Paul McCartney : Driving Rain

Macca the radical. Just not here...

He hides it well behind that paternal smile, butPaul McCartney's irritation at being considered the fluffy Beatle

has clearly never quite faded.

His last decade of interviews often feature slightly querulous statements along the lines of

"I liked Stockhausen first, me," and his extra-curricular projects, from his painting and poetry to last year's 'Liverpool Sound Collage' and his association with - Super Furry Animals, have all stressed his Bohemian credentials.

Unfortunately, he still persists in making records that have all the unhinged beatnik wildness of a Neighbourhood Watch meeting. 'Driving Rain' is supposed to be raw, spontaneous and unpolished, when in fact it's perfectly pleasant, unable to resist the McCartney default modes of jauntiness and sentimentality. Given that this is the work of a man in love again, that can be endearing - the

open-hearted piano of 'Heather' is really quite lovely - and there are times when you can understand McCartney's apparent chagrin.

If Neil Young had sung the drowsy 'From A Lover To A Friend' or 'Your Way' on his last album,

they would have instantly been acclaimed as fine autumnal ballads from a grizzled master.

McCartney doesn't really do grizzled, though, and as you'd expect from an album that largely seems to have been written on rock star holidays - 'Riding Into Jaipur' even goes down the cosmic Harrison route - it brings the bourgeois and the Bohemian in close alliance. Like he should care, you might say. The thing is, he does.

Victoria Segal
6 / 10

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