This Paul McCartney album was hailed as:
“The ex-Beatle’s headiest music in years!”
The album being referenced captured Macca in a very artistic mood, as a series of photo shoots revealed:
“Electric Arguments” Electrifies The Critics!
It was, of course, NOT a McCartney solo album – but another “not so secret this time” collaboration with the music Producer Youth! And it got McCartney some of his best reviews ever!
“The Fireman takes your hand and leads you through the blaze to places you didn’t know you wanted to go.”
The third “Fireman” album in 2008 was the first one that revealed who the “Firemen” were – a trio of unique Paul McCartney recording sessions with Youth…the first released in 1993:
“The original idea of The Fireman was to feel completely free in a studio atmosphere and this is something I’ve been interested in since Sgt Pepper, where we gave ourselves alter egos to achieve the same effect. It gives you the feeling that anything is possible and stops you being too serious.”
The duo released “Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest” in 1993, then “Rushes” in 1998 – but McCartney and Youth were never mentioned as being part of the projects!
These “secret” recordings were released with no mention of McCartney or Youth, and the first two were experimental instrumental albums…only becoming known to fans over the years….
Macca’s Experimental Phase…
Paul McCartney may be known for this pop/rock hits, but he has always been an adventurous musician.
McCartney’s first solo album, released in 1970, was very experimental for the time, with instrumentals, song fragments AND classic songs such as “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Every Night”…you can see those videos here:
A decade later, Macca returned with his second solo album, also full of instrumental experimentation:
“McCartney II” included “Temporary Secretary” and “Coming Up”, which you can read more about here:
There hasn’t been a “McCartney III” – or was there? Here’s a look at an album that was in the same experimental vein as his first two solo albums!
“Electric Arguments” is the third album by The Fireman, and it was released in late 2008. It was the first Fireman release to be publicly acknowledged by McCartney…and the first to have vocals! This was a project of intense experimentation, with each of the songs recorded in a single day – the album was completed in only thirteen recording days, spread over the course of a year.
Experience These “Arguments!”
The title “Electric Arguments” came from the poem “Kansas City to St. Louis” by Allen Ginsberg. In Wired magazine, McCartney stated this was because he’d been looking at the beauty of word combinations rather than their meaning.
Here’s also what Paul said:
“We had a ball making this album, and it was a great departure because it seemed more like improv theatre. In the improv spirit, there are William Burroughs-type cut-ups in the lyrics. I came to “Sing the Changes,” as well as all the other songs in the album, with absolutely no concept of what the melody or lyrics would be about. So it was like writing on the spot, which I think lent an electricity to the whole sound.”
All of the songs were written by Paul McCartney. First, here is a fun promotional video from the studio:
Here are some of the highlights of “Electric Arguments”:
“Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight”
The opening harmonica leads into a blistering guitar and some of the roughest McCartney vocals since “Helter Skelter.” It announced right out of the gate that this “Fireman” album would have vocals – raucous ones at that!
Here is a great fan video of the song from BeatlesFans Club on youtube:
“Sing the Changes”
This is one of the most well-known songs on the album, which one Writer called “one of the best McCartney songs in the last decade. With a bright, catchy hook and exuberant lyrics about looking at life with “a sense of childlike wonder.”
Here is the official music video:
Here is a video I found on youtube – thanks to Andy Mark Bell for posting!
Here is the great music video for the song:
“Sun Is Shining”
This is probably the biggest hit from the album, and a surefire Macca single. It’s fun, upbeat and inspiring…
Here is a video using older footage of McCartney from the “Spies Like Us” video…
“Dance ‘Til We’re High”
here’s an example of how much fun McCartney and Youth were having when they were making this album.
Here is the official music video for the song:
One Writer said this: “with its Indian influences, this meditative song wouldn’t be out of place on Sgt. Pepper beside “Within You Without You.” Yet it’s electronic elements place it squarely in the present.”
“Lovers in a Dream”
A Critic raved about this song: “The chant-like vocals are pushed to the background while a swirling collage of sound transports the listener to another world. It may not be advisable to listen to this one while driving or operating heavy machinery; it may put you in a trance.”
Did Paul Slam Heather Mills?
The last track, “Don’t Stop Running”, runs 10:31 – by far the longest song on the album. However, the song ends at 5:54. A bonus track titled “Road Trip” begins at 7:57.
After the album’s release, a spokesman for Paul McCartney denied suggestions by some bloggers that the “Electric Arguments” album has a hidden message directed at Heather Mills. “Click Liverpool” reported the album’s final track, “Don’t Stop Running,” ends with a strange vocal noise, which played backwards, it says, features a Paul whispering:
“Warmer than the sun, cooler than the air.”
The blog says some fans have interpreted this as meant for Heather Mills and meaning “I have a big, warm loving heart and you are colder than ice.” Here is what the McCartney spokesman said:
“The official stance on this is that there are no hidden messages within The Fireman album. People always find messages in his music. If their desire is strong enough, they will be able to find something out of nothing to attach meaning to. It has been going on since The Beatles and we always get asked about hidden messages – but there are none.”
Whether there was a Heather “dis” or not, the album was hailed as one of McCartney’s best.
AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that “there are more twists and turns, more textures, than on any other McCartney album in the last 20 years…”
Will Hermes of Rolling Stone called the album “the ex-Beatle’s headiest music in years!”
Was “Electric Arguments” Meant To Be “McCartney 3?”
One last question is this, which also circulated on the internet – did Paul regret not putting “Electric Arguments” out as a McCartney album? The Daily Express quotes an anonymous source as saying this:
“Paul has been rather taken aback by the initial very positive response and now regrets the album’s getting a rather low-key release under his Fireman pseudonym. With the benefit of hindsight, he would have put it out as an official Paul McCartney album.”
So there you have it, an “anonymous” source…that said, this would have been an amazing “McCartney III” album: full of experimental music, great songs and great McCartney hooks…so I look at it as the “unofficial McCartney III” – you can decide for yourself!
Looking back at all of Paul’s great music is fun – especially when you add the “what if?” element to it…here’s a great example:
“Still The Greatest” is a terrific book that imagines all of the Beatles albums of the 70’s – because they never broke up!
That’s right, this book takes all of the Fab four’s post-Beatles work and lays out the next series of Beatles albums…fascinating! See it here:
Let me know what you think of “McCartney III!”