‘Flowers In The Dirt’
Being told that he’s never surpassed his Sixties creative highs has been the bane of Macca’s post-Beatles career. There’s been the odd flicker of genius, of course, but it’s often been buffeted by a good deal of treading water and self-indulgence. The fact that ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ is McCartney’s best album since ‘Band On The Run’, 16 years ago, is positive proof that he’s 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 he’s 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 McCartney’s timeless knack of surfacing with happy-go-lucky singalong melodies, or —
Even the album’s wacko throwaway track, ‘Ou Est Le Soleil’, would be considered very favourably if a hadn’t been accompanied by such high expectations. ☆☆☆☆