On December 18 of 2020 Paul McCartney released his third of a trilogy of solo records that started back with Paul’s first post Beatle endeavor simply titled McCartney. These three recordings saw McCartney writing, producing, and playing all the instrument in a tradition that came to fruition with III. This is not about that record. Imagined, which was released digitally on April 16, through Capitol Records, is about a collection of diverse current artists that have taken the song from III and given them their own individual twist, with their own individual stamp and flair.
When I first heard about this rendition, I was somewhat trepidatious about what it would be like. To be complete honest and transparent, I generally hate Beatle covers, or solo Beatle covers, or remixes (to me remixes are covers, since you’re taking the original tune and changing it and the only thing recognizable is the vocal track. Or I could be wrong about the whole process). To me the Beatles, and their solo stuff, are sacred ground. It’s sacrilege!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say most people feel that way too. Then I realized that I’m turning into a curmudgeon, and I’m way too young to board that train. I decide that the only way to look at this was to treat it on its own merit without any comparison to Sir Paul.
Let face it, the list of accolades that he has achieved are so lengthy that it would take up a whole article just to name them all. And I get that calling him Sir Paul is an accolade in itself. Trying to compare anything that McCartney has recorded against a cover, or a remix of him would be vastly unfair to the performer that is paying homage to him.
Yes, this entire record (I know I said it’s a digital release, but I call everything a record), is a homage to Paul, and should be taken as such. The group of talented artists on this is an impressive list, to say the least. Beck, St. Vincent, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz to name a few. These are artists that have proved not only to have their own identity, but also artists that always push the envelope to strive to always do something different and fresh with each of their own records.
I would wager that most Paul and Beatle fans that are over a certain age are not going to like this at all. As stated above, people do not like different arrangements of Paul’s songs. Maybe the record is too all over the place for some people, and it does not have an adhesive construct running throughout? That’s the idea. This is not one band doing a tribute album. These are all different and unique creative people, that follow their own beat. Does that make any sense?
Hear me out. Coincidentally, last week before I knew this record was out, I was listening to Wings Greatest Hits. The one thing that was going through my mind is how insanely different all these tracks are from each other. “My Love” doesn’t come close to sounding like “Jet”, which doesn’t come close to sounding like “Let ‘Em In”, and then you have “Mull of Kintyre”. Do I even have to point out that Paul’s first group went from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Strawberry Fields Forever” in the span of about four years? Or how “Eleanor Rigby” is all done with cellos and violins? Change is good.
So, how about III Imagined?
Beck starts things off with “Find My Way”, a funky dance track that will make your dog dance. I thought this would be the linear path for the entire album but then things shift gears with Khruangbin who takes on “Pretty Boys” that sees the band sharing vocal with Paul. This song sets up the rest of the album. The theme, and it might be a happy accident is a trip hop, dreamy, real cool nighttime vibe. Think of going to a coffee house, or a hipster (I hate that term), hangout, and music like this will be playing. Kind of chill out stuff, or just a laid back atmospheric groove.
St. Vincent keeps thing moving in the right direction with “Woman and Wives”, and another tracks that has Paul’s vocal on it. The song has a slow steady beat that just seems irresistible. Love the tasteful drumming on this one. Josh Homme covers “Lavatory Lil” that gives the record it’s most rocking number.
My favorite track though is Blood Orange’s remix of “Deep Down”. This song is without a doubt the most trippy on the record, and comes the closet to capturing the psychedelic leanings of the Fab Four’s Magical Mystery Tour.
The other track that I really dug was “Deep Deep Feeling” by someone who calls themselves 3D RDN. This piece clocks in at 11:38. The first part has a very heavily synthesized with Paul’s vocals running throughout. Gave me a Kraftwerk feeling. Then somewhere in the middle the song changes and is totally different form the first half. The synths fade into the background and a slow steady drum beat begins with macabre sounding keyboards and a glimpse or two of guitars that, for me, brought me right in a Massive Attack flow.
Again, this is not going to be for the average Paul McCartney fan but if you’re open minded and looking for something different that sounds great driving at night in your car, and that’s how I listened to it for the first time. But even better yet, if you’re looking for something sleek, and sensual while you’re in an amorous mood with that special someone, this record is for you.
Article: Carmine Basilicata