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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 10:28 GMT
McCartney's world gig
by John Hand
BBC News Online

Album cover
Sir Paul's tour is his first in Britain for almost a decade
Ahead of his first UK dates in a decade, Sir Paul McCartney offers a live album recorded on the US leg of his tour.

It is perhaps the perfect concert souvenir - or substitute - for those unable to buy, beg or blag a ticket.

The reason for the stampede for tickets - and for the near-guaranteed success of this album - is that McCartney's set-list is a mix of solo material, Wings hits and Beatles classics.

The sceptical might point out that this ground was already successfully trod by his 1990 album Tripping The Live Fantastic and further raked over by 1993's Paul Is Live.

But the difference this time is that there are 22 Beatles tracks to be enjoyed and fewer of his recent songs to be endured.

This, of course, is the album which caused a storm when someone noticed McCartney's subtle reversal of the Beatles songwriting credits.

You would have thought from the fuss that ensued that the new "McCartney and Lennon" acknowledgement had been emblazoned on the cover rather than buried in the small print.

The Beatles
Beatles classics will always draw the crowds in
Those who were in McCartney's corner said it was just a case of him reclaiming those Lennon/McCartney songs (sorry, old habits die hard) which he had the major, or often sole, role in creating.

On listening to the album, it seems to have been a perfectly valid exercise.

For those of us who did not live through that heady era when mop-tops ruled the world, this is a two-hour tutorial on exactly what McCartney brought to the Beatles and to the last 40 years of British culture.

Performed by the man who first gave them to the world, tracks such as Can't Buy Me Love, We Can Work It Out and Eleanor Rigby live on as three-minute (or usually shorter) bundles of magic.

There is no showboating in the live performances and the simplistic but enduring nursery rhyme quality of McCartney's creations sparkle yet again.

The performances throughout bring a rush of new blood to the songs - Lady Madonna in particular - and show this is an artist still at the top of his game.

But it is always tricky to get a get a live album right, and as the audience seems as distant as if it was in another state altogether, little of the energy of the live arena is captured.

Of course, McCartney performing Beatles tracks was always bound to be a winner. But the other material included is more than just mere padding.

The Wings tracks - Band On The Run, Jet and Live And Let Die - benefit greatly from far more restrained renditions than the showy, blowy versions that belong firmly in the 1970s.

And it is a pleasant surprise to find some of the standout tracks from recent albums included rather than solo singles that even many fans shun.

Your Lovin' Flame and Calico Skies in particular are overlooked gems which sit well alongside the Beatles classics and show this is a singer who is harking back but not merely reviving old glories to be reborn in the USA.

Back in the World is available from 17 March on Parlophone Records.

Back In The World: Your views
17 Mar 03 |  Reviews
Sir Paul extends credit swap
12 Mar 03 |  Music
McCartney earns rich list title
06 Mar 03 |  Showbiz
New dates for McCartney tour
21 Feb 03 |  Music

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