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Friday , November 16 2018

John starts long goodbye

McCartney not done yet

Paul McCartney, “Egypt Station” (Capitol)

Let’s get the titillation out of the way: Yes, Paul McCartney has a song on his new album in which he sings, “I just want it fuh you,” but it certainly sounds like something else. Maybe it is. And, no, the septuagenarian knight isn’t just now discovering his randy roots – there are numerous examples throughout his Beatles and solo careers. Just what was it that he wanted to do in that road?

Now, can we get past that? Because, honestly, what’s most impressive is not what the 76-year-old sees – or sings about – when he turns out the light. The best news is that one of the world’s greatest pop songwriters can still break some sonic ground and unearth gems six decades into his career. “Fuh You”, for all its juvenile smarm and charm, might be what gets listeners in the door but it’s nowhere close to the best thing on “Egypt Station”.

For starters, candor of another kind that sets this collection apart. “I Don’t Know” has the hallmarks of classic McCartney, with its stately piano, Beatlesque drum and melodic bass. But lyrically he trades his trademark optimism for regret and rumination: “I’ve got so many lessons to learn,” he intones. “What am I doing wrong? I don’t know.”

“Happy With You” offers “Blackbird”-style finger-picking and foot-tapping. Yet the man who was jailed in Japan for pot possession now sings, “I sat around all day, I liked to get stoned. I used to get wasted but these days I don’t because I’m happy with you.”

The master songcrafter is not above a little inscrutability. In the open, folky expanse of “Confidante”, he sings to a former friend or lover, “In our imaginary world where butterflies wear army boots and stomp around the forest chanting long-lost anthems.” It’s a callback to his fallen, former bandmate, John Lennon. It even sounds like something that might have come from an eyeball-to-eyeball songwriting session with Lennon.

If more cheek is what you seek, it can be found on “Come on to Me”. It’s a McCartney-by-numbers, piano-pounding bluesy rocker with a solid melody and groove. “If you come on to me, will I come on to you?” he sings amid four-on-the-floor drums, harmonica, brass and sinewy bass. It leaves a trifle more to the imagination, which might be best for family listening.

“Egypt Station” proves McCartney is not done. Nor should he be, when he can take some risks, capitalize on his strengths and, at times, rival the heights of strongest solo work. Come for the adolescent yearning, but stay for a rewarding, mature ride with stops old and new. It’s certain to offer something, um, fuh you.

Also:

LOS ANGELES: Elton John took fans down memory lane as he launched his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” world tour that will bring his touring career to an end.

Kicking off in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Saturday night, John, 71, played his greatest hits in the first of more than 300 shows around the world planned for the next three years.

John announced in January that he wanted to quit traveling to focus on his family, saying his priorities had changed after becoming a parent to two children with his husband David Furnish. (Agencies)

By Jeff Karoub

 

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