Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

4.6 13
by Paul McCartney

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Paul McCartney says he was looking to make a back-to-basics album when he entered the studio to record Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, and there's no question that he's managed to re-create the easygoing-but-charged atmosphere of his embryonic solo work. As on 1970's McCartney, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer did just about…  See more details below


Paul McCartney says he was looking to make a back-to-basics album when he entered the studio to record Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, and there's no question that he's managed to re-create the easygoing-but-charged atmosphere of his embryonic solo work. As on 1970's McCartney, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer did just about everything himself on the disc, picking up instruments as varied as guitar, flugelhorn, and harmonium. That process of sonic spelunking led him into some intriguing territory -- like the sultry Brazilian beaches that imbue the lightly bossa nova–brushed "A Certain Softness" with, well, just what its title implies. Equally intriguing is "How Kind of You," with its enveloping drones, an addition that McCartney credits to au courant producer Nigel Godrich (best known for his work with Beck and Radiohead). Godrich makes his mark elsewhere, daubing "Riding to Vanity Fair" with strings 'n' things that transform the song from Brit-folk nostalgia into timeless pop that's hard to pigeonhole. For all the forward-looking touches, however, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard finds McCartney more comfortable with his past than he has been in years. In addition to slapping a photo of his teenage self on the disc's cover, he borrows -- by his own admission -- from some of his classic work, returning to "Blackbird"-styled finger-picking on the flute-dappled "Jenny Wren" and summoning up the spirit of Magical Mystery Tour on the bouncy "Fine Line." There are moments -- "English Tea," for instance -- where Sir Paul tries to get away with skating by on a half-finished idea (remember "Bip Bop," anyone?). But for every such moment of chaos, there's a passel of wonderful creations.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Quiet though it may be, Paul McCartney experienced something of a late-career renaissance with the release of his 1997 album Flaming Pie. With that record, he shook off years of coyness and half-baked ideas and delivered an album that, for whatever its slight flaws, was both ambitious and cohesive, and it started a streak that continued through the driving rock & roll album Run Devil Run and its 2001 follow-up, Driving Rain. For Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, the follow-up to that record, McCartney tried a different tactic, returning to the one-man band aesthetic of his debut album, McCartney, its latter-day sequel, McCartney II, and, to a lesser extent, the home-spun second album, Ram. Apart from a guitar part or two, a couple of drum tracks, and, of course, the strings and horns that pop up now and again, McCartney played everything here, from the guitars and keyboards down to the bass and drums. The difference here is that instead of producing the record by himself, McCartney brought in alt-rock auteur Nigel Godrich, best known as the producer behind Radiohead's OK Computer and Beck's Mutations, as well as being the only producer responsible for a streamlined Pavement record. Godrich has a gift for making messy or difficult music sound simple, logical, and clean, and he has that same effect on Chaos and Creation, removing the obvious rough edges and home-spun charm that characterized Macca's previous one-man affairs. Consequently, Chaos sounds as polished as a normal McCartney album, as polished as Driving Rain, but the process of its creation and recording does make this a very different album from not just its predecessor, but from most of McCartney's solo albums. It's quiet and meditative, not without its share of eccentricities, nor without its share of sprightly tunes -- certainly, the opener, "Fine Line," is a propulsive, hooky song that burrows into your head after just one spin and sounds like a tune you've known all your life, and "Promise to You Girl" also zips along nicely -- but the overall feel of the record is one that's reflective and ruminative, not messy or silly. Or whimsical or treacly, for that matter, since the combination of introspective ballads and intricately detailed but not overly fussy or polished production means that Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is a rare thing indeed: a McCartney album that's devoid of cuteness or easy sentiment. Which doesn't mean that it's somber or lacking in romantic material -- Paul loves his love songs, after all -- but the tone and timbre of the album is so simple, stripped-down, and sincere that all the music resonates a little deeper and feels a little more heartfelt. If there are no outright knockouts here, there are no weak spots, either, and if the album doesn't have the sprawl and quirks or overt humor of his classic solo albums from Ram through Tug of War, that's OK, because Chaos and Creation in the Backyard offers something different: not only is Paul in an unusually reflective mode, but he's made a lean, cohesive record that holds together better than his previous latter-day high-water mark, Flaming Pie -- which is unusual, since McCartney albums rarely, if ever, come without spots of filler. The quiet nature of Chaos and Creation may mean that some listeners will pass it over quickly, since it's a grower, but spend some time with the record and it becomes clear that McCartney is far from spent as either a songwriter or record-maker and, in many ways, continues to make some of the best music of his solo career.

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Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Paul McCartney   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Autoharp,Cello,Cymbals,Drums,Flugelhorn,Glockenspiel,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Harmonium,Maracas,Hammond Organ,Electric Piano,Recorder,Tambourine,Triangle,Vocals,12-string Guitar,Melodica,Moog Synthesizer,Spinet,Classical Guitar,Shaker,Tubular Bells,Blocks,Floor Tom,Piano (Grand),Guitar Loops,Paiste Gong,Piano (Upright),Vibrachime
Rusty Anderson   Acoustic Guitar
Pedro Eustache   Duduk
Jason Falkner   Electric Guitar,Classical Guitar
James Gadson   Drums
Brian Ray   Acoustic Guitar
Nigel Godrich   Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Loops,Guitar Loops
Joey Waronker   Bongos,Bass Drums,Shaker
Joby Talbot   Conductor
Abe Laboriel   Percussion,Tambourine,Wood Block,Blocks
Los Angeles Music Players   Strings
Millenia Ensemble   Strings,Brass

Technical Credits

Paul McCartney   Composer,Art Direction
David Campbell   Arranger
Alan Yoshida   Mastering
Nigel Godrich   Producer,Audio Production
Mike McCartney   Cover Photo
Joby Talbot   Arranger
Darrell Thorp   Engineer
Paul Godrich   Audio Production

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Chaos and Creation in the Backyard 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I listened to a full CD promo via a NY radio station. At first I thought it was "just ok". I immediately liked the driving beat of "Fine Line" and the final moving song "Anyway", but it just did grab me overall. The songs are sparse and McCartney plays most all the instraments. It is definately a low key somber CD. Being a Macca fan though, I listened to it over 10 times. I then went away for a day and then listened to it again 10 times. The CD grows on you with each listen. It is his best overall CD since Flaming Pie and one of his "most mature" (funny to say that about a 63 year old man) CD ever. Having a producer like Nigel come in and clean it up and keep it "tight and to the point" helps. Trust me. Do not judge it until you have time to let it resonate after a few istens. You will be paid off with your patience. My favorite tracks: "Fine Line", "Anyway" and the follow up to Blackbird in the beautiful "Jenny Wren". Yes "Fine Line" is the only real radio friendly song but there is not a "dud" in the bunch and overall the level of quality and creativity are consistently high. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Chaos" brings Paul back to the solo days of McCartney & McCartney II. At George Martin's recommendation he brings in Nigel Godrich to produce. Godrich and Paul deliver beautifully. "Fine Line" (the opening track) has a spirit that is all Paul. It's a catchy, infectious tune that takes but one listen and you're humming it! Paul plays a wide range of instruments and his brilliance shines through. The melodies are lush and Paul sings them with a fragility at times which makes them all the more touching ("This Never Happened Before","Riding to Vanity Fair"). In keeping with tradition & Paul's love of little ditties, he brings us "English Tea" a lovely tune that really does conjure images of tea in the English countryside. "Chaos" is one of Paul's very best and one that willl be listened to for many years to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is Pauls best album ive ever heard. The songs are very organic and you cant get them out of your head. I didnt think Chaos was going to be this good but iam very surprised. This sure beats the Rolling Stones new album by a LONG shot. Thank you Paul for all the wonderful music you have given us!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is truly amazing. There is not one song on it that i dont like, all of them strike something inside of me. I cant describe it properly with words, i can only say that it is truly amazing, more than i had expected (and trust me, i had high expectations!)Good job Paul!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are about 8 songs that I think are ok to listen to. 5 songs could have been left off the CD all together. It's worth buying for the 8 good songs. Paul needs to stick with his 70's styl of music. Too Much Rain is veary good as is English Tea.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've always been a Beatles fan (and who isn't?), but never a real solo McCartney fan, much as I wanted to be. I've only ever bought one of his albums, the title of which escapes me now. But I'd read so many glowing reviews of this album in magazines that I decided to check it out and.....Oh my God! This is the album I've been waiting ages for him to make. This is it!! I feel almost giddy. My favourite songs are 'Friends To Go', 'Riding To Vanity Fair', and the fabulous 'Too Much Rain', which I could listen to for hours on repeat I'm sure. The way he sings the title line so quietly and then the strong piano comes in...brilliant. Way to go, Sir!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What beautiful music on this CD. I read several reviews before purchasing, and am very pleased the music reviewers were right. "This Never Happened Before" is an awesome song! Most every song on this CD is good and begs you to listen again and again. I'm not a huge McCartney fan, but feel like I am now. I highly recommend this CD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be McCartney's best solo album yet. It is easy to see, like a fine wine, this legend gets better with age. His talent is extraordinary considering he plays almost every instrument on this album. After writing music for more than 40 years, it is nice to see that he has more classics up his sleeve. I saw him twice in 2002 and 03 and it was a thrill of a lifetime. Unfortunately, I won't be able to see him on this tour but I know he will continue to rock. Cheers to Sir McCartney for such great work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The album really grows on you after a while, although it may not last, like the Beatles albums which one cannot stop listening to. Impressive yet cliche songwriting with sappy lyrics, however, most of the songs on the album are quite enjoyable, yet some are filled with sadness as an old man contemplates what he has accomplished, much like Johnny Cash's last video. Very enjoyable album, with some impressive lyrics, particulary on "Fine Line." Great songwriting too, but nothing new, with is not nescesarily a bad thing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005) is probably McCartneys best album since 1982. Just really excellent from the man who rules music, then, now and forever. This album shows Paul's true musical genius even after all these years. Thank You for Creating all this wonderful music for us Paul. Thank You.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am admittedly slightly biased, being a full-time Beatlemanic/Wingsaholic/Maccafan, but this album is the breath of musical life in these rap-stricken times. It provides the aural pleasure one often craves for with modern music CHAOS allows the listener to feel notably insignificant musically in the gargantuan shadow of McCartney's brilliance in musicianship. High points: Promise to You, Girl Anyway the secret song in the end (shhhhh!). Low points: The low points on this album are not so much low points as below the standard of the other songs on the album, which is still tenfold better than most anything else on the music market nowadays.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For an artist over 40 years into his career to come up with a work so solid, so focused and so tuneful, is to see a true genius of his craft at work. Whether this was intentional or not, 'Chaos & Creation...'is filled with some of the most personal and poignant songs of his vast solo career. Paul has taken a lot of flak in the past 20 years or so for his solo work. Some of it is truly on the mark, but a lot of it is unjustified. He has created brilliant, beautiful songs since the day he left The Beatles, but the comparison is always there and one that no mere mortal could ever live up to. He has really found his focus again since Flaming Pie and Chaos and Creation is just brimming with inspiration, partially as a result of a choice collaboration with producer Nigel Godrich. And what makes this album so different for a McCartney album is the fact that it never tries too hard to please. These songs come from a different place than other McCartney compositions and they almost require repeated listening, but they most certainly will find a spot in your brain just as many of his classics do. There's not a wasted song on here (A Certain Softness is the closest he comes to missing the mark) and in songs such as Jenny Wren, English Tea and Anyway, it is as if he is finally at peace with letting his own tremendous influence peek through instead of running from it. Don't pass this one up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago