Essential New Music: Paul McCartney’s “Pure McCartney”


The most absolutely adorable Beatle has always had a questionable solo career sappily filled with silly love songs and topped with unique slices of quirky driving rock and clammy art pop—even subtly metronomic, electronic German-ica; the latter’s very existence nearly erased the bad taste of the former.

These common-denominator Paul McCartney songs, done on his own and alone, with Wings, as the Firemen duo (to say nothing of good and bad duets with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson contained within), all contain irascible, irresistible melodies even when every other aspect of his being was way irresistible, even unctuous. That this collection could’ve focused on the bold and the beautiful, rather than the stupid and lame—but doesn’t, not at all—says something about McCartney’s tenacity and self-belief. Is the corny “’Hope For The Future” from the 2014 video game Destiny as good—even as decent—as the rustic, homey “Heart Of The Country” from 1970? No. Is the gently jumpy “Another Day,” the rolling bluesy “Let Me Roll It” and the roaring, incendiary “Live And Let Die” not superior to the dull “Mull Of Kintyre” or the limp “Let ‘Em In” or the flat-line rock of “New”? Yes. Does he know this? I’m sure he does—and that’s the joy of this set of post-Beatle favorites of Paul’s own choosing.

The nicest part of listening to Pure McCartney in one sitting (or as much as you can take of its random shuffle without regard to context) is imaging the melody-driven hubris of an artist who could’ve chosen to do nothing but the dynamic (the fuck-you money of the Beatles could’ve meant the krautrock of “Temporary Secretary” forever) but, instead, occasionally and willingly chose “Ebony And Ivory.”

—A.D. Amorosi