It’s comforting to know that Paul McCartney – beloved Beatle, songwriting genius, pop icon and still one of the biggest live music draws on the planet – still makes albums. And as his latest output “Egypt Station” shows, he remains on top of his game.
With hot-producer-of-the-moment Greg Kurstin (The Bird & The Bee, Foo Fighters, Adele), the pace starts slow with “I Don’t Know,” a sentimental, piano-decked meditation on mid-life. Here Macca sings “I got crows out my window, dogs at my door/ I don’t think I can take any more.” Of course, in real life, Macca is busy as ever and has been non-stop in promoting his new record, even going viral with his stint through the James Corden show, among others.
Then right on cue, things pick up with a fancy bit of rock and roll on “Come On To Me,” wherein Paul displays that naughty side of his. He goes “I saw you flash a smile/ that seemed to me to say/ you wanted so much more that casual conversation/ I swear I caught a look before you turned away/ Now I don’t see the point resisting your temptation.” Ditto in the modern pop rock sounds of “Fuh You,” which we imagine he sings with a cheeky wink as in “I just wanna fuh you ooh wooh.” This song is the only track not under Kurstin, and produced by Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic). Now if you know your McCartney, rock and roll songs that bubble with sexuality underneath are par for the course. “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Why Don’t We Do It On The Road,” and Wings-era “Hi, Hi, Hi” are some examples.
At this point in his new record, familiar echoes from his past work crop up. And it’s fun playing where-did-I-heard-that-riff-before. From the ending note of “Come On To Me” that reminds us of the guitar tones the Beatles used on “Got To Get You Back In To My Life,” to “Dominoes” and its outro backwards guitar solo that harken back to “Taxman,” to the bits and pieces that are spread throughout, McCartney sound signatures really, that recall some era and phase of his almost 60 year career.
And then there are the new bits like the electro-pop cum samba amalgam and keyboard showcase “Back In Brazil” and the Macca-stamped rock-romp in “Caesar Rock.” his love for basic rock and roll as heard in “Who Cares,” and the “Abbey Road”-esque medley suite in fiery “Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link.” And in his most political yet, the track “Despite Repeated Warnings” smack of anti-Trump. Morosely crooning “What can we do this foolish plan going through/ this man is bound to lose his ship and his crew.” And in a “Band On A Run” like shift he gets more direct, singing “How can we stop him/ grab the keys and lock him up/ if we can do it/ we can save the day.”
“Happy With You” with its shimmering acoustic folk guitar stylings, is an easy favorite. With its classic upbeat/positive Macca intoning “I sat around all day, I used to get stoned/ I liked to get wasted but these days I don’t/ Cause I’m happy with you.” “Do It Now” is also an uplifting number where wise-in-his-years Macca advises to get off our asses and “Do it now while the vision is clear” or else ‘it could all disappear.’ It’s the same sentiment on thoughtful ballad “Confidante.” And if you’re going to ask Macca what the antidote for the entire world’s trouble is? He’d probably sing you a song like “People Want Peace.”
According to McCartney this is his first concept album. And he was aiming for something different for each song or “station” if you will. He wants to take the listener for a trip. So far, this latest excursion of his has taken him at the top of the Billboard album charts and plans to take it further on world tour. Now if only he could forget about what happened in Manila all those years ago.
But back to the album. In all, this is Paul McCartney at his latter day best. And “Egypt Station” makes the contention to be put right up there with his classics.
Tags: "Caesar Rock", "Come On To Me", "Confidante", "Despite Repeated Warnings", "Do It Now", "Fuh You", "Happy With You", "Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link", "Opening Station", "People Want Peace", "Who Cares", Audio Junkie, AUDIO JUNKIE: Paul McCartney’s future classic, Egypt Station, Hand in hand, Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Entertainment, mb.com.ph, Paul McCartney