Album reviews: Paul McCartney | Morcheeba

Sir Paul McCartney. Picture: Getty

Sir Paul McCartney. Picture: Getty

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Regardless of his rather well regarded activities prior to 1970, Paul McCartney’s recent years are a testament to keeping yourself busy in your elder days.

Paul McCartney

New,

Virgin, £14.99

Star rating: * * * *

Now 71, he recently performed alongside Nirvana’s surviving members, is onto his fifth album since the millennium, and still busies himself playing arena concerts, not least among them the London Olympics Opening Ceremony and the Queen’s Buckingham Palace Diamond Jubilee Concert last year. All this, and he remarried for the second time.

It’s unsurprising, then, that this new record should have been created by the voguish producers behind the successes of Adele and Bruno Mars (Mark Ronson), Kings of Leon and Laura Marling (Ethan Johns), and Adele (Paul Epworth) – not to mention George Martin’s son Giles. McCartney still seems intent on honing the quality of his music wherever possible, and the tussle between this urge and the inherent classicism of hearing his voice and his typically guitar-and-drums orientated arrangements largely works here. The result is an album which breaks no new ground but which will no doubt please long-standing, musically nostalgic fans of his output as much as it will impress others with the freshness of its sound.

The barroom-rocking Save Us hurtles in on a chopping guitar line and a tense organ that recalls the urgency, if not the unique quality, of Live And Let Die. Alligator is a piece of folksy whimsy built on that lolloping Beatles beat which Oasis co-opted in their later years. On My Way To Work and the title track retrace different flavours of A Day In The Life’s storytelling, and the fluffy country-pop sheen of Everybody Out There is offset by Hosanna’s dustbowl grind. From the sweet, unexpected bluegrass nostalgia of Early Days to Martin’s almost hip-hop treatment of Appreciate, these new adventures are largely a success.

David Pollock

Download this: Early Days, Appreciate

POP

Morcheeba

Head Up High

Pias, £13.99

Star rating: * * *

Although brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey continued through the intervening decade, Morcheeba were, to all intents and purposes, defunct following 2002’s fourth album Charango and the departure of vocalist Skye Edwards. This eighth record is the second since bridges were mended between the trio, and it seems like an artefact from another time, most notably in the shine of old-school urban rhythms which form the backdrop – including Under The Ice’s lush trip-hop and To The Grave’s laid-back drum ’n’ bass. Yet Edwards’ vocal really sets things off, and takes tracks like If I Fall Apart to new, more soulful levels.

DP

Download this: Make Believer, If I Fall Apart

The Saturdays

Living For The Weekend

Polydor, £12.99

Star rating: * *

The Saturdays’ fourth album follows their first No 1 single (after 14 attempts) with What About Us featuring Sean Paul. The song, which opens the album, proves to be its undoubted highlight, purely on the basis of his incongruous reggae toast and a slightly more forceful generic EDM backing than prevails elsewhere. Otherwise this is music designed to slosh about in the background in retail park changing rooms or when a prime time reality show needs a scene of celebration soundtracked, lightened only by the mood of overdriven optimism and Disco Love’s amusingly non-disco offer to “take me back in time to 1979 / we’ll be with the Bee Gees, baby”.

DP

Download this: What About Us

JAZZ

Julie London

Eight Classic Albums Volume 2

Real Gone Jazz B00E0G5U9G, internet only

Star rating: * * *

After topping the charts with Cry Me A River and releasing the sublime debut album Julie Is Her Name in 1955, London was kept busy for the next 15 years by her record company – but only really produced two more must-have LPs. One of these, Julie ...At Home (1959), is included in this chronological collection of her output from 1959-1962 and is a jazz classic, featuring her with a swinging small group combo. It’s the only one to come close to the charms of the gorgeous Julie Is Her Name albums (on Volume 1) which showcased her sultry, whispery voice in its ideal intimate setting. Otherwise, she contends with generally bland strings arrangements, intrusive brass and general mediocrity.

Alison Kerr

Download this: You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To

FOLK

Madison Violet

Come As You Are Live

True North Records TND571, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

This is beautifully sung by Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac, accompanied by a double bass player and backing vocalist. The two young Canadians harmonise closely with great sincerity and a lack of pretension, and colour their songs with two guitars, dobro, mandolin, fiddle and harmonica, while they roll out their positive vibe. Direct and uncomplicated but well performed, this is a version of country with little heed of Nashville’s brashness – an all-acoustic cry from the heart.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Small Of My Heart

CLASSICAL

James Turnbull

The English Oboe: Rediscovered

Champs Hill CHRCD051), £11.99

Star rating: * * * *

This album brings together music originally written for the oboe or transcribed for it, all from English composers. Edmund Rubbra’s Sonata in C is a strikingly fluid work, that holds one’s attention, while contemporary music by John Casken and Edward Longstaff is more stretching for performer and audience.

Thomas Attwood Walmisley’s Sonatina No 1 is the musical highlight of this recording. Walmisley wrote in the mid-Victorian Anglican tradition, as an organist and professor of music in Cambridge, but this is a delightfully tuneful secular work well worth the rediscovery.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Sonatina No 1

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