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Topic: David Gritten is Impressed By the Return of Ageing Rockers Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney Return to archive
10-27-01 03:14 PM
Jaxx David Gritten is Impressed By the Return of Ageing Rockers Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney
Source: The Daily Telegraph

Keith Richards once identified a dilemma for musicians who came of age in the Sixties rock explosion: if they wished to keep recording and performing as old age loomed, how could they maintain dignity and make music of heart and conviction without retreating into Vegas- style blandness? He rightly observed that there were few role models from previous generations.
I found myself mulling over this on hearing two new CDs by older pop icons: Paul McCartney's Driving Rain and Mick Jagger's fourth solo album, Goddess in the Doorway. Clearly their best work is more than two decades past, yet these CDs unleash waves of affection. While barely in my teens, I bought Love Me Do and eventually the entire recorded output of the Beatles. I was also the first kid in my school to own the Rolling Stones' debut album. So we go back years, Paul, Mick and me.

Younger critics will doubtless despise these works as irrelevant and embarrassing; to them, McCartney and Jagger are hopelessly uncool. To which I'd respond: one co-founded the Beatles, the other the Rolling Stones. That's enough cool to last a lifetime. Still, I suspect the hackneyed phrase "dad rock" will be applied to both albums.

The least loved of all pop sub-genres, "dad rock", like all others, encompasses good and bad music. You can't generalise about an audience: not everyone, on turning 40, reaches for carpet slippers and Viyella shirts, and develops a passion for Chris de Burgh.

In fact, McCartney, 59, and Jagger, 58 (strictly speaking, this is "grandad rock"), remain a credit to their greying fan base. The low- tech Driving Rain has a ragged, spontaneous feel; familiarly, McCartney sings and plays bass with three musicians on guitar, keyboards and drums. On first hearing, many songs sound like lightweight doodles; McCartney's penchant for nursery-rhyme lyrics (the title track's refrain is "One, two, three, four, five, let's go for a drive") is initially off-putting.

Then you realise how many melodies have maddeningly insinuated themselves into your brain. Tiny Bubble is an attractive Memphis soul pastiche; the opening track, Lonely Road, would justify a place on Rubber Soul; while two deeply felt ballads, Your Loving Flame and From a Lover to a Friend, sound like enduring standards. Driving Rain is not devoid of filler, but half its songs show McCartney in good form.

Jagger has buttressed Goddess in the Doorway with collaborators, including Bono, Pete Townshend, Lenny Kravitz and Wyclef Jean. A collection of radio-friendly pop-rock, it has a lighter feel than the other Rolling Stones might prefer. Bono trades vocals with Jagger on Joy, a spirited slab of tongue-in-cheek gospel; Gun is a jolting, bitter attack on an ex-lover. God Gave Me Everything, co-written with Kravitz, has relentless drive and verve. Vocally, Jagger is near the top of his game, his Dartford Delta inflections straddling reggae, soul and country influences over 12 songs. Goddess in the Doorway is his best solo work.

Both albums will sit agreeably on Radio 2, but few would argue that McCartney or Jagger have surpassed their earlier classic work. They are not among that handful of artists who flourish under the advance of age: Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and, sporadically, Bob Dylan. The passage of time suits that quartet: all sounded weary and autumnal before they were 30.

To keep making significant music as an older artist, it also helps to embrace big themes: love, pain, redemption, awareness of death. Ironically, McCartney and Jagger as young men idolised blues artists in their fifties singing about precisely these things: Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson.

But it requires a capacity for self-revelation, a card McCartney and Jagger are reluctant to play. One hides behind a cheery persona and infectious melodies, the other behind an impenetrable mask of amused disdain. You don't look to them to dwell on mortality.

Or at least, not their own. Driving Rain contains several songs about McCartney's late wife, Linda, including Magic, detailing the night they met in 1967. Others are dedicated to his fiancee, Heather Mills; one title, Back in the Sunshine Again, illustrates a sense of hard-won contentment. As for Jagger's album, its best songs, Don't Call Me Up and Too Far Gone, have a plaintive, pensive quality, and acknowledge time's passing.

Classify them, then, as superior examples of "dad rock". Neither album will be recalled as McCartney's or Jagger's finest moment, but they pass the Keith Richards test: both artists emerge with dignity intact.

`Driving Rain' is released on Nov 12 on Parlophone and `Goddess in the Doorway' on Nov 19 on Virgin.

[Edited by Jaxx]
10-28-01 01:01 AM
Prodigal Son This guy is what a critic should be. Also a little wit makes a great critic (I write my own reviews and stuff, meanwhile poking fun at people in albums I hate). That'll teach those bastard young critics. Mick and Paul are legends who've finally begun aging gracefully. I like it. Gotta buy these two albums as well.
10-28-01 01:59 AM
yellow1 Nice article...although it shows poor research as I'd bet quite a bit that McCartney's "There Must Have Been Magic" is about Heather, NOT Linda.
He recently explained how they'd met and that was she came to his MPL offices to discuss some project and he asked her out for dinner.

Why make things up if you don't know for sure...
10-28-01 08:59 AM
Bob Tamp let's face it. we will never get a sticky fingers or exile on main st from either the Stones or Mick again.
Just enjoy it for what it is. I think all their work( some even shitty) deserves merit, so don't beat up on the Mickster. As for people not liking Goddess on first listen, well if you remember in 1972 Exile was called the biggest piece of trash they ever did. I couldnt play Micks first 2 solo records at parties. Wandering Spirit was great, but I guess if you are not a Stones fan, then it isnt.
To me, Goddess is commercial and hits the middle with something for everyone. Univeral themes about break ups, catchy melodies, dance, rock, and some nice balads. Lucky Day almost sounds like Clapton's Layla meets Prince. Goddess will please a lot of people I expect.

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