Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

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Music Reviews
Pure McCartney
by Paul McCartney
****

I grew up as a huge Beatles fan and have followed the band members solo careers as well, by far the most commercially successful and prolific being Paul McCartney.  That’s not to say that there haven’t been some pretty uneven albums along the way (Pure McCartneythink of 1971’s Wild Life by Wings, for example).  Recently I saw McCartney on tour for the twelfth time. One of the things I always look forward to is what songs he will pull from his impressive Beatles, Wings and solo career to play on the tour. Several songs from his compilation show up on his new “One on One” tour set list. This compilation, his fourth, after 1978’s Wings Greatest, 1987’s All the Best and 2001 Wingspan, includes songs from his 1970 debut McCartney to his 2014 single “Hope for the Future” and his 2015 remix of “Say Say Say”, a hit with Michael Jackson.

The collection comes in multiple formats, with the deluxe edition including 67 (25 of which have been newly mastered), solo, Wings and Fireman songs, more than 40 of which were Top 40 hits. McCartney had more than 300 songs to choose from – from 17 solo, 7 Wings and 2 Fireman studio albums.   McCartney and his team came up with the idea of putting together the collection “with nothing else in mind than having something fun to listen to”.

There will always be songs left off that you would like to see on an artist’s compilation project. I was surprised that no tracks from his fine 1989 Flowers in the Dirt album or 2001’s Driving Rain were included, for example.  On the other hand, 8 songs were included from his 1997 Flaming Pie album and 5 from his latest, 2013’s New, were included. I would also have liked to see some more rarities, such as “Girl’s School” and “Spies Like Us”.  One rarity does show up, the children’s song “We All Stand Together”, as well as several “deep cuts” from McCartney solo, Wings and Fireman albums, a particular favorite of mine is “Warm and Beautiful” from the mostly forgettable but best-selling 1976 Wings at the Speed of Sound, where McCartney let all band members take a turn at lead vocals.

Despite the above minor concerns, I enjoyed listening to these songs, all but “We All Stand Together” I once had, but many of which I didn’t have in a CD or digital format. Sit back and enjoy these songs covering McCartney’s amazing now 46-year post-Beatles career.

Note: Pure McCartney gave me the idea to make my own McCartney mixtape, using my favorite Beatles songs he sang lead on as well as my favorites from his solo career. Although I still am adding to the mixtape/playlist, it currently has 233 songs on it.

A good companion to this compilation for McCartney fans would be Philip Norman’s new biography Paul McCartney: The Life.
Stranger to Stranger by Paul SimonStranger to Stranger by Paul Simon
****

Never one to rest on his impressive laurels, 74 year-old Paul Simon returns with Stranger to Stranger, his thirteenth solo album, five years in the making, and his first studio album since 2011’s excellent So Beautiful or So What. The album is produced by Andy Smith and 81 year-old Roy Halee, a longtime collaborator whose relationship with Simon goes back to the original Simon and Garfunkel days in 1964.

This risk-taking album takes many listens to fully appreciate. It includes two instrumentals and is in many ways experimental, pushing boundaries and featuring a wide variety of instruments, electronic beats, loops, samples, a gospel music quartet, horns and synthesizers.  The album is heavy in percussion, with four of the album’s first six songs not even using a guitar. Simon was influenced by the works of Harry Partch, an American composer, music theorist, and creator of musical instruments. Partch experimented with microtonal tunings. In fact, Simon has said that there is not a lyrical theme to the album, but rather a sound theme, though like his last album, God and the afterlife are recurring themes here.

Here are a few brief comments on each of the songs on the standard edition of the album:

The Werewolf The opening song is about a werewolf, an angel of death. She is looking for other victims to kill. It’s the end of the rainbow, midnight, and she really has the appetite. It is the first of three songs that Simon collaborates with the Italian electronic dance music artist Clap! Clap! A good beat plays behind Simon’s vocal.

Wristband This also features Clap! Clap! It’s one of my favorite songs on the album, about a musician who goes out for a smoke, and then is unable to get back into the venue he is playing at because he doesn’t have the required wristband.  The song then pivots about the homeless and lowly who can never get through the door. Again, an infectious beat behind Simon’s vocal along with some good horns.

The Clock A short instrumental, the first of two instrumentals on the album that were originally written for John Patrick Shanley’s play Prodigal Son. Simon said that he decided to insert them in the album to give a little space after songs.

Street Angel The third song that features Clap! Clap! The central character from this song also appears in “In a Parade”, the first time a Simon character appears on two songs of the same album.  Simon samples 1939 gospel vocals from The Golden Gate Quartet, a favorite of his.  An interesting verse that doesn’t seem to go along with the rest of the song is:

If God goes fishing
And we are the fishes
He baits his lines
With prayers and wishes
They sparkle in the shallows
They catch the falling light
We hide our hearts like holy hostages
We’re hungry for the love, and so we bite

 Stranger to Stranger Simon slows it down on what could be a song to musician wife Edie Brickell. He asks that if they met for the first time could they imagine falling in love again. He is jittery, it’s his way of dealing with his joy. Features some effective horns.

In a Parade The singer may be in an ER, which tonight feels like every wounded soul, or in a parade and can’t talk now. Street Angel reappears, as does the line from the song “Street Angel”, “I write my verse for the universe”.  Features an infectious percussion beat.

Proof of Love This song was inspired by Simon’s visit to a spiritual healer in Brazil when he was suffering from reoccurring violent nightmares. He asks the Lord for proof of love, and hears a voice telling him not to be afraid that his days won’t end with night.

In the Garden of Edie This song is about Simon’s wife Edie, and is the second instrumental included that was originally written for Prodigal Son.

The Riverbank The mostly upbeat sound contrasts with the subject matter here. The song was inspired by a teacher that Simon knew who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December, 2012 and also depicts the funeral of a veteran who committed suicide.

Cool Papa Bell A favorite, this song is partially about a center fielder in the Negro league baseball from 1922 to 1950. He is considered to have been one of the fastest players ever to play the game. Simon sings that most will get to Heaven someday, but not the person he is singing to. They will have to stay and explain the suffering and pain they caused. The song, which has a Graceland vibe to it, includes some adult language.

Insomniac’s Lullaby This acoustic song features the use of instruments created by Harry Partch. It has a melancholy feel to it as he sings for the Lord not to keep him up all night with questions he can’t understand, such as how the builder of bridges will deliver us all to the faraway shore.

music news

  • Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God Tour. Andrew Peterson just released his 2016 Behold the Lamb of God (Christmas) Tour. We plan to get to one of the dates. Hope you can as well.
  • Bruce Springsteen to Release Chapter and Verse Companion Album with Autobiography Launch. Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run will be published September 23. At the same time, an 18 track album Chapter and Verse will also be released.
  • “Money & Fame” Acoustic Version. Watch NEEDTOBREATHE’s acoustic version of “Money & Fame” as a part of “Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Warehouse Acoustic Sessions,” a series of performance videos and interviews shot inside the company’s Décor Warehouse.
  • New Michael W. Smith Song. Michael W. Smith recently spent some time in the land of Israel and filmed a new video for his song “He Will Never End” while there, featuring many ancient locations from biblical times.
  • Tempo.  Watch the video for the new song “Tempo” from KB.
  • Misconceptions 3. Watch this video of Misconceptions 3 by Lecrae featuring John Givez, Jgivens and Jackie Hill Perry from Lecrae’s Church Clothes 3.

Lecrae QuoteMusic Quotes:

  • Worship doesn’t start with you. It begins and ends with a merciful, majestic and powerful God. ― Matt Redman

  • Don’t chase accomplishments, people or positions to find your worth. You’re already loved, just as you are, by the Father. ― Chris Tomlin

  • “Music is the great unifier. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.” ― Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

 

Song of the Week Looking for America (featuring Lecrae) by Switchfoot

Switchfoot has long been one of my favorite bands and Lecrae has become one of my favorite artists over the past few years. Put the two together, and are you kidding me? You get a powerful song. Great beat and powerful lyrics. Listen to it here, from my favorite album of the year thus far, Where The Light Shines Through.

Here are the lyrics to the song:Where The Light Shines Through

Land of the free, home of the brave
But Lord knows that we need plenty change
‘Cause plenty chains in the past leaving deep scars
But when the sun come down we gonna be stars

The doors are locked where they once stood open
A wound of fear where we once stood hoping
The shattered glass where the bullets broke in
I’m looking for the place that I was born
I’m looking for a way to fix what’s torn
I’m looking for America

I’m looking for America

Yeah, you know
Beaten red white and blue for the green we pursue
I’m still looking for you

America who are you?
Underneath the red blue and white?
America who are you?
I wonder who you are tonight
America who are you?
Is God still on your side?
I want to see a nation rise above the fear and fight that haunts these streets tonight

I’m looking for America
I’m looking for a place to breathe in
A place I could call my home
I’m looking for America
I’m looking for the land of freedom
A place I can call my own

I’m looking for America
Headlines that I can’t believe in
But I’m still holding on to hope
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for America

America who are you?
Am I asking for too much
America who are you?
Has your dream become out of touch
America who are you?
Do you get what you deserve
Between the violence and entitlements
Which nation do you serve?

I’m looking for America
I’m looking for a place to breathe in
A place I could call my home
I’m looking for America
I’m looking for the land of freedom
A place I can call my own

I’m looking for America
Headlines that I can’t believe in
But I’m still holding on to hope
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for America

I’m singing
Farewell my utopia
Farewell my euphoria
Fare thee well my suburban day-dream
Farewell my utopia

America you so pretty
But you not perfect
Confession of guilt is worth it
These people hurting deserve it
Blood on your hands I saw
When there’s blood on this nations floor
But it’s blood on the upper post of your door
If you need to know

I’m looking for your honesty in skeletons
Do away with your ignorance and arrogance
America the land of immigrants
Check the green card and pedigree
Bless the Choctaw and the Cherokee
That we’ll never see

I’m looking for America
I’m looking for a place to breathe in
A place I could call my home
I’m looking for America
I’m looking for the land of freedom
A place I can call my own

I’m looking for America
Headlines that I can’t believe in
But I’m still holding on to hope
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for a miracle
I’m looking for America

The land of the free, home of the brave
But Lord knows we need plenty change
I’m looking for America
Plenty chains in the past left deep scars
But when the sun come down we gonna be stars
And may the stripes heal when it’s through
Beaten red white blue for the green that we pursue

I’m looking for America

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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