In The Art of McCartney, some of the world’s greatest and most beloved artists have banded together to tribute the famous Beatle’s entire body of music. Weighing in at 42 songs, the participating artists perform a wide variety of Paul McCartney covers spanning his entire career. While some of the performances fall into a realm of predictability, many are unique enough to make this record essential for any fan of the big man.
Depending on where The Art of McCartney is purchased, audiences get a slightly varied set of songs. It is difficult to obtain all of the bonus songs since they are available through exclusive retailers. In any case, the core record remains the same and includes the best performances. There is a clear dividing line on the record, though, between artists that utilized McCartney’s touring band and those who were allowed more artistic liberty in the musicianship of the tracks.
The songs that McCartney’s backing band aided in recording create a very predictable atmosphere. Performances by Billy Joel, Heart, Alice Cooper and Chrissie Hynde, to name a few artists, all feel like cheap knockoffs of the original recordings. The backing band is trained to recreate the original sound, and as a result, the artists only had as much artistic direction as they could create vocally. These recordings feel like replicas of their original counterparts, and while they are still polished and enjoyable to listen to, they end up backseat to McCartney himself.
In The Art of McCartney, some of the most beloved artists in the world had the opportunity to tribute the Beatle, and some more than others took much greater advantage of the opportunity. In particular, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, B.B. King, Willie Nelson and Dion shine brightly. The artists who added their own creative flair to McCartney’s spirit are the artists that make The Art of McCartney a worthwhile purchase.
Some of the highlights of the album are quite unlikely heroes amidst a series of exceptional covers and artists. Bob Dylan’s Things We Said Today may very well be the most intriguing song on the record, adding an incredibly distinctive aura to the well-known Beatles hit. Brian Wilson’s Wanderlust is absolutely astounding and magical, and even Barry Gibb’s quirky rendition of When I’m 64 is surprisingly lovely. B.B King’s blues echo powerfully as well, and Willie Nelson creates the definitive cover of the most covered song of all time, Yesterday, with his charismatic classical guitar and crooning vocals.
In terms of bonus content, Peter Bjorn and John, a Swedish indie pop band, provide album listeners with Put It There, one of McCartney’s hidden gems from Flowers in the Dirt. This cover may be the most delightful on the record, capturing every nuance of beauty from McCartney’s original version. Peter Bjorn and John’s musical direction on the song is captivating and breathtaking. This song can only be obtained through Amazon, as they are the exclusive retailer of this bonus track.
The Art of McCartney, a new record where the many of world’s greatest and most beloved artists tribute Paul McCartney, the legendary Beatle, is a stunning set of songs. The predictability of some of the songs is quickly overpowered by strong, unique performances. It is a must-have record for a fan of McCartney’s, and The Art of McCartney stands its ground firmly as a respectful, provocative tribute to one of the world’s most appreciated songwriters.
Review by Brett Stewart