Various Listen To What The Man Said - Popular Artists Pay Tribute To...

Two things become obvious very quickly while listening to this pair of tributes. First, McCartney's solo song writing is a lot better than he generally gets credit for. Secondly, the man really needs a producer, one who isn't intimidated by working with one of the remaining Fab Four and who'll make him knuckle down, get adventurous and commit to the songs. Yeah, he needs somebody to challenge him, somebody to take John's role. The majority of the 31 acts here (16 on Listen... and 15 on Coming Up...) better the originals by toughening them up a notch or two and leaning into them with more commitment than Paulie ever did. Even crap like "No More Lonely Nights" (the Merrymakers), "Let 'Em In" (Starbelly), "Take It Away" (the Jellybricks) and "With A Little Luck" (the Masticators) sound great. Sloan simply nails "Waterfalls." Other highlights include John Faye Powertrip ("Coming Up"), the Shazam ("Helen Wheels") and Michael Carpenter ("Getting Closer"). Each LP sports a version of Paul's greatest musical achievement, his Beatles work notwithstanding; both versions of "Maybe I'm Amazed" are terrific. The only real dud on either disc is They Might Be Giants' "Ram On." The indie set comes out marginally ahead, due mainly to song selection and having the only two female lead vocals out of the 31. A donation of three dollars from each set will go towards breast cancer research. (Oglio)