Review by
BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN
for MYSTERY ISLAND PUBLICATIONS
December 5, 2014


The Art of McCartney is a new, two disc, eclectic compilation featuring a wide range of talent covering classic McCartney tunes. There's a good deal to cover, so let's take it track by track.

Disc 1:

Maybe I’m Amazed by Billy Joel.

Billy Joel does a solid, decent, job with “Amazed,” and I think Joel fans will dig it, but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table for me.

Things We Said Today by Bob Dylan.

Dylan’s take on “Things” is heartfelt and wonderful, sounds like it rolled straight in off the American prairie. This is just the kind of thing I want to hear. Dylan captures the spirit of the original song but makes it his own for this particular performance. Nice.

Band on the Run by Heart.

Heart is obviously a talented band … but I find the Wilson sisters a little too laid back on this. I still like it, but it lacks power. I don’t understand why they didn’t punch it in the gut. If they were shooting for understated, they achieved their goal.

Junior’s Farm by Steve Miller.

Never been a big fan of this song to begin with. If you like Steve Miller, it’s not bad. Just not exciting.

The Long and Winding Road by Cat Stevens.

What. Ever. Cat’s got a great voice. He always has. This isn’t an interesting take on a song that’s sort of problematic to begin with. There’s probably somebody out there that can bring something new to “Winding Road.” It just ain’t Yusuf.

My Love by Harry Connick, Jr.

“My Love” is obviously a perfect tune for Connick to cover. He does what he does best, makes it sound like he’s singing to someone in particular, as opposed to just throwing it out there. We’ll assume this one was for his wife.

However, Harry’s version of “And I Love Her” from a few years ago was even better.

Wanderlust by Brian Wilson.

Such an interesting choice for Brian. He could have taken on any number of well-known McCartney classics and brought something new to the game, but his take on “Wanderlust” raises the song to a whole new level. It’s beautiful, lush, and brilliant. Exactly what you’d expect from a Brian Wilson tune, and just so you know I’m not giving Brian an automatic “A,” when it comes to cover songs, I really didn’t care for his version of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” (during a Harrison tribute). Maybe because the Harrison performance was live and poorly recorded. I don’t know. That didn’t work for me. But “Wanderlust” is A+ all the way, easily the best recording from The Art of McCartney.

Bluebird by Corinne Bailey Rae.

“Wanderlust” leads in nicely to Rae’s vocal on “Bluebird,” the second best song on this compilation, and for the sure, the sexiest. Really nicely done.

Yesterday by Willie Nelson.

Producer Ralph Sall did a good job putting these four songs together in a row (My Love to Yesterday), creating the sweet spot of the album. I’ve heard so many covers of “Yesterday,” and it seems like a softball pitch for Willie, but damn if he doesn’t bring it everything he’s got. His voice is in top shape as well as his superb guitar work.

Junk by Jeff Lynne.

Lynne probably thought it would be cool to record a lesser known tune from McCartney’s first album, but it’s not a great song to begin with and not much new to see here, folks.

When I’m 64 by Barry Gibb.

Eh, kind of cute, not much dif’ from the original.

Every Night by Jamie Cullum.

“Every Night” is one of my favorite Paul McCartney songs, but I don’t know who Jamie Cullum is and I feel kind of whatever about that. Nice voice, though.

Venus and Mars / Rock Show by Kiss.

Awesome. Sounds like it was written for Kiss all along.

Let Me Roll It by Paul Rodgers.

He makes it sound like Bad Company, so that’s kind of cool.

Helter Skelter by Roger Daltry.

The exact song you would want to hear from Daltry, as McCartney allegedly wrote “Skelter” to compete with the Who’s hard rock format. This should be great … but it just sort of misses. If you like to hear an old man screech, this one’s for you.

Helen Wheels by Def Leppard.

I don’t know why these clowns are even on the album, but you’d think they would at least rock as hard as they could while we throw beer bottles at ‘em. Fail.

Hello Goodbye by The Cure (featuring James McCartney).

Another song I’ve never been a big fan of, but this track is fun. Definitely sounds like the Cure, but not sure what Paul’s son brings to the mix. Could be one of the voices caterwauling in there somewhere. But don’t get me wrong. It’s a keeper.

Disc 2:

Live and Let Die by Billy Joel.

Billy opens both records? What? Sall must be a big Joel fan.

Again, it’s faithful, (with some added nasally sounds) but that’s about it. Yawn.

Let it Be by Chrissie Hynde.

Terrific song and Chrissie’s got a good voice, but I’d sure like to see what Kesha could have done with this one. Know what I’m sayin’?

Jet by Robin Zander & Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick.

There is nothing not to love about this track. <3

Although, I’ll say this: Shonen Knife does an even better version.

Hi Hi Hi by Joe Elliott.

Okay, here’s another clue for you all. This is just Def Leppard again. Wake me up in three minutes.

Letting Go by Heart.

Okay, the Wilsons kick into gear for “Letting Go,” better than “Band on the Run.” Groovy.

But really, instead of letting Heart dial in two songs, Sall could have reached out to more talent in Canada.

Maybe he doesn’t have Avril on speed dial.

Hey Jude by Steve Miller.

Okay, bro. I’m listenin’. But seriously, doesn’t anybody have Britney’s phone number?

Listen to What the Man Said by Owl City.

For a band that started out on Myspace, I’ve gotta give ‘em props. Adam Young brings a fresh take to this song.

Got to Get You Into My Life by Perry Farrell.

Perry’s the lead singer for Jane’s addiction, so I thought maybe this would have a little more gusto, but I don’t hate it.

Drive My Car by Dion.

This is the cool stuff. If the Beatles were from the Bronx … Beep beep and beep beep, yeah …

Definitely a highlight.

Lady Madonna by Allen Toussaint.

Sounds like the Schoolhouse Rock version of the Beatles.

Let ‘em In by Dr. John.

Dr. John has such a cool voice; all you have to do is let him sing and play the piano and you’ll be all right. “Let ‘em In” was the perfect McCartney song for John to do his thing.

So Bad by Smokey Robinson.

Makes total sense that Smokey would cut this record. I’m sure Paul loves it; I haven’t decided yet.

No More Lonely Nights by The Airborne Toxic Event.

These guys are from the Los Feliz area of my old hometown and they sound like it. For that, it works for me personally, so it should for you, too.

Eleanor Rigby by Alice Cooper.

Too faithful. Too respectful. “Rigby” is a strange and somewhat creepy song. I was hoping Cooper would have brought the grave into the light, so to speak. Sounds as if he just left the bar with Billy Joel.

Come and Get It by Toots Hibbert with Sly & Robbie.

I don’t know who any of these guys are, and I burned out on reggae somewhere around the time UB40 started torturing people with “Red, Red, Wine.” However … this works. I’ve always loved this song, and Toots and crew bring on something new and fun. Good job.

On the Way by B.B. King.

This is a track that I really wanted to like, and I don’t dislike it, but “On the Way” has yet to grab me.

Birthday by Sammy Hagar.

Oh my. Sammy probably kills this one when he’s going karaoke in Mexico.

Okay, here’s the deal. We have 36 tracks for a double album, which much like the legendary Beatles White album could be cut in half to a single player.

If I carried the sword, which I do for the sake of this article, the play list would cut as follows:

1. Maybe I’m Amazed by Billy Joel
2. Things We Said Today by Bob Dylan
3. My Love by Harry Connick, Jr.
4. Wanderlust by Brian Wilson
5. Bluebird by Corinne Bailey Rae
6. Yesterday by Willie Nelson
7. Every Night by Jamie Cullum
8. Venus and Mars / Rock Show by Kiss
9. Let Me Roll It by Paul Rodgers
10. Helter Skelter by Roger Daltry
11. Hello Goodbye by The Cure (featuring James McCartney)
12. Jet by Robin Zander and Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick
13. Letting Go by Heart
14. Listen to What the Man Says by Owl City
15. Drive My Car by Dion
16. Let ‘em In by Dr. John
17. No More Lonely Nights by The Airborne Toxic Event
18. Come and Get It by Toots Hibbert with Sly & Robbie

If you burn that set on a disc, you'll still have room to shoehorn the other two covers mentioned in this review: "And I Love Her" by Harry Connick, Jr. and "Jet" by Shonen Knife, both from 2009.

You're welcome!

All right, don't forget, alls you needs is LOVE, baby.

BMH


"Art of McCartney Review" by Bradley Mason Hamlin © 2014 by Mystery Island Publications.
Published: 12.05.14 by Mystery Island. All rights reserved.