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Which is Paul's true "comeback" album?
9 January 2013
12.21am
Ben Ramon
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I know a lot of people are of the opinion that Macca hasn't put out any truly decent material since, oh, 1973 (or even earlier), which of course is untrue. But several albums have been touted as his "comeback record", the earliest I can think of being Flowers In The Dirt, which does nothing for me personally. Listening to it (and Memory Almost Full) earlier today, I started to wonder when exactly it was that Paul truly regained the respect that he had lost in the late '70s and most of the '80s.

A lot of people seem to go with Flaming Pie, and I can see their logic, but to me it's always been a bit disappointing for its enduring status as one of his best ever albums. Chaos and Creation, instead, would be my pick. The whole atmospheric, subdued, personal style CaCitB has was a fantastic move and it's no wonder it was critically acclaimed, although it is something of a slow burner to first get into. The melodies don't leap out and smack you in the face like they would on any other good McCartney record; but when they do sink in, combined with Nigel Godrich's gloomy, angular production, it's not at all irrational to rate some of them among his best ever solo songs (Fine Line, Too Much Rain and Anyway particularly). What annoys me about this as a "comeback", though, is that Paul didn't capitalise on the winning formula of Chaos; he eschewed the introspective atmosphere (musically, at least) for Memory Almost Full. I like a lot of the songs on MAF but I'm positive Godrich would have brought something more to it had he produced again.

I've also heard Off The Ground and Driving Rain described as "comebacks"; not listened to the former and thought the latter was dreadful. What does the forum think?

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9 January 2013
3.18pm
Von Bontee
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In my lifetime, during the period while I was paying attention, I can only vouch for Tug of War and later Flowers in the Dirt being hyped as "comebacks" upon release. Both of them had followed a few years of lesser efforts, relative chart inactivity, and general lowered expectations.

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
9 January 2013
4.00pm
Zig
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To me, "comeback" is a relative term. What or where was he coming back from? Was his career ever in the toilet? Was he rendered unfit or unable to perform anymore and suddenly was OK?

John's Double Fantasy could be considered a comeback album beacause he took himself out of the game for about 5 years before that. To me, that is a comeback. Others may define it differently.

Personally, I did not (and still don't) like McCartney II. Does that mean I considered his next album to be a comeback? No. I understand that every performer goes through ebbs and tides. But I think our Paulie always was, is now and always will be OK.

I will be curious to read others' thoughts on what they consider his comeback album to be. I will be even more curious to read what others think he had to come back from. 

a-hard-days-night-paul-7

 

 

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9 January 2013
4.26pm
Inner Light
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'Tug Of War' was probably his comeback album. It was digitally recorded and had some nice tunes on it. Then I feel he went down again starting with 'Pipes Of Peace' (though the video of that song is excellent)

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9 January 2013
6.33pm
meanmistermustard
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I like how George said when asked about his comeback in '87 that he had never gone away, just that he was doing other things.

Have any of Pauls been come back albums, i suppose its based on youre definition of comeback. For Tug of War it had been less than 2 years since McCartney 2, there was only 3 years between Press To Play and Flowers in the Dirt but inbetween we got the All the Best greatest hits LP and the Once Upon A Long Ago single so it wasnt 3 years of nothing. Flaming Pie was after the Anthology project which took up a couple of years. So really in all this time Pauls output has actually been pretty consistent, so the question for me is is there a true comeback album by Paul. It would only be a comeback if going by chart or criticial success.

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
9 January 2013
6.34pm
GeorgeTSimpson
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I think he was great until the pipes of peace, there were some great songs after that but his true full comeback album was flaming pie. Aftr that he was as good as in the 70 and 80s

Once there was a way to get back homewards. Once there was a way to get back home; sleep pretty darling do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby
9 January 2013
7.07pm
Von Bontee
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Meanmm, TOW was perceived as a "comeback" by the critical establishment because it had some high-profile work - Paul collaborating with Ringo and George Martin! - and because it followed a few years of albums that weren't well-received, even though quite a few hit singles resulted in the interim. Another way of defining a comeback is an album that does what Cloud Nine did: become a huge hit, the first in a long while. A definition that George apparently didn't agree with!

Me, I thought McCartney II was really good. (And STILL haven't heard all of Tug of War! And didn't care for what little of Flowers in the Dirt I heard.) I suppose people can (like George) define "comeback" any way it pleases them, really.

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
9 January 2013
7.12pm
SatanHimself
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I'd vote for 'Flowers In The Dirt'.  His 1980s output was sliding into mediocrity and 'Press To Play' was a complete *thud*.  Getting a proper band together and writing with Elvis Costello gave him a shot in the arm, and the success of the album alerted a newer generation of his legacy.  Leading into it was with the Russian album, and it was followed by the very first (!) MTV Unplugged album, 'Tripping The Live Fantastic' and 'Liverpool Oratorio'.  

So while it can be strongly argued that he never really required a "comeback" per se, 'Flowers In The Dirt' is a good one.

E is for 'Ergent'.
9 January 2013
7.39pm
meanmistermustard
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Flowers in the Dirt also brought Paul back into touring after nearly 9 years out. The collaborations between Elvis Costello and Paul are up there with the best material of Pauls solo career.

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9 January 2013
8.06pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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To a McCartney fan, there was never a comeback. Even his weaker albums had good material, and there never was a long period of time without something of substance.

Having said that, to the outside world there were a number of comebacks:

- Band on the Run and the "Wings Over America" tour McCartney was universally panned by the critics in his early solo years (record sales notwithstanding). Then suddenly, the Rolling Stone album of the year and the cover of Time magazine ("McCartney Comes Back")!

- Tug of War. A period of critical decline followed Band on the Run; and then .... Tug of War. A critical and commercial success (5 stars from Rolling Stone ["masterpiece"]!)

- Then, another period of decline (8 years or so) followed by Flowers in the Dirt, a strong album with Elvis Costello supported by (IMO) his greatest concert tour during which he pulled out for the first time a treasure trove of Beatle songs some of which had NEVER been played live (Sgt Pepper, etc...).

The album was critically very well received but wasn't much of a commercial success.

After that, Driving Rain was relatively weak (with nevertheless some solid material like "Lonesome Road"), but the majority of albums were strong and well received by the critics, though none have been big sellers (by McCartney standards). I don't think Flaming Pie, Chaos and Creation, Memory AF, ... could be considered comebacks. [I love Flaming Pie and Chaos and Creation, but that's besides the point].

So that's my take on his "comebacks"!

 

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9 January 2013
10.23pm
Funny Paper
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I hate to be a stick in the mud (what's the Britishism for that one I wonder?), but as far as I'm concerned, Paul never came back

Wings at the Speed of Sound was his "exit album".  After that, I think he became too rich, too comfortable, too set in his ways, too bourgeois (and good God, if he was already getting that way in the 80s and 90s, he's even more so in this new century).  In the early years spanning the first McCartney solo album up through Wings at the Speed of Sound, Paul was HUNGRY, and therefore more creative. 

Since then, he has had the odd good song here and there -- and the trajectory downward has not been precipitously plummeting but rather dwindling (to paraphrase T.S. Eliot -- "this is the way McCartney ends, not with a bang but a whimper") -- but these smatterings of quality these past 35 years seem to reflect, alas, exceptions that prove the rule.

 

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9 January 2013
11.41pm
Inner Light
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Funny Paper said
I hate to be a stick in the mud (what's the Britishism for that one I wonder?), but as far as I'm concerned, Paul never came back

Wings at the Speed of Sound was his "exit album".  After that, I think he became too rich, too comfortable, too set in his ways, too bourgeois (and good God, if he was already getting that way in the 80s and 90s, he's even more so in this new century).  In the early years spanning the first McCartney solo album up through Wings at the Speed of Sound, Paul was HUNGRY, and therefore more creative. 

Since then, he has had the odd good song here and there -- and the trajectory downward has not been precipitously plummeting but rather dwindling (to paraphrase T.S. Eliot -- "this is the way McCartney ends, not with a bang but a whimper") -- but these smatterings of quality these past 35 years seem to reflect, alas, exceptions that prove the rule.

 

 I agree though from that period his comeback album if any was 'Band On The Run' especially after 'Wild Life' and 'Redrose Speedway'. McCartney has also had a mixture of good and bad songs on his albums. When they are good, they are great but when they are bad, for me at least they are hard to listen to and appreciate.

Your point in bold above is well taken. I have said this before, he has made himself to accessible. The mystique that once surrounded him is gone. He is too interested in being in the spotlight and loves attention. He has also put out too many albums. I guess he doesn't believe in the 'Less Is More' philosophy. Being prolific doesn't necessarily mean better. He has done some great work and is an excellent songwriter and musician but he needs to re-evaluate what he is doing. He constantly re-invents himself like doing the classical albums, Fireman and Twin Freaks stuff but that doesn't make him better or more talented musician in my opinion.

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10 January 2013
12.53am
unknown
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I don't think he ever went out. There really isn't an album of his which I don't like. I love all his albums up until Press To Play (yeah, I even like GMRTBS), which can be a little draggy. Then there's Off The Ground, which is good, but some of the songs just blend together. I guess I'm not so keen on Liverpool Ontario, Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, Standing Stone, Working Classical, and Ocean's Kingdom, but I'm not into that type of music. It just makes me really anxious, and I don't really consider those Paul McCartney albums anyways.

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10 January 2013
8.54am
Gerard
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I don't intend to be stubborn but Paul never needed a comeback album. Though he had "weaker" albums these aren't enough to hold him around or turn him around, there aren't "rules" to music anyway. Paul is experimenting to get better sometimes these experiments fail.

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10 January 2013
3.45pm
GeorgeTSimpson
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I think mccartney and ram are awsome, wild life and red rose speedway are ordinary, band on the run is awesome, venus and mars and wings at the band on the run are good, wings over america is awesome, london town is good, back to the egg is awesome, mccartney 2 is terrible, tug of war is awesome, pipes of peace is ordinary, press to play (or so) is bad, Back In The USSR is terrible, flowers in the dirt and off the ground are gordinary, flaming pie is awesome, run devil run is bad, and everything since driving rain is good. I think he only had very few really bad albums so there is no real comeback album imo

Once there was a way to get back homewards. Once there was a way to get back home; sleep pretty darling do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby
10 January 2013
7.48pm
Funny Paper
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Gerell said
I don't intend to be stubborn but Paul never needed a comeback album. Though he had "weaker" albums these aren't enough to hold him around or turn him around, there aren't "rules" to music anyway. Paul is experimenting to get better sometimes these experiments fail.

Paul has a great attitude about the whole thing; he cocks his head in that cheery Jay Leno way and says "well why not keep on trying!?  No sense in not doing anything, even if it's not perfect, Auntie Gin would say....! eh wot...?!"  That's wonderful for Paul the human being; but not so great for Paul the once-upon-a-time-but-alas-no-longer excellently perfectionistic musician -- and for his realistically disappointed fans...

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
13 January 2013
5.44pm
The Walrus
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Funny Paper said
I hate to be a stick in the mud (what's the Britishism for that one I wonder?), but as far as I'm concerned, Paul never came back.

I think "stick in the mud" is a very British phrase.

I'd go with Chaos and Creation myself, it's my favourite Paul solo album (though I haven't heard all of them).

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15 January 2013
4.04pm
Zig
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Gerell said
I don't intend to be stubborn but Paul never needed a comeback album.

That is exactly the point I was trying to make upthread.a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

The Walrus said

I'd go with Chaos and Creation myself, it's my favourite Paul solo album (though I haven't heard all of them).

I really need to listen to that album again. The first time I listened to it, I was not impressed at all but I keep seeing it mentioned in favorable terms here in our Forum.

 

 

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

Every Little Thing you buy from Amazon or iTunes will help the Beatles Bible if you use these links: Amazon | iTunes

16 January 2013
9.25pm
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I totally agree with any previous statement that Paul never needed a comeback album.

Still, I have to say that "Flaming Pie" was many quality steps beyond a lot of his 80s and 90s work, although I like "Off The Ground". It just wasn't ground-braking. Also, FP led to a really good 2000s for Paul. I like Chaos and Creation, but my favourite of the decade is Memory Almost Full. Great compositions, nice classic Beatles and Wings style and unusual but well-working production. The sound of the album is classic Paul but still unique, with classical and vintage instruments blending really well with a modern drum sound and things like the autotuned vocal harmonies on "Feet in the Clouds".

I think that the new album he's releasing this year will be sort of a 'comeback album' because it's been more than five years since he released his last album of completely new matereal and I have a good feeling about it...

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16 January 2013
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vonbontee
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I Me Mine said

a modern drum sound and things like the autotuned vocal harmonies on "Feet in the Clouds".

Thanks for saving me some time, I Me Mine...now I know that's one McCartney song I never need to hear!

(Autotune and modern drum sounds must DIE!!)

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