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Volume 68, Issue 69, Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Arts & Entertainment

At 60, McCartney amplifies staying power, sheer talent

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
The Daily Cougar

Back in the U.S. serves as an impeccable greatest hits album, featuring 35 Beatles, Wings and solo hits written or arranged by Sir Paul McCartney. Listening to every song makes one sit back in awe of the genius who can credit himself half of one of the greatest songwriting duos of all time.

And the best part about this greatest-hits album is that all these songs are live, brand-new interpretations of classic compositions.

The songs were recorded during McCartneyis 2002 world tour across the United States. Promoting his latest album Driving Rain, the ex-Beatle gathered together young musicians to help him rearrange and put together a set list of incredible magnitude.

In the flawlessly performed Back In The U.S., Sir Paul McCartney hits all the notes and tugs at the heart.
Photo courtesy of Capitol Records

The band features Brian Ray on guitar and bass, Rusty Anderson on guitar, Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums and percussion, and longtime McCartney collaborator Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards.

McCartney says on the albumis accompanying DVD that when he built the set list, he asked himself: If he were a Paul McCartney fan, what would he want to hear at the show?

Sir Paul must be his own biggest fan.

Opening with "Hello Goodbye," "Jet" and "All My Loving," the album already gets off to a raucous start. Hit after hit proceeds, including "Getting Better," "Coming Up" and "Let Me Roll It."

New tracks from Driving Rain change the tempo a bit, especially the lousy rushed-for-soundtrack tune "Vanilla Sky," featured in the Cameron Crowe film of the same name.

McCartney ditches the band to treat the crowd with a solo set just Sir Paul and a guitar. Itis here that the legendary rocker fiddles through acoustic ditties such as "Blackbird," "We Can Work It Out" and "Mother Natureis Son." This cat may already be 60, but he can still sing like heis 30.

After a solo keyboard performance of the short songs "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "Carry That Weight," McCartney pays tribute to his dear friends John Lennon and George Harrison, the two deceased Beatles.

Playing alone with his Martin six-string, Sir Paul sings "Here Today," a song written in the weeks after Lennonis murder in 1980. McCartneyis feelings pour out in the lyrics as he sings, "I still remember how it was before, and I am holding back the tears no more; I love you."

McCartney then pulls out a ukulele, an instrument that Harrison loved to play, as Sir Paul explains on the DVD, to muddle out a sweet rendition of the Harrison original "Something," which appeared on the Beatlesi Abbey Road album.

The duet of songs is both touching and heartfelt in its dedication, adding to an already healthy dose of nostalgia to the live album.

And thatis just the first CD.

Opening the second half are the Beatlesi Revolver classics "Eleanor Rigby" and "Here, There And Everywhere." Following are rocking renditions of "Band On The Run" and "Back In The USSR."

The album then proceeds to shift back and forth between Beatles and McCartney classics such as "My Love," "Canit Buy Me Love" and "Live and Let Die." But Sir Paul opts to culminate the album with seven straight Beatles epics.

Starting with "Let It Be," McCartney has the crowd rocking and singing along to "Hey Jude," "The Long and Winding Road," "Lady Madonna" and "I Saw Her Standing There."

Sir Paul then slows things down to perform his timeless classic "Yesterday." The song, which has been covered by other artists more than any other song in the popular music catalogue, still sounds as fresh and beautiful as it did 37 years ago.

Finally, the album ends with a loud and rocking medley of "Sgt. Pepper" and the Abbey Road track "The End."

Honestly, this is an odd pairing. It doesnit make much sense other than the fact that it serves as a fitting ending to a memorable double albumis worth of music.

As a whole, Back in the U.S. is so much fun to listen to. There arenit many tracks you would want to skip, as you can sing along to most of them. Every Beatles tune sounds pure and revamped, and every McCartney solo hit rocks more than ever.

But perhaps the greatest performance on this album is the bandis rendition of the Wings hit "Maybe Iim Amazed."

The 1977 love song written for McCartneyis late wife Linda sounds pristine, especially considering the high key Sir Paul plays it in and the fact that he can still wail at such a high register.

This album should leave you amazed by all means and thereis no "maybe" about that.

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