ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

PAUL MCCARTNEY
‘Flowers In The Dirt

Parlophone

Being told that hes never surpassed his Sixties creative highs has been the bane of Maccas post-Beatles career. Theres been the odd flicker of genius, of course, but its often been buffeted by a good deal of treading water and self-indulgence. The fact that ‘Flowers In The Dirt is McCartneys best album since ‘Band On The Run, 16 years ago, is positive proof that hes met an unlikely match in Elvis Costello, his first serious songwriting partner since John Lennon.

Previous partnerships, even with artists in the Michael Jackson/Stevie Wonder league, had resulted in moments as trite as ‘The Girl Is Mine or as godawful as ‘Ebony And Ivory. Costello may only have collaborated on four of these 12 songs, but his contribution seems to have given McCartney the lift hes needed for so long.

Opening with ‘My Brave Face, the recent (oddly short-lived) hit, the mood and pace follows a wave-curve pattern, slipping into a trough with the dreamy, sentimental ‘Distractions before peaking again in a roughshod fashion on ‘Figure Of Eight. And so on.

The best songs, like ‘How Many People, ‘We Got Married, ‘This One, and ‘You Want Her Too (a duet with Costello), highlight McCartneys timeless knack of surfacing with happy-go-lucky singalong melodies, or—as with ‘Dont Be Careless Lovesounding restrained without being too lightweight.

Even the albums wacko throwaway track, ‘Ou Est Le Soleil, would be considered very favourably if a hadnt been accompanied by such high expectations. ☆☆☆☆