Paul McCartney’s “Off The Ground” Reviewed
If Flowers In The Dirt isn’t as good as you remembered, solo album # 23, Off The Ground, is significantly better than you thought. There were four, busy, years between the two albums. The oratio, the live album, extensive touring, the album with Youth, but when it came time. Recorded live in the studio with his touring band, it misses out on any ace songs to add to the McCartney repertoire, but there are lots of minor tracks that cohere into a better album than, say, Pipes Of Peace.
The live take aesthetic gives Paul a certain looseness and the band itself, his touring band, gives it a certain tightness. While “C’mon People” and “Hope Of Deliverance” aren’t very good political bonhomie, there are within it strands of old school 60s optimism nearly thirty years after the fact. The songs just aren’t very good. Neither is pro-Animal Rights “Looking For Changes,” “Martha, My Dear”. A great sentiment and scruffy enough, but the song ain’t there and the lyrics are awful. Both of the Elvis Costello songs aren’t much, “The Lover’s That Never Were” has a chorus that swings like a waltz and has EC’s fingerprints be smudging it all. My sense is both songs are botched in the recording, they needed to be filled in and rearranged.
But worse is about to hit you!!! We will never agree on anything the way we agreed that “Biker LIke An Icon” sucked. Along with “Freedom,” and “Wonderful Christmastime” (and “Mull Of Kintyre” and “Yesterday”), it is Paul’s worst song ever, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense and it sounds like every lousy thing anybody has ever said about Sir Paul come to life.
The best moment on the album is “Winedark Open Sea” -again, his lyric is a little weak, but the song is a big ballad played small, a soundscape of beauty -he should have gone classical on the track, it has a certain large emotion that he oddly downplays. Paul should have thrown out his Off The Ground template and gone really big on it,
Somewhere within Off The Ground (note the coda to “C’mon People” which dates from 1968), there is a nostalgia for a time when Thatcher (actually John Major but it doesn’t sound as cool) wasn’t Prime Minister, Harold Wilson time and Paradise wasn’t postponed. Macca’s attempt at optimism ends up being pessimistic (he would try it again with Flaming Pie, but shy away from the political to root it in the culture).
Yet, there are songs here, even the the track is a catchy sweet nothing, that are really quite pleasant. Not a bad album in the end, not great but it has a certain discretion and honesty.