Digitally remastered edition of this 1999 album. Run Devil Run features covers of both familiar and obscure 1950s Rock `n' Roll songs, along with three new McCartney songs written in the same style. As his first project following first wife Linda's death in 1998, McCartney felt the need to get back to his roots and perform some of the music he loved as a teenager. Wanting to keep things fresh, he cut the album as quickly as possible in order to capture the excitement of a live-in-the-studio performance. The album features Pink Floyd's David Gilmour on guitar, Mick Green also on guitar, keyboardists Pete Wingfield and Geraint Watkins, and drummers Ian Paice (Deep Purple) and Dave Mattacks. McCartney, naturally, played bass although he did play electric guitar in some instances.
Whenever Paul McCartney's storied life has hit personal or professional hard times, he's wisely returned--figuratively and literally--to his musical foundations. In the Beatles' final, troubled days, it was Get Back
, the aborted return-to-roots project salvaged as Let It Be
, and during his late-80s solo doldrums it was the 1950s rave-up CHOBA B CCCP
(a.k.a. the "Russian Album"). In the wake of Linda's passing, McCartney "gets back" to a motley dozen 50s hits, B-sides and obscurities and pens three surprising originals that neatly fit their mould. Using a band of seasoned British vets (including Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour and Mick Green from Johnny Kidd & the Pirates on guitars, and Deep Purple's Ian Paice on drums) whose own unbridled affection for this music radiates from every track, McCartney tackles the familiar (Gene Vincent's "Blue Jean Bop," Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up") and unfamiliar (the Vipers' skiffle hit "No Other Baby," Carl Perkins's "Movie Magg") alike with enthusiasm, if not slavish devotion (as witnessed by his nifty zydeco revamp of Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man"). The Mac originals "Try Not to Cry" and "What It Is" (and the choice of Ricky Nelson's "Lonesome Town") seem to deal not-so-obliquely with his love and loss, yet are delivered with an upbeat confidence that seem to belie his mourning. In the end, Run Devil Run
may be as much personal exorcism as it is loving musical recapitulation, and McCartney is in peak vocal form throughout. --Jerry McCulley