Released: 12 September 2005 (UK), 13 September 2005 (US)
Paul McCartney: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, Moog synthesizer, harmonium, autoharp, flugelhorn, melodica, spinet, cello, vibrachimes, tubular bells, drums, tambourine, maracas, shaker, guiro, gong, triangle, toy glockenspiel, percussion block, tape loops
Nigel Godrich: acoustic guitar, tape loops
Jason Falkner: electric guitar, classical guitar
Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray: acoustic guitar
James Gadson: drums
Joey Waronker: bass drum, bongos, shaker
Abe Laboriel Jr: percussion block, tambourine
Pedro Eustache: duduk
Millennia Ensemble: strings, brass
Los Angeles Music Players: strings
How Kind Of You
At The Mercy
Friends To Go
Too Much Rain
A Certain Softness
Riding To Vanity Fair
Promise To You Girl
This Never Happened Before
I’ve Only Got Two Hands (hidden track)
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard was Paul McCartney‘s 13th solo studio album. It was produced by Nigel Godrich, and recorded over a two year period in London and Los Angeles.
McCartney began recording the project with David Kahne, who had produced Driving Rain and the live albums Back In The US and Back In The World. The pair recorded around eight songs together before the sessions were scrapped.
Nigel Godrich was appointed at the suggestion of George Martin. The pair began their collaboration by recording the songs This Never Happened Before and Follow Me.
My initial reaction was one of terror, not only because it’s a very important person, but I really wasn’t sure how willing he would be to get his hands dirty.
These early recordings were made with McCartney’s touring band. However, Godrich encouraged him to play most of the instruments himself, and to make a more simple-sounding album.
First week, I came in with my live band, thinking that might be the way we’d go. But he started to intimate toward the end of the week that he wanted, as he put it, to take me out of my safety zone, to do something different.
Godrich’s aim was to break the songwriting and recording routine in which he felt McCartney had become stuck. His often blunt appraisal of the songs caused some tension between the two, but ultimately resulted in a more open working relationship between the musician and producer.
There were some tense moments making the album. Nigel wasn’t sycophantic; he said from the off, ‘I warn you, I know what I like.’ There was some heated discussion. There’s a song called Riding To Vanity Fair where we got down to [snarls] ‘I like it!’, ‘I don’t like it!’, ‘Well I like it!’ But then I realised there’s no point in charging him down like that; I should listen. We actuallly moved on to why he didn’t like it – ‘The first line’s good, but after that…’ ‘Oh, how about this then?’.
At the time, McCartney’s public profile was high, due in part to his marriage to Heather Mills, and celebrated performances at the 2004 Glastonbury Festival and the following year’s Live 8 concert. Godrich, meanwhile, was a Grammy Award-winning producer who had worked with Radiohead, Beck, U2 and REM.
The third session, he came back and played me a song, and I was like, ‘Fucking hell, that’s so much better.’ That was At The Mercy. He said, ‘I think I’m remembering how to do this!’ Maybe he was expressing the concept of having to better what he’s doing because someone was going to look at him and say, ‘Not sure,’ rather than just blindly taking everything that he proffers.
In a bid to stop the album leaking onto file-sharing networks, advance promotional copies were issued with the title Album and the artist’s name as Pete Mitchell. Copies were watermarked and the recipient’s name was printed on the disc. The measures were largely successful, although it did find its way online two days prior to the official release date.
A single, Fine Line, was issued in August 2005, a month before the album. It reached number 20 in the UK, but failed to chart in America. The b-sides were Comfort Of Love and Growing Up Falling Down.
Critical reaction to Chaos And Creation In The Backyard was broadly positive, and it sold 357,000 copies in the USA in the first 12 weeks. It debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 with sales of 91,544 copies, and was nominated for two Grammys, for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
In the United Kingdom it spent three weeks on the albums chart, peaking at number 10. According to EMI, Chaos And Creation has sold more than 1.3 million copies worldwide.
A CD/DVD Special Edition of the album was released, featuring McCartney’s name as an ambigram on the cover, and a 20-page booklet including lyrics. The 51-minute DVD was titled Between Chaos And Creation, and contained a 30-minute documentary, a studio performance of Fine Line, a 12-minute animated film titled Line Art, and a menu sequence to the song How Kind Of You.
Promotion for the album was heavy, with a three-month tour of the US and Canada, known as the US Tour, which was became McCartney’s fastest selling tour to date. There was also a a special edition of Billboard magazine, and a promotional concert held at Abbey Road Studios, called Chaos And Creation At Abbey Road.
McCartney granted a range of other interviews to print and radio outlets, including the BBC’s Front Row and Sold On Song. Parlophone also released an interview disc.
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard was McCartney’s final rock album release for EMI, although the classical album Ecce Cor Meum followed in 2006. In March the following year he signed with Hear Music, a subsidiary of Starbucks.
The album contained a hidden track, I’ve Only Got Two Hands, which followed the final listed song Anyway. Furthermore, the Japanese edition featured a bonus song, She’s So Beautiful, which was offered as a free download to those who purchased the album at Target stores in the US.
Six songs recorded during the Chaos And Creation sessions were released in a range of formats.
- Comfort Of Love: available on the Fine Line CD single
- Growing Up Falling Down: available on the Fine Line CD single
- Summer Of ’59: available on the Jenny Wren 7″ vinyl single
- This Loving Game: available on the Jenny Wren CD single
- I Want You To Fly: available on the Jenny Wren CD single
- She Is So Beautiful: available on Japanese edition of album
A live version of Jenny Wren, recorded live at Abbey Road, was also released as an exclusive download from McCartney’s official website.
The cover of Chaos And Creation In The Backyard featured a 1962 photograph of McCartney taken by his brother Michael. The image was taken from a window of the McCartneys’ family home at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, and featured Paul playing a guitar in the garden.
The photograph was originally known as Paul Under Washing, but was later retitled Our Kid Through Mum’s Net Curtains.
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard was also issued on vinyl, with four bonus 12″ square prints of line drawing.