Off The Ground

Paul McCartney

Capitol, 1993

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Paul McCartney’s solo career has been savaged by critics and the music-buying public alike, often for being too syrupy-sweet and reliant on ballads.

So why does Off The Ground, McCartney’s 1993 release, turn out to be one of his unheralded triumphs? Quite possibly, it’s because no one expected McCartney to put out an album this strong, even coming off the success of Flowers In The Dirt four years prior. This was, after all, the same person who was responsible for Press To Play and Give My Regards To Broad Street.

Yet there it is, wrapped up in about a dozen tracks -- a disc that could well be one of McCartney’s best, if not the best one he’s recorded in his career.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Kicking off with the strong title track, McCartney lets the listener know that this is more than an album. It’s a musical journey. Within these songs, one will hear quite possibly one of the strongest animal rights songs ever recorded (“Looking For Changes”), one of McCartney’s strongest ballads (“Hope Of Deliverance”), a powerful rocker that shows McCartney had lost little of the edge over the years (“Get Out Of My Way”) and a tender love song that doesn’t push the limits (“I Owe It All To You”).

This isn’t to say that Off The Ground is a perfect disc, but it says something when even the weaker tracks aren’t total failures. The closest to imperfection McCartney comes is on “Biker Like An Icon,” a track that tells of forbidden love yet seems to be spinning its wheels. Likewise, “Mistress And Maid” is a different type of song for Sir Paul -- instead of being a sappy love ballad, this shows what happens when the magic is lost in a marriage. If only it were a little more powerful in its message.

Still, McCartney is able to make listeners forget any musical or lyrical missteps in his lengthy career and force them to approach Off The Ground as its own creation, to be judged on its own merits -- and this is the greatest success of this disc. Tracks like “Peace In The Neighbourhood,” “Winedark Open Sea” and “Golden Earth Girl” would have been lost on other albums; still other tracks, like “C’mon People” and “I Owe It All To You,” would have been seen as clones of earlier McCartney solo works or, worse yet, Beatles copies.

No, the real magic of Off The Ground is that this disc is instantly approachable, and works on its own merits without relying on past glories. In the course of these songs, McCartney finally seems free to express himself without any of the baggage he had carried throughout his then 30-plus year career. For the first time, McCartney sounds like he’s free, and that joy shows throughout this album.

Rating: B

User Rating: D+


It's amazing, sometimes, how two people see things so differently. I respect your opinion, Christopher, but I have always thought this disc was insipid, at best. No more than two songs worth listening to more than once: The title track and Hope of Deliverance. But, that's OK. Sometimes things just don't connect the same way with different folks. You gave me a new reason to listen to it again, however, I sold it in a garage sale LONG ago. The person who bought it (for a $.25) tried to return it, but I held firm.

© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.