Living The Life With Sir
I wrote recently and enthusiastically about watching Paul McCartney playing on the BBC Electric Proms, Camden, and being impressed with him and his tight band. Lead guitarist and excellent supporting vocalist in that band is Rusty Anderson, and this compilation of his two solo albums is a fine reflection of the talent McCartney so clearly noted and wanted with him.
Opener Help Myself is a sound enough song with Sir Paul playing a different kind of supporting bass. It's the second track Born on Earth that really showcases Anderson's songwriting talents and excellent array of guitar riffs. The song has its many influences - the Beatles being one of the least surprising - and I hear a little bit of Squeeze as well as Electric Light Orchestra. There are string arrangements which reflect the influence of the Beatles/George Martin, and these occur throughout this song and the whole album, but I do like the varying guitar layers, and it is overall quite a complex song that ends strongly with its orchestral peak. Anderson provides a gritty vocal on this track too.
Third track Baggage Claim is a clever enough pop ditty, enhanced by another pert guitar solo. Fourth Where Would We Go is a strong song, an acoustic number with that Beatlesesque jauntiness which enhances rather than detracts. It has enough shifts and sweet electric guitar above the acoustic to flesh it out to a hummable tune. Fifth Julia Roberts is a song seeped in sixties pop psyche lyrics and tune, an imagined meeting with the fantasy of his fancy. It's perhaps a little too pretty for me, but I'm feeling quite inclined to liking the whole of this guy's journeyman offering when so much from more popular and feted bands - take Coldplay's latest for example - nauseates by comparison. This is followed by an even more psyche pop track in Electric Trains where the sunshine harmonies and fuzzed guitar echo those late 60s songs where something a little more incongruous than a train is prefaced by the adjective electric! Seventh These Are The Days has a little of the John Mellancamp about its opening and main riff, but as the more ostensibly ballsy of all songs with its referencing of cocaine and shit to go down, it is surprisingly the least successful. Rock credibility is resurrected in subsequent number Devil's Spaceship with slight vocal distortion and heavier, near-metal guitar. Ninth Catbox Beach is an instrumental homage to bands like The Ventures and The Shadows, and foregrounds Anderson's fine guitar playing again, including an odd reggae insert.
Eleventh and penultimate Damaged Goods is an echoing, harmonising ballad. The album closes on the upbeat Until We Meet Again, but it is a song that could have been sacrificed to end more strongly on an earlier choice. But as I said, this is an album to be judged as a whole and I have been entertained by a guy with genuine talent who really must be living the life by helping McCartney, and others in that fine band, to represent so much astonishing music.