Paul McCartney: Run Devil Run

Paul McCartney
Run Devil Run

WITH RUN DEVIL Run, Paul McCartney gets back to where he once belonged: to the pure, unadulterated rock 'n' roll he bashed out as a young Beatle in the bier halls of Hamburg and the Cavern in Liverpool. Tight, fierce, and to the point, the album dusts off the sort of familiar and obscure nuggets he learned as a leather-jacketed punk under the influence of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard.

Belying his more recent reputation for silly love songs, McCartney rocks with a vengeance here. He conjures a raucous howl on tunes such as Larry Williams's "She Said Yeah," and elicits energetic performances from a band of old friends, including Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, and veteran rock 'n' roll piano player Pete Wingfield. Complicating this jubilant rock is Paul's grief over the death last year of his beloved Linda. But such cuts as the old skiffle ballad "No Other Baby," Ricky Nelson's "Lonesome Town," and "Try Not to Cry" (one of three new McCartney originals) have a real poignancy that's neither gratuitous nor ponderous. Linda's presence is felt in the Wings-like vocal harmonies on the title track--a fast-paced, Berry-style rock 'n' roll tale of a holy roller confounding the devil. And while Run Devil Run's overall feel is one of upbeat, aggressive fun, such delicious mayhem may be interpreted as Paul's version of John Lennon's infamous primal scream therapy.

Perhaps cutting loose was also the best form of tribute. McCartney uncannily evokes Fats Domino on "Little Coquette," does a nasty-edged version of Presley's "I Got Stung," reads Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" with a Cajun accent, and pulls a fantastic, sweaty version of "Honey Hush" from Big Joe Turner via Johnny Burnette's rockabilly version. Fitting just as perfectly are the three originals--taut little musical dramas of kindred spirit that read as affirmations of life transcending loss.

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