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PAUL MCCARTNEY - CHAOS & CREATION IN THE BACKYARD - EMI
Record Rating: *****

Paul McCartney - Chaos & Creation In The Backyard - EMI After The Beatles disbanded in 1970, while his fellow ex-bandmates busied themselves with various high-profile projects (John Lennon with Imagine, George Harrison with All Things Must Pass), Paul McCartney climbed into a van with his wife and a few players and gigged at university student unions for what amounted to spare change. But it paid off. By the end of the seventies, with hits like Maybe Iím Amazed, My Love and Live & Let Die ~ he was one of the biggest draws in rock music; proving that none of his former bandmates could touch his knack for creating perfect singles.

And heís been on a roll ever since. After delivering a brilliant album in 2001 (Driving Rain) ~ itís follow up Chaos & Creation In The Backyard shows that McCartney is in a late-career creative peak. Itís a quiet disc with complicated emotional shadings and finds McCartney far more comfortable with his own musical past than ever before. The first single, the upbeat Fine Line, was released in late August, ahead of this albumís release and reached #20 in the UK. The album entered the UK charts last week at #10 and peaked at #6 in the US; McCartney's highest position there since 1997's Flaming Pie. McCartney plays almost all the instruments on the 13 tracks here, making it somewhat of a throwback to his 70's work. In addition, album also marks the first time in twenty years that McCartney is not involved in producing one of his studio albums. The album is full of up-tempo piano driven pop and tracks like Too Much Rain and Riding To Vanity Fair are instant classics. The standout tracks ~ This Never Happened Before is a lovely ballad that could be an outtake from the Beatles White Album - And Anyway spins a simple chord into a soaring arrangement that recalls the final suite of Let It Be. The set was instead produced by Radiohead and U2 collaborator Nigel Godrich ~ at George Martin's suggestion ~ and heís managed to actually update McCartneyís sound to be relevant for the kids of today.

This is the album that generations of critics, who derided his silly love songs, have been asking him to make ~ even a recent issue of Time magazine breathlessly declared this to be McCartney's first album that matters since the Beatles broke up 35 years ago. And itís true ~ this is definitely up there with anything the Beatles released at the very end of their career. Over the course of the last few weeks, Chaos & Creation In The Backyard has become part of my DNA, never again to leave my Ipod. It'll be too bad if I'm the only one who ever hears it, though. Too bad for you, I mean.

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