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The Best Record Paul McCartney Wouldn’t Make

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Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt (Remastered)
Parlophone
March 2017

In 1989 Paul McCartney released Flowers in the Dirt, a record I played to death due to the inclusion of songs co-written by Elvis Costello. In my book, these are two of the best living songwriters, period, end of sentence, cap on the pen, close the book, burn the book, but save the pen. You may need it later, maybe in 2017, 28 goddamn years later when the remastered record has been re-released including nine original demos recorded by Paul and Elvis all those years ago.

Paul has spoken a lot about how Costello/McCartney had some eerie similarities to Lennon/McCartney. Two brilliant songwriters facing each other writing on acoustic guitar, Paul left handed, John and Elvis right handed – a mirror image. And Costello, who learned about harmonizing from Beatles records, was the perfect sonic foil to McCartney. So much so, that these demos are downright Beatlesque – something McCartney avoided like the plague throughout his post-Fab Four output. Kudos to Elvis for coaxing that genius from Paul, whose previous record (Press to Play) has its moments, but doesn’t stand up to the best records of the era like Graceland by Paul Simon or So by Peter Gabriel.

These demos are downright Beatlesque.

So, if you’re a Beatles fan that misses the old Paul, hold onto your Hofner, you are in for a treat. Go straight to disc two and give these demos a listen. I dare say it’s the best record Paul never made. Never allowed himself to make. Maybe Paul couldn’t tolerate Costello’s pushiness in the studio. Costello is no one’s yes man, not even Paul McCartney’s.

Paul sums it up by saying he ultimately didn’t want to make “an Elvis Costello record,” although he agrees the demos are likely better than the released versions. They are. Raw and fresh, recorded hastily after multiple three hour writing sessions, warts and all. Demos for So Like Candy and That Day is Done stand beside some of the Beatles best work. I shit you not. 

So, how is disc one?

Uhm… it’s still great, but there’s a noticeable lack of a cohesion, let’s be honest. It’s several albums kinda smushed together. Beatleseque tracks like My Brave Face are side by side with the plaintive yet bombastic We Got Married (with David Gilmour soloing), which is a few tracks ahead of the dancey experiment Où Est le Soleil. In between you have some solid tracks like the earnest Put it There and the cheese-fest How Many People. But hey, it’s Paul McCartney, even his worst songs outshine most artist’s best work.

It’s not too late for these guys to make a great record together. Put your ego aside, Paul. The clock is ticking, mate. Kanye can wait.

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

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Self-Serving Interview with Electronic Device Does Little to Advance Musician’s Career

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Two men that look suspiciously alike meet outside a fictitious Brooklyn hot-spot – six feet apart.

MC Krispy E: Very nice to meet you. (squints) Have we met before?

Electronic Device: Maybe?

MC Krispy E: Is the rest of the band joining us?

Electronic Device: (pause) I am the rest of the band.

MC Krispy E: You are Electronic Device? What’s that about?

Electronic Device: Uhm, yeah, it’s like a pen name. You know what that is, right?

MC Krispy E: I have some idea.

Electronic Device: It was actually the name of one of my dad’s companies back in the day before…

MC Krispy E: (looking at his watch) Wonderful. So… it says here you have a new single called “All Things Come to an End” inspired by the death of your brother.

Electronic Device: Yeah, after my brother died I recorded songs as a form of therapy in his old bedroom in Staten Island.

MC Krispy E: And now I read that you have cancer. Am I supposed to feel extra sorry for you?

Electronic Device: Uhm…

MC Krispy E: It sounds like this album is going to be super depressing.

Electronic Device: It’s not, I swear. I was looking for some happiness while recording these songs, there’s not much of an agenda beyond that.

MC Krispy E: What kind of music is it?

Electronic Device: I wasn’t really thinking about influences while recording, but listening back I hear some Concrete Blonde, some Cracker.

MC Krispy: So bands no one is interested in?

Electronic Device: What the hell, man?

MC Krispy: Sorry, it’s almost like I can’t help it.  What’s the single about?

Electronic Device: I hate saying what a song is about because everything is up for interpretation.

MC Krispy E: Humor us.

Electronic Device: I can say that “All Things Come to an End” has multiple narrators, some of which are unreliable.

MC Krispy E: (stares)

Electronic Device: And that one day I was at my Dad’s house and when I turned the corner into the hallway my Dad thought I was my brother for a moment, which was super sad because of course I couldn’t be.

MC Krispy E: And then you wrote a whole song about that.

Electronic Device: I guess so. When you put it that way…

MC Krispy E: (yawning) Tell us when the single come out.

Electronic Device: The single is out now. The album comes out in 2021.

MC Krispy E: Well, good for you. And good luck with that cancer thing.

Electronic Device: Yeah, you too.

MC Krispy E: Thanks. What?

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

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Elvis Costello Hey Clockface

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Hey Clockface is the 31st studio album by singer-songwriter Elvis Costello. Costello recorded the record in Helsinki, Paris and New York, often allowing musicians to improvise around his vocal.

A sonic departure from his last album, the Grammy-winning Look Now, Clockface does shuffle in some Tin-Pan Alley style tracks, but also includes more  experimental moments like “No Flag” and the spoken word “Revolution #49.

With no tour on the horizon, Costello is back to work on more material and recently released a special vinyl edition of his classic 1979 album Armed Forces.

“I’ve got no religion. I’ve got no philosophy. I’ve got a head full of ideas and words that don’t seem to belong to me. – No Flag”

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

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McCartney III is Coming Up!

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McCartney III is the 18th solo album by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, scheduled to be released on December 18th 2020 by Capitol Records. Like the first two self-named McCartney solo records in 1970 and 1980, McCartney III features Paul on all instruments.

McCartney III promises to be a return to form for Paul, who wrote, produced, and recorded the record in quarantine.

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

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