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Judge David Gutierrez • Location: Los Angeles, CA
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The New Macca / God Save the Queen (from itself?)
September 13th, 2005 9:53PM

Lordy, lordy, I have been neglectful to you, my sweet DVD Verdict Blog. Don't worry, Tina, Ike'll make it better.

To many on this site, Tuesday means DVD day. To me, it's that and more - it's new music day.

I'm an old fart at 29. Not chronologically - though to some, let me tell you - but I'm very much the youngest curmedgeon that ever did roam this planet. At four years old, i longed for the good days of wombhood.

Today, I went out to sate my Beatles appetite and bought Paul McCartney's latest album, CHAOS AND CREATION IN THE BACKYARD. Not once, but twice. Target featured an exclusive downloadable track. BestBuy followed suit with a different track of their own. My advice to b-sides and rarities hunters, buy the "Fine Line" 7" from Japan with the three b-sides for something like $13 off Amazon.com.

So, the album.

You know, it's tough to grade these things. With over 20 post-Beatles albums, rating a McCartney's a lot like trying to rate a STAR TREK movie - eventually, these things just get compared within their own internal canon. Did you like STAR TREK 2? Better than 6 wasn't it? But nobody rates that crap against BRAVEHEART or SATURN 3, get me?

So, the album.

Terrific. At 63, I should be as good. Hell, at 30, I should be a quarter as good. A bit lyrically uneven (see the b-side "Comfort of Love" for a prime example), the album doesn't try, it succeeds. Really, there's a visible progression from the incredible FLAMING PIE to the mixed DRIVING RAIN to CHAOS. I think I was among the few DRIVING RAIN fans. Some clunkers ("Heather," the counting in "Driving Rain" - we don't need another "All Together Now," do we? - "Loveing Flame") but overall a nice return for Paul. CHAOS is DRIVING's more successful and better looking cousin. He got it right this time. And, he did most of it by himself. No Costello help, no Eric Stewart help, no backing band, just Paul and an amazing producer.

The "Hot Damn!" tracks: "Jenny Wren," "Friends to Go," "English Tea," "Too Much Rain," and the song stuck on repeat, "A Certain Softness." I've read the other reviews calling "Jenny Wren" a second "Blackbird." That's crap. Similar, but a swell, dark song. "Friends to Go" could be about all his dead bandmates for all I know, but for those who have lost anyone near and dear it'll hit home. "English Tea" is Classic Paul. "A Certain Softness" keeps me thinking of a hot Spanish night with an equally hot girl - she knows who she is, even though she and I were never actuall in Spain together.

The Pretty Good:
"Fine Line" is addictive. Makes me want to buy a Lexus. "Promise to You Girl" has a beautiful all-Paul harmony that harkens back to "Because" (you know, from ABBEY ROAD) then jumps into a song that could easily be from FLAMING PIE. "Anyway" has a captive melody. And I guess, right now, it hits home. Listen for the instrumentals that follow several seconds after the conclusion of "Anyway." Nice little jam solo jam sessions get some play there.

The "eh":
"Follow Me" is okay. Not terrific but a 'nice' track. "Comfort of Love" (the b-side on the "Fine Line" single) is, well, morally corruptive. Really, it's skippable, but I have to own everything in order to fill the voide that is my life - you understand. "This Never Happened Before" is a bit like a Burt Bacharach song. Oddly named, since the lyrics repeat constantly. Hard to believe it's never happened before when it sounds like my CD's broken. Nice backbeat and melody, though.

The Verdict? Go out and by it. I dare you. In fact, if you don't like this album, write me and let me know why - I'd love to hear it.


QUEEN+
Today, I also picked up the Queen+Paul Rodgers concert album, RETURN OF THE CHAMPIONS.

First off, it's worth mentioning that during my teenage years I was a huge, huge Queen fan. Freddie Mercury remains one of the best rock vocalists of all time. Don't believe me? Check out his album with Montserrat Caballe to have your ass handed to you lyrically. I remember kids gave me hell because Freddie looked like a Tom of Finland illustration came to life, but that had nothing to do with the man's voice.

The thing about Queen to me is that they always struck me as a band that was almost there. To clarify, their songs always almost got it right, but somehow missed the mark. Still, I thought they were great. I find it impossible to not air guitar to anything Brian May. But when Freddie died, I figured it was all over. Then Queen released a final album, their bassist, John Deacon retired, and I figured that it was finally over. Little did I know.

Somehow, the remaining Queen guys, May and Roger Taylor, hooked up with Paul Rodgers of Bad Company and decided to tour. Today, they released a recording of their Sheffield show. I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed. It's my fault, really. I shouldn't have expected the Queen that was. I shouldn't have set my self up to think that Mercury could be replaced. Sadly, listening to the album is the same as going out with the girl-you're-in-love-with's uglier sister - it's close, but no where near the real thing.

That said, there is some good loving on this double-cd set. May singing "'39" and "Love of My Life" shook me. Taylor belting out "I'm In Love With My Car," "Radio Ga Ga" and redefining "These Are the Days of Our Lives" are worth the CD price alone. If possible, download them.

I disappointed in myself for even writing that Queen could be bad. But Queen without their queen just ain't Queen at all.

Stupid me. I've got concert tickets to this show when it hits L.A.


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