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Memory Almost Full is McCartney's most recent solo album released back in 2007 just about the time he was going through a messy divorce with the maniacal Heather Mills. McCartney did well to come out of that little debacle with quite a lot of credibility- that and the handful of coppers that Mills managed to get out of the Macca millions.
Out of that came one of McCartney's better albums of recent years. I didn't really enjoy either 2001' 'Driving Rain' or 2005's 'Chaos and Creation in Backyard'. Although they had their moments, they didn't feel like quality finished albums. I was hoping for more of a return to 97's 'Flaming Pie'. What came out was neither of these things, but something a lot more interesting...
A lot of the tracks on Memory Almost Full require a lot of repeated listens to really get into, but several tracks stand out as being brilliant singles. 'Dance Tonight' was the first single to be released from the album and a is a decent ukulele led track that bears quite a similarity to Harrison's 'Any Road' from a couple of years back. I like this song, even if my other half cannot stand it!
'Mr Bellamy' could easily have been from McCartney II, but also could have been from a lost McCartney musical. In fact, the album sounds very much like a lost rock opera as opposed to a music album. It's full of operatic and dramatic flourishes that almost tell a story. Quite what that story is, I'm not sure!
The album has a real sense of place and time. It's so obviously a McCartney's attempt to make a modern sounding album, but then there are brief snippets of 'retro' McCartney sounds that you can pick out as being 'Wingsesque' and 'Beatles-like' which is great for those of us who have all his previous albums.
'Gratitude' is probably the album's only real ballad, which is quite strange for a guy like Macca who has been selling his wares as a balladeer for many years now. The rest of the album is very up-tempo and interesting.
'Vintage Clothes' with all its wheezy Hammond organ is one of the album's highlights. While not lyrically great (Macca has always had a bit of an issue with his words) 'Check the rack, What went out, is coming back' is an example of the simple sing-along lyrics of that song.
'That Was Me' is some quality lo-fi Macca. Its the closest McCartney has got to doing a 'Liverpool 8' or 'When We Was Fab' where, as an ex-Beatle, he recalls what it was like to look back on his long musical past.
The introspective 'The End of the End' is a good way to end the album, apart from the coda of 'Nod Your Head' which is a brilliant proto-heavy rock anthem.
One of the strangely annoying things about the album is the fact that some of the songs are too short! Although the second half of the album doesn't segue into each other like the second side of Abbey Road, I'm assuming it was planned out a bit like that and that is why some of those songs only last two and a half minutes.
Memory Almost Full is a brilliant piece of work that I've only really just got into and started to appreciate. Upon first hearing I dismissed a lot of the tracks and pretty mediocre, but I forced myself to listen again and again to it - just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I'm glad I did, or songs like 'Mr Bellamy' and 'That Was Me' would have passed me by.
Compared to 'Flaming Pie' or 'Off the Ground' it's much less middle of the road and accessible. It's much more experimental and personal making it more akin to an album, like McCartney II than anything else.
1."Dance Tonight" - 2:54
2."Ever Present Past" - 2:57
3. "See Your Sunshine" - 3:20
4."Only Mama Knows" - 4:17
5. "You Tell Me" - 3:15
6. "Mr. Bellamy" - 3:39
7. "Gratitude" - 3:19
8."Vintage Clothes" - 2:22
9."That Was Me" - 2:38
10."Feet in the Clouds" - 3:24
11. "House of Wax" - 4:59
12."End of the End" - 2:57
13. "Nod Your Head" - 1:58
McCartney, whether you love him or loathe him, is a bit of a legend and he really seems to come to terms with his status in his 2001 album Memory Almost Full. Macca's first output on the Starbucks label was produced by David Kahne and represents a much more focussed offering than his previous discs.
For once, Macca doesn't seem to be denying his former life with Wings and when listening to the album one could be mistaken for believing that you were, in fact, listening to something recorded many years before. The tone is high, tuneful and guitar heavy and there's a real return to the past. Although you feel that he's coming to terms with his life and status this is an album that's totally lacking in pretention. It's a quiet look back (and at times forward).
The album isn't consistently good and, in fact, I'd argue that his single release "Dance Tonight" is actually one of the weaker tracks. It's one of the few that isn't true to the past and, as such, it jars rather in an album that's otherwise fluid.
Both musically and lyrically this is an album in retrospect. There's not much that really "sounds" new and the theme is most definitely in the past. Lazy summers are evoked in "You Tell Me" and the past is ever present. However, "The End of the End" brings us into the future in a rather sombre yet still backward looking way. This is a clever album musically.
Unlike many of these "easy pop" albums, apologies Macca, but an aging rocker can't be much else, this one is strangely haunting. It's not just an easy listen. It stays with you when you're done listening. I'm not entirely sure why. The lyrics get you thinking, but not that much. The music is OK but you're unlikely to find it spinning in your mind long after the last track. But somehow, the album stays. It's quite an achievement.
I think this album may well surprise a few people. It crosses the pop/classical/rock boundaries. Haunting violins give way to Wings-style rock beats in "Only Mamma Knows", the first real indication that this isn't pure pop - but then we return to the pop again. At times one could be listening to a 20-something artist charting today. Then we return to the 60s and pure Macca.
McCartney's musicality (remember that opera?) comes out towards the end of the album with short successive tracks that have an almost suite like feel to them. This is, I think, no accident. He's rationalising. Putting things in their place. Remembering and performing. It's not a forced album.
The biggest credit is that, whilst being retrospective, this is not a major statement. It's not a wallow. It feels personal yet it's presented as something for McCartney to use and not for his audience. It's deliciously simple.
Try - you might just be surprised.
There are several versions of this album; there is the standard CD, the CD with a 3 track bonus CD and then there is the CD with the 3 bonus tracks and a bonus DVD. I'd say the one with the DVD is best as it has footage from the secret shows he did in June 2007; I am in this DVD as I was at the London one.
Anyway, as for reviewing this album, although I have been into Paul for 20 years now, I am still able to be objective and so here is my review of this, his most recent offering to date. I will just review the standard 13 tracks as not everyone is interested in spending the extra on the bonus CD/DVD.
1. Dance Tonight. This was released as a single and you can see the video for it (Starring Natalie Portman) on Youtube. Very interesting as Paul plays the mandolin for a different sound. It's a hoe-down, family time sort of feel. Great, simple song.
2. Ever Present Past. This is also a single, which has a video on Youtube. Paul has been doing a lot of reflecting and remensicing lately but this is one of the more upbeat tunes; easy to sing along to and to like. Again, simple but nice.
3. See Your Sunshine. This was written for Heather Mills and shows Paul's maturity at still including it and remembering the good times with her, as he released this album when they were still in the middle of their divorce. It's simple and I like it although it's one of the weaker tracks on the album.
4. Only Mama Knows. This was released as a single in America but not over here. It's the most commercial sounding track on the album and very catchy. I like it a lot; it's vibrant, rocky and cool.
5. You Tell Me. This is another remeniscing one, and for me it's another weaker track on the album. The vocals sound too "old man" and delicate for my liking; his voice sounds fragile. The lyrics are sweet and sentimental and make me think of Linda McCartney.
6. Mr Bellamy. Very funky piano intro riff, another interesting track, with lots of points of interest including some sort of horn playing just before the piano riff, and it's the 3rd most commercial sounding track on the album
7. Gratitude is another one which, although I don't think Paul has publically admitted it, I am sure is for Heather. The lyrics have some personal meaning for me and I like this track although it's about the 3rd weakest track on this album in terms of commercial value I would say. It's a favourite for me though, and I also heard hints of "60s Paul" with the slghtly more growly vocals in places.
8. Vintage Clothes is another upbeat, funky one which is probably the 2nd most commercial sounding track and would sound great on the radio. Simple and joyful.
9. That Was Me is another remeniscing one, very funky sounding indeed with a cool bassline and a positive feel to it. The idea stems from Paul saying he sometimes looks at all the stuff he's done and has a "Bloody hell, that was me!" moment. A brilliant track.
10. Feet In The Clouds finishes the medley of Vintage Clothes and That Was Me as all three tracks run smoothly into eachother. A good track which is easy to like although not very commercial sounding. One more for the Paul McCartney enthusiasts I think and one of the weaker tracks on the album for this reason.
11. House Of Wax is brilliant as it's not what you'd expect from Macca. I never stereotyped him but a lot of people have him down as some soppy balladeer. I think this track shows a fascinating side of him to people who had not already seen more than 1 dimension to him. It's dark and quite creepy; I can imagine it being played in some psychological thriller movie. Some haunting guitar riffs which literally made my hairs stand on end and gave me goosebumps. Beautiful.
12. The End OF The End is a semi morbid song which asks people to celebrate Paul's life rather than mourn his passing when the inevitable and unthinkable happens. Not very commercial, and hard for me to listen to for this reason but still a good song.
13. Nod Your Head was released as a single and there is a video on Youtube, well there are 2 different ones. Upbeat, wth more "60s Paul" screamy vocals which show he still has it going on. Simple and fun.
hmm well i was intrested in listening to this album as mcartney was getting alot of play at the time on both tv and radio.
The track dance into the light was quite a catchy little song that i thought was not bad but it fails to really take of, as though it could of been good but just sounds to weak.
i think this sums up this whole album. you can tell the desperation when its then given away free in a sunday paper, ok maybe thats agreat marketing ploy to sell more records and get your music heard but i for one am against this type of thing as it hurts the artists who struggle to sell records ( why buy a lbum when someones giving it away free ) the artists who do this all seem to be millionairs and sets a poor trail for thoes coming behind them.
anyway back to the album i was very disapointed it sounds very chessy very lame very corny and lacks any real substance, lyrically its poor. and just when you think oh this bit is ok and retreats into poor lyrics and music again.
The tunes are not very memorable. there is one song ( a slow song that was quite nice but thats about all that appeals on this album. if you got it free in the sunday paper then you cant complain. if you paid for this then you were ripped off.
its hard to belive mcartney wa in the beatles a john lennon he isnt, its a shame as some of he's solo work is good but this doesnt make the grade ......
There are a lot of opinions floating around about Paul McCartney, that he's not made anything worth listening to since Let It Be, that he wasn't the talent in the band, etc etc. Well this album proves all of those wrong.
Memory Almost Full is his most recent album, and while people will want to believe it's no different to the kind of stuff he's been doing for years, this is modern stuff.
Another reason people have dismissed this album is because of the first single "Dance Tonight", some liked it, some thought it was simple and boring. Well personally I think it's the least creative and the worst song on the album. He explains that it was intended to be very simple.
However, this is nothing to judge the album by, songs such as "Ever Present Past" or "Vintage Clothes" are obviously McCartney creations but great ones. However, I think the highlight of the album is "Only Mama Knows", packed full of emotion, a brilliant song.
The song goes up and down, there are fairly fast moving pop songs, then slow moving songs which build up such as "Mr. Bellamy".
Great album generally, don't believe the [anti-]hype.
Recorded in secret whilst still with the Beatles, "McCartney" is like a breath of fresh air for Paul, who shines and takes things at his own pace, and truly experiments on some tracks. Be warned it's nothing like the Beatles, and be warned that some tracks aren't instantly accessible, but it is still a brilliant album, if purely for songs such as Junk, Maybe I'm Amazed and That Would Be Something. Not as good as the follow up- "Ram" but still worthy a place in your record collection should you have a desire for classic albums.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Dance Tonight
2 Ever Present Past
3 See Your Sunshine
4 Only Mama Knows
5 You Tell Me
6 Mr. Bellamy
8 Vintage Clothes
9 That Was Me
10 Feet In The Clouds
11 House Of Wax
12 The End of the End
13 Nod Your Head