Reviews

The Prog Chorus: McCartney back on track with new album Egypt Station

Paul McCartney’s latest album Egypt Station is full of invention, great melodies and more than a few flashes of the old brilliance

How many times have you read that Paul McCartney‘s new record is his “best since Band on the Run“? Almost every Macca studio album over the years has been framed as a supposed ‘return to form’ and this hype surely reached its nadir in 1993, when the very average Off The Ground was likened to The Beatles’ ‘White Album’!

The problem is, hearing a new Paul McCartney album is quite exciting. The man has written some of best pop songs ever recorded, and it’s easy to get carried away. Egypt Station has been getting very good reviews, and the question is whether this is reliable testimony or the usual hyperbole. Let’s investigate…

The album starts with a short instrumental, ‘Opening Station’, the sound of a train pulling into a station, framed by an ethereal-sounding choir. This suggests we might be in for some kind of concept album (Roger Waters would have named the tracks ‘Platform 1’, ‘Platform 2’, ‘Platform 3’ etc…) but that turns out not to be the case. The title Egypt Station comes from a painting McCartney did decades ago (used on the cover of the album) and apart from a similar reprise as we approach the end of our ‘journey’ (‘Station II’ is track 15) there’s no common theme or recurring musical motifs as we move from track-to-track (no pun intended).

The songs on the album run the gamut of Macca’s musical style and lyrical concerns. ‘I Don’t Know’ is a self-doubting melancholic piano ballad, ‘Happy With You’ is a rustic, Put It There style acoustic ditty, and the chant-like ‘People Want Peace’ has a lineage that includes McCartney’s own ‘C’Mon People’ and ‘Pipes of Peace’ and goes all the way back to Lennon’s ‘Give Peace A Chance’ (a song that Paul originally got a songwriting credit for). ‘Do It Now’ revisits ‘This One’’s message of Carpe Diem and most excitingly, ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’ is a seven-minute opus that echoes the swagger of multi-part song epics like Band On The Run, or Live And Let Die.

With one notable exception (more on that later), despite working on and off on the album for the last few years, unlike 2013’s New, Egypt Station benefits from the focus of just one producer, namely Greg Kurstin, a man who won four GRAMMYS in 2017 (Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Producer of the Year). Kurstin is an exceptional talent, a multi-instrumentalist who is most associated with Adele, but also produced the Foo Fighters in 2017, as well as Beck‘s near-perfect Colors. On paper, Macca has picked the right man.

In terms of the song selection, I do think there are too many on Egypt Station – 14 in total, if you disregard the very short instrumentals, Opening Station and Station II (and I’m not counting the two bonus tracks on the various exclusive editions around the world). The album would definitely be improved if shorn of its weaker tracks and, similarly, I’m not sure the sequencing is the best, with the long-player feeling quite ‘bottom heavy’ for this writer, with most of the really excellent material on ‘side two’.

Let’s get the weaker material out of the way first. Although undeniably catchy, for me ‘Come On To Me‘ is a rather charmless, tedious and repetitive song, with Paul using his least attractive singing voice (what I call the ‘Move Over Busker’ voice). The chugging ‘Who Cares‘ sounds like average Dire Straits and has McCartney calling people ‘idiots’ constantly and ‘Confidante‘ is rather painful, with the full limitations of Paul’s voice on show (he really only half-sings it) and while the lyric sounds from-the-heart, it’s rather prosaic.

Fuh You‘ is the song that isn’t produced by Greg Kurstin. It is co-written and co-produced with Ryan Tedder, who’s the lead singer of OneRepublic and a producer who has worked with artists like Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, One Direction and Westlife. Even McCartney described Tedder’s working methods as ‘tedious’, but admitted that the goal was to create a ‘hit’. The song is undoubtedly hooky, but ultimately rather generic. The means haven’t really justified the ends; Paul hasn’t had his ‘hit’ and he’s compromised (I was going to use the word ‘soiled’, but that might be overdoing it) a pretty decent record by its inclusion.

Incidentally, Paul only chose to work with Tedder because of a scheduling mix-up with Kurstin. He thought the latter was available but Greg was actually busy working with Beck. Rather than just shrug it off and wait for his producer, McCartney went off to find someone else. We can only speculate on whether this was chomping-at-the-bit enthusiasm or Macca-making-a-point! The deluxe CD bonus track ‘Nothing For Free’ is also written and produced with Tedder, although unlike ‘Fuh You’, it actually has some ramshackle charm, echoing the vibe of songs from the experimental McCartney II, in places.

So the songs mentioned above are the real duffers, but what I like about Egypt Station is that there are a few tracks that, with McCartney in a different frame of mind – or maybe in another producer’s hands – would have been rather ‘skippable’, but here, have relative weaknesses offset by some very charming and enjoyable bits of arrangement and performance.

For example, the potentially anodyne ‘People Want Peace‘ is saved from mediocrity by a fine arrangement. The rhythm section stands out, as do the excellent backing vocals (a five man team, including Greg Kurstin). Paul is in fine voice and the song has a decent melody (nerd alert: I thought an element of the break borrowed from to Press To Play B-side ‘Tough On A Tightrope’).

Similarly, ‘Happy With You‘ is the kind of sentimental ballad that McCartney can write in his sleep, but is lifted by small things. It’s not my favourite lyric in the world, but there is something about the way he sings “I’ve got lots of good things to do” that is rather moving and those flutes at the end of each verse are reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solisbury Hill’ (which is of course a good thing). The toms sound superb (especially at the mini-break after “..like a sailor’s warning”) and the subtle introduction of a string quartet later in the song finishes things off nicely.

Hand in Hand‘ marks the point where Egypt Station up moves up a level in virtually every respect and starts a run of seven consecutive songs (I’m discounting the instrumental Station II) as good as anything I can remember from a McCartney album in a long time. The chord change and melody combination on the opening line of ‘Hand In Hand’ (“…want to tell you my STORY”) is a killer – pure McCartney. This is an intimate track with a lyric of romance and optimism that doesn’t put a foot wrong. The melody is fat-free and Paul’s lyric is pin sharp and avoids the banality that stops the likes of ‘People Want Peace’ and ‘Happy With You’ from securing a seat at the top table. I found ‘Hand In Hand’ incredibly affecting and while Ryan Tedder could probably knock off the lightweight ‘Fuh You’ with virtually anyone, only Paul McCartney writes songs like ‘Hand in Hand’. The King Bansori Indian Flute at the end (played by Pedro Eustache) is beautiful.

For me, Egypt Station also benefits from not being a ‘band’ album. So while Abe Laboriel Jr, Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson and Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens do appear together on a few songs (notably ‘Come On To Me’ and ‘Who Cares’) there are plenty of songs where Paul plays everything (or virtually everything) himself, like the good old days of McCartney/McCartney II and the more recent Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. ‘Dominoes‘ is one such solo effort with Paul playing (amongst other things) drums, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, harmonium and harpsichord. This song is a cracker; a mid-paced acoustic guitar-driven number that has an infectious chorus.

Back In Brazil‘ is one of Paul’s narrative songs which benefits from a really quirky arrangement and interesting instrumentation. Pedro Eustache (he’s all over this album!) again contributes a great performance on Bamboo Flute and Dadook.

‘Do It Now’ sees McCartney back in classic songwriter mode, with some slight Beatlesy elements like the backing vocals/orchestration and the song is followed by a great number ‘Caesar Rock‘. The title is actually one of Paul’s play-on-words: ‘Caesar Rock’ = ‘She’s A Rock’. All of McCartney’s band do actually feature on this one and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Funky guitars, call-and-response chanting (“She got loyalty / Like the royalty / She got symmetry / Anonymity”) and a general air of lets-experiment-and-see-where-this-goes. Any song that ends with the exclamation “She’s got matching teeth” is alright by me (the album was nearly called ‘matching teeth’ apparently).

At this point, two songs from the end, I’d say that Egypt Station is a pretty good Paul McCartney album, but the last two numbers are transformational. They do enough to turn ‘pretty good’ into ‘fantastic’. I’m referring to ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’ and ‘Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link’.

Both songs are full of classic McCartney traits, that in recent years, seem to have been locked in storage. I’m referring to the melodic rocker that can create multi-part epics, medleys, songs that have a number of dynamic shifts within the 4-7 minute pop structure. You could say ‘prog’ McCartney. The Beatles’ Abbey Road medley is the most famous example, but there are plenty of others. McCartney had a US number one with RAM’s whimsical Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, while Live and Let Die and Band On The Run are much loved songs that are like audio plays with three acts. Tug Of War‘s ‘The Pound Is Sinking’ is actually my personal favourite – a track that is really a fusion of two songs ‘The Pound Is Sinking’ and ‘Hear Me Lover’.

Egypt Station‘s ‘Despite Repeated Warnings‘ arguably takes these skills to a new level. It starts off as a fairly slow paced, almost maudlin, piano number about a captain who isn’t listening to advice (“what can we do? This man is bound to lose his ship and his crew”) and then turns into a fantastic mini-rock opera featuring a massive orchestra, Muscle Shoals Horns, big satisfying guitar power chords, classical piano interludes and constant changes of tempo. YES! Crank it up!  What a song. It slows back down at the end and [spoiler alert] ‘the captain’ has been bound up and ‘the will of the people’ prevails. The song alludes to climate change denial (not Brexit) and is a real treat.

As is Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link. Unlike DRW this is really three separate songs. ‘Hunt You Down’ is two minutes of driving guitar rock with more Muscle Shoals Horns and some great punctuating Cello, but ‘Naked’ is brilliant. It really is very RAM-like; silly, quirky and quite endearing, with Paul plonking those piano chords to lines like “I’ve been taken for my younger brother, life’s a basket but I have no other”. Egypt Station draws to a close with McCartney on lead guitar for C-Link’s instrumental blues. An orchestra echoes Paul’s licks towards the end and we’re done.

How to sum up the album? Try listening to it a few times and go back and play something from 2007’s Memory Almost Full or 2001’s Driving Rain. I played ‘Only Mama Knows’ from the former and was shocked at how rough the production was. Same with ‘About You’ from Driving Rain. Both are slightly Wingsy, but on reflection – and certainly compared to Egypt Station – it all sounds a bit lazy and under-produced (and not in a good lo-fi way). With respect to David Kahne (who produced both of those albums) Greg Kurstin has taken the sound of Paul’s music to another level. Backing vocal arrangements are precise, creative and add depth to the proceedings. The instrumentation is sophisticated and varied, yet handled with a light touch. Cellos, orchestrations, choirs, horn sections and those wonderful flutes, courtesy of Mr Eustache, emphasise some lovely melodies and lyrics. Egypt Station feels crafted, honed and considered and ultimately all the more satisfying for it.

As discussed, it’s not flawless. McCartney’s requirement for something catchy and simple to help market the album on social media and TV (what we used to call a ‘hit’) has lumbered the record with ‘Come On To Me’ and ‘Fuh You’, neither of which can compete with the whacky brilliance of a ‘Caesar Rock’ or a ‘Naked’ or the God-given genius evident on ‘Hand In Hand’ (probably the album’s best song).

But nobody’s perfect. McCartney rarely produces a truly flawless record. For every ‘No More Lonely Nights’ or ‘Take It Away’ there’s often an ‘Average Person’ or a ‘Biker Like An Icon’ lurking nearby to encourage the naysayers. Most Paul McCartney fans have grown to accept that. Goes with the territory.

On ‘Alligator’, from 2013’s New, Macca sang “everybody else is busy doing better than me, but I can see why it is, they got someone setting them free, someone breaking the chains, someone letting them be”. With Egypt Station Paul has set himself free and has let himself be Paul McCartney again. Peerless purveyor of great pop songs. The album has his DNA running through it. For the 76-year old songwriter and musician, it’s nothing short of a remarkable achievement.

Egypt Station is out now.

Compare prices and pre-order

Paul McCartney

Egypt Station - 2LP deluxe vinyl

Shop Price gbp Stock
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 37.99
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 56.89
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 44.23
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 59.92
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 43.99
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 62.22
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 49.99
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 35.99
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 40.99
Currency:

Compare prices and pre-order

Paul McCartney

Egypt Station - standard vinyl LP

Shop Price gbp Stock
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 28.42
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 34.99
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 24.97
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 38.35
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 31.16
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 32.71
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 34.49
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 34.99
HMV uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 30.99
Currency:

Compare prices and pre-order

Paul McCartney

Egypt Station - CD Edition

Shop Price gbp Stock
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 7.89
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 14.17
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 9.96
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 11.82
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 9.86
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 5.71
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 12.63
JPC de 6LP coloured vinyl box 18.99
Currency:

1. Opening Station 0:42
2. I Don’t Know 4:27
3. Come On to Me 4:11
4. Happy with You 3:34
5. Who Cares 3:13
6. Fuh You 3:23
7. Confidante 3:04
8. People Want Peace 2:59
9. Hand in Hand 2:35
10. Dominoes 5:02
11. Back in Brazil 3:17
12. Do It Now 3:29
13. Caesar Rock 3:29
14. Despite Repeated Warnings 6:57
15. Station II 0:46
16. Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link 6:22

HMV / Target / Japanese bonus tracks on the ‘deluxe’ CD

17. Get Started 3:41
18. Nothing for Free

56 responses to The Prog Chorus: McCartney back on track with new album Egypt Station

  1. Wes Headley says:

    Dominos is a masterpiece and easily could have appeared on any later period Beatles album– it’s THAT good. Overall this is an excellent album and quite an achievement at this stage of anyone’s career. What an excellent late summer surprise! Paul, your review was very good and it influenced my willingness to purchase this album as my two favorite PM albums are RAM and Band on the Run. I’d put this release in with that company, and that’s really saying something.

  2. Robert Meighan says:

    You know your stuff Paul, i agree that the album finishes very strongly , with maybe back in brazil being the only blip. Dominoes is a beatles standard song from mccartney, very good album and amazing from a 76 year old.

  3. Paul, very interesting your point of view from someone who REALLY KNOWS McCartney’s work. I respect that, and as a huge fan of McCartney as well, I take every word of your article about the album. I strongly agree with you.

    You should keep writing more reviews about Macca’s discography. I would definitely read it.

    By the way, Prog McCartney? Perfect.

    What a review Paul!

    Cheers,

    Adrian

  4. Stevie B says:

    Thank God you gave the album such a positive review!
    I was dreading what you might say especially in regards to his voice. Totally agree the album is too long and the playing order is all wrong but that’s the beauty of ‘Playlists’(shock horror!). I love this album and the artwork and the concertina packaging and even the elastic band fastener… Sir Paul has put (Capitols) money where his mouth is. A gem of an album in every way.

  5. Alan Robinson says:

    Well, to me, the point about the album format is that you need lesser tracks – just like in films, you get scenes which are known as ‘Hammocking’ scenes – they act like a hammock (you don’t say) that link more important scenes together. To me, the lesser songs work in that regard. I don’t like ‘perfect’ albums, because they don’t exist. When I was a kid, I didn’t like ‘Within You and Without You’ on ‘Sgt Pepper’, but now I think its brilliant. I like McCartney’s thing of, well “here’s the album – what do you think?” Warts and all, and all.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I agree with light and shade etc. But I don’t think an album ‘needs’ any bad songs. Confidante is a pretty bad song.

      • Michael D says:

        I like Confidante, the idea behind the lyric is great, and it’s one of stronger lyrics on the album, I do think he should have approached it differently. His vocal is a bit rough and the ( I assume detuning of his guitar and not a digital detuning) really brings the delivery of it down. It’s also a little reminiscent of Emerson Lake & Palmer’s ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’ for it’s own good.

        It takes the album somewhere else, but could have been better. One where I think a strong producer would have told him to work more on it. I wish record companies still released CD-singles (the Manics still release digital singles of 4 tracks), they were a great place for the extra tracks from projects. Ah, the good old days…

      • Bill says:

        I agree with Alan’s comment. The lesser tracks help the jewels shine as they should. After all, would you really take anything off the White Album? A week into ES and it is, as you say, fantastic.

  6. Michael D says:

    It’s better than New which I never listen to and didn’t much upon release (I think there’s only 5 tracks that stand up from that album). I’ll probably like a few more from this but for me it suffers from being over produced and too clean. I like McCartney a bit more raw than this.

    Getting Started should have been track 2.

    Fuh You can disappear, would have made an okay B-Side if it had a Dance Tonight type treatment.

    Come On To Me would have been a nice ‘Side One’ closer without the pointless minute after after the ‘Yes I will’ closer

    If he was going for an album experience I’d have liked a Station II to introduce ‘Side Two’.

    Drop the rest of the bonus tracks, they don’t fit with an album listening experience.

    It’s mastered with a big smiley face on the EQ. There is no mids to the guitars, just seems to sound shrill to me. As a carry over from New, tonnes of effects on his vocals. A stronger producer would’ve pushed for better vocals. Paul should enlist a top vocal coach to have him find how to get the best out of his voice. His vocals on the youtube central station show were very tired. He can do better. Still, a new album of original material is always welcome, even if I might only like half of it in a few months time.

  7. Gareth Jones says:

    Speaking of Macca, I can’t believe no announcement has been made as yet of the planned White Album box set. November isn’t far away. I would’ve thought details would be revealed by now. It was claimed to be “almost ready” back in June. Any news yet Paul??

  8. RikTheHib says:

    Some people just want to hear new Macca songs. Be they good or, gulp, bad, that’s your opinion.

    I hope he keeps making them for a long time yet.

    Personal note: Wasn’t too certain about the initial singles released but when “I don’t know” came up on the album I loved it. Sometimes the tunes just jump into my head and wont go away (even with Saxon’s “Crusader” trying it’s best).

    Personal note #2: Great album in my book. All of it PS, all of it.

  9. Le Zouave says:

    The only review I’ve read about Egypt Station that is worth every words and lines. And that title… I was already sold with that (good) one.
    Thank you.

  10. Magoo says:

    Oliver, you’re so right.
    It really is one of the worst things I’ve heard for years…….embarrassing.

    I’ve picked up the last 5 cds from Macca in my local charity shops, shouldn’t have to wait to long for this.

  11. Bob Reid says:

    Thank you very much Paul for this review. As I commented on another post, I listen to the singles and walked away from this record. After reading your review, I went back and listen to the rest of the album and I am very glad that I did. There are brilliant moments. Unfortunately, I still believe that McCartney’s marketing will hurt sales. With rumours of a super deluxe addition, I believe that many people including myself are just streaming the record instead of buying it. I will be frustrated if it turns out to be the album on disc one and some edited live performance on disk to and nothing else.

  12. DaveM says:

    On third listening last night, this may end up being my album of 2018 (it’s currently the Breeders All Nerve). A total surprise I should come to that conclusion after being a tad dissapointed at Come on to Me and Fuh You on hearing them prior to release. They now work for me, especially hearing them on the system and in the context of the album. I mentally bracket ES now with Ram as a sometimes mixed bag of styles that works, and only Macca can pull something like that off. I absolutely love ES, and to be this excited at my age (54) about an album by someone who’s soundtracked my life already is one great feeling.

  13. James C says:

    Paul: Which songs would you have cut? How many would you have chosen in total? How would you have re-sequenced the album? Would be interested to see your revised tracklisting!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I would remove the following songs Come On to Me, Who Cares, Fuh You and Confidante for a very strong 10-track album. Not sure about the sequence…

  14. Liam Bastick says:

    I put it on today. I am not a huge McCartney fan (although my wife is) and the software kept interchanging it [using AI] with The Feeling’s Twelves Stops and Home. I can understand that. It feels like it could all be the same album…

  15. Musicmacca says:

    Agree with most of your comments Paul. It is a great album and i would suspect the naysayers have probably only given it one spin at most. Fuh yo with a different lyric would have helped in my opinion as it is catchy.
    Nothing is rarely perfect. I for one agree with George Martin that the White Album should have been cut to a single album but because it has the ‘Beatles ‘ brand on it it is considered sacred.
    Half the tracks on Egypt Station would have sat comfortably on any of the latter fabs albums and now be considered classics.

  16. Paul Waddington says:

    Enjoyed reading the review…actually, we all need to stop saying this cos it’s starting to sound like the texts Steve Wright reads out – “Hey Steve, love the show…”

    I haven’t really enjoyed a McCartney album since Flaming Pie, but being a Beatles fan I buy them all anyway. I had a quick flick through the album the other day before going out and promptly told my mate it sounds rubbish. I then listened to it properly the day after and called my mate to tell him I was wrong, as it’s actually quite good! First time I’ve ever bought a CD that comes with it’s own little elastic band too, to stop the concertina cover from flying open.

  17. Willy says:

    This review has made me order the album.

    As an aside, I love ‘Average Person’ though it does nick the riff from Peter Tosh’s ‘Stepping Razor’.

  18. Paul Fraser says:

    A nicely considered review, rather than the fluff PR of NME. Dominoes is my fave, along with the others you commend (although I can leave Back in Brazil). I wasn’t expecting much from the pre-released tracks of Come on to me and Fuh You, but when you edit out these extraneous attempts at hits, there’s a really solid set of songs here of which Macca can be proud. He’s still got it.

  19. Ruben says:

    One of the best reviews of ES I’ve seen.

  20. Strangely, the songs you like least are ones I think are pretty good. But I definetely agree about Despite Repeated Warnings and Hunt You Down. Regardless, nice review Paul.
    Two questions: 1) Do you think Pedro Eustache is a pseudonym?, and 2) Where did you get the info regarding who plays on which tracks? Neither my Target CD or Barnes & Noble 2LP list the credits by track, just a big block of names who played on the album.

  21. Kenneth Tilley says:

    I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and give it a listen, but thumbs down. Its mediocre to say the least. I won’t be buying it. It’s a shame because i do like him, he’s written some of the 20th century’s greatest songs.

  22. Patrick Lynch says:

    Always thought the worst of McCartney was Wildlife, Press to Play and Off the Ground. Don’t remember OTG being compared to the Beatle’s WA, too funny. There are a couple that I love that the critics didn’t, Back to The Egg, London Town. Great records!

  23. Gootsy says:

    Listened to it for the first time yesterday and I must say I quite agree with you. I wouldn’t go as far as “Band On The Run”, but it’s at least for me his best album since “Chaos & Creation in the Backyard” which is in my top 3 best macca albums. And like “Chaos…” it feels like the producer tried to get the best out of macca who, I think, always needed a counter-power to sometimes say “no” or “not good enough” (don’t misunderstand, I’m a macca fanatic, but… well, just one word : “Freedom”). Quite surprised to hear “Fuh You” and thought that this song only would “date” the album as the rest seems timeless, the grand power pop-rock we loved then, we love now and we will love in the future. The last two songs are quite powerful and I was in awe listening to the last solo… One odd thing is the distribution on the four vinyl sides ; the second side is crammed with something like 7 songs and the fourth only has the two songs (and the “interlude”). I think I will go back to this album more often than “New” or “Memory almost full”.

  24. mike says:

    Anyone received their green vinyl order yet?

  25. Oliver says:

    “Fuh You” is honestly one of the worst things I’ve heard all year. Definition of a misfire.

    • christian says:

      And for me, with the album to that point being pretty weak and noted in this review, that’s as far as I got.
      I filed it under “life’s to short to finish a record i’ll never listen to in full again,” blessed streaming and actually commented to my wife that it was money saved on a purchase, and turned it off.
      Discussed it was similarly Beatle / solo obsessed friend who was also of the same opinion. He is also a Beck nut and didn’t like his new record either and found the production in both let them down.

      However, given the positivity here about the second half, i’ll give that a go today. Also, as an aside, finally gave up on Paul Weller yesterday. The new Paul Simon however is great.

  26. Craig Hedges says:

    Only listened to the album briefly, I skipped most of the early tracks, really don’t like any of the tracks which were ‘singles’ The songs definitely pick up on the latter half of the album and I found myself being drawn in.
    The other things I still have a problem with is Pauls voice and I don’t think it is totally his age or damage to his voice, whilst his voice has changed I think he is choosing to sing differently. He seems to be hanging on to notes longer and emphesising the vibrato in his voice. Listen to some of his 80’s songs and he would sing more staccato and the vibrato was there but was more controlled.

  27. Blakey says:

    Great review, good album and nice to see thoughts on his music. Macca has done himself no favours recently. Going on about wanking with Lennon over Bardot and having a threesome with two hookers. He doesn’t have to say such things to appear cool or edgy, so why bother? It smacks a bit of the old man babbling on about his ‘past glories’ in the film ‘Hope & Glory’. But, then again, maybe he’s saying it before Lewisohn does, who knows?…

  28. Michel D. says:

    Target is shipping in Canada, but the shipping cost is prohibitive ($18 to ship a $20 cd), people in Ontario and Quebec can buy the edition with the two bonus tracks at Sunrise Records / Sunrise le Disquaire.

  29. Bernard O’Hara says:

    Good honest review. I liked the guy’s comment above ‘even allowing for a degree of bias’. This is high quality stuff – and it has been really interesting to read some of the reviews his week – GQ and the BBC one – where he is still revealing new info about himself (and particularly his early career).

    I love McCartney – he is the greatest – but it makes me cringe when I hear him struggle to sing live. Golden Slumbers at Grand Central was painful to watch. Unfortunately the singing voice does often tend to deteriorate with age (Macca ; Elton ; Cliff etc – evident on Queen’s jubilee show) – thankfully this can be managed for better results in the studio, as this album shows. How long can he go on for? That said, I would probably still go see he if he came to my neck of the woods – he is after all a phenomenon

  30. Bogdan says:

    Really enjoyed reading your review, Paul! Thank you.

    I also like Egypt Station quite a lot. Biased or not (given it’s an album by none other than Paul McCartney), we fans are lucky the man is still making music at 76. I don’t really see the point hyping the album by comparing it to Band on the Run or who knows what other album he made over 40 years ago. It’s an unfair comparison. If one really must benchmark it against some other work by the artist, maybe one should look at more recent albums, for example his previous album, New: I actually like Egypt Station more, there are more surprises in it (musically speaking, which I think is a trademark of the Beatles – there, I’ve said it!…comparing this album to the Beatles :)).

    His age is definitely showing in his voice, but I think that is part of the charm of the whole album: hearing the slightly wobbly, vulnerable voice of a man who has been making music for over half a century. I can’t help asking myself (and hoping): will he still be making music after he turns 80 (just as I hope Dylan will find his muse again and make new music, rather than churn out Sinatra covers)?

    I am still anxiously waiting to see what the SDE of Egypt Station will contain. So far I’ve held off buying a physical copy of the album and decided to stream it until I can decide which physical version to buy. I hope it will have some extra musical content, rather than just photos/literature: for example, the additional tracks available on the Target edition. Perhaps also a hi-def of the NY Central Station gig (which had some beautiful moments on it, such as Blackbird and Let it Be)? Or the gig he is now streaming on Spotify in selected countries? We’ll see….

    Finally, to close this rant: I feel it is such great time to be a music fan in 2018! When I think of the release schedule for the next couple of months: Imagine, Village Green, Loving the Alien, Electric Ladyland, White Album, More Blood More Tracks (I hope they announce the latter two by the end of this month)….it’s a blessing!

  31. Nick Love says:

    Prog McCartney is a great way to describe it. I believe he really birthed this song writing method on Abbey Road with the miniature vignettes on side two, and the three part You Never Give Me My Money (one of my favorites of his!) setting the tone for future classics like Band on the Run.
    I read an interview a while back with Mansun’s Paul Draper about his writing method on their album Six, which was similarly made up of “songs” comprised of short recurring mini-songs, and was similarly saddled with a Prog label while he insisted his lack of inspiration is what lead to him not being able to follow though on full length proper songs and denied being influenced by Prog, but with his recent arrival on K-Scope and friendship with Steven Wilson maybe he’s softened his stance on this lately.

  32. David M says:

    Very good review (with an awful title), funnily enough I have only listened a couple of times, but I thought it was an excellent album but toploaded!

  33. Paul Taylor says:

    This was album of the week on Radio 2
    It certainly seems to have been well received by his fans, but you have to allow for a degree of bias.
    For me, I didn’t like any of the tracks I heard. Probably a personal thing. Certainly not an anti-McCartney thing, I have other albums of his.
    I thought the lyrics were a bit repetitive at times. Listening to the lyrics of Back To Brazil I wondered if he had stumbled across something Syd Barrett had scribbled down and left behind in Abbey Road in the 60s. You can’t say the album is full of meaningful thought provoking prose
    I know I’m obviously in the minority here but from what I heard, this is not his best work. As for his voice; I heard Cliff Richard’s latest single the other day and thought it was another track from Egypt Station until Ken Bruce clarified matters
    I’m glad I sent my unopened £41 overpriced black vinyl deluxe edition back to Amazon

    • Mike the Fish says:

      I dipped into the album on Spotify and didn’t like it. I used to be a McCartney collector, but what with the decline of material and the realisation of how bad some of his lyrics are I was less interested. His voice is damaged, and why not – he’s in his 70s after all, and I don’t like the way it sounds now. Sometimes I enjoy listening to some of the older stuff (some of which has not worn well at all for me), but not so long ago I looked at the lyrics of Spirits of Ancient Egypt and it really put me off.

  34. webvan says:

    Excellent review, thanks. Clearly a lot of attention was given to the songwriting and production this time (except for the “fun” tracks) and that shows. The songs on MAF were generally very good too but the production was “average” like on DR (that lacked the songs overall), you get a sense that Kahne engineered the tracks more than he produced them…

    A small typo I think, it should be “emphasize” instead of “emphasis” towards the end.

  35. Tim in Miami says:

    Am I the only one that heard the end riff of Getting Closer in Hunt You Down???

  36. Kenny says:

    Good review Paul. It doesn’t alter the fact that if “Egypt Station” had been released by anyone else but McCartney it would be panned. The man is living on his laurels and needs someone to tell him that he’s well past his best. Sorry to contradict Paul but there are no “great pop songs” on this album.

    • FivebyFive says:

      Actually he doesn’t need anyone to tell him anything. In case you can’t figure this out by yourself, you’re not required to buy Paul’s new album. Your judgmental sniping tells us more about you than about Paul McCartney or ES. Sorry to contradict you.

  37. Electric Sydney says:

    That’s the best “Egypt Station” review I’ve seen yet! Thank Paul.

  38. PC says:

    Get Started from the deluxe version is also a great song. It’s better than several of the tracks on the regular album.

  39. Adam Shaw says:

    Good review Paul .
    I haven’t enjoyed the last few Macca albums and have been very critical of his voice ect .
    But I’ve been listening to this album all week whilst walking to work and have to admit I’m really enjoying it . Good songs good production and like you said horns and orchestra used well .
    Never thought he’d make a decent record again so nicely surprised.

  40. Mark says:

    Thanks Paul,

    such an excellent review. Agree with „Hand in Hand“ being the best track. Lovely album.
    Also, now I am actually glad I got ALL the color variations on the Vinyl, despite the controversy.

  41. JC says:

    Superb review – thank you for taking the time for such an in-depth breakdown – will enjoy re-listening to the album again this weekend and comparing notes!

  42. Heinz says:

    WOW, what a great review!!

  43. Ben Williams says:

    Excellent review! I partiuclarly liked the ‘Move Over Busker’ voice reference, very apt.

    I agree that the last two tracks on Egypt Station make this a really good Macca album into a fantastic Macca album.

    There is a definite focus on a getting a very well produced album package with this one – and it proves that Macca does still have it – the run of original song albums since Chaos And Creation have had some incredible moments on them (David Khane production aside!).

    And I love the artwork for Egypt Station too!

  44. Diego Zapple Imperatore says:

    Good piece Paul… only suffer of not “in depth” about “I don’t know “ song. Thanks anyway for your right opinion!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *