12 O'Clock Track: Paul McCartney lights up and lets loose on 'Secret Friend'

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McCartney II
  • McCartney II
As at least one Reader writer insinuated recently, J.R. Nelson's Soundboard capsule for Paul McCartney's appearance tomorrow night at the United Center is a welcome and amusing slam of the former Beatle and longtime salamander. While I agree with some of J.R.'s assessment of McCartney's more, er, remunerative practices, I cannot agree with his take on Macca's music. In particular, I will vigorously defend 1980's McCartney II, a quirky and unexpected patchwork of bedroom-pop experiments, muppet disco, and proto-synth-pop. My favorite moments on the album are McCartney's dubby, warped excursions into experimental electronic pop. The best of these extended doodles is in fact a bonus track—"Secret Friend," in which McCartney warbles something about a "secret friend" over sunny, percolating minidisco for over ten minutes. With its digitized, miniature take on big-band music, "Secret Friend" imagines a world in which Kraftwerk covers Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. Originally released in 1993, it's a shame "Secret Friend" didn't make the original album—but there are plenty more weirdo cuts like it on McCartney II, one of the more underrated oddball left turns of a pop star whose oddness isn't recognized enough.

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