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Thursday, October 21, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 43

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McCartney gets back to roots on latest set, Run Devil Run


Run Devil Run

Paul McCartney
Capitol Records
15 songs, 41 min

Grade: B -


By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff

Eric Clapton did it in 1994 with his From the Cradle album. Harry Connick Jr. did it recently earlier this year with Come By Me.

Now, legendary artist Paul McCartney, who was recently inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is paying tribute to his roots with his latest release, Run Devil Run.


Music legend Paul McCartney belts out some of his fans' favorite tunes on  Run Devil Run, along with a couple new songs, but the set falls short of his best work.

Photo courtesy of Capitol Records

The ex-Beatle's newest CD is a collection of covers, and a few originals, that portray the sound of the 1950s .

The 15-track album features 12 covers and three originals. An Elvis Presley fanby his own admission, McCartney includes three songs originally recorded by the "King." There are also covers of songs originally done by Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson and Carl Perkins.

The new tracks are heavily influenced by the '50s sound, especially the rocking "What It Is," a song McCartney began to write on the piano. The song was also a favorite of his late wife, Linda, who died last year.

"I was playing bluesy riffs on the piano and this song started to come out," McCartney explained. 

"Linda was there and I enjoyed it just for that, for the feedback she gave. So I thought (to record it) as sort of my little tribute to Linda."

The other original tunes, "Run Devil Run" and "Try Not to Cry," show strong ties to the hard-core rhythm and blues that brainwashed teenagers in the '50s and caused protest from indignant parents.

"Run Devil Run" is filled with the influence of Scottie Moore and Chuck Berry, especially in its guitar riffs. 

The lyrics are a bit unique.

"I saw this herbal medicine shop in Atlanta selling Run Devil Run products," McCartney said. "I thought, 'That is a great rock'n'roll title.' So I did a story and wrote the song."

Referring to "Try Not to Cry," another tune on the album, McCartney said, "(it) is a bluesy song that never gets in the way of the snare (drum). It was actually that simple."

The first song on the album is an old Gene Vincent standard called "Blue Jean Bop." The 1956 hit was introduced to McCartney by his friend the late John Lennon, another ex-Beatle.

"I remember hearing 'Blue Jean Bop' on an album that I think John had," McCartney said. "We were going to a place near Penny Lane for the afternoon, having a ciggy, and just listening to records. 'Blue Jean Bop' was always one of my favorites."

The song perfectly sets the tone for the album as it features a simple three-piece band and great vocals that include the haunting echoes that were always evident on records by Presley, Nelson and the other '50s greats.

Other highlights on the album include the Larry Williams classic "She Said Yeah," the great 1958 ballad by The Vipers "No Other Baby," the Carl Perkins hillbilly standard "Movie Magg," a rarely-heard Fats Domino song "Coquette" and a Johnny Burnette song, "Honey Hush."

It's been known to most Beatles fans that McCartney's voice is best used when singing a soulful ballad. Some of the artist's best songs have been ballads like "Yesterday," "And I Love Her," "Here, There and Everywhere," "I Will" and "My Love."

The songs on Run Devil Run don't fit McCartney's voice as well. It's great to know that a musical legend can go back to his roots and record material that more than anything he just enjoys to do, but Run Devil Run does not rank among the best McCartney albums.

The songs that really suffer are actually the Presley covers. Hearing McCartney croon through "All Shook Up," "I Got Stung" and "Party" nearly makes one yearn for the original versions.

"Lonesome Town" is a weak rendition of a great Nelson hit, while "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and "Shake a Hand" are redundant in their styles.

Run Devil Run is without a doubt a collection of the most colorful gems in the history of rock and roll music. But maybe McCartney should have left some of them alone.
 

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