REVIEW: Paul McCartney’s Fireman “Electronic Arguments.”

Could this be the post-modern record that we’ve been waiting for Paul McCartney to make for years.  I haven’t been this excited, and waiting in anticipation for a record like this in a really long time.  It’s still kind of strange that Paul has to hide his arty experimental side behind another name.

It’s almost weird how he’s so protective about that legacy as a mainstream popstar, but then again he’s always used pseudonyms throughout his career.

This record, though, is unlike the other Fireman albums, one gets the feeling.  It’s grittier, and more visceral.  It’s rooted in something, and is immediate and alarming.  That’s all conjecture, and guess-work on my part, but that’s the feeling I get.  I guess we’ll have to wait until it comes out.

Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight is available as an exclusive free download from NME.com right now. Click here to get your copy.

Here’s what we’ve read.

The ex-Beatle’s new album is a strange and wonderful concoction. Neil McCormick went to Abbey Road studios to talk to its creator

Paul McCartney unveiled his new album, Electric Arguments, at Abbey Road studios yesterday.

And it’s a corker – albeit a fruity and bizarre one. Unusually for the legendary songwriter, he went into the studio with nothing prepared, and improvised it all on the spot.

“I had to make a disclaimer to the engineers,” he admitted. “I said this could be the most embarrassing moment of my life. It was thrilling, but it could have been a terrible mistake. It could ruin my whole career!”

Looking sprightly and immaculate in a casual grey suit and T-shirt, with a little sprig of eucalyptus poking mischievously out the breast pocket, the veteran superstar was bubbling over with almost childlike enthusiasm for his latest venture.

The album was recorded as a side project with producer Youth (aka Martin Glover, former member of Killing Joke) and will be released under the pseudonym of the Fireman.

Their two previous collaborations – Strawberries Ocean Ships Forest (1993) and Rushes (1998) – were essentially ambient clubbing experiments, so wilfully obscure they slipped out without attention. However, Electric Arguments has turned into something more recognisably McCartney-esque, albeit showcasing his talents in a whole new light.

“There’s no songs on the first two Fireman albums; it’s just trance stuff, and basically each track is one chord,” said McCartney. “On this record, I started saying maybe we should go for another chord somewhere and, whoah, it just exploded. Some of the songs even have four chords!”

Entirely avoiding the beautifully crafted, sometimes over-polished pop for which he is renowned, Electric Arguments is a rough-hewn musical stew, a steaming broth of raw blues, folk, country, trance, dance and dub, yet somehow settling into melodies with recognisable verse and chorus.

“We were like mad inventors,” said McCartney. “The process was just to set up a groove and play stuff. Youth would say, ‘How about a bit of harmonica?’ So I’d play that. ‘How about a bit of drums? Guitar? Tin whistle? Throw everything at it, see what sticks.’ I think, having written so much over the years, even when I am improvising I have an ability to spot what’s working, and just go with that.”

Muddy and distorted, these tracks are less like songs than sketches, with a great sense of spontaneity and musical imagination. In a way, they are more suggestive of the Beatles’ White Album out-takes than anything the public might associate with McCartney’s solo career.

To be released on his own MPL label next month, Electric Arguments is such a pure listening pleasure, it has started to take on a life of its own.

In a Beatle-still-cool shock, Radio 1 taste-maker Zane Lowe has singled out lead track Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight as his “Hottest record in the world right now” for two weeks running, which must be the first time the youth-centric station has put its weight behind a record by a 66-year-old.

  • Download ‘Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight’ from NMEThe song is a raw Chicago blues, an abstract Helter Skelter by way of Led Zeppelin, with Macca whooping and hollering: “I said I love you/I thought you knew/The last thing to do was to try to betray me.” The lyric (what there is of it) has been interpreted as an attack on his ex-wife Heather, although I am not so sure.The 13 songs were each written and recorded in a day, with McCartney playing instruments and Youth manning the recording desk. The idea of singing vocal lines was a spontaneous one, with the result that McCartney had to make up lyrics on the spot.

    “It was sort of a William Burroughs, cut-up approach,” he says. “I’d get out poetry books and just kind of scour them and find phrases, then stick them to a phrase from another book, so I wasn’t nicking somebody’s whole poem. And I’d go on like that until I had enough to sing. I still don’t know the lyrics myself.”

    What makes Electric Arguments so heartening is that such an established star would have the confidence and desire to explore new musical avenues. It often seems that McCartney does his boldest and most interesting work with strong creative partners. After all, this is the man who forged the template for modern popular music with John Lennon.

    “I like having a collaborator,” McCartney said. “Otherwise, I get the feeling of being an absent-minded professor alone in his laboratory all day. I did the first solo McCartney record all on my own. It seemed a bit lonely. There’s a track on there that’s about 10 minutes long. Try playing maracas for 10 minutes in a row on your own. I was standing in the room thinking, ‘That’s it – I’ve really lost the plot.’

     

  • “So, after that, I thought it was probably nice to have someone in the room with me.”

    Source: UK Telegraph

    16 Responses

    1. I don’t care what the detractors say about this. As I’ve said before on this (excellent) website, I believe that this is going to be the finest McCartney album in a very long time. First we get a brilliant (one of his greatest even if it is a “compilation”) new album from 67 year-old Bob Dylan and now we get this one from Paul! It’s proof that true genius only dies when the genius dies. I only wish that Paul had done more of this over the years. Still, he is Paul McCartney and I think the success of this album will spur him on to further experiments. There’s no telling what he can still pull out of that fertile brain.

    2. First of all here’s a link to yet another song from this project…which is truly shaping up to be THE NEXT PAUL MCCARTNEY ALBUM!! I LOVED the 2nd Fireman album “Rushes”, but I really think this is “Electric Arguments” by Paul McCartney’ produced by Paul McCartney & Youth. That’s all, and I am VERY hopeful & excited!
      The 3rd leaked song, is called “Sing The Changes”, & it’s my fave so far; though I have to admit I’ve dug all three.

      Really nice to hear this one on John’s Birthday…GREAT TRACK!!!
      You can add it to this pile…1st the longer, highger fidelity version of “Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight” (Track #1)- two versions a) longer b) shorter:
      a) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoEQnxYpigE
      b) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vepDWDUbRrA
      And our first glimpse of this album, “Lifelong Passion (Sail Away)” (Track #9, #9, #9, #9):

      And, lest we forget, here’s the 12 second promo-clip for the album with a snippet of another track…

      Fireman website updated:
      http://www.thefiremanmusic.com/
      and finally at MaccaSpan they’ve set up a Fireman page. Currently they’ve got all three songs to be listened to, and the new artwork from the updated website, but keep tuned in & checking back, because they’ve got the 5 minute version of the lead off track, and they are the ones who have leaked the 3rd track, so maybe they have a promo copy?
      http://www.maccaspan.com/thefireman/thefireman.html
      Blessings!!

    3. I’m not going to be one of those people proclaming this to probably be his best effort since Band On The Run, or whatever. Like every time he releases a new record. To me, McCartney’s solo career is very underrated and his last couple of albums, “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” and “Memory Almost Full” are excellent. And his last classical album “Ecce Cor meum (Behold My Heart)” is also a great piece of compositional work. But I’m looking forward to The Fireman album, and if it is as good and creative and imaginative as those mentioned above, I’ll be more than happy. McCartney is in a flow these days, and from the hype, “Electronic Arguments” seem to keep that flow going.

    4. Paul is on a late career resurgence. Everything he does now, I look forward to hearing, immensely.

      Regards,
      Beatle Bob
      (Bootleg reviewer on the Bootlegzone, 910, BeatlegList, etc)🙂

    5. Wow! From what I have heard…this is one great sounding CD.

    6. Looking forward to it.

      Plus I’m still waiting for the photo I mailed to Paul back in 2006, wonder if I shood boycott the Fireman,

      ha ha.

    7. Otis, go away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

    8. There are full album promotional copies of “Electric Arguments” available right now on ebay!!!!!
      These are not wait until the release date CDs. You can get your like nowsville man! They are promos that were supposedly printed before the artwork became available, and they are $22 each…OUCH! There have been 4 sales so far, and there are six more available. It says, and I quote, “Advance cds are available now, without artwork as it was not available when these were obtained.”
      So…here you go-go… the ebay item # is 250314331818. You can type that number into the search bar, or you can just do a search for “Electric Arguments” and it’s the only item that will come up.
      All I ask is if anyone has the extra scoots to purchase this, PLEASE reward me a finders fee by emailing me at “HareDurga@yahoo.com”, and allowing me to pay you for materials, time & shipping costs and burn me off a copy, eh? The very long link is below…Blessings!

      http://cgi.ebay.com/Paul-McCartney-The- … 240%3A1318

    9. First off let me say that it’s great people like this direction from McCartney, but for me it just sounds terrible!

      I don’t like the Fireman stuff, it just sounds like a bunch of disjointed, out of place, unstructured noise to me.

      Where’s the chorus, the middle eight, the melody, any structure. You can’t snap your fingers to it, you can’t pat your foot to it, you can’t even follow it half the time, just a bunch of sounds thrown together.

      This direction doesn’t showcase McCartney’s fantastic songwriting ability! I’ll wait until he gets back to rocking.

      Memory Almost Full is still the very best current release by McCartney!

    10. Hey Joe ( is that not a song?) you need to listen again. I’ve managed to snap along with two hands just fine. Come on you know you like it really…

    11. I’ve managed to get an advanced copy and I have to say. This is definitely not his best album since Band on the Run.

      It’s better.

      Or I should say, the following tracks make up his best collections of songs since the beatles era:

      Sing the Changes: uplifting, aspiring, mid-tempo rock. Defiantly simple, swelling, beautiful.

      Travelling Light: Somber, sung in a style not used by mccartney, darkly beautiful ballad with an unexpected flourish of a coda

      Highway: A much better rock track than Nothing Too Much. Would have made a strong single. Simple, chugging, choogling rock, with a rousing break in the middle

      Light from your lighthouse: Fun Fun little country/gospel piece. Vocals take a little getting used to. Combination of lower register and falsetto.

      Sun is Shining: Mid-tempo pop song. Could fit on a beach-boys record or Ram. Simple again, but aspiring and joyful

      Dance til We’re High: The title makes this sound as if it would be slight. It isn’t it starts with a drum intro that reminds me of the Four Seasons percussion sounds. Then there is a flat moment when its very hard to hear the vocals, but after about 30 seconds into the song—Let me put it simply, it’s the best thing he’s written since Maybe I’m Amazed. Joyful, moving, profound. This should be put out as a christmas single. It just needs a tiny bit of remixing.

      Lifelong Passion: I don’t like the vocals on this ballad. Paul sounds like he has a bit of a cold. But the song itself builds and builds. And I do find myself humming the melody.

      Then we get three mostly intrumental trance/dance tracks that are not bad but nothing memorable.

      But they build to another showstopper:

      Don’t Stop Running–a mesmerizing, throbbing, dance track. It just pulls you into its groove and will not let you go.

      This album is like nothing Paul has done with the beatles or alone and should stand a fulfillment of the promise everyone sees in him.

      This is not just a good album.

      Its a classic.

      Trust me.

    12. I’ve nabbed an advance copy of ‘Electric Arguments’ as well – which won’t stop me from buying the proper release – and it’s bizarre, unpredictable and bloody marvellous.

      Back in the 1960s, Lennon once remarked, on hearing McCartney’s home recordings, that Paul should do an album called PAUL MCCARTNEY GOES TOO FAR. This is that album.

      Never has ol’ Macca been so free, uninhibited, experimental (but not to the detrement of the material, ie, McCartney II), open-voiced and hungry. The instruments, all Macca, are expertly sharp throughout, as is the production. “Light from Your Lighthouse”, a wacky gospel knockoff, is just fun. “Don’t Stop Running” is just hot. “Highway” is just wild rock.

      Love it.

    13. Oh don’t worry. I not only plan to buy myself a copy, but I plan to make it my christmas gift to just about everyone I know. I really want to hear this on vinyl too. This is a must have.

      Does anyone know if a deluxe edition is planned?

    14. If you’re persistent and clever and don’t mind being illegal, you can break copyright law by downloading the album right now. This is a terrible thing to do, and could get you arrested and thrown into jail, so don’t!
      It IS a fantastic album – totally (or nearly totally) unlike the sublime “Rushes”. Varied, great songs, coherent, experimental, noisy, quiet, wistful, angry – absolutely his best album since – ooooooohhhhh – I still rate “Chaos” very highly, so let’s say that.

      Worth going to jail for!

    15. Finalmente alguém para nos tirar do atual limbo em que caiu o rock contemporâneo. Tudo o que ele e ous outros três fazem ou fizeram vale como referencia para estas bandinhas de hoje.

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