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