Paul McCartney is my least-favorite Beatle. Ironically, some of his compositions are among my all-time rocanrol favorites―see “Things We Said Today,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” “Junior’s Farm” and “Temporary Secretary”―so the idea of (much less the existence of) a decent McCartney tribute album is joyfully dreadful to me. The Art of McCartney is an exhaustive, three-disc adventure into the music that defined Macca’s brilliance. Avoiding his missteps, the result is hagiographic in nature and un-deconstructed, but some of it is unforgettable. What Beatles lover wouldn’t want to hear Bob Dylan cover “Things We Said Today” or listen in as Alice Cooper renders “Eleanor Rigby” as a self-conscious horrorshow circus? Come to think of it, The Cure handles “Hello, Goodbye” with a deft twist, but including Sammy Hagar on this release―belting out “Birthday” no less―is just a sad reminder of who and what we’re actually dealing with here.
Back in April 1989, Pixies put an album called Doolittle out on 4AD. It’s good stuff, full of pith, sexy vocals, guitar flourishes, cinematic overtones and an attention to unhinged melodicism. Doolittle can’t really be compared to anything else going on in music that year, except maybe Nirvana’s Bleach; both are revolutionary musical statements, even compared to that year’s heavyweight stuff. All that happened 25 years ago, for crissakes, and now the silver anniversary edition, Doolittle 25, is out on 4AD. The new packaging includes a plethora of sometimes-interesting-but-totally-unnecessary extra tracks. Otherwise, listening is as glorious as the first time, especially as one proceeds from the sheer awesomeness that is “Debaser” through the solemnity of “Monkey Gone to Heaven” with “Gouge Away.” I’ll always prefer preceding release Surfer Rosa for its raw and ready rock, but this iteration is a surprising reminder of what Pixies possessed.
I recently watched a film about trees poisoning the East Coast because humans are destroying the planet. The movie starred Zooey Deschanel and Marky Mark. While Wahlberg exhibited frantic undertones, Deschanel seemed wan and faraway. That disappointed me ... until I remembered she’s in a band with folkster M. Ward. They’re called She & Him, and they’re always contenders on the holiday charts. She & Him just dropped a new album of cover songs. While not afflicted with the same gravitas as the stuff in this week’s other reviews, Classics is a damn sight better than M. Night Shyamalan’s preachy eco-thriller The Happening. There’s something impeccably light here. The duo’s musical chemistry is a lively counterpoint to the existential dread induced by that film and all albums reviewed above. In particular, recitations of “Would You Like to Take a Walk?” and “Time After Time” are thrillingly apt breaks from heaviness.