album to go back to and finish off. So I got it out to listen to it again, wondering if I would enjoy it, but actually I really loved it. All I did at first was just listen to a couple of things and then I began to think, ‘OK, I like that track – now, what is wrong with it?’ And it might be something like a drum sound, so then I would re-drum and see where we would get to.

    I took it from there and built it up. I went through, track by track, making changes as I went along. I fixed things I wasn’t too keen on and it just evolved from there. Without me knowing, or really trying, it started to get its own theme, a sort of thread that holds it all together. So I suppose it’s about half new stuff and half old stuff from 2003.

    In places it’s a very personal record and a lot of it is retrospective, drawing from memory, like memories from being a kid, from Liverpool and from summers gone. The album is evocative, emotional, rocking, but I can’t really sum it up in one sentence.

    There is a medley of 5 songs towards the end and that was purposefully retrospective. I thought this might be because I’m at this point in my life, but then I think about the times I was writing with John and a lot of that was also looking back. It’s like me with ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ – I’m still up to the same tricks!
    I know people are going to look at some of the songs and interpret them in different ways but this has always been the case. The thing is that I love writing songs, so I just write and write. I never really get to a point where I start thinking I’m going to write about specific subjects. Inevitably though, what I am thinking is going to find its way into what I’m doing.

    The opening track of the album is ‘Dance Tonight’. I recently got myself a mandolin and I was just playing about with it and came up with the basis of this track. A couple of weeks ago we made the video, which was great fun. It’s directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) and stars Natalie Portman and Mackenzie Crook. I’m not going to give the plot away. You’ll have to go and watch it for yourself, but we had a good time doing it.

    The album title came after I had finished everything. For me, that’s when they normally come, with the exception of maybe Sgt. Peppers, otherwise I don’t think I have ever made an album with The Beatles, Wings or solo where I have thought of a title and a concept. I was thinking about what would sum the whole thing up and ‘Memory Almost Full’ sprung to mind. It’s a phrase that seemed to embrace modern life; in modern life our brains can get a bit overloaded. I realised I had also seen it come up on my phone a few times. When I started bouncing the idea round with some friends they nearly all got different meanings out of it, but they all said they loved it. So the feedback helped solidify the title.

    After completing the album I then started thinking about the album artwork and how I’d want it to look. I really wanted to make the CD a desirable object. Something that I know I’d want to pick up from the shelf, something that would make people curious. I hope our final concept has done that. The album sleeve itself includes an etching by a friend of mine, Humphrey Ocean. As with the album lyrics, I’m looking forward to seeing how people might interpret the artwork.

    Currently I’m just starting out on the promo trail and beginning to get the first bits of feedback about the album and so far so good! It’s interesting now as I’m getting to hear what other people are making of the songs and what their feelings are. I’m also talking about the album myself and I’m really enjoying the discovery process.

    I really enjoyed making this album with David Kahne and I’m proud of all the songs. We had a great time. I hope that the fun we had will communicate itself to the people who are going to listen to it.

    All the best,
    Paul McCartney, April 2007

    Bananaman

  13. I really liked “Memory” on the 3rd listening. Anyway, I tried to get the Deluxe Edition, but in vain. Can anybody tell me if it’s possible to download the bonus tracks on the Internet?
    I listened to a sample of “Why so blue” and I found it fantastic.
    My private mailbox is: mfoschi@inwind.it
    Thanx everybody

  14. To the person who asked what do Mccartney fans listen too. Well where do I begin,
    Bach, Mozart, ect….Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains ect…Jean Michel Jarre
    Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk ect…..Chris Rea, Charles Aznavour, Patricia Kaas ect…
    Slayer,Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Kaiser cheifs ect…….

  15. Massimo: iTunes has a “double disc version” which I guess might be the same as the Deluxe Edition. It includes “In Private”, “Why So Blue”, “222”, and a 26-minute track with Paul talking about the album.

  16. Massimo, I ordered the deluxe edition from Amazon.cm–you can’t get it there?

    Anyhow, Paul’s done it this time–this album kicks ass–a perfect 10!

  17. This album has to be one of McCartney’s finest works since his Beatles days. Throughout his career with the Wings and his solo career, he has produced many gems that will forever remain with music lovers around the world. However, “Memory Almost Full” is another thing. At this age, McCartney still has it. Many rockers have already lost very little of what they had in the vocal department, but McCartney still goes strong. This album is a good follow up to “Chaos and Creation in The Backyard”, and I agree with the review regarding the fact that this has that “Rocking” feel that the former lacked. All the tracks are fantastic and Paul has once again managed to convey his feelings and emotions successfully. This is a must for every McCartney fan.

  18. Great article – thanks! And thanks to Bananaman for posting Macca’s press release – it makes a big difference to know this was put together either side of the CHAOS recording.

    I love MR BELLAMY – hearing it as a defiantly silly song like UNCLE ALBERT, a bit potty. It’s a very characteristic song, the confidently crazy structure which seems completely instinctive. The best thing he’s done in this vein, I think.

    I take YOU TELL ME to be addressed to someone – an old friend, a fan or a journalist – who knows the Maccartney story inside out, and even takes to reminding Paul what exactly happened when. (You see something like this happening with the Ringo interviews on the BEATLES ANTHOLOGY.) It’s a very personal, subtle and sad song about how he can’t be sure he owns his own memories. Again, very characteristic of Macca’s wistful, nostalgic temperament, and a step beyond what he’s done before.

    The singing on YOU TELL ME is in Macca’s late falsetto – like A CERTAIN SOFTNESS on CHAOS – and I think he’s using what’s left of his voice to excellent effect here. The ageing of his voice is terribly obvious on GRATITUDE, which I think is a misjudgement and a bad disruption of the album’s flow.

    I find the ‘rock’ numbers pretty banal, particularly NOD YR HEAD, which is a retread of the tedious last track on CHAOS. I read somewhere else that this could be addressed to a terminally ill friend (or wife?) which obviously makes me feel bad about hating it. I don’t think it’s snobbery or narrow-mindedness to say that I just can’t imagine how a 65 year old Macca could make a heavy track as exciting as, er, White Stripes, Nirvana or even Live and Let Die.

    I sort of understand the thrust of Starbucks’ marketing – it’s all ‘The album that fulfills his musical destiny’ tra la tra la. I think what you get is a real dose of the incomparable Macca – wistful, whimsical, melodic like no-one else can be, with a couple of pratfalls and some vaguely posturing rock n roll. Very lovable.

  19. My two grandkids aged 9 and 7 listened to this album in the car on the way to and from Wales over the weekend and they love it, they know all the words and the melodies – they have no idea who Paul McCartney is or was, nor do they care.

  20. This is the album we have all been waiting for. The one where mccartney shows everyone that he still has it. The it in question is the muse that lennon and mccartney had all through the Beatles career. Most fans and followers will know what I mean. The album is a stunner and ranks up there with Band on the run. Nice to see you back Paul

  21. this bakewell fello, sounds like a macca hater anyway. his tastes are not important at all, just hate remarks, go buy howard sterns cd, it fits you well.

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